Robert B. Jordan
Resident Grump

“Anyone can speak troll. All you have to do is point and grunt.” JK Rowling

A recent issue of National Geographic magazine had a story about “Saving Lost Languages.” The story states the Earth’s seven billion people speak 7,000 languages, and that 78% speak one of the 85 major languages while the remaining 22% speak one of the 3,500 smaller languages, 1000 of which are teetering on the edge of oblivion.

7,000 languages? How did that happen? How did it happen that 7,000

different peoples created 7,000 different variations of sounds
for words that became their language? After all a word is just a sound, or series of sounds that have meaning, and that other people understand. So, many thousands of years ago when those first human beings
emigrated out of Africa onto all the continents of the then world, they

each created a language individual to their particular group. When did their alphabet follow? Or did it come first?

The National Geographic story also says English has 328 million first-language speakers. In many of the world’s tribal villages parents encourage their children to move away from the insular language of their ancestors, and towards languages that can offer better chances for education and success. “Prosperity, it seems, speaks English”, at the cost of losing minor languages. However, the most dominate language is Chinese, including all forms – 2.1 billion.

Wikipedia tells us that empirical evidence is limited in the study of language origins. At one point scholars declared the origins of language unsuitable for serious study. The emergence of language is so far back in history that it left no direct historical traces. Linguists, archaeologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and others began in the early 1990’s to address the problem with new methods, but have declared it is “the hardest problem in science.”

The two main approaches today are that language evolved slowly from

pre-linguistic systems, while the other is that language occurred quickly with Homo sapiens less than 200,000 years ago.
There are many theories within those approaches, but the controversy continues. And, how could it not with the following hypotheses and theories being debated for validity:

The ‘obligatory reciprocal altruism’ hypotheses –
If you speak truthfully to me, I will speak truthfully to you

The gossip and grooming hypotheses –
Manual grooming replaced by verbal grooming

Ritual/speech co-evolution –
Human symbolic culture as a whole

Gestural theory –
Language evolved from gestures

Putting the baby down theory
Human mothers had to put the baby down to forage, so they           expressed safety to the baby

Grammaticalisation theory –
Humans care less about niceties than making themselves understood

Self-domesticated ape theory –
Creating cultural niches that provide understandings key to survival

In 1871 Charles Darwin wrote, “I cannot doubt that language owes its

origin to the imitation and modification, aided by signs and gestures, of various natural sounds, the voices of other animals, and man’s own instinctive cries.”

Okay, it’s a known fact that all human populations have a language, but in each of those populations who was the first person to make the sound of a word? And what was it?

Getting back to the National Geographic magazine – it discusses some of the minor endangered languages. It tells how many first-language speakers there are remaining, and gives examples of words within those languages. There are 254 languages that have gone extinct just since 1960; they have no remaining speakers. There are hundreds more languages that are only spoken by the older members of the population.

There are some languages that are down to only one or two speakers: Wintu a native tongue in California, Siletz Dee-ni in Oregon, or Amurdak an Aboriginal tongue in Australia’s Northern Territory. As the story points out “A last speaker with no one to talk to exists in unspeakable solitude.”

In the Tuvan language the word anayim means “my little goat”, and in the Aka language the words nichleu-nuggo means “village counselor” or “wise, compassionate, tolerant.” I would love to know when and why the first Tuvanian uttered anayim when referring to his/her little goat? Who was he/she, and how did they decide on the sound that makes anayim? And that curiosity extends to all populations and languages.

And how about the English language; tells us that around 1000 B.C.E. there was a single language called “Proto-Germanic” everyone understood, but dialects emerged, people dispersed and those dialects became languages called Danish, Dutch, English, Faroese, German, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Other sources say that the English language began when three Germanic Tribes (Angels, Saxons, and Jutes) entered the British Isles in the 5th century. It wasn’t until the 16th century when “Modern English” took hold. Since then words have entered the English language, both directly and indirectly, from no less than 16 other languages.

Even with all this information and knowledge I still don’t know why, where, and how each and every word in each and every language was first uttered, and who uttered it.

This is an unreachable quest, an impossible task, and a complete waste of time. However, I will always wonder. My father was curious about who the first person was that was brave enough to dig a potato out of the ground, and eat it. I suppose it’s hereditary.

By the way – when and who contrived kissing, or applause?

“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.” Jane Wagner

Soaring Drug Prices

                                                      Soaring Drug Prices

Robert B. Jordan
Resident Grump

My May 2017 AARP Bulletin VOL. 58 has the front page story – “Why Our Drug Prices Are So High.” During the course of this blog I am going to take the liberty of using some of the material from the AARP Bulletin.

Have you seen all the news items of late telling of elderly people having to make decisions on whether to buy food, pay the rent or buy their prescribed medicines? That, in my view is criminal.

Let’s start with the operating profit margins for the eleven top companies in 2016 taken from AARP Bulletin VOL.58:
> AMGEN Drug Manufacturer (CEO and 29 vice presidents)          42.6%
> ABBVIE Drug Manufacturer (29,000 employees)                         30.6%
> JOHNSON & JOHNSON Drug Manufacturer (founded in 1886)     29.4%
> ROCHE HOLDING Drug Manufacturer (Swiss company)               27.8%
> Alphabet (parent of Google)                                                         26.3%
> PFIZER Drug Manufacturer (founded 1849)                                 26.0%
> Walt Disney                                                                                   25.8%
> Verizon                                                                                          21.5%
> ASTRAZENECA Drug Manufacturer (Swedish company)               21.3%
> Coca Cola                                                                                       20.6%
> MERCK Drug Manufacturer (German company)                           15.1%


Johnson & Johnson

Seven of the top eleven are drug manufacturers. Filling out the list, the 5 companies trailing are:
> General Electric                         14.4%
> American Airlines                      13.2%
> General Motors                           5.7%
> Exxon                                          3.7%
> Ford                                             2.7%
The average for S&P 500 companies in 2016 was 10.4%.

The drug manufacturers must be very profitable based on the number of TV ads they run. It seems that 90% of all TV ads are either automobiles or drugs. The commercials for drug companies contain long and complicated disclaimers.

“Every night I watch the nightly news. It’s funded by the pharmaceutical companies. Virtually every ad is a drug ad. They get their say every night on the nightly news through advertising.” Michael Moore

The US of A has the most expensive drugs in the world. Xarelto, from Johnson & Johnson, is a drug to thin blood to prevent blood clots, for each prescription it costs:
* $48.00 in South Africa
* $101.00 in Spain
* $102.00 in Switzerland
* $126.00 in the UK
* $292.00 in the US

“There is no disputing the fact that American consumers pay 30 to 300 percent more for the same prescription drugs as our counterparts in Canada, Europe, and in the rest of the world.” Michael K. Simpson

One month supply of Lipitor (from Pifzer) in the US costs $100.00, and in New Zealand $6.00. Twelve weeks supply of Sovaldi (from Gilead) in the us $84,000.00, and in Egypt $900.00. The cost of new drugs continues to skyrocket:
* The new cancer drug Bavencio (Pfizer) – $156,000.00 per year per patient
* A new muscular dystrophy drug – $300,000.00 annually
* Tecentrig (Roche) a new bladder cancer drug – $12,500.00 a month

Even older drugs are not immune:
* Between 2002 and 2013 the cost of Insulin tripled
* EpiPen (by Mylan) increased 500% since 2007

Leigh Purvis, the Director of Health Services Research for the AARP Public Policy Institute was asked how drug makers can charge so much. His answer was “Because there’s nothing stopping them.”


The New Gold

The supply of a new drug is controlled exclusively by the manufacturer, who owns the patent rights, which gives them a monopoly on the drug for the 20 year life of the patent. They are free to raise the prices to whatever the market can bear. An example – Evzio, (by Kaleo, Inc.) an auto-injected drug that is used for opioid overdose jumped to over $4,000.00 from $690.00 because the demand increased. And, these companies have become clever at strategies to extend their monopolies beyond the original expiration of its original patent.

Medicare, which is one of the largest purchasers of prescription drugs, is

blocked by law from negotiating prices. In 2006 with the advent of Part D, the pharmaceutical lobbyists convinced legislators that it would amount to price control if Medicare were able to negotiate prices.

                                          Pharmaceutical Lobbyist

The pharmaceutical industry says a major reason for high prices is the Research and Development process of bringing a new drug to market.

R&D is expensive in any market, but these guys claim it takes 10 years and $2.6 billion to bring just one new drug to market. However, the Journal of Health Economics reveals that only $1.4 billion is actual costs while the other $1.2 billion goes to capital costs, which smacks of bogus write offs. The research company Global Data says 8 out of the 10 big pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than they do on research – all those TV ads.

Are there remedies? Yes says the AARP May Bulletin VOL. 58:
1 – Let Medicare negotiate prices. According to Carleton University of Ottawa, Canada, and Public Citizen, a public advocacy located in Washington, D.C., claim that letting Medicare negotiate prices would produce as much as $16 billion in savings.
2 – Remove the restrictions on importing drugs, which would put pressure on the drug companies to reduce prices.
3 – Create pricing transparency. The public has no idea how these companies price their products.

The following is taken verbatim from the AARP Bulletin #58.

At a nighttime rally in Louisville in late March, President Trump revisited a favorite campaign topic: the high cost of drugs.  “Medicine prices will be coming down, way down.” The new congress appeared to match the president’s fervor for taking on high drug prices, introducing several bills aimed at cutting the costs of prescription pharmaceuticals. But no clear path to reduced costs has yet emerged. “



Congress at Rest

This past Sunday night, June 4, 2017, MKelly’s “Sunday Night” show featured a story about Insys Therapeutics based in Chandler, ArizonInsys produces a drug called Subsys which was developed solely for cancer patients that experience severe pain. A month’s supply can cost anywhere from $3,000.00 to $30,000.00. In the past year Insys has sold $240 million dollars worth of Subsys. In December of 2016 seven former executives and managers from Insys were taken into custody on charges of bribing medical staffs in several states to prescribe their product – for all kinds of pain. The marketing was aggressive and illegal. In at least one instance Subsys was determined to be the cause of death. Employees of Insys gained bonuses for selling Subsys.

So, does any of this fit your idea of “The Greatest Country in the World,” ? No, then how about “The Greediest County in the World?”

                                           Money, Money, Money

“There is sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” Mahatma Gandhi

It Doesn’t Matter (IDM) and It Makes No Difference (IMND)

It Doesn’t Matter an It Makes No Difference 

Robert B. Jordan
Resident Grump

Okay I finished my chores, the bathroom is clean, the dishwasher is emptied, the front hose is fixed so we can water the plants, and I’ve put out the trash. So, now I’m in the mood to start a church, or a political movement; I’m just not sure which would be more appropriate. Each would serve the purpose – each would be relevant – each would be a noble task – each would be revolutionary – oh hell I can’t decide so I’ll start both – the church will be “The Church of the IDM” (It Doesn’t Matter), and the political movement will be “The People for IMND” (It Makes No Difference).

“The Church of the IDM” and “The People for IMND” will basically pursue the same agenda, but this way it will keep church and state separate, as they should be, but the movements and activities will be common. Actually the church and state might be growing closer with some of the legislation lately.

“The Government of the United States is not, in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” George Washington

However, this presentation will discuss pertinent issues that don’t matter, or make no difference. The purpose of this essay is to show what is relevant today, and what isn’t.

The main thrust here is that most everything that has happened in the past, both religiously and politically, either doesn’t matter, or makes no difference. Think about it for a moment – we are still here. Nothing that has happened in all the previous millions of years has prevented us from still being here. None of it is relevant! None of it has mattered; none of it has made a difference, and it applies to both good and bad.

With all the history since the beginning of time are we religiously better or worse? With all the history since the beginning of time are we politically better or worse? I maintain that we are the same – none of the religious history or the political history has mattered, nor has it made a difference – we are still here, and we are still flawed.

The fact is that we could have saved a lot of trouble and heartache by avoiding all the tragedies of the past. We didn’t need to have wars, purges, crusades, plunders, dictatorships, persecutions, preaching, crooked elections, guilt carriers, prejudice, slavery, terrorism, missionaries, evangelists, crime, disrespect, because we are still here in spite of it all, and we are still flawed.

We have survived all history has thrown at us, and we are basically the same people as those that existed in the beginning of time. Sure we are bigger, more educated (?), wear more clothes, live in houses instead of caves, buy meat instead of killing it, enjoy garage door openers and indoor plumbing, created various uses for the wheel, but basically we are the same. Those folks that stumbled around the earth at the beginning of time have the same attitude as your neighbor. They both seek food and shelter, they both seek warm and dry clothes, they both seek an ardent and friendly mate, and they both look for a good party on Saturday night. So what has history accomplished? What affect has all those tragic events and disastrous happenings had on us?

Oh sure I can just hear the skeptics out there – how about Christopher Columbus they say? How about the Conquistadors, how about the US Government, how about the Jewish people and WWI and WWII, how about Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung and all the other “minor” incidents over the past many years. Come on people!


Okay, maybe it affected the indigenous peoples Columbus and his crew enslaved.


And, perhaps the Conquistadors massacres at Cholula and Tenochtitlan of Aztec noblemen affected them.

Just because the U.S. Government violated treaty after treaty and shuffled the Native Americans off to reservations in awful places doesn’t mean all that much, except maybe it affected the Native Americans involved.

There are some people that deny the holocaust ever happened, so why are the Jewish people sensitive about it? What in the world do us red blooded, bible-thumping, gun-toting Americans care about a bunch of Russian or Chinese peasants? I mean, what have they to do with our lives. We are still able to buy our big houses, and boats, and SUVs, and designer clothes. We haven’t lost our penchant for paying outrageous amounts of money to our revered athletes, or favorite actor, or band, or singer. We still elect a new bum to replace the old bum every so often. We continue to place less and less emphasis on education, and fall further behind in the world rankings. We don’t need any stinking history! We don’t need to be aware of it, to learn from it. I mean really! You can’t live in the past.

We are far too busy fussing about the merits of Christianity versus Atheism, the Conservative way versus the Liberal way, whether abortion and same sex marriages are good things or bad things; whether the bible is all truth or all fiction, which light bulbs we should be using – is Trump a bigger bum than Hillary, or is it the other way round?

How about the next election, who will the new bums be? All those decades of history behind us haven’t made us any smarter about religion, or politics so what good has it been, what difference has it made? Just a few days ago a radicalized young man blew himself up along with several people in Manchester, England. A couple days ago a bus load of Coptic Christians were assaulted in Egypt and 29 were killed. A mentally disturbed man in Portland, Oregon stabbed three people – two of them died.

Wait, you don’t think that maybe history is important do you? Hmmmm I wonder. Could it be that I have it reversed? Nah! Can’t be! But, I’m feeling the urge to ponder. Is it possible we could learn from history? Yes, I know that’s a very radical and impractical thought, but what if? What would happen if some mystical day in the future the human race did in fact learn from history? What if we woke up some beautiful morning and found we were all smarter? The lessons learned kicked in – people sat down and discussed rather than argued, reached agreements instead of impasses. I just had a goose pimply thought – what if the leaders in our Government actually acted in the best interests of all the American people, in every issue? What if all people just lived and let live? What if there was true and consistent justice? What if racism just disappeared? What if prejudices went away?

“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.” Thomas Paine

I’m getting a headache thinking that we could actually learn from history, learn not to commit the same mistakes over, and over. WOW what if we paid women the same wages as men? What if we found a workable solution to the immigrant situation? What if we got everyone in Washington DC to actually sit down at a table and find solutions to the budget problems, health care, the high price of prescription drugs, poverty, the Post Office, getting out of Afghanistan, taking care of our veterans properly, and solving all the unrest in the Middle East, and the financial crisis in Europe? What if our elected politicians stopped with the “did not, did to, did not, did to” mentality, came in off the playground and simply fixed things?

Oh my goodness, now I’m getting heart burn. Am I thinking utopia? No, I’m just thinking reason for reasonable people, by reasonable people. I’m thinking my grand children, my great grandchildren, and those following them might have a world that is much further advanced in its thinking than mine is.

I wonder if we don’t need the church of “It Doesn’t Matter” (IDM), or the political movement “It Makes No Difference (IMND). Hmmmmm!

I think I’ll lie down.

“How dismal it is to see present day America yearning for the very orthodoxy that the then country was founded to escape.” Christopher Hitchens

Scammed in Plain English


Robert B. Jordan, Resident Grump

Have you ever been scammed, tricked, swindled, conned?  No you say?  Yes you were!

I’m not talking about those telephone and internet scammers that try to get into your bank account, or your SSN, or get you to say “yes.”  I’m talking about our beloved American corporations (corporations are people now).  Corporations, I mean people, we all deal with every day.

“Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Albert Einstein

Here are scamming examples from utility people, cable TV people, and the ever loving insurance people.  

 >>>UTILITY people

Each and every one of us is scammed every time we pay a utility bill.  Have you ever really looked closely at any of the individual items in these billings?  Do you know exactly what each and every charge is for?  No you say – Why not I say. Most all of us just pay without question.  But we are being scammed in plain English each and every month.

As an example my recent billing for Gas Service includes these additional items:

    *Service and Facilit

     *Usage Charge

    *Interstate Pipeline

    *Pipe Sys Int Adj

    *Franchise Fee

    *Sales Tax.

These funny little items total to $43.11 for that month X 12 = $517.32 per year.


For the Electric Service there are:



* Trans Cost Adj

    *Demand Side Mgmt Cost

    *Purch Cap Cost Adj

    *Service & Facility

    *Renew Energy Std Adj

    *Franchise Fee.

These funny little items totaled $45.82 for that month X 12 = $549.84 per year

For gas and electric the monthly is $88.93 X 12 = $1,067.16 per year.  How much of that yearly amount is pure thievery?

Let’s say that only 2% is not legitimate, that equals only $1.78.  So $1.78 X 12 = $21.36 per year. The recent population of Metro Denver is a bit over 3 million.  $21.36 X 3 million = $64 million per year – Not bad.

I recently read “The Fine Print: How Big Companies use ‘Plain English’ to Rob you Blind” by David Cay Johnston.  What an eye opener.  Here is just one example of what you would find in this book:

“There are over 300,000 miles of pipelines running underground throughout the United States. These pipelines transport such things as natural gas and jet fuel, among other things.  The pipeline industry over the years has managed to obtain some very favorable conditions from the Government through lobbying and special interests.  As one example they are exempt from paying income tax.  However they charge their users (your utility company) a fee for income tax, which they never pay.  That is passed on to the consumer – you.”

Hello, I’ve just been scammed. Notice the words pipeline and pipe in my billing above.


>>> CABLE TV people 

I have a package deal with my carrier for TV/Internet/telephone.  These additional items appear on every month’s bill;

    *Universal Connectivity Charge

    *Regulatory Recovery Fees

    *Broadcast TV Fees

    *Regional Sports Fee


    *Franchise Fee

    *Capital Recovery PEG Fee

    *Municipal Fee

    *FCC Fee

    *911 Fee(s)

The dollars involved are not earth shattering, but when a carrier quotes you a price for one of their many packages they never include any of these funny little charges, nor do they add taxes in to their quote.

In a recent month these little funny charges amounted to $20.61 X 12 = $241.92 per year.  It’s not a large amount, but is it a scam?  Most are probably as a result of some heavy duty activities by some beloved Lobbyists of the people working hard to get into your wallet on behalf of the shareholders.

How much of the monthly charges I described is legitimate? How much is not?


 >>> INSURANCE people 

I am going to detail for you two instances where my wife and I have been scammed by insurance companies, and I fear many thousands of others around the country have also been scammed in the same way.



A couple years ago we moved.  We notified all concerned of our change in address.  Shortly thereafter we received a letter from my wife’s supplemental medical insurance company that our monthly premium would increase by 17% because of the move.

We live in Colorado and moved from Jefferson County to Adams County, a distance of about 20 miles.  We did not change doctors, who were located about half way between our old location, and our new one..

My protests to the insurance folks were a matter of exchanging letters, with me not getting any satisfaction; the problem ended up being ZIP codes. Our new ZIP was actually a Denver ZIP code, hence the higher premium.

The Postal Department assigned Denver ZIP codes to several locations within bordering counties, because the Denver Post office was given the responsibility of delivering mail to those areas.  It had nothing to do with residency. The Colorado Insurance Commissioner approves rates based on ZIP codes, not by county.

I am convinced that the clever insurance companies, yes all of them, know exactly what they are doing when they play this ZIP code game – it is no coincidence my friends. Charging people higher rates, but paying out lower claims.  Pure profit – it must be huge – scammed in plain English.




I was in line at a Burger King and I bumped into the car ahead of me.  The damage to the other car was a small, very small, dent in the bumper. No damage to my car.

The repair bill for the other car was a little over $2600.00.  Outrageous – they must have replaced the entire back end.  When I protested to my insurance company I was told it was easier and less expensive for them just to pay rather than protest, or challenge.  My premium went sky high – they’d get their $2600.00 back through my much higher premium – scammed again in plain English.

I can’t even imagine the total amount of money that is scammed from us by insurance companies in one calendar year.  You add the dollars hidden away in utility bills and cable TV bills and it would most likely blow you away.

Do you still believe you’ve never been scammed?  Well the above examples prove I’m being scammed – so surely you are also.  What should we do about it?

This is one grump’s take on life.  Did I forget to rant on prescription prices?  A future Blog.

“Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.” Anonymous


The Bright and the Not So Bright

       The Bright and the Not So Bright

Robert B. Jordan, Resident grump

I have spent some time of late reading Facebook posts, reading comments to posts, and reading comments to comments.  There is so much narrative by the bright, and the not so bright, the informed and the not so informed, the liberals and the conservatives, the believers and the non-believers, the educated and those that think they are, the free thinkers and those that accede, those that question and those that blindly follow.

The overwhelming sense one gets from this Facebook education is the immense diversity of thoughts and beliefs that exist in our community of human beings; thoughts and beliefs that span the extremes from one end of the subject to the other, and the entire expanse in between

        My way or the highway

The secondary sense is one of determination expressed by those that want others to see, and agree with their position, and beliefs – to come to the sudden conclusion that they are right and the opposing debater is wrong – to convert to their way of thinking and their interpretation of the subject at hand.  This determination manifests itself in the insults, and revilement, and the almost desperate and bullying arguments to prove their point.   Admittedly there are those that present an intelligent and well thought out position, although rare.

Religion and Politics                                                                                     Religion and Politics – Politics and Religion – are there any subjects more controversial, more divisive, and more argumentative?  These two subjects stir the most disagreements, the most insulting assaults, and the most heated debates.  The extremes and diversity can be thought provoking, but sometimes troubling.

What causes this divisiveness?  Is it territorial, is it cultural, is it hereditary, is it environmental, is it traditional, is it ignorance, is it intelligence, just what causes it?  Or, is it a complicated combination of several elements brewing within each soul?

Fuel for the Fire                                                                                             There certainly is no shortage of fuel for the fire – the mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin are subjects for gun control debates, religious debates, and mental health debates.  What is the solution here?  The folks that do not want any gun control will cite the Second Amendment as their right to bear arms – but isn’t the Second Amendment really about creating and maintaining a militia?  Is the Second Amendment relevant today?  I’ve heard arguments that under the Second Amendment I could legally own a Howitzer, or a missile launch system, or a bazooka.  You can’t keep guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people, or radicals, no matter how strong the laws are, so what is the solution here, and what of the religious attitudes about these events?  Why did God allow it?  Which victims did God kill, and which did he chose to save?  Was God involved at all?

In the recent election there was volatile fuel for many political and religious debates.  The Democrats were all wrong and should be kicked out!  The Republicans are evil and should not be let in!  There should be a third, and perhaps a fourth, party!  You can’t trust politicians!  A good many politicians are only interested in their job, not the people’s needs and wants!  The Government is broken!    The election was rigged!  There were millions of illegal voters!


Are these the best we have?

Once again an election choice was the lesser of two evils.


A great source of fuel for the fire are the statements by a number of politicians, like “No one ever died from lack of access to health care,” or “You can keep your current doctor,” or “Read my lips, no more taxes,” or “Rape and incest is the will of God,” or “Andrew Jackson was very angry over the Civil War,” and on and on without limit.

The subjects in the previous paragraphs may bring out more and more postings and more and more respondents.  All types of writers described in the first paragraph above will be represented.  There will be narrations on all positions, and comments will follow, and then the comments on comments – the debates will rage on.

And that’s good!  The last time I looked we still had freedom of speech.  Free speech, like the hateful and hurtful, is allowed.  Even the little church in Kansas that protests at the funerals of military men and women killed in action, and the extremists that follow the Nazi philosophy and flaunt it openly – all are protected under the First Amendment.

Open and Honest Debate                                                                           Good open and honest debate is fruitful, and valuable, and encouraged.  But, I must admit to a fear of the closed minds, the blind followers and their “determination” attempting to dominate the narration.  In last year’s election we were subject to several debates, but they really weren’t debates in the traditional sense.  There was very little exchanging of ideas and positions.  There was very little arguing of perspectives.  Instead of debating the participants engaged in insultathons.  Perhaps that was the incentive for today’s Facebook debaters.

Here is a quotation from a book I recently read – its title “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” by Diane Rauitch:  “What should we think of someone who never admits error, never entertains doubt but adheres unflinchingly to this same idea all his life, regardless of new evidence?  Doubt and skepticism are signs of rationality.  When we are too certain of our opinions, we run the risk of ignoring any evidence that conflicts with our views.  It is doubt that shows we are still thinking, still willing to reexamine hardened beliefs when confronted with new facts and new evidence.”

On Facebook it is sometimes difficult to distinguish those that are bright from the ones that aren’t so bright.


Which is which

And by the way – always VOTE, and then PARTICIPATE.  This is still “Government for the people BY the people.” Just like Abe Lincoln said.




382 Years and Counting

382 Years and Counting



“If we are the only intelligent life in the universe, at least there are a finite number of idiots.”  Steven Coallier


The first public school in America was established in April of 1635 in Boston.  If my calculator is correct, that was 382 years ago. It was the Boston Latin School, which still operates today. Five signers of the Declaration of Independence were graduates of the Boston Latin School; Adams, Franklin, Hancock, Hooper, and Paine.


382 years from the first school to the present day.  382 years of trying to get it right.  382 years of trial and error. 382 years of experimenting and trying this system and that system, testing this theory and that one, open classrooms versus closed classrooms, etc.  382 years and we still don’t have it right.

How many years are plenty of time to get it right? We don’t have the curriculum right.  We don’t have the funding right.  We don’t have teachers pay right.  We don’t have the extra-curricular activities right.  We don’t have the emphasis right.  Wouldn’t you think that 382 years would be long enough to get it right?

CURRICULUM – Not all children are created equal.  Some are fast learners and some are not.  Some mature earlier than others.  Some skills come more quickly to some.  These things complicate the process, make it more difficult to plan, and control. Children with learning disabilities add to the complications.  We have learned a great deal, and have come a long way from the days when left handed children were forced to write right handed, and children with ADD were considered “slow”, but it hasn’t been enough.  Are there too many kids in classes, are there not enough teachers, not enough teachers with the right training?  There must be a system that caters to each and every child no matter their particular situation, from the gifted to the “slow”.  Every human being has something that they are good at; each and every child deserves the chance to find what that is, and school is the logical place to find it.  All of them deserve success.   We’ve had 382 years to figure it out.

In my state there is a critical shortage of teachers for the rural areas.  Some openings have not been filled in over a year.  There are 24.4% fewer teacher graduates than last year.

We have some pretty smart people in this country, why can’t we get it right?  Could it be we aren’t as smart as we think we are?  Or, are we still arguing over whose concepts are correct and whose aren’t.  Could it be this divisive attitude exists in the academic community?  Could politics enter the equation, surely not, although there is a notion that the current administration is moving to eliminate the Department of Education.  382 years should be enough time to figure out what really works, and what doesn’t.

FUNDING why can’t we mature, educated, intelligent adults figure out how to keep the schools funded properly so they don’t have to cut art programs, lay off teachers, and require students to pay to play sports, or play in the band?  Yes, I’ve heard the budget arguments, and listened to the tax debates.  It’s too expensive, there isn’t enough money.

Seems we have no trouble at all payinga professional athlete multi-millions of dollars to throw a ball, or to catch it, or to put it through a hoop, or helping an actor earn a couple million dollars each movie.  We spend billions of dollars every year on our pets.  The cosmetic industry hovers at several billion dollars each year.  What’s wrong with this picture?   Is the entertainment industry, including professional sports, our pets, and the drive to look glamorous, or younger, more important than our children’s education?  We’ve had 382 years to figure it out.

TEACHER’S PAY – is abysmal.  The folks teaching kids should earn some of the highest salaries around, they should be high enough to attract the best brains.  My goodness isn’t that just common sense?  Is there a more important profession?  I think not.


In a couple of the small rural school districts in my state the starting salary is $24,000.00 per year. That’s starvation wages. Elementary school teachers should be the most skilled, dedicated, and the best paid.  Those are the years when a child sets a pattern that will basically stay with him/her their entire life.  This is when a passion for learning and growing should be established.  It should be the time when an attitude of success is imbedded.  The schools are not the total answer however.

Parents need to be deeply involved during those early years.  A family atmosphere that promotes learning is essential.  No, not badgering a child to do his homework, but instilling and nurturing a desire to learn.  It takes a combined effort of school and home to help a child flourish.  There is no greater task, nor greater satisfaction than to succeed.

EXTRA- CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES – are important.  All children should be able to participate in some school sponsored activities outside the classroom. 
Be it sports, playing a musical instrument, being on the debate team, the chess club, participating in a science fair. Whatever the special interest or talent is, they all should be able to participate in something, or many things if they choose.   Participation should be at no additional costs to the parents.  Did I mention we’ve had 382 years to figure it out?





EMPHASIS – who made the rule that children are required to attend classes nine months out of the year, then go up to the next grade and attend for another nine months, etc.  As mentioned above, not all people learn at the same rate, nor do they gain success at the same rate.  What is so important about the traditional school year, and the methods used to “pass them on”.  Cannot the gifted have the attention they deserve, and the “slow” have the attention they deserve, and all the other categories have the attention they deserve. Are we fearful of discriminating against a particular group, or creating demeaning classifications of students? Really? Isn’t that a matter of EMPHASIS?  We are smarter than that, aren’t we?

Can’t we get a little bit closer to assuring that all children, regardless of their ability to learn, be successful and feel good about themselves?  Isn’t there a system that allows the time and money to accommodate each and every child, and instills a desire and a passion for learning?    After all we’ve had 382 years to figure it out – how much more time do we need?  Educating our children is the most important thing we can do, and always will be. The journey has been 382 years long and we still don’t have it correct.  These children today will be running the world in another 50 years or so.  They merit our best efforts to see they are educated.

This is how bad we are.  Based on several different polls, surveys and studies these are the rankings for the united States:

  • 14th in cognitive skills and educational attainment
  • 2nd in ignorance about social statistics
  • 24th in reading literacy by 15 year olds
  • 17th in overall educational performance
  • 11th in fourth grade math
  • 6th in sixth grade reading

You can look it up.

The biggest atrocity of all is to indoctrinate our children into a system that does not value their creative expression, nor encourage their unique abilities.”  Benjamin Greene