Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rant on the World

While it has been awhile since my last post, and I do apologize for not being able to keep up with some news stories, I can not help but reflect on a nagging question which has seemingly been on my mind as of late: what is wrong with people? I ask this question in light of a number of stories that have come out in the news regarding world, political, and social events. In order to explain, I will break the next few paragraphs into those three areas.

World: As it was reported earlier, there have been cartoons printed about the Prophet Muhammad that has generated a high degree of violence. As people begin to wonder how much terrorism could be created as a result of all this, I cannot help but think that some folks have a hard time understanding that their decisions can have real consequences on the world around them. Europeans have had an arrogant sense that when it comes to the Middle East, the only ones who should care are Americans because the Arabs only hate them. Reality is the Arab terrorists hate everyone but themselves. While they might not outwardly go ahead and do something to a European nation, they might be planning something. A case and point scenario is what happened in London. We must never forget the fact that when it comes to the Middle East, many of the problems we have today in that region can be traced back to the British drawing lines on a map and placing long time tribal rivals into the same country.

Although this is something that is noteworthy, another aspect of the Middle East and countries that are ruled by nothing more than over confident bullies is the fact that Middle Eastern countries are politically designed to be countries that do not allow freedom of speech and/or dissent. In America, there are jovial references to religion, but that does not mean that someone is going to go out and fire bomb another religion’s church just because of it. In fact, it is our ability to say that maybe one method is not right and another could be which makes us tolerant of other ideas. Granted, not everyone can be tolerate, but the fact that we have this in place allows us to move on in our lives.

Political: In looking at politics, one must ask the proverbial question: where to begin? The Vice President shoots a lawyer in the face. I refer you to a previous post. The UAE is going to be running six of our ports. Ironic how there are some people who freak out over this. Perhaps logic needs to be considered. The UAE is Arab virtually in name only. According to folks I know who have been there, it is party time 24/7. For a religion that bans alcohol, the folks in the UAE have some of the largest wet bars you are ever going to find. The fear with the UAE is that with them in charge, terrorists will have a foothold into the country and then attack us. If this were to happen, the UAE might as well give up any hope of ever doing business with anyone again. It is in the best interest of the UAE to prevent terrorists from getting involved with their trade deals. In addition to this, it is not like there will be an influx of Arab workers in the ports that are in question. The day to day operations of the parts will be made by Americans. The problem people seem to have is that they feel this is the end of the world. Have we ever done something like this before? YES! Their called China and that particular country runs the port in a little old city called LOS ANGELES! So, perhaps it is time for some folks to take a time out, take a step back, and then look at the picture with a few moments rest.

Social: I read the social issues and can’t help but break this one down even further. There is education, entertainment, and judicial. We begin with the education department. Recently, there have been a number of articles dealing with the education of today’s youth which has caught my attention. First, there was the one which dealt with girls being smarter than boys in the classroom. In looking at my students now, who are taking a test, I can’t help but feel that the fifteen girls will do better than the seven boys taking the test simply by number alone. The problem isn’t necessarily that educating one gender is easier than another, but rather it all comes down to the way the teacher teaches the learning material and the student learns it. Education is a two way street. If one side gets jammed up, then the other side will be affected. Contemporary example: bottlenecking around an accident. How many of you do it? Another area that caught my attention is the rise of political correctness in the playground. It seems that the child’s self esteem needs to be considered and so some classic games are being shelved simply to help those who might not be so inclined to play sports. The game of tag seems to be on the list as of late, namely because the stronger and faster kids pick on the slower and weaker ones. How many people feel shocked about this? When I was kicked, I know I was tagged. I might not have been the fastest kid on the playground, but I was certainly one of the smartest around. Finally, the food kids eat are now being looked at. It seems some schools have food profiles on kids to make sure they don’t eat certain foods which will make them fat. Well, why not let the kid have the cookie, play a long game of tag, and then go back to class. The energy from the cookie will be burned up along with the extra calories.

In entertainment, I can’t help but feel celebrities are idiots. Most of the old actors don’t have an education that gets them out of high school. However, it seems their opinions mean more than anyone else’s. I can’t help but cite Scarlett Johansson, who said that stem cell research would be great because it could cure diseases like AIDS and polio. Time out. Polio? Sorry Miss Scarlett, but polio has been taken care of for quite some time now. In fact, everyone in the country gets a shot for it when they are a baby. Even worse with the celebrities is the fact that as role models, we can’t really rely on them for much of anything. Between the drugs and other indiscretions they get involved in, is it any wonder most of us come out as somewhat decent people?

Finally, judicial situations. I know this would fall under government, but I have to discuss some things that I have seen which makes me pretty upset. How big of a person are you is you shoot a nine month old baby in the stomach? We should ask Neil Entwistle about this. While he says he is innocent, innocent people do not flee the country and leave evidence on the computer of soliciting call girls and finding out ways to kill people. Tell me, do cutting the arms off a ten month old make you a big person? Well, when people say the mother was temporarily insane when she did it, then I got to wonder. A Texas woman places her daughter on her bed and cuts the baby’s arms off. Sounds a little to me like she knew what she was doing. Finally, are you a big person if you strangle a friend because of a boy. Well, seemingly that is the case considering that Illinois teens see it that way.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter on this is that people need to learn to relax and stop bugging everyone else with all of their problems. When it comes to politics, sometimes ignorance is bliss. Yes, we should be informed and know what is going on, but I don’t think we need to know every minute detail of a person. Entertainers need to remember their jobs and entertain, not discuss politics. As for people killing innocents, they deserve the highest punishment of the land, the death penalty. A parent killing a child, a baby no less, is just awful. The world is robbed of a person who could have done countless numbers of things and make the world a better place for all of us. Who knows what they could have done. That’s my opinion and unlike some folks, I am sticking with it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Media: Covering What They Want, When They Want

In looking at the news, we have found that the media has latched onto the Vice President and his accidental shooting of a friend while on a hunting trip in Texas. Yesterday, Vice President Cheney admitted the shooting was his fault, but that his not talking about it for a day was alright. The media on the other hand feels it has the need to be disclosed to every little detail of a public official’s life. Need I remind you of the time where President Bush choked on a pretzel? The media latched on to it and everyone was saying the President couldn’t eat a pretzel. Well, here is a news flash for the media.

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! STUDENT GAGS ON CHEETO! Now doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Of course it does. Now, hunting accidents occur more frequently than most people would like to admit. However, there are more important things going on in the world than what Dick Cheney is doing.

For instance, earlier this week, Al Gore gave a speech in Saudi Arabia where he discussed how Americans rounded up Arabs after 9/11 for the “minor charge of overstaying their visa or not having their green cards in proper order.” It would seem Mr. Gore has forgotten that the terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon where two things. First, they were ARABS! Second, the men who did these horrible attacks were here on EXPIRED VISAS! So if the authorities were cracking down on these people after the attacks and detaining them, it isn’t for a minor charge, but rather for national security and the fact that these people shouldn’t be here anymore.

Something that liberals need to remember is that when it comes to our country, if an immigrant comes over for educational purposes, then decides to berate the country that is giving them this education, perhaps they should not be here to begin with. There is a certain point of honor where if a person decides to move from one country to another, they should show some respect for their new home. It is not fair to take all of the resources this country gives them, only to turn around and insult all of its customs, beliefs, and history.

So what should we do about Al Gore and his misconceptions as to what makes a minor and major crime? Well, I might as well get in on the jokes of Dick Cheney like everyone else. Maybe Cheney should invite Gore to a nice little hunting trip.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Black History Month: How recognized is it?

As we all know, February is Black History Month. During this month, we look at different aspects of black history in order to better understand the background of an entire racial group in our country. As a history teacher, I can say that this is a good thing up to a point. It is important to know about other cultures. It is important to understand their backgrounds. But is it important to force teacher to take course and be familiarized in the backgrounds of each culture?

In New Jersey, Assemblyman William Payne wants to push legislation for all new teachers in his state to be familiarized in black history. He was also responsible for passing in the state a law mandating teachers to teach black history. In addition to this law, the Amistad Commission was created to make sure that black history is being taught. The problem though New Jersey schools are having is that the teachers are not really teaching black history.

So why is it this is happening? Well, for starters, the teachers do have a say in what they are teaching. They need to make sure the students get the standard education they supposed to get while at the same time being prepared for college. In addition to this, some school must deal with the Standards of Learning test. For parents of children in public schools, these three words are rather dreaded. The reason for this is because schools will stop teaching their regular curriculum in order to go ahead and teach to a test that students must take if they hope to go ahead and graduate to the next level of education.

While I do not contend the issue of learning about other cultures, I do have issue with the fact that Assemblyman Payne wants new teachers to be trained in black history. The demands of a teacher are very high to begin with and to add on extra burdens can be difficult.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter on this issue is this, what defines black history? If it is solely being looked at from the perspective from the time black have been in this country since Jamestown, then we must ask what aspects are to be examined. For instance, are we only looking at the evils of slavery, oppression of blacks, and the civil rights movement. If this is the case, then we are seemingly forgetting quiet a bit of black history, culture, and society.

Do people who want black history taught so much want everyone to learn about Denmark Vessey or Nat Turner, who killed an infant in the middle of the night after slaughtering the baby’s family in their sleep? Do they want to talk about the militantism of Malcolm X? Do they want the radicalism of the Black Panthers to be reviewed? How about the affairs Martin Luther King Jr. had? Do these people want schools to look at the fact, yes the FACT, that black racism in this country is actually worse than white racism.

In black culture, not only do some group of blacks dislike whites, but also people of their own skin color. What is wrong with men like Wayne Brady, Will Smith, and Tiger Woods? Nothing. However, some blacks see them as “Uncle Toms” who sold out their race. Is there a problem with making money? Is there a problem with speaking proper English?

In flipping through the channels, I came across BET (Black Entertainment) and they were showing music videos. In the video, there was the singer swiping, SWIPING, a credit card through the cheek buttocks of a woman. Is this entertainment? NO! If anything, this is filth.

Is it no small wonder that both Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman have both said the Black community needs to get their acts together? Bill Cosby had said at an NAACP meeting that there is a problem in the Black community when parents of children are willing to spend more money on shoes than Hooked on Phonics.

Consider this fact, if Hispanics and Asians have been able to succeed in this country and climb up the social ladder, why can’t Blacks? If the white people always want to oppress the minorities, then why do those two groups seem to excel?

Booker T. Washington, born a slave, became an educator and founded Tuskegee Institute. He believed that is was necessary to educate the former slaves and their children in order to help them advance in society. When the children have the education and can become valuable to the economy as industrial workers, even if it is the menial jobs, acceptance is made.

We must remember that respect is earned, not just handed out. When it comes to Black History Month, this is something that is part of the history of America as a whole, not to be singled out, not to have its own special examination, but to be seen in the context in which it occurred so that the future generations of this country can understand where it is that we came from and where we are going to in the future.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

There's Something About Homework

It seems that the news world is slowing down as of late. Between the Arabs being mad at satire cartoons, activists complaining about anything to get tv time, and celebrities giving us new things to laugh at them about, it just seems hard to find something new and interesting to talk about in the new for Talking Points.

However, I did find something taht is of interest to me. In a recent poll, the questioin was asked as to whether or not students get too much homework. The end result...yes, students get too much homework. However, even with the seemingly endless pile of work they get, both parents and teachers believe that the work is rather light. In that case, the kids shouldn't have too much trouble doing it.

Now, when asking my own students what they thought of this, surprise surprise they said that they agreed with the statement that they had too much homework to do. However, the claims of having too much homework to do and the amount of time spent doing it are two ENTIRELY different things. For instance, I listen to some of the things my student say in class. When they talk about hanging out together or going out shopping or things along those lines, does that mean they are giving themselves sufficient amount of time for homework? Ofcourse not. Instead, they are going to be acting their ages and do everything in their power to avoid doing the work. In fact, I can look through my gradebook at the homework assignments collect by me for my students and see a rather common theme. If I am lucky, I will get half, that's right HALF, of my history students to give me their assignements. As for the ones who don't turn the work in...I pull out the old red pen of death and put a zero in for their grade.

Is this fair? Some will say yes while others say no. I will tell you now, it isn't fair for the students who do their work to suffer and watch other classmates wait until the last second to their work and get full credit for the work. It just isn't fair.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter on this issue is this, kids are just lazy. I will admit, I came home from school, went downstairs and "did" at least ninety minutes of homework during high school. Reality, we are looking at maybe an hour tops. However, the distractions of my time when doing homework was an insatiable desire to read the next chapter of the novel I was reading. Today, kids have a plethora of television channels, the internet, ipods, and countless other tools to go ahead and distract them while they attempt to do their homework.

Do the parents know what is going on? Sometimes, but not always. What we need to consider is what must be done to help the children of this country do better in school. In fact, where I am at now, we find ourselves in the midstof course selection. I tell all the students that talk to me, do not sell yourself short. Take the classes that will challenge you. Problem is all the kids want me to be their teacher.

While I am honored with the respect and admiration that they give me, I do not want them to hinder their own education. However, there is simply one belief I have as a teacher: Regardless of what type of class you are in, there is no reason for why the materials should not be presented in a challenging manner to make a student give it their all. I treat each class like they are in college, whether they like it or not.

And what do I say about homework? The burden of responsibility is on their shoulders. If they screw up, then THEY SCREWED UP!!!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cartoons...Funny and Nice or Mean and Cruel

Originally Published: February 3, 2006

In looking at the headlines, it seems quite clear that we now have people who are just complete idiots. The folks in question are cartoonist. Two different situations have presented themselves that can certainly cause outrage and disgust. In Europe, the European press have published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed. For the Islamic religion, this is seen as blasphemy.

Although we live in a time where Islam is seen as the enemy, it is quite clear that many people see religion as a whole as an enemy. The one source of comfort that people can find in the world is within religion. To make a cheap shot on religion can only show someone needs to go down to the lowest common denominator in order to get a point across. In fact, televised media has also jumped on this type of bashing with an upcoming episode of the show ‘Will and Grace.’ In the upcoming episode, pop star Britney Spears will be playing the role of a Christian Conservative who presents a television segment called ‘Cruci-fixins.’ Now, I will admit I work in a Catholic school and have already been sent an email requesting that I voice my opinion on the offensiveness of this particular scene. I cannot help but feel that an area of people’s lives that touches the deepest parts of their souls is an area of comedy. For those who want to know more on my views on religion, I advise you read my post on ‘Star Wars and Religion.’

The second cartoonist offense can be seen from the Washington Post. In this editorial cartoon, we see a soldier wounded in Iraq who has lost all of his limbs. The doctor is being portrayed by Donald Rumsfeld, who tells the wounded soldier he is no battle hardened. Now, where do I take offense? Soldiers who are wounded in action deserve respect and honor. To portray a situation like this with some kind of tasteless humor does not show support towards our own troops. A not of comfort though is that soldiers who have been wounded and lost limbs say they have a thick layer of skin and do not get phased by these things. However, I cannot help but feel that history is being repeated.

After Vietnam, veterans who fought there because their country asked them to were being spit on and called baby killers because the media portrayed them as villains. Although the media has not begun to do this kind of attack yet, I feel that there is the possibility that it could happen again. More importantly, it could happen by the time of our next presidential election. If a new administration comes in that is not in favor of fighting terror as rigorously as our current administration, any attempts by the military to show the necessity of continuing the fight will be seen as American generals are blood thirsty tyrants.

While this particular talking points is more opinionated than anything else, I can’t help but feel it is necessary to sometimes vent these things out.

Sheehan, Kaine, and Phil...Talk about a bunch of groundhogs

Originally Published: February 2, 2006

We begin today with a story that has developed since Tuesday with the State of the Union. As many might know by this point and time, Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing an anti-war t-shirt while sitting in the House gallery. After being detained for four hours, she was released. The t-shirt has been reported to have said, “2,245 dead. How many more?” However, Ms. Sheehan was not the only one removed from the Houe gallery that night. Mrs. Beverly Young, wife of Representative Bill Young (R., FL), was removed for wearing a t-shirt which said “Support the troops.” While both women did not like the fact that they were removed for expressing freedom of speech, the officers who removed the two women were following House rules and regulations.
But now we see there is criticism coming down on this. From the Left, the complaint is that if you disagree with the President, you will be silenced. From the Right, if you support the President, you will be silenced. Now as I check the sky and see if the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding outside, the Capitol police have commented on the situation. As they point out, they were following “outdated rules” and probably should not have removed the women from the gallery. Apologies have been made to both women; however, Sheehan plans on suing the police for defamation of character and violation of her civil liberties. How far will this case get? Only time will tell.

In other news, Governor Timothy Kaine of Virginia, who recently gave the Democrat response to the State of the Union, said yesterday in a meeting that illegal immigration was not a top issue for the people of Virginia. Instead, there were far more pressing issues that had to be dealt with in the state, but immigration was not one of them. This is rather ironic, considering that is was no more than SIX MONTHS AGO that the issue of illegal immigration in Virginia was making headline news and garnering quite a bit of attention.

The issue was whether or not state tax dollars should be used to build a day laborer center in Herndon, Virginia. For those who do not live or know much about the Northern Virginia area, I will tell you now that there are certain cities in the area that have their map names and their informal names. Annandale is often referred to as Asiandale. The Herndon/Reston area is known as Little El Salvador. One of the greatest problems our country as a whole suffers from today is the issue of illegal immigration. As I am often reminded from one of my own peers, all we need now a days is for one terrorist to enter the country through Canada or Mexico and they can do more damage than we can possibly imagine.

While this is true, it seems that the honorable Governor Kaine does not quite see that. While Governor Kaine talks about a better way, I must give him his dues. Education, health care, employment, and transportation are all important issues. And while Kaine wants to focus our attention on these issues, he seems to be forgetting a few things and not acknowledge one major problem.

The problem is that illegal immigration greatly affects each of these. If children of illegal immigrants enter our public schools, the tax dollars that their families could be generating are not becoming available. This is not a better way. If employers see illegal immigrants as a better source of workers because they are cheaper to pay and do not cause the need to pay taxes, they will hire them. As a result, we find ourselves going back to the days of unrestrained competition and unsafe work environments that make the Big Business factories of the Gilded Age seem like play pens. This is not a better way. If an illegal immigrant enters into a hospital and has no insurance, the taxpayers must pay for these people. This is not a better way. When an illegal immigrant rams their car into another person’s because they do not understand what stop means, the victim of the crash has to watch their insurance rates go up because the illegal immigrant was the one who caused the accident. This is not a better way. So I cannot help but think this, if illegal immigrants can affect so many areas of our lives, does this not make them a top priority?

Finally, today is Groundhogs Day. According to Phil, we will have six more weeks of winter. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if it stays somewhat warm for the rest of winter, I am going to be looking forward to some groundhog stew.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter for today comes with Cindy Sheehan. The fact of the matter is this, we live in a land of laws and rules. If a rule is broken, you will be punished. It is a fact. It is something every one of us has been taught since we were children. There are no exceptions. There are no special considerations. Ms. Sheehan is allowed to have her opinion, but there are certain times and places where her opinions are not meant to spoken, expressed, or heard. The State of the Union is one of those times. While she might not have tried to do any physical harm to the President, her mere presence is a security risk. If we permit people to express their views while the President begins to address the nation and explain his goals for the next year, then we might as well cancel the whole procedure of making this a nationally televised event. The President can have the speech sent to the press and Congress and be done with it.

My friends, some of you may say this is good. You might want to watch some kind of crap that is on television today and not think about politics. The problem with that plan is that as soon as this happens, we begin to lose more of what little political culture every one has in them. When less than half the country votes in a presidential election, there is a problem. When people don’t know who is in charge of what or the difference between the House and Senate or even more importantly, what Congress really is, there is a problem. As a society, Americans must move forward and be willing to listen to all side of an argument, or else we are doomed to never ending squabbling amongst ourselves.

Tis The Season To Be...Grumpy?

Originally Published: December 17, 2005

In watching the news recently, it seems that there is this so called unofficial war on Christmas going on. People seem to have a problem with the phrase Happy Holidays. Since this is a season meant to be about sharing and celebrating the birth of an important religious figure, it would only be fair to say that it makes sense that we at least call the season by its proper name. The problem is that there are some other religious holidays that are also seen in December. In order to go ahead and rectify this situation, we have the phrase Happy Holidays. It covers all the major religious events and cannot possibly offend anyone.

The problem is that there are some people who do get offended by this phrase. In thier minds, it is a loss of religious believes and values in this country. As Bill O'Reilly points out, this is a secularist attempt to make this nation a lot like France. There are people who are part of religious organizations which attempt to try and put a little bit more religion into this particular holiday, and little less commercialism. The problem these people have is the ACLU, which comes in with their lawyers and scream separation of church and state. And so the battle continues again, until someone gives up the fight.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter is this. People need to grow up! Saying Merry Christmas or Happy holidays does not draw a line in the sand between being the United States and France. They are just both sayings. As for those who are like O'Reilly and the ACLU, the best peice of advice for them is to get over themselves. The world is not their playpen. My friends, thir opinions are just as good as your or mine. The only difference between them and you is that they have a televsion camera infront of them and you don't.

However, there is a simple way fo seeing whether or not people hate Christmas. Why not take away its holiday status and make it an official work day? I guarantee you, my friends, there will be such an uproar from citizens, the business community, and other places that people will stop complaining about the simple little things like a name and just agree to celebrating the holiday.

Strange But True

Originally Published: November 16, 2005
In looking at the headlines, it seems that the news has produced for the country two news stories that can only be classified as “Strange, but True.”

We begin in Georgia, where a 37 seven year old woman marries a 15 year old boy. That’s right, 37 and 15. To make matters even more interesting, this woman is pregnant with the boy’s child. If this doesn’t start the gears in the head moving, here are a few little tidbits for you to think about. The boy lives with his grandmother. From what I can figure out, it seems like the boy was looking for a mother like figure. His choice was his best friend’s mom. Well, it seems someone’s Oedipus Complex went a little too far then. The grandmother discovers what was happening when she stumbles on the love letters written by the woman to the boy. In addition to the letters, she find EXPLICIT photographs of the woman in the boy’s room! Hmm…Jerry Springer couldn’t have scripted this story any better even if he tried.

However, we do have a rival story to make you wonder. In Colorado, a 41 year old mother has been sentenced to thirty years in prison for having sex parties in her house for at least a year. It would seem that from 2003-2004 the woman gave a weekly party at her house for underage boys. With these parties, she provided both drugs and alcohol to the students. In her mind, she was being the “cool mom” and wanted to be popular since she wasn’t popular in high school. Apparently there were eight boys who were at her parties, and five them engaged in sexual activities…WITH HER! It would seem this woman did not think too far ahead by realizing that being popular with teenage boys ENDS after you get out of college.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter is this, what the bloody hell is wrong with people. Did it ever dawn on these women that engaging in sexual activities with a minor is a bad idea? Did anyone not learn the lesson from the teacher on the west coast who got pregnant from one of her students? You got to wonder if these women were living under a rock at the time all of this was going on.
It is said by some that women tend to be smarter than men. I got to wonder though, if these are some representatives of the fairer sex, are they really as smart as they claim? I’ll pause for the laugh ever guy is having right now and the scoffs every woman is having. Now that that is done, let me continue.

It would seem that today’s society has an issue with responsibility. For some reason, no one ever wants to take responsibility for their actions. Look at these two women. If they were the responsible adults they were supposed to be, they would have known right away not to get involved with a person is better than twenty years their junior. Now, I am aware that there are some men who do that. Is it right? Not when it is plainly clear that the younger party is below legal age. If both parties are above legal age, then it is really something they have to deal with.
The sad part of all of this is as follows: the fact that our society has seemingly made it appear that it is cool for an older person to go after a younger person is what could have started the whole thing. We have heard how one of the latest crazes is how older women go after younger guys. The most notable case is Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

My friends, we need to consider this fact. How desperate are you, or maybe how shallow are you, when you need to go finding a person who is young enough to be your own child as a mate? As a society, we can not tolerate something like this. Thankfully, justice is prevailing, but the fact that people in the mainstream are able to flaunt their romances about for all to see will only encourage others to try the same thing and who knows where it all will end.

Star Wars and Religion

Originally Published: November 14, 2005

After watching the entire Star Wars saga, it is clear there are certain underlying messages that the film series is trying to express to the audience. First, it should be pointed out that these films are good and as a whole, it is an exciting story to watch. However, we do learn something about the characters, about ourselves, and about society as a whole through the series. Allow me to enlighten.

For those who do not know the basic outline of the six films, let me explain it. First, the saga is about a Skywalker, but not Luke. Instead, it is really the story of Anakin, Luke's father. The first film, entitled The Phantom Menace, introduces the audience to young Anakin Skywalker. Anakin is a slave who is freed by a Jedi Knight, Qui Gon Jinn. When Anakin is taken before the Jedi Council, it is felt he is too old and too much of a risk for the Jedis to train to become a knight. The only person who has faith in him is Qui Gon. However, Qui Gon is killed and Anakin loses his first real father like figure. Enter Obi Wan Kenobi, who takes over as the new father figure for Anakin. Obi Wan will train Anakin in the ways of the Jedi Knights, but finds his young apprentice to be apprehensive and wanting more than the order can give. Through out the second film, Attack of the Clones, we see that Anakin is beginning to get frustrated with life in general. The reason for this is because his mother was killed and he could do nothing to stop her from dying. In the third film, Revenge of the Sith, Anakin turns to the darkside of the force as the Chancellor of the Republic, Palpatine, convinces Anakin that the only way he can save the one person in his life who means anything, Anakin's wife Padmee, is to join the Sith. As a result, Anakin is forced to betray the Jedis and kill them. In the end, Anakin battles Obi Wan in an epic battle where really two different points of view clash: who is really evil? Obi Wan successfully defeats Anakin after cutting off Anakin's legs and arm. That's right folks, three limbs are taken off in only ONE shot. After Anakin is transformed into the classic Darth Vader, he is told that his wife had died because of Anakin's rage. As a result, Anakin has lost the person he hoped to protect and therefore has nothing left to lose, pushing him deeper into the darkside.

In the fourth film, A New Hope, Anakin plays the villain as he kills Obi Wan and narrowly escpaes death himself when his son, Luke, destroys the Death Star. In the fifth film, The Empire Strikes Back, Anakin obsessively chases after Luke. The shock that Luke is his son is unknown to the audience until the dramatic confession is made that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. Although Anakin could have killed Luke at anytime, it seems clear that he doesn't want to. But why? The answer can be seen in the final installment of the film, Return of the Jedi, where Luke and Anakin battle for the last time. In this film, we see that Luke has his own personal mission, to help his father battle the conflict of good and evil within himself and return from the darkside. The interplay between the two is clear that Anakin is battling his alter ego of Darth Vader. In the end, Anakin returns from the darkside when he watches Palpatine, now emporer, electrocuting his son right before his eyes. Anakin kills the emporer and in his final moments tells Luke that he was right about there still being good inside the elder Skywalker.

What we see throughout the film is the desire of Anakin to have acceptance. The Jedis do not trust him because they sense something is wrong with him. The only people who love him and care about him end up dead, but he does not realize that there are times where one person can change what is going to happen. The one person who tries to speak reason to Anakin, Obi Wan, is like the father who tries to show his son the errors of his way, but only talks toa brick wall. When Anakin sees that there is one person who believes in him and gives Anakin himself something to believe in once again, do we see tha there is an inner conflict for the good to return and repent for the mistakes of the past.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter is this, today's society seems to have an extremely negative view about religion. The battle between science and religion seems to be waging across the the country in schools, namely when it comes to evolution versus intelligent design. In addition, we have the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance. For some reason God is seen as taboo. So what does Star Wars have to do with religion and what is going on with the country? The answer is this. If we learn anything from Star Wars it is this: everyone needs something to believe in.

My friends, the world is a complicated place. to simply say that one view is right and there others are wrong is simply not the way things are done. In reality, the world is big enough to accept multiple ideas, so long as it is respected. The one thing Anakin needed above all else was something to believe in and the guidance, support, and the strength of others in him. Today, the shallowness of people drives them to look for insignificant things with only temporary support. The beauty of religion is that it gives people a much stronger sense of strength. We know that God can guide us. We know that God will support us through His love and wisdom. And we know that God will give us the strength of others by bringing people to us who care and like us. So when it comes to religion, people should not find it to be a negative thing. Instead, we should embrace it. We might not always enjoy everything that is said with the religion we may have, but in the end, it gives us the comfort and guidance that helps guide us through the hardest times of our lives.

Tragedy of Professional Wrestling

Originally Published: November 13, 2005

While I understand some of you may wonder what does professional wrestling do with politics, I will say upfront that there is a lot to learn about politics from professional wrestling. However, I must begin this entry with a sad note. It was announced today that former heavyweight champion Eddie Guerrero passed away in his hotel room in Minneapolis. This is a tragic incident considering Eddie leave behind a widow and three daughters.

What we see here is a case of where one man controls an entire industry and makes his workers go through a life of hell all in the name of business. The man in question, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. To be fair, McMahon has done a lot for wrestling. He was able to turn a former carnival attraction into a billion dollar industry. The problem that exists though is that if one wrestler is not interested in doing something, McMahon has the power to go ahead and make their life a living hell by either firing them or making a hard worker look like nothing. One of the greatest problems with World Wrestling Entertainment is that there are no unions in the company.

As a result of this, the wrestlers must go out on the road for almost the entire year, putting their bodies on the line and never getting to see their families. For the most part, a wrestler who gets married ends up getting divorced since they are not around and are unable to be a part of a regular family life. In addition, the greatest problem wrestlers have with being on the road so much is that their bodies are put through so much pain, the world of "demons" opens up to them. A wrestler would need pain pills to numb the pain, use alcohol to forget the pain, then use other drugs to help keep them awak andmove on to the next show that they have to appear at.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter with this situation is this, without someone trying to regulate what is going on in the wrestling industry, more wrestlers are prone to dying prematurely. While many people might not be too trhilled with the idea of having a union, I believe some kind of body watching the happening of professional wrestling might be needed. Other professional athletes have rules and guidelines to help protect them, but in professional wrestling, there is nothing to protect the men and women that work in this particular industry.

There are those who say the industry is fake, but lets face it, one could argue the same thing over many other sports, but I will not get into that. Instead, something needs to be done in order to allow wrestlers to get the opportunity to do something they love, but find themselves in a position where their lives will be in jeopardy.

One final thing to note is this. One of the leading killers to wrestlers is an enlarged heart. One particular legal drug that does that is the weightloss energy drugs like Stacker 2 and other products like that. One of the things that has been seen with that product is that it increases your heart speed and eventually makes your body go into a heart attack or into a stroke. So as I have said, something needs to be done or else more people will suffer.

Veteran's Day

Originally Published: November 11, 2005

Today is Veterans Day. It is on this day we remember those who have fallen in the defense of our country to make sure we remain the land of the free. In addition to honoring these brave men and women, we thank those who are still alive for all they did in this country. One would think that on this day people would not go out and do something stupid or controversial. Sadly, a hope like that is just too hard to have come true.

In Waterville, Maine, peace demonstrators placed 2,000 white flags on the graves of those soldiers who died in Iraq. Now, everyone has the right to go ahead and believe in what they want. If you are for or against something, that is fine. However, where do we draw the line. For the members of the local VFW in Waterville, the demonstrators crossed the line between political activism and desecration. Wayne Elkins, the local VFW commander, had commented that he had nothing against the demonstrators of their message. His primary concern was the cemetery. He said, “They desecrated our veterans' grounds. If they want to protest, let them protest. We don't mind. But to desecrate hallowed ground is wrong.” Elkins and four others were arrested as they went into the cemetery to take down the white flags from the graves of the fallen soldiers. They were later released under the condition that they would not return to the cemetery and remove the flags. To read the article about this story, learn more on the Waterville VFW and the peace demonstrators, click here.

Fact of the Matter

The fact of the matter to this situation is this, if a person wants to speak out on a political issue, I say go ahead. However, let the dead rest in peace. If you have to sink that low in order to get your point across, what does that say about you. Granted, this is just a small little cemetery where no one is probably going to see unless they somehow find themselves up in Waterville.
My friends, let me pose this question to you. Would you be alright with white flags being placed on the graves of those men and women buried at Arlington Cemetery? I doubt it. To honor our fallen dead is meant to be done with dignity and respect. These demonstrators can say that they were doing that until they are blue in the face (and yes, I am aware that blue is the color of Democrats), but lets think about what a white flags means.

Traditionally, we see a white flag as a sign of surrender. So let me leave you with this little thought. Would you prefer to see an American flag proudly flying over the grave of one of the brave soldiers who gave their all for their country, or a white flag making it look as if the soldier surrendered?

How Racist Are People? Really

Originally Published: November 11, 2005

We live in a world where it seems that political correctness has run completely out of control. As a result, everything someone has to say must be considered before even saying it. In the place where I work, simply saying the word "black" could be considered offensive. Instead, African American must be said. Is there really a problem with saying "black". I am called white, but I have no problem with that.

It seems more and more that if a person remotely looks at a person the wrong way, they are automatically considered racist. Example, I was in Mississippi on the Gulf Coast walking from one casino to another. It is night time and the wind is blowing. As I walk, I keep my head down namely because the wind is blowing and I want to know where I am walking so that I don't get blown out into traffic. There is a black family standing around on the sidewalk talking. Now, I move a little out of the way because, lets face it, courtesy says not to walk right into the folks. They get one look at me, and they are hightailing it out of there as if they saw a ghost. A person I was walking with said that they moved, not because they were in the way, but rather my appearance was that of a person who would be a member of the Klan. Is this right? NO! To base an opinion about a person you do not know is completely wrong.

However, we are guilty of doing this everyday. Ask yourself, how often do I say something that is really racist without knowing it? I guarantee you that ou have done it or will do it in the near future. While these acts are not necessarily hurting anyone, it can be said that it is the long run which will have problems. People continuously say they are not racist nor do they ever have a racist thought. I can tel you this my friends, the people that say it are racist and elitist no matter how you look at it.

So how do we get rid of racism? Answer: Be proud of being an American. We need to stop the sub division of being what kind of American and just BE Americans. I am aware that this is the land of the free and everyone can do what they want, but do we really want to turn into France. Assimilation and a unity of the people will go a long way into helping make sure there is peace between the races. If there is one thing I would tell people to remember, it is this: E Plurabus, Unum...Out of Many, One.

Opening Manifesto

Originally published: October 2005

Greetings to my new readers. As seen by the title, this blog is the Southern Conservative. It would take only a genius to figure out what that means. While the media continues to spout out its own agenda and paint a negative picture of the country, its leaders, and all those who might actually try to do something good for us, there are a few people in the world who know what is going on and wants to get their voices heard. As for me, there are times where I hear something and need to make a comment that everyone should hear and after careful reflection, see that it is right. Not everything I say will necessarily be agreed with, but that ability to express one's opinions in a world where political correctness runs out of control is something that makes this country unique. As the author of this page, the only pledge I can give to you my readers is that I will give my opinions and back them with facts. If there is an opinion with out fact, I will make it noted. This I pledge.
"We have it in our power to begin the world over again." -Thomas Paine

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Teaching Styles: Self Esteem vs. Embarrassment

We begin today by going over to the west coast. There, a principal of a school has come up with a new method of trying to discipline his students. If the kids are being idiots, he tells them that they are idiots. If they do stupid things in class, they will be summarily embarrassed. In his view, self esteem needs to be put aside and discipline restored in the classroom. Student response to this program is rather optomistic. Students feel the need to try and make sure that they do their best and not get onto the principal's radar screen. However, this whole system is not one sided. In fact, the principal has done a quid pro quo with the students. If a student has perfect attendance, the principal will pay them with hard cash right out of his pocket. To date, 80% of his 8th grade class is well on their way to earning a hundred dollars each.

In looking at this, as a teacher I got to admit I wish I could do this. There ARE some students who need to be told exactly what kind fo people they are. If it shames them, good. There is an obvious character flaw that needs to be addressed and worked upon. While parents who are critics of this program point out that teachers should not be bullies in the classroom, I can't help but point out to parents that students aren't meant to be a bunch of heathens who think it is their duty to challenge everything in the classroom and try to make themselves the centerof attention.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

New Home For An Old Face

Talking Points is coming to a new location namely for a few reasons. First, the old site was just WAY too slow and hard to keep posts on. Second, it is a little easier to find this one. Third, I just felt like a change.

I will repost the old messages from the old site and then continue with the new stuff probably on Tuesday. However, a quick note.