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VH_50

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About VH_50

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    Marietta, GA
  1. VH_50

    R. E. Lee is not PC

    This is NOT a troll . . . it's an honest question, and part of my ongoing attempt to understand Lee's public image. Being in the history business, and living in Georgia (a Yankee in exile), I've heard these arguments many times . . . and I still don't understand the fascination with Robert E. Lee. Can somebody who *likes* the guy explain to me why they find him admirable? I'll grant you that he was a brilliant commander . . . but so was Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. I'll grant you that he was (by all accounts) a nice guy . . . but so (by all accounts) was Karl Donitz, whose U-boats shot our merchant ships to pieces in 1942-43. I'll even grant you that he deeply and truly believed he was doing the right thing, and that God was on his side . . . but so did Tim McVeigh. We don't name stuff after foreigners who took up arms against the U. S. government in organized warfare, or wackos like McVeigh who did it on their own. We don't celebrate the more odious members of the Confederacy ("Bloody Bill" Anderson or Nathan Bedford Forrest, say) . . . at least most people don't any more. Why is Lee exempt from thi
  2. VH_50

    Books of heroics and adventures

    Here's another vote for the works of Robert Heinlein (virtually anything he published in the 1950s), which were Scouting-age favorites for both me and my (now college-age) stepson. The astronomy's now obsolete, but the adventure holds up well. If there are still boys out there who like the Horatio Hornblower sea stories, the first ten volumes or so of Alexander Kent's (similar) Richard Bolitho series are a good follow-up. Alistair MacLean ("The Guns of Navarone," etc.) is marvellous for contemporar--mid-20th century--adventure with no sex and (at most) PG-13 violence. Somebody suggested Caroline Alexander's _The Bounty_. In that same category, *don't* miss Alfred Lansing's _Endurance_, about the Shackelton expedition to the Antarctic . . . one of the great true-adventure books of all time. Happy reading!
  3. VH_50

    merit badges and the internet

    There's something to be said for minutely studying the wording of this or that requirement for evidence of intent, but we should also keep in mind that inertia is a powerful thing . . . references to "catalogs" and "mail" may simply be leftovers that nobody has an elegant alternative for. I haven't seen letter-size carbon paper in use for 25 years, but we still put "cc:" at the bottom of business letters. :-)
  4. VH_50

    What should they call us?

    Just a reminder that the "call people what they prefer to be called" principle also extends to *which* honorific you use . . . This can be an issue with PhD's (who often prefer to avoid being "Dr." except in professional settings), but it's especially true for women who keep their birth names (for personal or professional reasons) after marriage. The wife of Bob Smith and mother of Bobby Smith may well be Mary Jones, and thus properly "Ms Jones" NOT "Mrs. Smith." It may seem like a small thing but like a lot of small things, it's worth making the small bit of extra effort and getting it right.
  5. Fat Old Guy writes: "Last time I checked, the federal government was supposed to mint money, provide for the common defense and regulate interstate commerce. State and local governments really aren't supposed to do much more than provide an infrastructure." ----- "Supposed to" if you use the strictest and most literal interpretation of the Constitution. A valid position, to be sure, but not the only position--and not one that I find intellectually compelling or politically attractive. (And I'm in good company: Jefferson himself overstepped his presidential authority--if strictly interpreted, anyway--both when he bought Louisiana Territory from France and when he sent Lewis and Clark to have a look at it! )
  6. I'm a liberal because I think that the highest purpose of government is to put the talent and treasure of an entire society to work on behalf of what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" . . . to ensure that the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the homeless housed, and the sick healed. I'm a liberal because I cherish our free market economy, but believe that government can and should play a role in curbing its worst excesses . . . treating workers as a disposable commodity, pursuing profit at all costs, and doing long-term damage to the environment for short-term gain. I'm a liberal because I think that the government has a role to play in supporting the arts, the pure sciences, the humanities, and other things that don't make us a profit but do make us human. I'm a liberal because I think that (until he or she has given us reason to believe otherwise) *every* individual, regardless of race, religion, sex, age, class, political affiliation, immigration status, or national origin is just as much a human being--and just as deserving of decent treatment--as I, my family, and my friends. I'm a liberal because the 20th-century US government programs that I most admire--the Pure Food and Drug Act, the GI Bill, rural electrification, the national park system, the Marshall Plan, the Voting Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Head Start, NASA--tend to be the products of "liberal" administrations. The amusing thing about all this (to me) is that by the standards of eastern Massachusetts (born and raised); Providence, RI (college); and Madison, Wisconsin (grad school) I'm a mainstream liberal . . . but by the standards of Cobb County, GA (where I've lived these 10 years) I'm some kind of leftist radical. My wife (whose politics are similar to mine), is fond of observing of herself: "My [college] students think I'm an ultra-leftist and a radical feminist . . . and if they ever meet a real example of either they're going to be deeply shocked." VH-50
  7. VH_50

    another BOR question

    Laurie makes a good point . . . being able to write with a pen or pencil and do basic arithmetic "by hand" is still valuable, and will likely remain so. You can still depend on there being times when you need to write and add/subtract without a machine handy. On the other hand . . . the calculator has basically made it pointless to learn how to take square roots "manually" or use a table of logarithms. The odds of you needing to do one of those things in a situation where you can't pick up a calculator are *really* long. The question is, which category does (say) Morse code (other than S-O-S) fall in? :-) VH 50 P.S. I'll get off this soapbox for good now; it's just that I teach courses on "Technology and Society" at an engineering school, and . . . P.P.S. "GPS" is "Global Positioning System"--highly accurate satellite navigation developed for the military and (now) available in hand-held form for outdoorsy types. Should have written it out the first time, but I was being lazy. Sorry!
  8. VH_50

    another BOR question

    "Back in the day" (late 1970s, when I earned it) splices were also required for the Small Boat Sailing MB, though I doubt (given the shift to braided, synthetic lines) that they still are . . . or should be. It's an interesting question, though: How long the program should continue to require skills made obsolete by changes in technology or culture (morse code, splicing, axemanship) . . . and how quickly it should adopt new skills requirements based on new technologies? Idle thought: How ubiquitous will GPS need to get before proficiency with it is required for first class? VH_50
  9. VH_50

    Number of Merit Badges

    Just an addendum: Regardless of whether or not a council has the *right* (by policy or selective approval) to limit a given councilor to 5 or 6 badges, that number seems artificially low to me. Two reasons: 1) It's my experience as a long-time advancement chair that about 24 of the badges account for 90% of the traffic. I'm a counselor for *many* badges that nobody's ever even asked me about doing (much less completed). The workload issue is, I think, a straw man. 2) A relatively small set of qualifications can qualify an individual (not even stretching) to teach a *lot* of merit badges. Virtually any reasonably experienced history teacher could exceed a 6-badge limit by 50% or 100% without even getting past his or her professional skills: Content: citizenship x 3, am heritage, am cultures Skills: reading, scholarship, communications, pub. speaking Maybe: computers, genealogy, indian lore, am labor The same is true of many people with professional training in art, engineering, or natural science . . . or people deeply involved in certain hobbies, like boating and nature study. Let's not sell all those multi-talented people in the Scouting movement short!
  10. VH_50

    Women in BSA

    Discussion of leaders modelling character and integrity for the scouts got me thinkng: Why assume that character and integrity are gendered? That being a "man of character and integrity" is one thing and a "woman of character and integrity" is another? Surely it's not that we (as a society) take character and integrity for granted in women and find it so rare in men that we have to hunt for examples! :-)
  11. VH_50

    Follow me Boys

    I am (as a working writer) not one to take copyright lightly, and would never urge anyone to support video piracy. . . BUT: Disney is far from being the wronged innocent here. They have ruthlessly pushed (on more than one occasion, if memory serves) to have copyright law rewritten so that valuable Disney properties (e.g. Mickey Mouse) that *would* have passed into the public domain in the 1990s or early 2000s remain under copyright. I don't object if they want to manipulate the market by (say) creating an artificial scarcity of _Bambi_ tapes by releasing it for three years and then pulling it for ten . . . but it mightily annoys me that they (and their fans in Congress) are willing to rearrange the law for the same purpose.
  12. VH_50

    Follow me Boys

    I am (as a working writer) not one to take copyright lightly, and would never urge anyone to support video piracy. . . BUT: Disney is far from being the wronged innocent here. They have ruthlessly pushed (on more than one occasion, if memory serves) to have copyright law rewritten so that valuable Disney properties (e.g. Mickey Mouse) that *would* have passed into the public domain in the 1990s or early 2000s remain under copyright. I don't object if they want to manipulate the market by (say) creating an artificial scarcity of _Bambi_ tapes by releasing it for three years and then pulling it for ten . . . but it mightily annoys me that they (and their fans in Congress) are willing to rearrange the law for the same purpose.
  13. VH_50

    "One Tin Soldier" Appropriate or Not?

    On a related note . . . I've been amused for some years now that the song "YMCA" has been shorn of its original connections to the gay subculture of the 1970s and become an apolitical, upbeat audience participation song. But trying to present Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" as a rah-rah patriotic anthem just boggles the mind. At least Mercedes had a sense of irony when it started using "Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz?" in its commercials!
  14. VH_50

    "One Tin Soldier" Appropriate or Not?

    OGE . . . I'd always figured that in the context of the refrain: There won't be any trumpets blowing, Come the judgement day On the bloody morning after One tin soldier rides away. A bloody battlefield on which only a single tin soldier is left standing is a metaphor for total and utter devastation--which the song sees as the *inevitable* result of violence, no matter how "righteous" the motivation for it. [Like many here, I suspect that the movie missed the point of the song . . .]
  15. VH_50

    Looks like it's a done deal

    Re. the alleged decline in belief in evolution as level of education increases (I, too, am skeptical and await a citation): Even if it *is* true, why is it relevant? Scientific theories stand or fall on their ability to explain the relevant evidence in a more coherent way than competing theories. The raw number of people who believe (or don't believe) in a given theory counts for zip in this calculation. Raw numbers of "educated" people who believe (or don't believe) in a given theory count for not much more. "Educated" is too broad and complex a category for that. If I have a PhD in history, does that make my opinion on nuclear physics worth more than the opinion of somebody with only a high school diploma? Would you go to an oral surgeon to have your appendix taken out (if you had a choice)? Numbers of people *with relevant expertise* who believe (or don't believe) in a given theory *can* be a valuable barometer of the theory's value. If 99 of 100 working astronomers you talk to tell you that astrology is hogwash or that the Big Bang is real, or 99 of 100 working biologists tell you that "nothing in nature makes sense except in light of evolution," it's usually time to pay attention. Science isn't a democracy . . . it's a meritocracy, and a pretty ruthless one, at that.
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