Archive for September, 2007


Student #1

It’s been several weeks now and my students are starting to let their personalities come out.  With some of them, it’s a good thing.  I have some students (like Nigel*) who remind me why I work for this company.  He’s there every day with a smile.  They all have to greet us (though they try to slip by without doing so), but many just nod their heads or say “good morning” in the lowest possible voice without making eye contact.  He makes a point to shake the hand and look into the eyes of every staff member he sees when he walks into the building.  He does all of his work in class, though he talks a little too much, and gently chides other students for fighting, drinking, and doing drugs.  Every day he’s a 10 (they give us their feelings in ratings daily during group interaction).  He wants badly to go to college but has no idea how he’ll afford it (not that it’ll stop him).

That makes me really angry about the American Education System**.   Young men and women who want badly to turn their lives around and know that education is the best way to do that have to resign themselves to starting their lives thousands of dollars in debt, just to acquire knowledge.  Just to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Why should such a high price be put on self-improvement?  More importantly, why is the richest country in the world charging millions of dollars a year for something people in less fortunate countries get for FREE? Why do Americans stand for this?  This is a type of forced poverty that is entirely unnecessary.

*names have been changed to protect the very, very guilty

** hereafter referred to as AES

3,801 US soldiers dead in Iraq.  28,009 US soldiers wounded in Iraq.


A Betrayal of Trust

I don’t agree with everything does, but I agree with this.


War With Iran

France is discussing the option of going to war with Iran in the country gains nuclear weapons.  I can’t help but remind myslef that this is the reason we used for a pre-emptive war with Iraq, and that we set the precedent for other countries doing as they please in this area.

Let’s focus on this instead:


Military Recruitment Facts

 Here is the original article.

1. Recruiters lie. According the New York Times, nearly one of five United States Army recruiters was under investigation in 2004 for offenses varying from “threats and coercion to false promises that applicants would not be sent to Iraq.” One veteran recruiter told a reporter for the Albany Times Union, “I’ve been recruiting for years, and I don’t know one recruiter who wasn’t dishonest about it. I did it myself.”

2. The military contract guarantees nothing. The Department of Defense’s own enlistment/re-enlistment document states, “Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay allowances, benefits and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/re-enlistment document” (DD Form4/1, 1998, Sec.9.5b).

3. Advertised signing bonuses are bogus. Bonuses are often thought of as gifts, but they’re not. They’re like loans: If an enlistee leaves the military before his or her agreed term of service, he or she will be forced to repay the bonus. Besides, Army data shows that the top bonus of $20,000 was given to only 6 percent of the 47,7272 enlistees who signed up for active duty.

4. The military won’t make you financially secure. Military members are no strangers to financial strain: 48 percent report having financial difficulty, approximately 33 percent of homeless men in the United States are veterans, and nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.

5. Money for college ($71,424 in the bank?). If you expect the military to pay for college, better read the fine print. Among recruits who sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill, 65 percent receive no money for college, and only 15 percent ever receive a college degree. The maximum Montgomery GI Bill benefit is $37,224, and even this 37K is hard to get: To join, you must first put in a nonrefundable $1,200 deposit that has to be paid to the military during the first year of service. To receive the $37K, you must also be an active-duty member who has completed at least a three-year service agreement and is attending a four-year college full time. Benefits are significantly lower if you are going to school part-time or attending a two-year college. If you receive a less than honorable discharge (as one in four do), leave the military early (as one in three do), or later decide not to go to college, the military will keep your deposit and give you nothing. Note: The $71,424 advertised by the Army and $86,000 by the Navy includes benefits from the Amy or Navy College Fund, respectively. Fewer than 10 percent of all recruits earn money from the Army College Fund, which is specifically designed to lure recruits into hard-to-fill positions.

6. Job training. Vice President Dick Cheney once said, “The military is not a social welfare agency; it’s not a jobs program.” If you enlist, the military does not have to place you in your chosen career field or give you the specific training requested. Even if enlistees do receive training, it is often to develop skills that will not transfer to the civilian job market. (There aren’t many jobs for M240 machine-gunners stateside.)

7. War, combat, and your contract. First off, if it’s your first time enlisting, you’re signing up for eight years. On top of that, the military can, without your consent, extend active-duty obligations during times of conflict, “national emergency,” or when directed by the president. This means that even if an enlistee has two weeks left on his/ her contract (yes, even Guard/Reserve) or has already served in combat, she/he can still be sent to war. More than a dozen U.S. soldiers have challenged “stop-loss” measures like these in court so far, but people continue to be shipped off involuntarily. The military has called thousands up from Inactive Ready Reserve — soldiers who have served, some for as long as a decade, and been discharged. The numbers: twice as many troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan per year as during the Vietnam War. One-third of the troops who have gone to Iraq have gone more than once. The highest rate of first- time deployments belongs to the Marine Corps Reserve: almost 90 percent have fought.


Living on Base

I was watching a documentary (Bombs, Brits, and Cheerleaders) about military personnel living on base when they travel to other countries.  As I watched, I was struck by how absolutely sheltered these people are from what’s going on with the average American, and even more so by what’s going on in the country where they are stationed.  The only news they receive is what the government provides.  I’ve spent enough time on military bases to know that they have created a small town American culture in these bases overseas (as well as the ones here), making sure military personnel and their families have no real access to the culture of the country in which they are currently living.  There’s no reason to travel and when they do, many visit monuments, historical places,etc… with groups and guides from the base, eliminating any possibility of learning something that is not exactly what the government wants them to think.  Since everything is provided for them on base (markets, clothing, etc…) they never have to leave and encounter opposing views.  I find this disturbing, especially since many people I know joined the military to”see the world”.  They’ll see it alright, the just won’t get to experience it.

There is an unbridled patriotism on American bases abroad that the local population tend to resent, especially the blaring of the National Anthem at 5AM every morning.  Some feel that this kind of representation causes locals to stay away from the Americans, and those that do venture to meet them feel that there is a tendency for our citizens to teach about American culture (and often religion) rather than taking the time to learn about the place in which they are currently living.  I think it’s an incredible disservice tot he children living on these bases who would otherwise have the opportunity to learn a lot about various countries and peoples but are instead sheltered inside their very own Americaland.

3,792 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  27,936 US soldiers wounded in Iraq.


I Honk for Peace

A teacher in Indiana was fired for saying, “I honk for peace,” in her classroom.  A peaceful message should never be out of place in a school, but this is a tough one.  I fully believe in freedom of speech, but if a teacher had said, “I honk for war,” in my son’s classroom, I would have been livid.  Of course, I would have explained to my son that some people believe that this war is right and just, and that those people are horribly, terribly mistaken. If the teacher had assailed students with her reasoning for such a statement and told them that her way was the only way, I would have gone up to the school and demanded a retraction and an apology, but definitely not a forced removal from the classroom. 

Some teachers sign an agreement (such as teachers in Florida) stating that political and religious views are not to be discussed in the classroom, though I have noticed that Republican and Christian views are not unwelcome.  It’s a bit of a double standard, and one that will never take place in any school my son attends because I am well aware of my rights as a parent (as every parent should be), and I think that students should be taught about various political views depending on their age group.  My school did this by teaching a Civics course covering all political views and a World Religion course covering 30 different religions (sects of each of the 5 major religions).


Mistakes Were Made

The generals have admitted it, the soldiers have been saying it, and the American people have been begging to hear it from top government officials. It’ll be a cold day in hell before President Bush admits that serious mistakes were made at the beginning of the war (namely that there shouldn’t have been one). According to CNN, General Peter Pace said, “One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi Army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation.” But how many Americans really believed that the US would be greeted as liberators? And why didn’t we plan for all contingencies, like having more troops available and ready to swoop in at the beginning of the war? Hindsight is 20/20, but many military officials were saying that we should have gone into Iraq with a much larger force. Not doing so put our troops in danger.

3,789 US Soldiers killed in Iraq.  27,936 US Soldiers wounded in Iraq.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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