Monthly Archives: April 2009

"No-Fail" grading system… What the hell MAN!

Growing up, i sucked at school. I struggled every little inch from about the 1st grade up until I graduated high school. And even then it was with like B’s and C’s. My entire grammar & high school career was probably the time in my life I caused my mom the most heartbreak and pain. Not because I wasn’t intelligent but because I was lazy (an ailment I occasionally suffer from even today). The fear of failing is what got me though it. I just knew that if I had to be left back a grade that I was going to be the laughing stock of the school not to mention all my friends and that I would never get ahead and that my future was going to suck. It was the fear of failing that pushed me to the next level, albeit just over the next level but over it none the less. It is this same fear that keeps my oldest son going in college and my youngest son going in grammar school.

I read this article in a news website that there are a number of middle schools and high schools across the country that are taking on what they are calling “No-Fail” or ZAP (Zero’s Aren’t Permitted) policies. Wh…what? Who’s half brained, nit witted idea was this? Look, I understand that it is important that kids don’t feel like failures but lets get a grip. Am I to believe that we are going to get soft on this too? Without the fear of impending doom hovering over their little student heads, what’s going to motivate them to do better? Why are they going to care what they get on the math test if they know they can’t fail even if they tried? Why do we continue to lower the standards on education? If we don’t allow our children to fail, what is the real message that they’re getting?

Look, I can understand taking this stance when it comes to child sports leagues. Everyone gets a trophy because everyone tried their darnedest but, this is education people! We need to make sure that they “get it” before we release them into the cold cruel world. Correct me if I’m wrong but, the world isn’t going to care that they were handed a passing grade by someone that was to scared to poke his ego enough to let them know that they need to do better. “Oh, but if we give little Timmy an F, he’ll be devastated.” MAN UP!!! If you don’t give him the F, how is he going to take it when he asks Jane to the prom and she says no or when he applies for his fantasy job and they turn him down. I’ve got news for you, little Jane and the fantasy job aren’t going to give a crap about little Timmy’s feelings. Failure is necessary in order to highlight success. It feels good to finally be successful at something after we’ve tried and failed. Why are we going to deny our children this experience?

We are nurturing a generation of softies here people. Whenever I failed a test, I somehow got the motivation necessary to bring my grades up out of the tank and pass the semester. This all stems from the fact that we, as a nation are shoveling our kids off to school and treating our educational system like a day care center and not giving them the space necessary to actually educate our children (see post entitled “Edumacation”). We are in an age where we are over protecting our children to the point where they are not going to be able to manage on their own when it’s time to let them go and believe me, that time will come whether we want it to or not.

What is success without failure?

In my sad little opinion, allowing a child to feel the pain of an “F” makes them feel that much more successful when they get that “A”.


Can someone please explain to me what the hell is going on with our educational system!?! I can’t believe that the people in power don’t think that this is a priority!
Okay, now that the outburst is out of the way let’s get on with the commentary. Here is the issue as all of us know it. Our teachers aren’t getting paid nearly enough, our schools are falling behind and our children aren’t getting the education they deserve. Up until this point, our government has placed a lot of programs ahead of education (hopefully this will change with the most recent change in administration but that remains to be seen). Many decisions are left to the politicians but, that’s the nature of our government. We elect these people to make the decisions for us. We have to remember thought that our voice can make a difference. What I mean by that is that we have a certain level of responsibility here.
Where I live there are counties that are considering closing many schools and consolidating students. They say that there just isn’t enough money to fund the many programs necessary to keep the schools running so they are going to shut them down. I understand that this isn’t a problem exclusive to where I live but I can’t speak for anywhere else.
Amongst the plethora issues surrounding this, I believe that one of the problems is with us parents. A lot of parents, not all parents but a lot of parents have their priorities crossed. When the powers that be said that there wasn’t any money for text books and that labs would have to be shut down and certain classes couldn’t be offered anymore parents sat back and gave the attitude of, “Well, that sucks but you gotta do what you gotta do”. BUT, when the school board said that they were going to have to cancel intramural, junior varsity and varsity sports the mobs started forming in the masses complete with torches and pitchforks.
Where are our priorities people? Are we really at the point of where actually teaching our kids something is less important than teaching them a sport? What this means to me is that parents are loosing confidence in our children’s ability to make a future for themselves using their brain. We are building a nation of jocks and beauty queens. Don’t get me wrong we need jocks and beauty queens but we also need doctors and engineers. Who’s going to patch up all those injuries and build the stadiums? If we do not do something about this I’m afraid that the consequences will be dire.
Well, what do you mean by dire bxn? Let me put it in terms we all can understand.
If we keep cutting the budgets that pertain to education, who is going to be smart enough to make these decisions when we are gone?
We have the power within our grasps to change this. We need to write our politicians and let them know that this is unacceptable but, we can’t stop here. We need to take responsibility in making sure our children have what they need to succeed in school. Things like taking the time to help them with their homework, taking an active stance in the school system by keeping contact with their teachers and not thinking of them as babysitters there to keep your child occupied while we’re at work. So many parent just send their kids off to school and expect the teacher to be both educator and parent. These are our children, not theirs. WE need to help them succeed. WE need to nurture and guide them in the right path. There are millions of children being left behind because parents refuse to be an active part of their lives. The Japanese have a handle on this. Education is number one in the Japanese culture and it’s because of this that they are churning out physicist after engineer after architect and what do we have to offer? Some of the most entertaining sports figures on the planet.
In my sad little opinion, we need to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and change the path of our children’s future or we’re going loose our strength as a nation.

Is there life on other planets? Sure… Why not?

By no means am I an expert in the subject of life on other planets. I don’t have the scientific know how or the equipment necessary to explore space and its reaches far beyond what I can see with my own two eyes (yes, I know, there’s the internet but that’s not the point). I’m not one of those people who claim to have been abducted and taken to a lab on some spaceship, spread eagle and violated by E.T. either (not that I don’t believe them but again, that’s not the point). I’m just a guy with an opinion that’s just screaming to get out.
I know that we as humans suffer from insatiable curiosity. At any give time of the day we all stop and wonder about something. I’m not talking about the, “I wonder what I’m going to have for dinner” kind, I’m talking about the, “I wonder how the hell is that possible” kind. The kind of curiosity that drives us to investigate the reasons behind whatever it is we are interested in. When you pair “insatiable curiosity” with “unexplainable events” well, we have ourselves a dilemma.

Life of all shapes and sizes are constantly being discovered right here on this beautiful rock we call home. It isn’t too hard to believe that there are undiscovered species of insects and animals in the middle of our rain forests but, that’s not the only place where life is popping up. Recently, near a place called Blood Falls in Antarctica, scientists have discovered evidence of microbial bacterial life! In Antarctica! I KNOW! And not just floating on the top of the water or laying on top of an iceberg. It was deep under what’s known as Taylor Glacier on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.
This makes me wonder (see, there I go again). How is it possible for life, albeit microbial life but life none the less, can find a way to live underneath a cold, dark and wet environment with no sunlight or oxygen? I mean, we as humans could never survive in such and environment. We need fresh water to drink and the heat from the sun and the oxygen in the air around us to survive. With these things alone it wouldn’t be much of a life but you get the drift.
Armed with this knowledge, we still have the audacity to believe that all life must have what we need to have in order to live. Millions and millions of dollars are going into a space program to find water on Mars because if there was water on Mars, then there could have been life on Mars. Hasn’t anyone stopped to think that maybe it doesn’t need what we need in order to survive? How can we be so closed minded?
Everyday scientists are discovering planets orbiting suns outside of our galaxy. It has been proven that there are billions (say it with me) billions of galaxies floating out there just within our visible universe (and by visible, I mean of what the Hubble Space Telescope can see). Each one has many many suns to which many many planets could and probably are orbiting around. Do you really think that our relatively small planet (Jupiter, in our own neck of the woods is more than 11 times bigger than Earth) is the one and only planet capable of sustaining life? I for one think it’s impossible, the odds are against us in this respect.
In my sad little opinion, it’s just a matter of time.

Controversial Interrogation Techniques

This is a very sensitive issue. Their are human rights activists all over the world breathing down the necks of the members of the Bush administration pointing fingers and taking names over the alleged torture of suspected members of Al Qaeda.
I’m not going to say I’m for or against it but, of course I have an opinion that I’ll be keeping ambiguous. There are two sides to this story and they both have very valid points. 
On the one side you have human rights. People, regardless of what heinous act that person may have committed should not be treated inhumanely. I fully understand this outlook. I would hate to think that if I carried out the orders of my superiors, orders that I truly believed in with all my heart, that people would at least treat me humanely.
Then there is the other side of the argument. The ones that point out that these people didn’t think compassionately about the people they killed and that in fact, they have proclaimed jihad against those whom they consider infidels. These people are so hell bent on killing the rest of us in the name of their god that they will stop at nothing to destroy us. Since they are not the only ones out there, there is a very strong belief that we need to do what we need to do in order to expose whatever it is we need to expose in order to stop any further attacks. 
The problem is, these people follow a belief that is fundamental to their way of life. They believe what they believe because their faith in their god is unwavering. They have absolute faith otherwise, how do you explain why they are willing to die for what they believe and not only die but, endure hours and hours of alleged torture or so called advanced interrogation techniques.
You may have noticed that I have been referring to their god as their god. I say this because I don’t believe that their god is my God. My God is a God of love, tolerance and compassion. I refuse to believe that they worship the same God that I do. I don’t even believe they worship the same God other Muslims do. If only we, as a nation of so called God fairing people, practiced the same kind of faith in our God as our enemies have in theirs.
You may be asking, “Well bxn, what does that mean exactly?”. Well, lets think about this for a moment. What were to happen if we all had the same faith in our God? What would happen if we all had the faith that God will take us out from underneath our rocks of intolerance and blessed us with the means to live in peace with our brothers across the ocean and them with us? Could it be possible that he would have delivered us from evil by now?
Hmm, maybe my sad little opinion isn’t so ambiguous after all.

WTF! How do we still have a problem with pirates!?!

Reading article after article after article of issues with pirates off the Horn of Africa is tripping me out. How the hell is this still a problem? Oh that’s right, the legality of carrying firearms on board ships is still in question.

Look, I know that it’s not that easy. There are issues pertaining to the vessels regarding both the country of origin of the vessel and the country they are to port with but there are international laws aren’t there? I know that they can come up with an international procedure to remedy this.

What needs to happen is that the powers that be need to come up with “Rules of Engagement” for pirates on international waters. Laws that involve either training existing crews on board these ships in fire arms and provide them with adequate fire power to thwart off pirate attacks OR, let them hire an agency that will provide this service.

Another option would be to commission an international pirate task force to patrol these waters. Of course, they will need to stay in international waters so as not to break any laws of the surrounding countries. It being an international task force, all the surrounding countries can pool their resources and contribute men, ships and fire power to keep the renegade Somalis at bay.

I mean c’mon, effing dingys with 4 or 5 men with automatic weapons and RPG’s are taking over massive freighters 10 times their size. In the case of the Maersk Alabama, the U.S. Navy took 3 of them out via snipers. Snipers, on a ship that is moving on the ocean took out 3 pirates on a dingy also moving on the ocean without harming so much as a hair off the head of Captain Richard Phillips. You can’t tell me that that kind of talent can’t be contracted and paid to sit on these ships in case of an attack.

That leads me to another reason I believe countries are not paying more attention to this, they haven’t pissed the right people off yet. Let’s think about this. I know that for the most part, the countries involved up until now have pretty much either out ran the ships with evasive maneuvers or fought them off with sheer luck on their side. Then a ship with U.S. citizens gets caught and they take them out with snipers. There is a lesson to be learned here. And not the age old lesson of not effing with the U.S.

In a recent attack against a Norwegian tanker (MV Front Ardennes), a Canadian navy ship (HMCS Winnipeg) and a British Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel (The Wave Knight) were able to capture the pirates during their attempted commandeering. However, because there aren’t any formal procedures for NATO personnel to follow, they were released. WTF! It’s like we’re giving these people diplomatic immunity. You can’t tell me that if you catch someone red handed in the middle of the crime, your going to relieve them of their weapons and set them free without so much as a slap on the wrist. Don’t you think that they are going to go back to their country, pick up another RPG and head right out onto the water?

I’m no politician or military leader; I’m just saying what’s on my mind and what I believe to be on the minds of many people looking at this from the outside in.

In my sad little opinion, this shouldn’t be a problem anymore.