Friday, September 14, 2012

Coming this November for all you history buffs out there

I am always looking for that next big historical epic motion picture to be released in theaters.  Past answers to my quest for a fix have included Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and even the recent War Horse, which takes place in the trenches of World War I.

Well, fellow historians, we now have another one to savor!  Coming out this November 16th is the much-anticipated Lincoln, starring one of the best actors out there, Daniel Day-Lewis, and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Click here to watch the trailer and read up on the casting decisions (lots of big names).

Don't get me wrong - just because I like a certain historical movie, doesn't mean I agree with it.  The Patriot was rather schlocky; Troy was seriously miscast (blonde Brad Pitt as Greek warrior Achilles?), and Kingdom of Heaven was a whitewash of the Crusades that made the Muslims out to be the persecuted good guys.

Being the open-minded person I believe myself to be, I have always been able to look past a movie's ideological flaws and appreciate it for its other historical accuracies, such as costumes, weapons, tactics, and overall realism.  Kingdom of Heaven may have been a love letter to radical Islam, but it sure did an outstanding job of depicting the brutality of the siege of Jerusalem in 1187, with its trebuchets and siege towers. 

What I am getting at here, is that I am not a fan of Abraham Lincoln, yet I fully expect Spielberg and his writers - Tony Kushner and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin - to treat our 16th president as a martyred saint.  The Left tends to love Abraham Lincoln, as he was the president who brought us an all powerful, centralized federal government that once and for all deprived the states of their true sovereignty, as the Constitution intended the states to have.  The Right often embraces him simply because he was a Republican, and, honestly, because I don't think a lot of them really know any better.

My study of the facts has led me to conclude that Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant who seriously violated the Constitution by arresting newspaper publishers, sitting members of Congress, and anyone else who disagreed with his war policies, and I believe that he blatantly committed treason by waging war on the southern states.  Keep in mind that the worst combat of the war took place in a state - Virginia - that had not even seceded from the union when South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter.  Virginia only seceded when Lincoln demanded that it offer up volunteers for the 75,000 troops that Lincoln planned to use to invade the Confederacy.

When I go to see Lincoln this November, I will go to be taken back in time to 1860s America; to watch ultra-realistic Civil War battle scenes as I believe only Spielberg can pull off; to see if any of Lincoln's proverbial warts will be exposed, such as his willingness to keep the slaves in bondage if it meant the South not seceding (Sorry folks, Lincoln did not "free the slaves" in any meaningful sense).  I will also be looking forward to watching Daniel Day-Lewis's interpretation of Abe Lincoln and see if he turns him into a real, flawed human being, rather than a saintly caricature.

Frankly, I am very much looking forward to watching this movie!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects that never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."

So go the famous lines from the 1984 sci-fi action thriller The Terminator; lines which succinctly describe your dire situation when you are being tracked by a robot assassin.

That bit of monologue from The Terminator entered my mind while watching the capabilities of 21st Century robot technology.  I don't know how to say this any more elegantly:  This is some scary shit!

Check out the following robots who, within the next few years or decades, could be working for a police force or military near you:

Uh, freaky.

Oh, and if you think you can simply outrun these slow-moving automatons, they already thought of one more you can't outrun.  In fact, this one just recently ran faster than Usain Bolt when he set the 100m world record:

I think the quadri-ped robot scares me more, especially when watching it regain its balance after being pushed or while walking on ice and snow. How in heaven's name did the engineers get the robots to find their equilibrium? In the Terminator movies, SkyNet became self-aware and began wiping out the human race on August 29, 1997. That date has come and gone, but let's hope that kind of prediction stays in science-fiction movies.  

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 06, 2012

These people scare the hell out of me

H/T: ReasonTV and Hot Air

ReasonTV made the rounds in Charlotte and talked to some of the attendees of the Democrat Convention about "Choice."

We all know that most Democrats are "Pro-Choice," when it comes to abortion, but Reason focused their questions on choice about other topics such as light bulbs, schools, and unhealthy food.

Believe me when I tell you that these people are all about minding YOUR own business.  They make me want to puke:

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

"Once you vote white, you have done what is right."

What would the lapdog palace guard media have done if a delegate at the Republican Convention in Tampa had worn a button on his hat that sported the words I wrote in the title to this post?  Even if someone at the Republican Convention truly felt that way, they would not be so stupid as to wear a professionally made button expressing their sentiment.

Yet, it seems that someone at the Democrat Convention in Charlotte had no such qualms about broadcasting his racism for all to see.  You can click this link to see the button, but for the record, it says:

Once you vote black, you never go back.

The double standards of racism have long since lost their ability to shock me, but not to disgust me.

I still remember around 1995 or 1996 when I was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington where I saw a black soldier in the chow hall wearing a t-shirt that said:

The blacker the college, the sweeter the knowledge.

I'm sure that soldier probably thought he was just sporting a positive message, but all you have to do is substitute the word "black" with the word "white" and you get the idea of how appalling it is that so many people have no problem with garb like these buttons and t-shirts I just mentioned.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

My first dissatisfied customer of this school year

After going over my syllabus and various rules/procedures at the beginning of the school year, I then spend about a week front-loading my students with lessons on generic aspects of history, such as a presentation on different historical sources, basic geography, B.C./A.D. and how to compute time, and a lesson on common fallacies of history.

It so happens that many of the fallacies my students bring to my classroom every year have to do with slavery.  The most common slavery fallacy of course is that only Europeans and Americans engaged in the slave trade.  Most of my students don't know that the African slaves brought to the New World were sold to the Europeans by other Africans.

I give my students a 20-question quiz on these common fallacies about slavery and other subjects (such as the "Wild West" was actually not so wild).  The students take the quiz home, they complete it, then we go over the answers together.  I always enjoy the quizzical looks that develop on their faces as I burst one myth after another that they always accepted as gospel.

The day my students brought their quiz back to class, the following email from a parent was waiting for me when I got to my classroom in the morning:
Good morning,
Just wondering if you are planning on lecturing on slavery all year, you did for the last 6 months of the last school year and already begun this year. I feel that there is much more to world/US history than slavery. That being said, if you can let me know if the major part of your teaching will continue along this path so that I can have my students class changed. Thanks [Parent]
First off, the reference to "the last school year" refers to the fact that I taught this parent's older child the year before, and now I am teaching the younger sibling. I mean, really, how do you answer an email like this? One that is so accusatory; so brusque; so ignorant? The parent didn't even tell me the child's name, and since the parent's last name in the address of the email didn't match the last name of any of my 180 students, I had to email the parent back and ask who the student in question was about whom we were discussing. Before I responded to this parent's email, I had to hold off for a few minutes, as after reading it, I had that "shot of adrenaline" feeling in my abdomen, and my hands were shaking. It wasn't from fear of this parent, mind you. It was pure frustration and anger that I actually had to dignify this inquiry with a polite response. After composing myself, I composed the following email response:
[Parent's Name],
I certainly understand your impression that slavery is mentioned quite a bit in my 8th grade U.S. History classes, because your impression is correct. The California state standards for 8th Grade U.S. History – which instruct me on what to teach my students – are full of topics that involve the issue of slavery in the United States, both before and after its colonial period. In your initial email to me, you mentioned “world/U.S. History,” and that is where some of our miscommunication might be found.
About the only world history I teach is when, at the beginning of the school year, I remind my students of the Age of Exploration (such as Christopher Columbus), which they should have learned in detail last year in their 7th grade Medieval World History class. In mentioning the Age of Exploration and its role in colonizing the Americas (including what would become the United States), one cannot teach the subject without mentioning the role of slavery, which included using Native Americans as slaves until they died en masse of disease, and Africans were brought over to replace them.
The 8th grade standards for U.S. History themselves do not address the entire history of our country – they only span from the colonization and founding of our country in the 1600s/1700s to the Frontier/Industrialization period of the late 1800s. It was during that precise time in our country’s history that the issue of slavery touched just about every major event my students study.
All of the following topics are in the California state 8th Grade U.S. History standards, which I am required to teach:
· The differences between the northern and southern colonies, which included slavery.
· The arguments about how to handle the slavery issue when drafting the Constitution, to include the 3/5 Compromise and the 1808 African slave trade deadline.
· The arguments over whether U.S. territories would enter as slave states or free states, to include the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and the Wilmot Proviso of 1846.
· The War between Texas and Mexico, and the role slavery played in it.
· The Abolition Movement of the early-mid 1800s and its efforts to end slavery.
· The description of life for slaves in the Southern states prior to the Civil War. An entire chapter of our textbook (Chapter 20) is dedicated to that subject.
· The deterioration of relations between the Northern and Southern states, and the significant role slavery played in that deterioration.
· The Civil War, in which, among other factors, slavery played a significant role, including the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.
· The Reconstruction period after the Civil War, in which the students are to study what happened to former slaves once they were freed, to include the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, Jim Crow Laws, and the Supreme Court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson.
Again, these are all subjects which I am required to teach by the state of California. Right when the issue of slavery becomes less of a factor in U.S. History also happens to be right when the California state standards for 8th Grade U.S. History come to a conclusion. The second half of U.S. History, that takes the student from approximately the year 1900 to modern times – when slavery was no longer a major factor in our country’s history – is to be found in California’s 11th grade U.S. History standards, which [your child] will study during [his/her] Junior year in High School.
If you wish to review the California 8th grade U.S. History standards for yourself, you can find them on pages 523-528 in [your child's] history textbook, which is called History Alive! The United States Through Industrialism, or visit the following link:
If you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me by email, or call me at ###-####.
All the Best,
Did this parent ever look at the standards ahead of time? Did this parent ever look at the textbook - both last year and this year - and notice how often slavery comes up as a topic of study? Apparently not. Instead, the parent fired off a written equivalent of projectile vomit, and I had to spend my entire prep period cleaning up the mess. After sending my response, I received no further communication about this matter from the parent.

What is so funny about all this is that to the extent I do teach about slavery in my classes, I especially enjoy teaching about it in order to counter the many myths, fallacies, and outright lies that have presumably been taught to most of my students before they ever entered my classroom.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson

Apparently, some people do believe that we belong to the government

So that post I wrote earlier today, where I highlighted a Democrat campaign ad where they state that we belong to the government?  Apparently many of the rank and file at the Democrat Convention in Charlotte really believe it to be the case.

Hard to believe that these people live in the same country that was founded by such men as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington:

 "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Are Democrats racist for [hearting] ObamaCare?

In the past, we on the conservative side of the political spectrum have been lambasted by the ObamaBots out there for using the term "Obamacare" to refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

For instance, Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast and Newsweek had this to say about Romney's use of the term during a speech before the NAACP:
But listen: You don’t go into the NAACP and use the word “Obamacare” and think that you’re not going to hear some boos. It’s a heavily loaded word, and Romney and his people know very well that liberals and the president’s supporters consider it an insult. He and his team had to know those boos were coming....
Or this from a newspaper in Billings, Montana (a swing state leaning Democrat) about the use of the word during legislative debate:
Discussion over a bill to require the state of Montana to join a lawsuit opposing federal health care reform sparked a heated debate over using the term "Obamacare" in a House committee Tuesday. Throughout the Legislative session, Democrats have objected to use of the word to describe the federal health care reform act, saying the expression is derogatory and some say racially motivated...
Democrat Rep. Carolyn Pease-Lopez strongly disagreed. She said the term is derived from racism toward the president and Republicans are only using the offensive term because they have such a large majority in the Legislature.
So where am I going with all this?  It leads me to a simple question:  If "Obamacare" is such an offensive and racist term in the eyes of Democrats, why have I now twice seen a bumper sticker - once in the Bay Area, and once in Sacramento - that says "I [Heart] ObamaCare"?

In fact, if you want your own bumper sticker with this seemingly offensive term, you can go to the website for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and get one for free.  Here is a screen capture of the order form:

So, much like the dreaded "N-word," "ObamaCare" is not truly a racist term unless you don't like the person who is using it.  There's nothing like a little hypocrisy and selective outrage to make your day, huh?

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson 

We belong to the government?

Leave it to the statist Democrats to release a political ad like this:

 Just a reminder from someone who knows of what he speaks: "...that to secure these [unalienable] rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...." (My emphasis)

We don't belong to the government you wannabe totalitarian morons; the government belongs to We the People.  

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Just in case you wondered where the NEA stood in the upcoming election

It's presidential election season, and the National Educational Association has ended the suspense and let us know who they support for President of the United States.  This information comes to us from the latest edition of NEA Today magazine, which I receive for reasons unknown, since I am not even a CTA or NEA union member.

Ready?  Here is their endorsement:

Very subtle.

Reminding me once again why I am an non-union member agency fee payer.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

Happy Sixteen Trillion Dollar Debt Day!

That's right folks!  As of today, our national debt is now in excess of $16,000,000,000,000!

And just in time for the first day of the Democrat National Convention in Charlotte, NC. 


"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson