August 2005 Archives

Dateline: Home Study

I read the latest issue of Presbyterians Today and once again find I am disappointed in my national church organization. Vernon Broyles column borders on encouraging breaking the law and he seems to want to encourage illegal immigration. He even uses the term illegal in quotes, as if it those who cross the border and enter this country without passports and visas are not in violation of the law. But Broyles is pretty much a lost cause anyway.

The editor however troubles me. I’ve often disagreed with her but she usually well-reasoned and is not nearly as militant as Broyles. But this month she exhibits a quality I find in far too many people these days—the belief that change can happen in a vacuum. Secondary and tertiary effects are seemingly never considered.

This month the issue is school vouchers. Like so many, Ms Stimson makes the assumption that if vouchers are issued parents will flock to the private schools; in other words it is assumed that public schools are bad and everyone will leave them. Well, there are some problems with this thinking that is seldom discussed by the liberals. First, private schools will give preference to their current students meaning that there will in general be limited space for new students. If the private schools add students faster than they grow their resources they will fail.

Second, and perhaps most disappointingly, Ms Stimson assumes that public schools will do nothing. Such thinking is too shallow. Public schools will strive to improve their infrastructure to retain current students and attract new students. They will actually be forced to listen to the public they serve and offer programs accordingly. If the community values art, then public school art programs will grow. If the community wants more science and math, more science and math courses will be added by both public and private schools. If discipline is valued, discipline will be instilled.

No, the real reason liberals oppose schools vouchers is, I believe, that the public will take control of public schools. If vouchers come to be, local citizens rather than the National Education Association will make decisions over what is taught in the schools and what program are offered. IN other words, the market will dictate that the local school board be accountable to the public. Now that is a novel concept!

NCAA OFF THE DEEP-END

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Dateline: Home Study

The NCAA has gone too far, again, on this Native American thing. Why can't they focus on sports and leave political correctness to the politicians? This is America for crying out loud ,let 'em sue! If the Native American's are insulted, let them ask the schools to change mascots and images.

Mary Katharine Ham had a nice piece on this topic called Mascot mayhem. I got such a kick out of it I had to email the NCAA about their silliness. My email is below.

Has the NCAA considered that redshirting is offensive? I find it highly offensive for it brings to mind images of redskins, which we all know is offensive. I therefore ask the NCAA to immediately either 1) eliminate the term "redshirt" from college football or, 2) grow up and give up on this left-wing, radical, political correctness stuff.

And when should I have PETA contact you. After all there are teams that have animal names which offend some. Perhaps we should eliminate them?

I also find it amusing that you consider Alcorn State University to be a racist institution because they have the "Braves".

When were "savages" determined to be Native Americans? If I recall Vikings have been referred to as savages, Nazis were seen as savages, and some even saw the KKK as savages. How nice of the NCAA to redefine words for us.

But why no ban on the Trojans? Could those of Greek ancestry not possibly be offended by the Trojans? Or is just not politically correct to be "outraged" by groups that reside outside the US?

You might also want to evaluate the name of your Copyright Royalty Tribunal. It does sound a lot like it involves that banned "tribe" word. (Yes, I know the origin of the word but since when is the NCAA concerned with facts? It is only appearances that matter. Right?)

I know all of this looks silly, and it is. But I do hope that you all also realize how silly the NCAA looks to those of us who live in the real world. Only for me it is more a feeling of sadness than silliness.

So please, ask the NCAA leaders to please be leaders. What they are doing now is NOT leadership.

We'll see how it goes but I don't have expectations of the NCAA doing the "right" thing anytime soon.

Dateline: Renaissance Worthington Hotel, Fort Worth, TX

A good day of workshop. Lots of good information put out. Much of the material was old news but nice to hear again and refresh my memory. There were lots of people like me, those who are in the second or more command which lends more credibility to the adage that early command begets more command.

The highlight of the day was a two hour VTC with Vice Admiral Cotton. I’ve the good Admiral several times in the past via VTC and once in person. He is truly an enthusiastic person who makes you want to join the Navy. He also gets it. He understands what it is like to be a deckplate Sailor and to be a unit Commanding Officer. He gets pissed off at the same thing we get pissed off about and he tries to fix the problem. My favorite quote today was from him… “That which interests me, fascinates many.” Well said. I’ve been accused of making too many references to Admiral Cotton when I talk to my Sailors but if they could hear him in person they would understand why. What he says is on point and true. What more can you ask from a Flag?

The workshop was followed by a nice social at the Flying Saucer pub (great stouts). The night ended with a good meal and good wine at the Fort Worth Chop House. I had a great steak and some really good Sterling Merlot.

All in all I’m looking forward to this command. I will have more officers than ever before which should really help things run smoothly and the REDCOM seems to have the right mindset, a major factor in what it takes to be successful.

And another good part, I got a good image of the Don’t Tread On Me Flag for my laptop desktop.

PCO CONFERENCE IN FORT WORTH

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Dateline: Renaissance Worthington, Fort Worth, TX

Arrive this evening for a Prospective Commanding Officer’s Conference tomorrow and Sunday. As always it was a stressful trip with Always Slow Airlines (ASA). First we had a ground hold because it was raining in Atlanta. Then we were put in a holding pattern for about 20 minutes because traffic was backed up. And then, to top it all off, as the entire was sweating making their connecting flights, we sat on the ground waiting for, according to the pilot, the ground crew to come out and direct us a gate.

Weather is not something you can really blame the airline for except for the fact that there have been summer afternoon thundershowers in Atlanta for millennia; you think someone would catch on to the pattern. The sitting on the ground awaiting instructions is squarely an ASA problem.

As I arrived in Terminal D I checked the schedule to see my next flight was boarding in Terminal A. After pressing through the lazy people who insist on standing and “riding” the escalator I made it time to board the flight. Flying in steerage is not any fun. Apparently the airplane designers are all small people and have never seen anyone who is somewhat “normal”. I’m not that big, I’m really not, but my shoulders always seem to take up more than the seat allows for and at 6’-0” I never have room to stretch my legs. Usually this is not a problem because there is some petite young woman sitting next to me and everything works fine. But today I had an even bigger man next to me and we were uncomfortable.

I am saying at a Marriott and I really like their hotels. This one is especially nice and seems very comfortable. I’m about to try out the bed in a few minutes.

The conference should be interesting and I’m sure I’ll learn something but with this being my fifth command I question whether there is perhaps a better way to do some of this. Of course I get paid because I am on AT orders having used all my drills last month. I did however learn that my unit is having travel reimbursement issues following our trip to Italy. I think we got some of the problems straightened out today but others remain. I continue to have a problem with the talk of Core Values on one hand and then a bunch bean counting DK’s and other clerks assuming everyone is trying to get something by on a travel claim. Would I really have spent over $1300 on a hotel if government berthing had been available? I think not.

Highlight of the day: Much more of Harry Potter was read on the plane.

TRUTH AND EXAGERATION

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Dateline: Home Study

Tom Barnett seems to have been taken to task for his post of a message that Denzel Washington pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check, on the spot, to build a new Fisher House, to the tune of $1.5 million. Well the facts are not quite like that. Washington did make a contribution but it was not done on the spot and it was not $1.5 million. My reaction is, so what?

I too saw the email that Tom posted and it seemed too good to be true but I also forwarded it to some friends. Big deal! All that has changed is a few of the facts. The essence of the message remains unchanged and that is that Denzel Washington is a caring patriot who made a significant contribution to help the families of those who were injured in the service of their country. What’s more, the fact the he made the contribution sometime later, out of sight of the cameras and after he had come down from the emotional high I’m sure he was on during his tour, makes me think even more of him. His contribution was truly a reflection of his personal sense of responsibility and honor and not a publicity stunt.

This is along the lines of an eye-witness who got a few facts wrong. The get away was actually black, not dark blue and the crook was 6’-0” not 5’-10”. None of that changes the fact that the bank was robbed and the witness was pretty close to being completely accurate. Would the police not stop a black car because it was said to be dark blue? Of course not, they would account for some inaccuracies in the eyewitness report. How many other stories in our lives are 100% accurate after being told for the fourth or fifth time? Human nature is to add a little here, take a little there, but the gist of the message remains.

By comparison, the slightly inaccurate story about Washington pales when viewed next to Peter Arnett and the “Baby Milk Factory” of Gulf War I fame or his and CNN’s Operation Tailwind fabrication. And let’s not forget our buddy Dan Rather and his fabricated memos. It’s great that Tom Barnett corrected the story in his blog but I don’t see the error as a major one. Denzel Washington seems to really be a good guy and my opinion of him is higher as a result of what he did.

OFF-SITE TODAY

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Dateline: Home Study

Today we had an off-site retreat for the College. It lasted all day but really didn't seem that long. Some parts dragged a little but by and large, things went smoothly and quickly. It was fun being in a room with the heads and directors today and hearing their ideas.

The goal of the retreat was to develop a strategic plan and set goals for where we want to be in 2010. It was refreshing to hear eveyone talking about outcomes rather than input; something that is not a common practice for others at the University. We tend to set things like enrollment goals without ever seemingly giving any thought to graduates or what it will take to service those students. The college however was thinking about he outcome, what it would take to serve the students to reach the outcomes, and then what we need to have for inputs to get the desired outcomes.

As can be expected, there was some disagreement but it was all friendly and merely a reflection of everyone trying to get the best they could out of the goals. There is still some work to do but we are well on the way to having a plan. I hope to get the plan, at one point, down to something we can summarize on a business card and give to everyone so they can easily see the golas when ever they need to.

COMMISSIONING CEREMONY

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Dateline: Home Study

I went to the commissioning ceremony for Army and Air Force ROTC cadets today. It was good to see some friends who have detached and moved away as well as see some new friedns who have just arrived.

The best part of the day was to see the nervous yet excited cadets taking their oaths of office and the smiling parents/grandparents/spouses and firneds with them. Seeing this bunch brings home to the point there is an awfully lot that is right about today's college graduates.

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