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A second reason why past history books are flawed is the simple fact they are outdated.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.


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 ( 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. 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 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:

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.


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.

Copycat in the NHL

During the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, a Flyers fan kept telling me that: 1. the Penguins would win the cup and 2. teams would copy the Penguins play. He wasn’t the only person to say this. Some journalist or something mentioned how teams now would copy the Penguins style of play. He was smart enough to recognized what I told my Flyers fan friend; it would be a bad idea. How would copying the team speed of the Penguins be a poor idea for a NHL team. I shall provide four reasons.

A hockey team consists of four lines of forwards and three lines of defence. Generally the first line is your scoring line with the second line being your second best scoring line. Your fourth line consist of marginal players who if they have talent enough play specialty roles like penalty killing or just kill a few minutes a game. I don’t see many teams effectively rolling four lines. Most teams first two lines are nowhere near that of the Penguins, and this is the difference.

Number one is the first line. The Sharks have a great first line and a good second line in my opinion. Even the Caps, Capitals for non-Caps fans, have two nice line for scoring. I think I could go on and name additional team with a good first line. For Pittsburgh, this first line is Sidney Crosby, and I will agree that he’s the top dog in the league. If you want to doubt, check his play in the playoffs. Hornquvist is a nice complement to Crosby, but it is Crosby that makes this line special. I don’t see any player with his capabilities and that is what truly makes this line great.

Number two is the second line with Malkin. It is at this point where some teams struggle to have an effective number two line. The Penguins have Malkin who is one of the top five forwards in the league right now. If you follow Malkin, you’ll notice that he was injured towards the end of the season and looked off in the playoffs. Now we know he had an elbow injury. His line could be the weakest and a number three, but like Crosby, Malkin can carry this line. There are second lines with more goal scorers but none of them can do what Malkin does. These first two lines of the Penguins give them the advantage.

HBK. For hockey fans, you know what this stands for. This is the most complete and well-oiled machine of the Penguins. Kessel likes to shoot, Hagelin has the speed, and Bonino does dirty work. These three are the definition of chemistry. In fact, some first lines have this chemistry and is the only reason why this unspecified team is successful. The Penguins have this line which is number three, thus showing the depth of this team. Kessel isn’t in the league of Crosby or Malkin, but he has the perfect fit for his line which allows Kessel to do what he does best – shoot.

The fourth reason is the Penguins fourth line. I would say it was one of the best fourth lines in the league. The Penguins had a very capable line that could play with the opponents. This is very rare in the NHL. I would guess four teams in the NHL that have a fourth line capable of actually competing. This fourth line provided the Penguins with the depth needed to win the Stanley Cup.

What makes the Penguins so dangerous are three scoring lines and a good fourth line. I know of no other team that can put that type of team together. Other teams have used speed and could not achieve what the Penguins did. The simple reason was they did not have three scoring lines and a good fourth line. This is where I think teams should re-think their strategy and keep the system they have. Fast teams without scoring are just teams that will likely not make the playoffs or lose at some point in the playoffs.

There aren’t team with sitting with two of the best players in the league with a third very good player sitting next to them. NHL teams need to construct three effective line where players can take over their shifts and dominate. I don’t see any other team with that type of depth, though it doesn’t mean that two or three teams couldn’t use this style of play. It just means that 90% of the teams should NOT copy the Penguins.


Quick Post About Education

My experience with other homeschool families has been educational to me. I see the front they put up while listening to the clues the provide about educating their children. In many respects they are no different than me, but there is a trend with many that I think is folly.

When it comes to education at home, reading tends to get overworked, and this is a good thing. You can never read too much. Sadly, this is a 50-50 deal with some families involved in cyber school or using a school based curriculum with history textbooks. These two groups generally do not read as much as other types. Being partial to reading, I believe they do not read enough.

History is one area where some families use outdated beliefs from older books whose information was based on the knowledge of the time. The facts of history may not change, but our interpretation and understanding of history does. Sometimes we need to update a little. Another aspect of history I have notice is how patchy the historical knowledge is. Often times European history is covered, and it is hit and miss at best. Even our own American history is flawed as we use outdated ideas and history that was concocted based on lies in order for one group to justify their actions. Yes, I’m talking about the Lost Cause’rs.

Finally, the one subject I stress the most but see little effort with most homeschool families I have associated with, and this is mathematics. It is seldom stressed or emphasized at home. The children are left to skirt the edges of mathematics and not develop the strong foundation required for engineering or the sciences. It is my belief that many of these parents are uncomfortable with this subject. In larger families, parents seldom have the time to immerse themselves in the subject in order to provide the necessary support for the youth. For others, it is a matter of confidence especially if they thought of themselves as having poor math skills. The solution is to start the math from the beginning with your child and re-learn it. It is not as difficult as one may think, and the parent will do their child justice. As much as I like Khan Academy or the many YouTube videos, they are better utilized as pieces to assist in the learning and not the main form of learning. A parent sitting next to the youth is more helpful than the online work.

My recommendation to parents is to put time into your child’s learning in the attempt to maximize your child’s learning. As they get older, it is understandable and helpful to begin to distance yourself, but remember the parent is still the safety net. When a child meets resistance to their learning, they will take the path of least resistance and learn nothing. It is difficult being a parent who homeschools, but we accepted the challenge and responsibilities when we made the decision to homeschool.

Greatest Hockey Players

The greatest hockey player is a topic I find boring for the most part. Normally, I ignore the idea because the same ten or so players are mentioned with Wayne Gretzky listed as one. It wasn’t until I made the mistake of listening to Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser discuss Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup. As I listened to Wilbon list as many hockey players as he could to crush any idea about Crosby being good, I noticed something that Kornheiser noticed. Wilbon was pushing Chicago Blackhawk players. Wilbon’s argument was weak at best. He acted like a chef throwing all known spices into a meal to make it great, thus creating garbage. Wilbon appeared to be solely basing greatness on cups, points, other writers, and the Chicago Blackhawks. I don’t think Wilbon has ever done any analysis of the players he stated and his argument was way off.

Who are the greatest hockey players? Unfortunately, I have seen many players playing and have only seen snippets of others like Orr. I hear how Howe was great but statistically speaking, it is not that impressive but better than Maurice Richard. Wayne Gretzky has the most points while Mario Lemieux has a better point per game if you remove his comeback years. Bobby Orr looks great, but was it really that good.

I exclude Orr for the simple reason that his greatness existed for only six years and the other years were average. He isn’t the greatest nor should be considered to be. He may have been the greatest scoring defenseman who revolutionized the position. His six years are simply amazing! He is eleventh in all-time scoring for defense but the highest in the points per game with 1.393 with Paul Coffey as the only other D-man averaging one or more points per game, 1.087. Coffey’s defensive abilities were a little lacking. What I can’t find out is his defensive capabilities. Simply put, Orr isn’t close.

Now I hear about Jaromir Jagr but his cup wins were because of Lemieux. Jagr, like many others people think of, has not done more than put up points. His longevity will likely place him at number two in scoring but not in the greatest players of all-time. As I look at additional players like Mark Messier, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, Jean Béliveau, and Mike Bossy; there are good reasons to not consider them as great players worthy of a top ten list without a full analysis.

What about Sidney Crosby? Is he as good as some think or as bad as Wilbon insinuates? Well for starters, Crosby has won two Stanley Cups. I am certain Lafleur, Béliveau, and Bossy exceed him there. Hmm, what about scoring awards? Well I think that is only a partial, and Sidney isn’t going to beat Gretzky. Could saving a franchise count? I think so. Mario did it twice (bought the team the second time) and Sidney brought the team back with his play. Still, this isn’t enough. His 2016 playoffs work was phenomenal, and I don’t recall Gretzky ever doing that. Mario actually did backcheck in the playoffs, but the problem is you need to do it consistently.

If there was an overall best player, I would lean towards Mario. Sadly, I never saw Gordie play, but he could be number one as well. What about Wayne? For all of the points he scored, Wayne is at number three for me. He was no Mr. Hockey and Mario was a better passer and shot as well as played better defense when he had to. Who else can miss a significant amount of games and still come back and pass Pat Lafontaine to win the scoring title in the 1992-93 season.  And if for no other reason, does the name Warren Young mean anything? No, Wayne must happily be perched at third.

I list Mario at one with the knowledge that a good argument could place Gordie at one. Wayne will remain number three. Sidney Crosby at this current time isn’t close, but that is due to the fact his career isn’t done. He is above Marcel Dionne, Peter Stastny, Peter Forsberg, Phil Esposito, and I believe Lafleur. For me, Crosby may crack the list at ten, but without more analysis, it can only be speculative for me.

This doesn’t provide any concrete solution, and there are people sure to argue with who I would place at number one. Does it really matter? Can you compare Howe and his era with Wayne’s or Mario’s? What about the team they played on? That affects the play of these players. Wayne didn’t play alongside Warren. In the end, it just doesn’t matter.