A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste …

Woe the poor high school senior living in the U.S. who, looking forward to graduation in May or June, already accepted to the college of her choice, is now told that the schools are closed for the rest of the year and her plans will have to be scrapped.  She will likely have to repeat her entire senior year next year, or perhaps even the year after, since the U.S. seems intent on scrapping life in general for the rest of this calendar year.

First, let me assure you that I’m not necessarily arguing against the closing of the schools.  We must protect our young people as best we can.  What I’m arguing is that there appears to be absolutely zero amount of planning for the education of our youth … it seems that nobody is considering alternate means for these young people to complete the school year that they have already spent 6 months of their lives on.  Where is the common sense???  Must we keep throwing out the baby with the bathwater?  Does nobody in our government think any more?  Just because we have a fool in the White House shouldn’t preclude other elected officials from using their brains for something other than holding their skulls in place.

Once again, state governors have shown their immense capacity for willful ignorance by closing schools through the end of the school year, despite the fact that it is only March, and with callous disregard for both students and parents.

“The governor told California parents the SAT and other standardized testing would be canceled and the state would help with supplies to homeschool.”

Say WHAT???  The entire SAT is cancelled?  Whose brilliant idea was that?  So, even students who technically completed their course work at mid-term will not be able to take the SAT in order to enter college in the fall?  What would you do if you were a student in that situation?  I think many will say, “Screw this, I’ll just go work for the sanitation department,” else “I’ll just kill myself now.” I don’t suppose it occurred to the dolts in the Department of Education that the SAT could, with appropriate safeguards, be administered online???

And “the state would help with supplies to homeschool”?  So what?  Most parents whose children are beyond about 5th or 6th grade are not going to be able to homeschool their children in many subjects.  Only those with advanced degrees plus the time and patience will be able to do so … likely about 10% of the population.

Common sense is seriously lacking in the United States today.  Now, if the states thought shuttering the schools for the next 6 months was such a brilliant move, then they could have had teachers teach their classes online, from the comfort of their own homes, in their jammies if they wished.  Students without access to a computer, modem or WiFi, could have been provided one at no cost by the Department of Education.  Without the distractions, perhaps they would have learned even better, but noooooo … it would have required thought processes that no government official today seems capable of.

The quality of education in the United States had hit an all-time low, even before this.  We no longer teach young people that wonderful art of thinking, but rather teach them technical skills.  We teach little about history, literature, and how governments function, but rather how to program in C++, or how to build furniture.  And now … we teach … nothing.  For at least the foreseeable future, we teach nothing.  Way. To. Go.

To reiterate, just so nobody misunderstands my point as happened in a post last week:  I am not arguing against the schools being closed if that is what the medical community believe is the best way to save lives.  The medical community, not public officials who are sans common sense in the midst of this pandemic.  My point, however, is you don’t just shutter the schools for the next six months without a backup plan to ensure these young people are able to complete this school year.  I, who am not even an educator, can think of a number of ways this could be done, but nobody … not a single person … in our federal or state governments has even bothered to try.  I want our Department of Education employees to get off their arses and earn the money We the People are paying them!  Yo … Betsy DeVos … are you listening?  It’s your turn to earn your keep!

What You May Have Missed

If you go looking in the usual places for news that has nothing to do with a) coronavirus, or b) the stock markets, or c) 2020 presidential race, you will be out of luck.  That is all the news that exists in the usual places such as The Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, Politico, ABC News, Time, The Guardian, BBC, AP, and others.  Mind you, all those stories are newsworthy and I am definitely NOT downplaying the importance of any, especially the coronavirus.  But once you’ve read the same ol’ same ol’ about 60 times, you begin to wonder if the rest of the world is locked in a closet somewhere.  However, Filosofa does not give up easily.  Filosofa is sick and damned tired of reading the exact same information about coronavirus, the financial melt-down and the Bernie & Joe Show.  So, I stuck a carrot in my pocket for the wabbits, grabbed my shovel and went digging …


Is Betsy complicit?

Betsy DeVos was made Secretary of Education in 2017 as a reward for the large campaign contributions she and her hubby made to Trump’s 2016 election campaign.  As I said in 2017, DeVos was, like so many of Trump’s cabinet picks, the least suited for the job.  She had little respect for public schools, instead supporting the charter schools that can accommodate very few students in need.  But she had money, she had a rich husband, and that mattered more than qualifications or competency.

Well, now it turns out that Betsy’s brother, Eric Prince, is somewhat of a nasty character.  Like his siter, Prince is a Trump supporter with close ties to the Trump gang.  According to a New York Times article last weekend, beginning in 2017, Prince started recruiting former spies to infiltrate Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump ‘agenda’.

One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation.  They secretly taped the union’s local leaders and attempted to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization.  This and other covert operations were conducted under the auspices of Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups.

According to the Times report, though both Mr. Prince and Project Veritas have close ties to the Trump family, it is “unclear” whether any of the Trump clan are complicit in the operations they have been conducting.  My bet?  Take a wild guess.  But … a question of equal concern is whether Miss Betsy is involved.  Again, my bet?  Hell yes.

An independent watchdog group has asked the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform to investigate whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had any involvement in her brother’s efforts to spy on the Michigan teacher’s union.  DeVos has long had a hostile relationship with teacher’s unions.  According to the letter the group wrote to Congress …

“It stretches the imagination to the breaking point to believe her brother never at least mentioned his intel operation to her. At the end of the day, who would benefit more from this ill-gotten information than the Education Secretary at war with the union?”

Prince is under investigation by the Justice Department over whether he lied to a congressional committee examining Russian interference in the 2016 election, and for possible violations of American export laws. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Mr. Prince, saying he lied about the circumstances of his meeting with a Russian banker in the Seychelles in January 2017.  Care to make any bets about whether Prince will ever be convicted?

Keep your eyes on this ball, my friends.


A day late and a dollar short, but still …

On Tuesday, in a 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Judith Rogers wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Thomas Griffith that the House of Representatives may see redacted passages in the public version of the Mueller report that was issued, heavily redacted, in April of last year.  Said Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi …

“This ruling is an unequivocal rejection of the President’s insistence that he is above the law and his blanket refusal to cooperate with Congressional requests for information. It is also another rebuke of Attorney General Barr’s brazen efforts to prevent evidence of Presidential wrongdoing from being uncovered, which the Courts continue to challenge. … Yet again, the Courts have resoundingly reaffirmed Congress’s authority to expose the truth for the American people.”

In her opinion, Judge Rogers wrote …

“The courts cannot tell the House how to conduct its impeachment investigation or what lines of inquiry to pursue, or how to prosecute its case before the Senate. The constitutional text confirms that a Senate impeachment trial is a judicial proceeding. The term ‘judicial proceeding’ has long and repeatedly been interpreted broadly.”

This follows on the heels of last week’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton that  excoriated Attorney General Bill Barr for distorting the findings of the Mueller Report before its redacted release to the public, saying …

“The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump [emphasis added] despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”

Too bad these rulings weren’t handed down back when the House was still conducting its impeachment hearings and before the U.S. Senate thumbed their noses at We the People and at the U.S. Constitution.  But, better late than never.  And, there is no law that says there cannot be yet another impeachment, if it is deemed right and proper.  Leave that door open, folks …


Okay, folks … that’s the news that didn’t make the headlines this week.  Let us now return to the center of gravity …

A Comic Break From The Darkness

Whew … it’s been quite an onslaught of news these past few days, very little of it anything to cheer about.  I think it’s time for a comic break, don’t you?

Betsy DeVos is well-deserving of being the center of a joke, and Andy Borowitz doesn’t dissapoint:

Betsy DeVos Says She Was Planning to Close All Schools Anyway

By Andy Borowitz

borowitz-andy

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—As an increasing number of schools and universities closed down because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, revealed on Monday that she had been planning for years to close every school in the country anyway.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, DeVos said, “When I took over as Education Secretary, I came with a simple mission: to shut down all of the nation’s schools. It turns out that I was just ahead of my time.”

Noting that schools are where students learn math, science, and history, DeVos said, “I have long believed that schools are where all the bad things happen.”

Deciding to “wipe out the scourge of education once and for all,” DeVos said that, within days of taking office, she drew up an ambitious plan called No School Left Open.

In a reassuring message to the nation’s parents and students, DeVos said, “Amid the current crisis, many of you are wondering how we will close every American school overnight. Let me just say that this is the job Betsy DeVos was born to do.”

And who better than Stephen Colbert to inject a bit of levity into an otherwise humourless situation?

Remember, folks … no matter how dark things seem … we need to find balance.  Let yourself find something to laugh about today in order to keep your sanity, okay?

jollyLove ‘n hugs from Filosofa … and Jolly!

The Bernie Movement

Yesterday, I posted an article by Robert Reich, giving us a different viewpoint of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and positing that Bernie could very well be the one best-suited to beat Donald Trump. Interestingly, as sometimes happens, Jeff and I were thinking along the same lines and about the same time I posted my Reich piece, Jeff posted this one. Same conclusion, a bit different approach. Great minds think alike! Thanks, Jeff, for this really great post!

On The Fence Voters

I’m not going to try and get into his mind because I don’t think there’s a whole lot of space there. I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”

“You saw those images last night. We’re going backward here. This is a frightening, grotesque, and disturbing development in American politics.”

Were the above quotes from the Tuesday night Democratic freakout debate attacking Bernie Sanders? Well, they certainly could have been. But actually, the first one was from none other than lead Donald Trump sycophant Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) during the 2016 campaign. The second quote, also from the 2016 campaign, was from fellow Trump boot-licker Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). My, how time flies.

Back then, if you remember, Trump was the reality TV show host attempting to win the Republican nomination for president of the United States. It was a crowded field…

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Discord & Dissension — Part VIII — On The Issues

Let’s talk a little bit about voters and issues.  While we could categorize voters in numerous different ways, there are basically two kinds of voters:  those who vote based on issues, and those who vote based on personality.

It was often said that the biggest reason John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election was his charisma.  I was nine years old at the time, and I certainly found him charming … I loved listening to him speak (my family didn’t have television yet in 1960, so I rarely saw him)!  And that’s fine for a nine-year-old child, but by the time one reaches voting age, one really ought to be considering what the candidate stands for rather than what he or she looks like, or how they speak.  I also heard it said in 2016 that part of Trump’s success was a result of his charisma, but I have a hard time with that, for he isn’t nice to look at, and his speech is filled with vitriol, so … where’s the charisma?

At any rate, there’s little to be said about those who would vote based on the candidate’s personality, so let’s instead start talking about issues.  Jeff and I have debated whether it is too soon to start to delve into the issues and the candidates’ views/platforms/ideologies, but after some thought, we’ve decided that with the primaries already in full swing, and Super Tuesday right around the corner, the time seems to be ripe.  Next Tuesday, March 3rd, fourteen states and one U.S. territory will hold nominating contests to award a total of 1,357 delegates, or 34% of all delegates nationwide.  If you are eligible to vote in the primary or caucus for your state, you will soon need to make a choice between the remaining candidates.  So … what issues are most important to you?

The majority of voters are most concerned with the issues that most directly impact them and their everyday lives, such as healthcare, or if they have children, education.  The economy and jobs naturally impact everyone.  In 2016, Donald Trump was able to form a large enough base by creating a fear on an issue that, until then, was largely a non-issue to most people:  immigration.  He made it personal … he told people that immigrants were mostly all bad people – terrorists, murderers and rapists.  And even the good ones, he said, were taking your jobs!  He created a fear, then proposed a solution:  a wall and a travel ban.  It was largely hyperbole, but people bought it.

All of which points up the fact that sometimes people listen to one view or another without fully understanding the issues or their candidates’ stance on them.  The more information you have, the better able you will be to make informed, wise decisions.

For today, I just want to give a bit of information about each of the major issues, and then in two weeks, I will begin to address each of the candidates’ views on the issues, so you can see which nearly match your own viewpoint.  At the end of this post, there is a poll that I hope you’ll take a minute to check which issues matter most to you, as a voter.


The Issues:

Abortion

The abortion issue is among the most polarizing in the nation.  Pro-life vs Pro-Choice.  The question of whether certain groups have the right to force their will on women, or whether women have autonomy over their own bodies.

Civil Rights

This covers a myriad of sub-issues involving equality for all in the areas of housing, education and employment for minorities, religious groups, the LGBTQ community, and women.  It is another highly polarizing issue, as certain groups attempt to claim that the rights of the LGBTQ community are in direct contrast with their own rights.

Economy

The economy is about more than just jobs and the stock market.  It is also about things like wage levels and inflation.  Trump claims bragging rights for the stable economy, but in reality he inherited a growing economy and, as we’ve seen over the past week, it is not built on a very solid foundation.  The federal minimum wage has not been raised in more than ten years, while the cost of living has risen each year.

Education

The quality of education in the U.S. has been declining in recent years, as schools are increasingly focused on preparing students for a career more than teaching them to think for themselves, to use their imaginations, to create.  College has become cost-prohibitive and students leave after four years with a mountain of debt that will take them decades to repay.

Election Reform and Security

A number of Supreme Court decisions over the past years have corrupted our elections.  McCutcheon v FEC, Citizens United v FEC, and a number of others involving campaign finance have opened the door to large corporations and lobbying groups literally buying a candidate.  There is also the issue of election security.  It is a proven fact that the Russians interfered in our 2016 election, and our own intelligence community has given us warning that the same is happening again this year.  The House of Representatives has passed bills to restore the security of our elections, but the Senate has thus far refused to bring them to the floor.

Energy/Environment/Climate Change

This may arguably be the single most important issue nationwide today, though many seem oblivious.  Trump has rolled back so many environmental regulations that this nation remains the single largest emitter of CO2 per capita in the world!  The U.S. is also the only nation on the globe that is not part of the Paris Climate Accords and that is not doing virtually anything, as a nation, to protect the environment, endangered species, etc.

Foreign Policy

While ‘globalization’ has been demonized by some, it is a fact of life.  In today’s world, we must interact with other nations in many areas, not the least of which are trade and shared security.  How we treat our allies and how we react to others is critical to keeping not only our nation, but the world safe.  Understanding of world affairs is imperative at the highest levels of government.

Free Trade

Free trade agreements allow goods to cross borders without tariffs or special taxes, and are a key element in keeping the cost of consumer goods low.  It should be a win-win for all parties involved, but in recent years, the U.S. has made it a competitive game, which hurts everyone in the long run.

Government reform

Unhappy with the way the government is being run?  This largely ties into campaign finance reform, for much of the problem with our government today is that rather than representing all the people, they often seem to represent only the wealthy, leaving the other 99.9% of us out in the cold.  In addition, the leaders of both the House and Senate seem to have entirely too much power, coercing our elected officials to do things their way, rather than to follow their conscience.

Gun Control

This is one of the biggest issues in the U.S.  The vast majority of people, including gun owners, are for sensible gun legislation, such as expanded background checks, waiting periods, and even an assault weapons ban.  But, due to the power and influence the NRA has over our politicians, nothing is being done, and more and more people die from guns every single day in this country.

Health Care

I can’t even begin to summarize this one.  ACA, the Affordable Care Act that was initiated during the Obama administration, ensured that everyone would have access to basic healthcare, regardless of income level or pre-existing conditions.  Much of that has been gutted and there are now some 20 million people in this country with no health care insurance.  Meanwhile, the Pharma industry, doctors, labs, and others are charging exorbitant fees.  A nation that cannot or chooses not to take care of its people … all its people … has a government that is deficient.

Immigration

Immigration reform is one of those things like the weather … everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything.  In the last three years we have seen all the wrong things done:  children separated from their parents and put in cages; billions of dollars wasted building a ridiculous wall that can be sawed through and falls down on a windy day; highly discriminatory travel bans.  Young people who were brought to this country as babies by their immigrant parents are in danger of being deported, even though many are contributing to the economic and social well-being of our nation.

Infrastructure

Roads and highways, water systems, electric grids, bridges, public transportation all fall under the heading of infrastructure.  All need upgrading and continual maintenance, but we have fallen far behind.  Remember Flint, Michigan and their water crisis?  Well, guess what?  It is still not resolved, there is still lead in the drinking water, and the latest is that rather than replace the system, the EPA is proposing rule changes that would change the way testing is done for lead and copper in water supplies.

Tax Reform

The tax structure at present puts more of the burden on the working class than on the wealthy.  Wealthy individuals and corporations pay a far lower percentage in taxes than the average worker, some companies paying not one single dime, and some even getting refunds.  Meanwhile, the national debt is out of control and the government has plans to further cut the very programs that the people of this nation rely on.

Technology

A number of things fall under this broad umbrella, some of which affect us all, such as online privacy, broadband, social media, wireless communication, and more.  Perhaps the most important to most of us is internet security, that took a big hit when net neutrality was repealed in 2018.

Welfare & Poverty

This is one that many people don’t think about … until they themselves are in need.  The official poverty rate in the U.S. is 12.3%.  Think about that one for a minute … one in every eight people in this nation live in poverty, and it is estimated that there are more than a half-million homeless people in the nation.  Yet, Trump proposes cutting the very programs that help these people!


Well, there you have the issues and a brief summation of each.  There are more, but I’ve already exceeded the length Jeff and I agreed on, and taken up too much of your time.  In coming weeks, I will be writing expanding on these issues and giving you the views of the most viable candidates.  So that we can focus on the issues that are most important to you, we ask that you take just a minute to check off the three issues that are most important to you in the short poll below.

Note:  Even though the poll will show only the last answer you ticked, it is recording all three.  I apologize, for I know it is confusing, but I cannot seem to find a way to leave all choices marked.  


Table of Contents (links to past posts in this series)

Trumpism, Explained

Jeff has shared a guest post by his friend, Jerry Gramckow that is an excellent summation about the definition of ‘Trumpism’. Thanks so much, Jeff & Jerry … this clarifies a bit more the mentality of those who blindly follow “the leader”, without understanding the damage he is doing.

On The Fence Voters

The following is another post from my friend Jerry Gramckow, who’s spent the majority of his life in the evangelical community. We value his insight and reflection. Thank you Jerry!

What is Trumpism?

by Jerry Gramckow

I’ve read several definitions of the term Trumpism. Some definitions, such as the one posited by Victor Davis Hanson in National Review, give it a mostly positive spin. Others, like this one in The Hill, are more critical. And some, like this one in the Los Angeles Times, pull no punches in making the term (and the movement) synonymous with dangerous, mind-numbing cultism.  

Here’s my definition and analysis of Trumpism:

Definition: Trumpism is a movement made up mostly of willfully ignorant traditionalists whose self-centeredness makes them oblivious to the oppression or neglect of anyone outside themselves and their closest companions and willing to defy historic ethical norms to achieve their desired goals.

Analysis:…

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Black History Month — Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson died today at the age of 101.  When the ‘breaking news’ flashed across my screen, I was working on a different post, but I quickly switched gears.  Some of you may not recognize her name, so let me tell you just a bit about Ms. Johnson.

Katherine Johnson loved to count.

“I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.”

And so it began for this young girl from West Virginia in the U.S. Born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Johnson’s love for mathematics was inherent, an inclination she had from birth. At a young age, she was ready and anxious to go to school. She could vividly remember watching her older siblings go to school and wishing so much that she could go with them. The opportunity to attend school finally did come. Johnson so excelled that she began her studies in the second grade, then moved into advanced classes. By age 10, Johnson was in high school.

In school, one teacher stood out to Johnson. Miss Turner taught geometry, and Johnson couldn’t wait to take her class. The teacher was a great encourager to the students and a strong mentor to many of them. Johnson did so well in her classes that she graduated early from high school, and at age 15 she entered West Virginia State College. She had two years before having to declare a major, so Johnson wavered between English, French and mathematics. One of her professors at West Virginia State College helped Johnson with her choice. She told Johnson, “If you don’t show up for my class, I will come and find you.” And so it was, through part threat and part joke, Johnson steered her way into what was already her first love: mathematics.

At West Virginia State College, Johnson became immersed in academia and the mathematics program. She loved being surrounded by smart people, she said, and knew all of the professors and students on campus. One of her professors, the renowned Dr. William W. Schiefflin Claytor, recognized the bright and inquisitive mind that Johnson had. “You’d make a great research mathematician,” he told her. Then professor Claytor did something else. He told Johnson that he would help her become one. Johnson said…

“Many professors tell you that you’d be good at this or that, but they don’t always help you with that career path. Professor Claytor made sure I was prepared to be a research mathematician. Claytor was a young professor himself, and he would walk into the room, put his hand in his pocket, and take some chalk out, and continue yesterday’s lesson. But sometimes I could see that others in the class did not understand what he was teaching. So, I would ask questions to help them. He’d tell me that I should know the answer, and I finally had to tell him that I did know the answer, but the other students did not. I could tell.”

He saw that Johnson took all of the mathematics classes listed in the catalog that were needed to pursue her life’s passion, and even went so far as to create a class in analytic geometry of space just for her. At age 18, Johnson graduated summa cum laude with Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and French!

Johnson ended up teaching after college; at that time, teaching was the only option for her in her community. And then one day, at a family function in the 1950s, a relative mentioned to Johnson that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, was hiring. They were specifically looking for African-American females to work as “computers” in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department. In the 1950s, pools of women at NACA did calculations that the engineers needed worked or verified. Johnson immediately applied for the job, but the agency already had filled its quota for the year. By the time the next year rolled around, Johnson had applied again and found herself with two contracts on her table. One was a contract to teach, and one was to work for NACA. Remembering what professor Claytor had always told her about becoming a research mathematician, she took the job at NACA.

Johnson began working for NACA in 1953. She started as one of the women who worked on problems assigned from the engineers in what was then the Guidance and Control Branch. As Johnson worked on the problems, she would ask questions. She didn’t want to just do the work — she wanted to know the “hows” and the “whys” and then the “why nots.” None of the other women had ever asked questions before, but by asking questions, Johnson began to stand out. She was told that women didn’t participate in the briefings or attend meetings; she asked if there were a law against it. The answer, of course, was no, and so Johnson began to attend briefings. NACA was just beginning its work on space. Space itself may be perceived as a series of plane surfaces, and as Johnson became known for her training in geometry, she began to work with the team more and more. Eventually, she became known as a leader, and the men increasingly relied on her. She remembers quite clearly her experience at the time.

“The women did what they were told to do. They didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.”

It was this inquisitive nature that made her a valuable resource to the team and the only woman at the time to ever be pulled from the computing pool to work on other programs.Katherine-Johnson-2In 1957, Katherine provided some of the math for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by engineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year.

In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski coauthored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.

Then in 1962, President John F. Kennedy charged the country to send a man to the moon. Johnson became part of the team, and she began to work on calculating the trajectory for America’s first space trip with Alan Shepherd’s 1961 mission, an early step toward a moon landing. She went on to do the calculations for the first actual moon landing in 1969.Katherine-Johnson-5In 1962, when NASA used computers to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth, Glenn had one request: He wanted Katherine Johnson to personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard Friendship 7 – the mission on which he became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Katherine-Johnson-4Johnson worked at the agency until 1986, when she retired after 33 years of service. During her tenure at NASA, Johnson received many prestigious awards, including an honorary Doctor of Law degree and an honorary Doctor of Science degree. In 2015, at age 97, Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Johnson’s pivotal role, along with others at NASA, was highlighted in the 2016 film Hidden Figures, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.  The film was nominated for three Oscars, including best picture. Though it won none, the 98½-year-old Mrs. Johnson received a sustained standing ovation when she appeared onstage with the cast at the Academy Awards ceremony that February.

R.I.P. Ms. Johnson, and the nation thanks you for your great contributions.

 

 

Da Snippets Dey Be Snarky …

I remember the last day I was able to read the news without having to either take ibuprofen or check my blood pressure … it was June 15th, 2015.  The day before Donald Trump pompously rode down the elevator and announced that he was running for president of the United States.  The next day, I laughed.  I’m not laughing now.


A budget written by Abbot & Costello?

Trump’s latest budget was “unveiled” yesterday.  If Congress passes this one, then I shall recommend psychiatric evaluations for every one of them!  Surely, he doesn’t honestly believe he can get this one through!  It must have been written by a team of comedians.  A few of the key points:

  • Expands the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations
  • Cuts Medicaid by $700 billion over the next 10 years
  • Cuts food stamps
  • Cuts farm subsidies
  • Cuts student loan programs
  • Cuts EPA funding by 27%
  • Cuts Social Security disability benefits and Medicare provider payments
  • Cuts foreign aid by 21%
  • Increases military spending
  • Increases NASA funding for ridiculous “space force” program by 12%
  • Allocates $2 billion for his wasteful, useless, hateful “border wall”

Notice a pattern here?  If it helps the 1% at the top of the wealth scale, he increases it, if it helps the 99% of us who don’t live in mansions and jet set all over the world, he cuts ‘n guts it.  Plain and simple.  Nancy Pelosi should do to this budget exactly what she did to his State of the Union speech.


Punishment for doing the right thing?  Only in the GOP …

More and more these days, I’m concluding that there is an intrinsic cruelty in some republicans.  I offer up as evidence the fact that Mitt Romney, the one lone republican who found the guts to vote to convict Trump of the impeachment charge of abuse of power that was more than proven, has been subjected to terrible treatment by those in his own party.  He has received condemnation, that there have even been calls for him to be expelled from the republican party!  WHOA, republicans!!!  The man did his job, he followed his conscience, he acted in the best interest of this nation, and you want his head on a pike???mitt-romneyThe latest, though, is just beyond ridiculous.  Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, has “formally uninvited” Mitt to the Conservative Political Action Conference to be held the last four days of this month.

“We won’t credential him as a conservative. I suppose if he wants to come as a nonconservative and debate an issue with us, maybe in the future we would have him come. This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.”

Wow … the man is being punished and threatened by his own party for doing his job, for being the only one with even half a conscience, for believing he actually owes something to the people of this nation in exchange for his salary.  See what I mean about some republicans?  They are just not very nice people.


And continuing along the theme that some republicans are not very nice …

Montana State Representative Rodney Garcia has a rather unique interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Rodney-Garcia“So actually in the Constitution of the United States [if] they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot. They’re enemies of the free state. What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, Afghanistan, all those. What did we do? I agree with my Constitution. That’s what makes us free. We’re not a democracy, we’re a Republic Constitution.”

So, where did this guy get his education?  It’s true that the U.S. is not a pure democracy, but until recently was a democratic republic, not a “republic constitution”.  And as for his premise that the Constitution gives people like himself the right to shoot a person who is a socialist … well, I won’t even dignify that with a response.

I did some digging, because I really wanted to know where he went to school … Podunk University?  I didn’t find that out, but I did dig up something interesting.  He admits to having been convicted “years ago” on a domestic violence charge.  And … last year he attacked Children’s Protective Services (CPS) …

“CPS was a ruse…they violate the law. I think that they harm children. Child Protective Services do not protect the children. They kidnap them.”

He went on to say that caseworkers should be fined $1,000 per day for every child they “steal” and should be put in jail.  Then he continued, admitting that CPS had visited his own home when his children were young, investigating a complaint.  And, he further accused Planned Parenthood of “chopping up babies and selling their body parts.”

Now … needless to say, this man’s mental capacity is severely diminished, but what is equally disturbing is that … the people of his district elected this dolt!  The Montana Republican Party has called for his resignation, to which he replied …

“They can ask me to step down, but, no, I don’t think so. I’m going to run for the Senate and I’m going to win. People are going to have to eat their words.  I’m getting my head so big from people saying, ‘Thank you, Rodney, for bringing this up.’ If people don’t want me in the Senate they can say: ‘Well, I’m not going to vote for ya.’ That’s their prerogative.  The only way I would give my resignation is if God asked me to.”

People of Montana … please, vote this joker out, and then see if you can’t have him committed for psychiatric evaluation!


cheaters

Words That Frighten

For some time now, I have intended to write a post explaining the concept of “democratic socialism” – a term that has been demonized by republicans, used to scare voters away from certain democratic candidates – but obviously I haven’t yet gotten around to it. Meanwhile, our friend Hugh has revived an excellent post he wrote during President Obama’s presidency that makes some excellent points. Note what he says about Finland and also note that Finland ranks #1 on the World Happiness Index, while the U.S. is only at #19. Thank you, Hugh!!!

hughcurtler

I wrote this years ago and reblog it here because no one seems to have read it and the ideas I tried to clarify appear to be as relevant today as they were years ago — if not more so!

In every generation there are numerous words that take on pejorative overtones — many of which were never part of the term’s meaning in the first place. Not long ago, for instance, “discipline” was a positive concept, but it has become a bad thing thanks to progressive educators who ignore the fact that discipline is essential to clear thinking and the creation of art instead of junk. Another such term is “discrimination” which used to simply suggest the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, good paintings and good music, for example, from random paint scattered on canvas or mere noise. Indeed, it was a sign of an educated…

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Black History Month –John Swett Rock

There are so many true heroes in black American history that it’s hard to choose just one or even a dozen.  This year for black history month, I wanted to highlight some people that are a bit less well-known than, say, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, or Martin Luther King.  I began last week with Thomas Mundy Peterson, the first African-American to cast a vote.  Today, I would like to introduce you to John Swett Rock, the first black lawyer admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court, a man who in his short 41-year life, was a school teacher and administrator, dentist, physician, lawyer, and human rights and abolitionist activist.  Quite a plateful, wouldn’t you say?

Mr. Rock was born in Salem County, New Jersey, on October 13, 1825. Living in a slave-free state but with modest means, his parents rejected the common but often necessary practice of putting black children to work instead of attending school. They continued to support their son’s diligent pursuit of education through the age of 18, and Rock returned the favor by demonstrating a deep love of learning and a brilliant intellect.

At age 19, proficient in Greek and Latin, Rock took a position as a teacher at a black public grammar school in the town of Salem. But he had greater things in mind: while teaching there during the years 1844–1848, he apprenticed himself to two white doctors, Quinton Gibbon and Jacob Sharpe, immersing himself in their libraries each day after his teaching duties. By 1848, Rock was exceptionally well versed in medicine, and sought but was refused entrance to medical school that year because of the colour of his skin. Demonstrating the resolve that would characterize his entire life, he began an intense study of dentistry, again on his own. Obtaining a dentistry certificate, he opened a private practice in Philadelphia in 1850. The practice was immediately successful, but Rock had not given up on becoming a physician. He gained admission to Philadelphia’s American Medical College and received his M.D. degree at the age of 26 in 1852.

Rock made his mark in Philadelphia as a medical man of brilliance, and as a strong, eloquent advocate for African Americans. He married Philadelphia native Catherine Bowers in 1852, and the following year, having decided the northern, liberal environment in Massachusetts would be better suited to them, the couple moved to Boston’s Beacon Hill. There, Rock opened another successful practice in dentistry and medicine, and became increasingly involved in black advocacy. He served first as a member of the Boston Vigilance Committee, giving free medical services to fugitive slaves, and then in 1855, as a delegate to the Colored National Convention in Philadelphia. In 1856, he was recorded as asking the Massachusetts legislature to delete the word “colored” from state documents.

During this period, Rock earned his lifelong reputation as a brilliant abolitionist orator. He argued in favor of black self-improvement and began speaking of the “inherent beauty” of African people and their culture. In 1858, the 33-year-old Rock delivered one of his most famous speeches in which he likely became the first person—and perhaps the last until the civil rights movement of the next century—to assert that “black is beautiful.” In these and all his speeches, Rock urged his listeners to take direct action. He demonstrated his own commitment by joining with other Blacks in organizing for the new, antislavery Republican Party (yes, they were once better than they are today).

For several years, a chronic illness, the precise nature of which is unknown, had seriously threatened Rock’s health. Using his knowledge of the latest medical developments, Rock made contact with a renowned group of physicians in Paris who agreed to take him on as a patient. Getting to France, however, proved an ordeal. The administration of President James Buchanan ruled that Rock could not be granted a passport because in the infamous Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court had ruled that Blacks could never be considered full citizens, free or not. Massachusetts, however, took the unprecedented step of issuing him a passport of its own, and Rock sailed for France in the summer of 1858.

After undergoing surgery, Rock toured France and studied the French language and literature, returning to Boston in February 1859. But his prognosis was poor, and he was advised to give up his medical and dental practices. It seems unlikely that Rock’s physicians intended him to replace medicine with a new, equally strenuous career as a lawyer, but this is what he did, and in 1861, he opened his own law practice. His offices soon became a favorite haunt of abolitionist activists and politicians. As a lawyer, Rock at first expressed impatience at the slow pace of newly elected President Lincoln’s actions on behalf of Blacks, but when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, he changed his mind. When Congress authorized the creation of all-black regiments to help fight the south, Rock became one of the main recruiters for Massachusetts regiments.

john-swett-rock-2In 1865, Rock made his greatest mark in history when in a widely celebrated breakthrough, he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. Again, progress had not come easy. The previous year, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the Dred Scott decision, had blocked Rock’s admission. But Taney died in October 1864 and was replaced by Salmon P. Chase who assented to Rock’s presence. In a stark reminder of reality as he boarded a train for the trip back to Boston, Rock was briefly placed under arrest because he lacked the travel pass still required of Blacks in the nation’s capital.

Still in chronically poor health, Rock had caught cold during the Washington ceremonies and never recovered. His health continued to deteriorate, and in December 1866, he died in Boston. His short life was a trailblazing combination of intellectual brilliance, professional success, and political action.