Tuesday, May 22, 2018


How American Business Produced Victory in WWII
By Arthur Herman
A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown,  22 May 2018

I thought I had a good understanding of the events leading up to WWII and the war itself.  After reading this book, I know I was obviously wrong.  This is an amazing read about how America prepared for war when it seemed everyone was against America entering the war even when it was obvious that war was coming like it or not.

Ever heard of Henry Kaiser?  How about William Knudsen?  These are only two of the many names identified in this wonderful book about the days and years leading up to World War II and America’s role in insuring its victory over Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. 

For me this was a wonderful read.  I have read about WWII and I have watched numerous television documentaries about the war but I had never heard of the activities of American businesses that led to the Allied Victory.  President Roosevelt had many detractors back in the 1930s and 40s.  Knowing what I know about him today I believe I would have been one of those detractors.  But give him credit where credit is due – he had the courage to select a team of business leaders that resulted in our victorious efforts when most of the country was against the decisions he made in regard to building up America’s war machine.

Author Arthur Herman identifies the names of individuals who clearly demonstrated a “can do – consider it done” attitude that may never be repeated.  In fact the title of this book could have been “Can do!  Consider It Done!”  In general, it was decided by these business leaders that no government control would ever achieve what was needed.  Instead if government would let businesses identify the problem, they would formulate the solutions, their own competitive juices would insure that not only would the problems be solved, they would be solved in record time and amounts proving that tremendous things can be done when the government gets out of the way.

Aside from what businesses did there was one overriding thought that I could not avoid while reading Herman’s book and that is Take a look around you. Everything changes, but nothing changes.” from the movie Take Me Home Tonight.  During the late 1930s early 1940s a majority of Americans were against getting involved in the war.  On one had they had blinders on as to what was actually happening around the world while on the other hand they did what they could to criticize anyone and everything that suggested America needed to plan for the worst but expect the best.  These people were not just citizens; they also included the news media, reporters, print news, and worse, our elected politicians who were charged through the Constitution with protecting America and American interests.  The worst offenders were the labor unions who in the face of an Axis victory took the opportunity to engage in hundreds of strikes costing America time and money when creating periods when it was not preparing for the worst that war would bring to our shores.  Like it or not, most of the unions were infested with Communist organizers.  I suggest that if you do not like what I just wrote or fail to appreciate the truth in that statement that you look up the 45 specific goals of The Communist Party USA; look at Objective #36, Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.  You can read all 45 at: http://www.rense.com/general32/americ.htm  Then came the kicker – there was fake news back in the 30s and 40s; just like today!

There were power struggles in all aspects of America life where everything was in play when it came to destroying anyone you disagreed with.  My take away from the book was that everything changes and nothing changes.  I saw what happened in 1938-1943 very similar to what is happening today.  Then the country was against everything and anything that FDR tried to do except when it came to dealing with the labor unions and expanding the Federal Government.  Today everyone is against whatever President Trump does even when it results in good things happening in our country.  Everything changes; nothing changes.

Maybe what turned out to be so disturbing to me was at the end of the book when it became apparent that a great many people who had absolutely nothing to do with winning the war literally re-wrote history to the point of excluding the contributions made and names of the people most instrumental in our victory.  Ever heard of William Knudsen?  Neither me.  Point made!

Who should read this book?  EVERYONE, seriously, EVERYONE.  It is a piece of American history I doubt most people are aware of but should be.  Would I read it again?  Probably not since I understand what it implies with the first read.  Would I recommend it to others?  Absolutely!  Would I give it as a gift?  Absolutely!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

School Shootings, an idea

School Shootings
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 19, 2018

Like everyone, I am shocked and depressed over the school shootings that have taken place throughout America.  From a common sense point of view they make absolutely no sense.  One or more people simply shooting defenseless students, teachers and administrative staff is beyond understanding.

What makes even less sense is America’s response to these shootings or should I say lack of response.  The recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas coincided with my reading Freedom’s Forge by Arthur Herman a book every American should read.  The point of the book is that the Federal Government did not win World War II, it was won not only by the men and women fighting the enemy but just as importantly and maybe even more importantly, it was won by American business and ingenuity in spite of the Federal Government that was more of a hindrance than a help.

We as a country are now faced with a problem – school shootings.  Immediately following these shootings, we see one group after another including the news media immediately turn to the Federal Government for a solution to the problem.  People want people to just do something.  The Federal Government does not work like that.  It rarely does anything that all 535 politicians can ever agree on.  In the case of school shootings it always boils down to one side calling for more gun control (doing away with the Second Amendment) and the other side claiming the problem is not the guns but rather the people using the guns.  As a result, NOTHING ever gets done to solve the problem.  Times passes and the issue fades from the news until the next shooting.

I do not pretend to know the solution to the problem of school shootings but I believe I do know how to achieve that solution and it is taken directly from the pages of Freedom’s Forge.  We have identified the problem – the problem is school shootings.  The question is how do we stop them and protect our students. 

Like most problems, the answers are insurmountable if you only look at the big picture or in this case look to the Federal Government to solve the problem and then we individuals go about our daily lives waiting for the solution to magically appear.  It doesn’t work like that and never will.  To solve most problems, you reduce the problems to smaller increments that then become much easier to solve.  One-by-one the smaller solutions present themselves as the solution to the Big Problem.

Who among us has the solution?  It would be my suggestion that the solution will be begin with those most directly affected and involved – our thousands of school teachers who go to work every day expecting a peaceful day of education for their students and themselves.

I would suggest that EVERY school task EVERY teacher within the school to come up with a list of their best suggestions to secure the safety of everyone within the school.  For example - simple access to the school.  Do the teachers consider their schools safe from unauthorized access by individuals who are not suppose to be there?  If not, what would the teachers recommend being done?  Ask them.  Ask them for 10 of their best solutions regardless of costs.  Then school administrators can compile a list of all the suggestions.  There will certainly be overlapping suggestions so administrators should make a list of the best suggestions and then send them to County/Parish school leadership. 

From all the suggestions submitted by teachers through their school administrators the Country/Parish school leadership compiles a list of the best suggestions and they in turn send them to the State where once again a list of the best suggestions can be formulated and that list sent to the Department of Education in Washington DC.  Eventually some of the best suggestions possible will reach Congress for Congress to take action where only Congress can authorize it.

More importantly, local schools should review the teachers’ recommendations and they should immediately put in place any recommendation within their power and budget to make happen.  Where the budget does not permit something from happen, go to the local community and start a GoFundMe Page if necessary to raise sufficient funds to make it happen sooner rather than later.

If I were a school teacher, I would include in my list of recommendations the following suggestions:

  • Ask local police and fire personnel to conduct an immediate safety assessment of my school and provide a report as soon as possible.
  • Create an internal policy and provide the means by which doors to classrooms are locked once class has begun.
  • Install cameras leading to the outside entrances on all school doors and then have those cameras monitored.  Yes that would require someone to be paid to monitor the cameras.
  • Armed security guards should be placed in every school.  Yes this would require funding but where there is a will, there is always a way.
  • Provide teachers with the type of necklace that you see advertised on television for seniors where they can press a button and an outside agency or at least the school administrators are immediately electronically notified that a problem exists somewhere within the school.  Immediate notification can save lives whether the problem is a fire, an unruly and violent student or a school shooter.
  • In light of how shooters are using Fire Drills as a means to expose more students, Fire Drills should be reexamined to ascertain what is best for students and teachers.

I recently saw where a teacher, imagine that, a teacher invented a simple steel bar that rests alongside and inside each classroom door.  When an emergency exists such as a school shooter, it is a simple maneuver to drop the steel bar down across the door to prevent a shooter from entering a classroom assuming the door open inward.  I also know that in one school district this idea was simply dismissed.  I believe it to be a great idea and therein is a secondary problem – getting agreement on what needs and should be done.  That is why I would propose that before one person or administration is permitted to disregard a possible solution that the negative response should be approved or rejected by the person or organization next up the chain or in other words, it would take two disapprovals for a suggestion to be nixed.

Like so many problems, the problem may be a nationwide issue but the solution will be discovered at the local level.  Yes it may require Federal Government intervention and funding to make some of the changes happen but a lot can be done locally before it must go to Washington for a solution.

Citizens like me do not like paying taxes when we KNOW that a great deal of fraud and waste exists regarding OUR tax money.  But if you give me the opportunity to pay into a fund that I know without any reservations that it would go to improving safety at our local schools, I would be all in as I believe a lot of local citizens would.  Don’t’ include it on some tax proposal, make it voluntary but make it accountable by putting local teachers in charge of how the money is use ONLY for safety improvements like door locks, electronic notification devices, cameras, etc.

There you have it, one person’s suggestion on how to attack school safety and combat school shootings.  What’s yours?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

California - Largest Insane Asylum in the World

Largest Insane Asylum in the World

DISCLAIMER.  I was sent this via email.  I cannot guarantee that all of the information is correct but looking at California from the outside, it appears to be on target.  I would encourage everyone to share this info.  “Things” that happen in California tend to spread eastward and frankly I want no part of it.  California IS The Largest Insane Asylum in the World!

This all just makes me sick.  What a beautiful state California USED to be and is being totally ruined.  Do not know how all this is going to end but I sure am sending this on. 

Interesting that the LA Times did this. The only network we would see this on would be FOX. All the others are staying away from it.

Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, this should be of great interest to you!

Just One State - be sure and read the last part... Try for 3 states.

This is only one State... If this doesn't open your eyes, nothing will!

From the L.A. Times.
  1. 40% of all workers in LA County (10.2 million people) are working for cash; and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card. (Donald Trump was right)
  2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
  3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
  4. Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
  5. Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals; they are here illegally.
  6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
  7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most
  8. Likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
  9. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
  10. 21 radio stations in LA are Spanish- speaking.  In LA County, 5.1 million people speak English; 3.9 million, speak Spanish.  (There are 10.2 million people, in LA County.
(All 10 of the above facts were published in the Los Angeles Times)

Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States ' annual population growth, (and over 90% of California , Florida and New York ), results from Immigration. Also, 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.

We are fools for letting this continue.


Send copies of this letter, to at least two other people. 100, would be even better.

This is only one State...If this doesn't open your eyes nothing will and you wonder why Nancy Pelosi wants them to become voters!

And then there's NANCY PELOSI:

Nancy Pelosi (who was just re-elected and part of this problem) wants a Windfall Tax on Retirement Income.  In other words, tax what you have made by investing toward your retirement.  This woman is a nut case!  You aren't going to believe this…; Windfall Tax on Retirement Income... Adding a tax to your retirement is simply another way of saying to the American people "you're so dammed stupid that we're going to keep doing this until we drain every cent from you".

Nancy Pelosi wants to put a Windfall Tax on all stock market profits (including Retirement fund, 401K and Mutual Funds)!

Alas, it is true- all to help the 12 Million Illegal Immigrants and other unemployed Minorities!

This woman is frightening. She quotes... 'We need to work toward the goal of equalizing income, (didn't Marx say something like this?) in our country; and at the same time limiting the amount the rich can invest. (I'm not rich, are you?)

When asked how these new tax dollars would be spent, she replied:

We need to raise the standard of living of our poor, unemployed and minorities. For example, we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities.  Stock market windfall profits taxes could go a long way to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as Americans.

(Read that quote again and again and let it sink in.) 'Lower your retirement; give it to others who have not worked, as you have, for your money.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Houston, I Think We Have A Problem

Houston, I Think We Have A Problem;

At Least To Me!
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 17, 2018

It is impossible not to get involved in politics in one form or another in a country currently divided based entirely upon your political party affiliation.  Never has this become so obvious than having just witnessed what involved Television/Radio Talk Show Host Sean Hannity and the ongoing Russia Collusion Investigation.

It may be impossible for people to put aside their political beliefs to consider what I am suggesting in this Nugget; I sincerely hope they can.  What happened to Hannity by a Federal Judge COULD happen to anyone one of us. If it CAN happen to one, it CAN happen to MANY! http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sean-hannity-revealed-michael-cohen-mystery-client-article-1.3936561

To my knowledge, Sean Hannity is NOT under any investigation by anyone.  Of course I could be wrong but I seriously doubt that his name surfaced as a result of the investigation being conducted by Special Prosecutor Mueller.  If that is the case, explain how Sean Hannity’s privacy can be totally disregarded by a Federal Judge when that Judge REQUIRES an attorney to provide a list of names of everyone that the attorney lists as his or her client.  If Sean Hannity did nothing illegal, how can his name be dragged through the courts mud hole as if he did?

I spent over 33 years in the real estate business.  I cannot remember how many attorneys I have spoken to over those 33 years; trust me, there were many.  Only one was an attorney that I actually paid legal fees to for services rendered personally to me and that was to create a Will.  If any of those attorneys ever found themselves in a situation such as President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen found himself, would they be REQUIRED to release to the court my name as they did Sean Hannity’s? 

Compare what happened to Hannity with what has already happened to a great many Americans whose names have been inadvertently discovered during wire taps of foreign entities.  Those names are MASKED by the Federal Government so that no one can have their name tainted by those conversations most of which contained no illegal activities.  To UNMASK those names requires a special request and until the Obama Administration such approval of those requests were the exception, not the rule.

“Houston” my question is this.  Why do Americans have their names protected through the “masking” process but those same Americans can have their privacy exposed through in a Federal Court by a Federal Judge when there was no evidence presented that the American, Sean Hannity, had done anything illegal?  The simple act of releasing a name such as that of Sean Hannity “suggests” that Hannity had done something wrong or illegal. 

In my opinion, repeat OPINION, the releasing of Hannity’s name was nothing more than political grandstanding by a Federal Judge.  Think about it without the blinders of a political bias. The judge could just have easily asked for a list of the attorney’s clients and then based upon any charges being considered release ONLY the names of anyone who “might” be involved but even then, that is presuming that someone is guilty instead of presuming them to be innocent until proven guilty.


DISCLAIMER:  I am NOT a Sean Hannity fan; in fact, I do not like his television show and have only listened to his radio show a couple of times.  But I know when something is not right and this frankly stinks.  If you fail to understand that, I pray that what happened to Hannity never happens to you so that you discover what the power a judge can hold over you and your family.  I am NOT an attorney but I believe the Rule of Law was just thrown out the window.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Heart of a Nurse Leader Book Review

By Bob Dent and Joe Tye

A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 12, 2018

Disclaimer.  I have read just about everything Joe Tye has written/published so I am a bit biased in my opinion of this book.  Nonetheless – it is a great book.

Do NOT let the title dissuade you from reading it if you are not involved in the Healthcare Industry.  You could easily substitute REALTOR® for Nurse or Car Salesman for Nurse or just about any profession imaginable for Nurse and the book would still not only be applicable, it would be a very useful guide to creating a better business/profession.

Dent and Tye lay out what it takes to be a leader.  Therefore if you have no desire to be a leader or if you have no desire for your business to operate at a higher level where employees love what they do and do what they love, then you probably should not read this book.  If on the other hand you want not only your employees to be happier and therefore more productive but for you to also be happier and more productive I would encourage you to read this book.  Once you have read it and agree with my assessment and I know you will, buy copies and give them out to your employees.

I retired after 33 plus years in the real estate business as a salesman, broker, manager, trainer and owner.  As I read this book I constantly thought of my real estate agents and how the book would apply to them.  When you read the book I am confident you will do the same for your business whether that is in the Healthcare Industry or some other profession.  It applies to everyone!

The book is positive!  It builds your attitude!  It provides a roadmap to guide you to better thinking.  It also serves as a guide to evaluate where you presently are as compared to where you want to be and then shows you a path as to how to get to where you want to be. 

Who should read this book?  EVERYONE!  Would I read it again?  Most definitely.  Would I give it as a gift?  Absolutely! 

Note:  We all see doctors from time to time, some of us more often than others.  Why not buy a couple of copies of the book, personalize them and then give them to the nurses in the offices/hospitals you routinely visit.  Make sure you write a personal note on the inside cover to let the Nurse(s) know how much them mean to you.

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Clarinet, A Typewriter and A Teacher

A Clarinet, A Typewriter and A Teacher

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, April 9, 2018

You are probably wondering what these three things have in common, I’m so glad you asked.  I could have titled it “Educational Malpractice.”

My mother was musically inclined having played saxophone in an all girls band back in the 30s; my father, not so much.  When it came time for me to consider playing an instrument as a youngster having music in the family seemed a natural fit – we selected the clarinet.  I don’t remember how old I was when I first started but the best I can remember I was in elementary school. 

I took lessons and played through High School.  What did I learn playing the clarinet?  One of the first things the music teacher taught me was finger dexterity by requiring me to exercise all the fingers on BOTH hands by doing coordinating exercises.  What does that mean?  I would take a finger on my right hand (I was right handed) and I would move it in a certain motion and then replicate the motion on the corresponding finger on the left hand and match it while increasing the speed of the movements over time.  I would do this for all 10 fingers and that obviously included my thumbs.  It seemed like a dumb thing to do when you were only 9 or 10 years old but it did pay huge dividends later in life.

Playing the clarinet taught me several things. 

  • Coordination between my right hand and my left hand
  • Coordination between the music I saw on the page and the movement of the fingers on both hands
  • Timing
  • Being an integral member of a team working as one (once I joined the school band)
  • Believe it or not, the bigger picture of a completed project – playing a piece of music on my clarinet that others would be able to recognize and hopefully appreciate
  • Self satisfaction of learning to play a musical instrument

Of these skills, the hand coordination was probably the most important lesson learned that proved to be invaluable throughout my life and this is why.  During Junior High School, my mother insisted I take a typing course.  I played sports in school and I took a lot of criticism from my fellow teammates for taking a “typing course.”  Looking back, it was unquestionably the most valuable of any of the courses in all of my 14 years of formal education as it paid and continues to pay dividends for me.  I can’t say that for the rest of the courses I took in school most of which I can’t even remember what they were or even name more than 3 or 4.  I envy people who remember the names of their various teachers and then explain how much they have meant to them.  Me?  I can’t remember the name of just one such teacher.  I was either unlucky in regards to having memorable teachers or they were simply not very memorable; I believe the latter.

At the risk of immodesty, I became quite good on the clarinet (also played the Baritone Saxophone in the dance band and drums in the marching band).  Having dexterity using both hands on a clarinet worked FOR and AGAINST me in my typing class.  When I signed up for typing, I indicated on the class entry form that I had never typed before which I had not.  Extremely important to remember is that I had been playing the clarinet for several years using both of my hands and fingers to do so.  Compare that to my classmates who were also typing for the first time.  They were either Left or Right Handed but few if any ever used BOTH of their hands and fingers to do anything coordinated before in THEIR short lifetimes.

THE BAD: I barely passed the typing course; did so with a C if I remember correctly.  Why is that important?  It was an extremely valuable lesson that I did not appreciate until much much later in life.  If there were 30 students in my typing class, you would think that we all started to play on a level playing field.  But that was not true.  I was light years ahead of the rest of my class in my ability to use both hands and fingers in unison.  As for the rest of the class, not so much.  I picked up the typing technique very rapidly thus causing the teacher to believe that I had previous typing instruction and/or practice and graded me accordingly.  The lesson I later learned – how it is impossible to prove a negative? 

I could NOT prove to my teacher that I did not know how to type when I entered her class.  There was no way I could – thus the C grade.  I was furious but there was nothing I could do to sway her thinking.  In her mind, one size fit all and we all were suppose to be that one size or in this case, no typing skills and that was true.  But in regards to two hand coordination or eye to hand coordination; that was an entirely different story at least for me. 

THE GOOD:  Think about this, as a result of the typing class, I can type 250 words a minute without an error!  Think not?  Think again – I just did it for you!  Get it?  Also, typing became second nature to me.  I began on manual typewriters and progressed through to the computer terminals of today.  During my service in the Coast Guard I taught typing for about 3 years.

I learned another valuable lesson by taking clarinet lessons.  I could play almost any instrument “by ear.”  What that means is that I could pick up an instrument and with no instruction, I could play music I have heard before and play the instrument as if I had training to do so.  That is why I was able to play so many different instruments in the High School Band.  I remember playing at least 8. 

The problem with being able to play by ear was that I was also able to improvise the music that was on the sheet music by adding notes while playing what was on the paper.  My music teacher had a choice that I did not recognize or understand at the time.  He could either make me play what was on the sheet music as written or he could have encouraged me to “take off” and do “my thing” with the music.  He chose to stifle my creativity and made me stick to the sheet music.  As a result, I lost interest in taking lessons and eventually quit.

Some people may say the music teacher did the right thing.  Others would disagree.  It is easy to look back to see what should have been done.  In my case I should have been encouraged to be creative.  Living in New Orleans I have witnessed firsthand what it means to be musically creative.  You can see and hear it every day of the week in the French Quarter.  Yes it was important to learn how to play the music as it was written but it was just as important NOT to require someone to color ONLY within the lines.  There is a wonderful world outside the lines and teachers should recognize that some students should stay within the lines while others should be encouraged to explore.

Here is a more important question that even today goes unanswered.  If a teacher makes a statement on any subject you want to consider like music, English, math, science, art, or whatever, and then expect that EVERY student will accept what is taught in the same way, that teacher is doing a disservice to his or her students.  Let me explain.  I remember teachers making a statement and then my mind would literally take off.  I would mentally expand on what the teacher had just said; my mind was like a rainbow of ideas all related to what the teacher had put forth.  Then I would realize that 5 to 10 minutes had passed and I had not heard a word she had said after making that initial comment.  Do you think that may have affected my grades?  You know it did.

I later discovered that there is a Left Brain/Right Brain concept and it was explained to me that I grew up a Right Brain person in a Left Brain world.  That may sound abstract but it made perfect sense to me once explained.  People either have technical type minds (Left Brain) or they have creative type minds (Right Brain).  School systems back in the 1950s and 1960s and probably sill are designed as Left Brain Models meaning that it was the desire of the education system at the time that all of the students that graduated would be identical to each other based upon what was taught – same input – same output.  That was the objective and it worked great for Left Brain students; not so much for Right Brain students like me.  It turned out that I am living proof that a one-size-fits-all educational system is NOT the ideal system for everyone.  Just like not every student in my typing class started out equally, not every student in a math class started out equally yet the standard for teaching, at least back then, was that everyone was taught the same way.

In reality, I had a very difficult time staying focused on what was being taught in all of the courses I had taken.  This was for two reasons.  First it WAS the Left Brain/Right Brain thing but more importantly to me, it was that I had absolutely NO INTEREST in most of what was being taught.  I can say with certainty that of all the courses I took, the typing course benefited me the most.  I still use it today followed closely by what was then taught in English Class (as compared to what might be called a Writing Class today).  I can no longer dissect a sentence and graph it out as we were all taught.  Still I can recognize a good sentence as compared to a poorly written sentence.  If you want an example of the latter, just read almost any page of Sean Penn’s latest book (it is so bad I won’t even provide the title).

I attended two years of college where I supposedly majored in Marketing and Advertising.  In my two years I NEVER took ONE class on either of those two subjects.  The result is obvious to me now but not so much then.  I did not fit well into the 4 year college educational system where you HAD TO TAKE a lot of useless courses that you/I had absolutely no interest in.  Case in point – explain to me what taking a course in Geology had to do with Marketing and Advertising.  Answer – NOTHING!  I don’t remember all the courses I was required to take in College except for the Air Force ROTC classes.  The ROTC classes reinforced my belief that my future lie in a military career and that is what I ultimately did – a twenty year career in the U. S. Coast Guard and I LOVED IT!

I can’t be alone in my thinking.  I would challenge anyone who completed High School and then graduated College to make a list of the all courses they took where they can say without exception that THIS COURSE or THESE COURSES made them better at what they eventually did for a career. Your High School and/or College Degree may have enabled you to be hired but I seriously doubt you knew what to do on your first day on the job based solely on what you learned in High School and/or College.  Most people learn what they must do, ON THE JOB!

For anyone reading thus far, I would HIGHLY recommend you read Dr. Bryan Caplan’s book, The Case Against Education; Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.  As I read through this wonderful book I had the recurring thought – HE’S TALKING ABOUT ME!  But he is NOT talking only about me; he’s talking about everyone that ever attended formal education in the United States and probably the world.

To all the parents or would be parents of the world, I would also strongly recommend that you do research on the Left Brain/Right Brain concept and then make an effort to evaluate each of your children to determine how it may apply to them.  It will make a difference as to how they are able to learn.  Ideally you should want to match your child’s ability to learn to a school system that can adapt the way they teach to match.  Sadly that is much easier said than done.

Here is an excellent place to start that research:

This is my story and I’m sticking to it.  I can still type 250 words a minute without a mistake – see I just did it again.  I haven’t played the clarinet in over 50 years.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How Times Have Changed!

How Times Have Changed!

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 27, 2018

The photo is NOT me but I did wear a white belt with a student traffic guard badge on it.  I remember when it was issued to me; one of the proudest days of my life.  In the 6th grade I was selected to be the Captain of the Student Traffic Guards and that too was a special day.

For those who do not recognize the photo, let me explain.  Approximately 15 minutes before school would let out and/or start for the day, the student traffic guards would go to the Administrative Office of the school to pick up the 10’ aluminum poles with the STOP flags at one end and then check to see which intersection each guard or guards would be assigned.

We would use the poles to stop the students in my elementary school from crossing the intersection(s) until such time as it was determined to be safe to do so.  Then we would step out into the street and extend our poles across the roadway for the purpose of stopping any cars that may come along.

Several things come to mind when I saw the above photo.  First and foremost is the responsibility that the schools gave to its 5th and 6th grade students to do the right thing and be accountable for the safety of other students in the school.  We learned the value of being selected for the responsibility, for showing up on time regardless of the weather and then acting in a responsible manner while performing our duties. 

The second thought I had was that drivers back in the 1950s seemed to be much more respectable on the road than they are today.  I currently live on a corner in my subdivision.  The corner is a 3-way stop intersection.  I have not done a scientific study of how many cars/trucks ignore the stop signs but I can assure you that it must be close to 30%.  Of the 30% who ignore the stop signs, more seem to be pickup truck drivers.  It is NOT a matter of just slowing down like you might in a rolling stop; they just blow through the intersection with no attempt at stopping or slowing down. Using elementary school students to combat such drivers might be a bit much to ask of today’s students.

Then I thought of how most of us would walk to school every day, rain, snow or sunshine; school buses were used only for students who lived a great distance away from the schools.  I don’t remember exactly how far the school was from our home but it would be my guess that is was at least a half mile.  So the kids in my area would walk about a mile every school day.  Compare that to today’s students who are driven to school every day either by their parents or on a school bus.

As soon as we would arrive home, most of us would immediately grab our sporting equipment as determined by the season of the year, get on our bikes or put on our snow boots and head off to the local playground to play baseball, basketball or skate in the winter.  No one was driven, we all rode our bikes or we walked.  We would play baseball until it was too dark to play and then go home.  I remember skating until 9:00 pm when they closed the park and then trudge home in the snow in the dark.

In 2018 my parents would be arrested for permitting us to do what we did growing up in the 1950s.  And if all that were not bad enough, consider this, most of us would drink water directly from the garden hose.

Oh how times have changed.  We recently went out to eat at possibly the nicest restaurant in our area.  What did I see?  Children AND adults on their cell phones while sitting at their tables.  I saw men coming in wearing t-shirts and flip flops.  Oh how times have changed.  It is hard for an “old schooler” like me to accept what appears to be the “new normal”, a “normal” that I don’t particularly like or endorse.

When did parents forfeit their parental duty of instilling manners in their children to the smart phone and tablets?  When did it become acceptable to intentionally not stopping at stop signs or traffic lights?  When did it become acceptable to dress down when going out?  Been to a wedding lately?

Oh my God, I sound like my parents.  Who knew?  They were right!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Secret Empires a Book Review

Secret Empires by Peter Schweizer

A Book Review By
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 27, 2018

Sometimes words fail me and this is one of those times.  I read Secret Empires page by page, start to finish.  It is extremely well written and very well documented as to the truth of what has been written. 

My take away from the book?  Washington DC is more dirtier than I had ever imagined and that is saying quite a bit considering I grew up in the shadows of the John F. Kennedy Assassination, the LBJ dishonesty in regards to Vietnam; the Richard Nixon Watergate debacle and how could anyone not remember the sexcapades of Bill Clinton.  That was all followed up with Barack Obama, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.  The jury is still out on Donald Trump.

What this book so clearly points out is that there is a much deeper corruption involved within the highest levels of government in Washington that goes far beyond the figurehead names like Joe Biden, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Bill & Hillary Clinton. Except for Bill & Hillary, most have managed to keep their names out of corruption while members of their families and close friends have reaped the financial rewards of their association with the more famous names of their political family members.  This has created corruption at levels most of us could not imagine.

I found this book to be totally disgusting.  Just when I thought it could not get any worse than the headlines on the nightly news shows, you Secret Empires and realize just how bad life and times in Washington DC actually is.  Family members have made BILLIONS of dollars by association with their famous parents primarily through foreign countries who seek to garner favors from the politicians in power and it is supposedly all legal.  If they did the exact same thing within the confines of the United States, they could be brought up on charges but not so if it involved foreign governments.  They have learned how to milk the system and milk it they continue to do while we just look on in amazement.

The corruption is not just a Democrat or a Republican issue, both political parties have engaged in the corruption outlined in this book.  Sadly there seems to be no end in sight especially since the national news media does not seem to care one way or the other.

Financial payoffs that we more closely have associated with foreign governments are now on our doorstep.  It just amazes me that the news media, the very people we have for years entrusted with insuring this kind of corruption does not happen, ignore all signs of it.  You would think that the detailed information this author could discover for his book would be readily available to reporters.  I defy you to find stories in the news about the sons of Joe Biden and John Kerry like you read about in this book.

The content of this book disgusts me.  Frankly I have reached a point in my life that I just don’t care anymore and that seems to be the prevailing lack of concern for most Americans.  Maybe “most Americans” would feel differently IF they were aware of the corruption described in this book; I certainly wasn’t and I pay attention.

Who should read this book?  EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE!  Would I read it again?  No, made me sick enough the first time through it.  Would I buy it as a gift?  Probably not because I seriously doubt anyone would intentionally read a book like this even though they should.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Education, Teachers, Shootings

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, March 13, 2018

Sometimes you come upon the written or spoken word and you know not from whose lips it came.  This is one of those times when I wish I knew who the author was and how to contact him to thank him for his timely and very pointed comments that follow: 

Dear Students,

I know you. I am a retired teacher of 24 years. I have taught you as 7th graders all the way through 12th grade. This is not a tweet or a text. It’s called a letter; lengthy and substantial. Do you really want to make a difference? Are you sincere about making your schools safe? Don’t walk out, read this instead. Walking out of school is easy compared to what this letter will challenge you to do.

First of all, put down your stupid phone. Look around you at your classmates. Do you see the kid over in the corner, alone? He could likely be our next shooter. He needs a friend. He needs you. Go and talk to him, befriend him. Chances are, he won’t be easy to like, but it’s mainly because no one has tried to like him. Ask him about him. Get to know him. He’s just like you in that respect; he wants someone to recognize him as a fellow human being but few people have ever given him the chance. You can.

Next, see that kid eating lunch all alone? He could likely be our next shooter. Invite him to eat lunch with you. Introduce him into your fold of friends. You’ll most likely catch a lot of flak from the friends you eat with because they don’t want him upsetting the balance of their social order. After all, who you hang out with is critical to your status, is it not? If status is important to you, don’t you think it’s important to him also? The only difference being that he has no status because generally, shooters have no friends. Are you serious about wanting to make your school safe? Invite him to your lunch table and challenge your friends to do something meaningful with thirty minutes of their lives each day.

Lastly, are you completely frustrated by that kid who always disrupts your class and is consistently sent to the principal’s office? He could likely be our next shooter. Do you know why he causes so much trouble? He initiates disruption because that’s the only thing he does that gets him attention, and even bad attention is better than the no attention he receives from you and your classmates. You secretly wish he would get kicked out of school or sent to the alternative disciplinary school so that he wouldn’t disrupt your classes anymore (and) that somehow, he would just disappear. Guess what? He already feels invisible in a school of thousands of classmates, you included. So, before he acts out in your next class, why don’t you tell him you’d be willing to help him with the assignment that was just given? Or why don’t you ask him to join your study group? If you really want to blow his mind, ask him for help on the assignment. He’s never been asked that. Ever.

If you’ve read this far, you probably really do care about the safety of your school. Don’t trust that walking out of school will bring an answer. Gun control or more laws is not, and will not be the answer. You are the answer. Your greeting, your smile, your gentle human touch is the only thing that can change the world of a desperate classmate who may be contemplating something as horrendous as a school shooting. Look past yourself and look past your phone and look into the eyes of a student who no one else sees. Meet the gaze of a fellow human being desperate to make contact with anyone, even just one person; YOU. If you really feel the need to walk, walk toward that person. Your new friendship can relieve the heartache of one person and in doing so; possibly prevent the unjustifiable heartache of hundreds of lives in the future. I know you. I trust you. You are the answer.

And teachers, my fellow guardians of our youth, I know you too. I know the desire of wanting to make a difference in a young person’s life. I know the thrill of stepping in front of a classroom of students but simultaneously intimidated by the trust bestowed upon you. I also know the crushing, sometimes unbearable responsibility that your shoulders are asked to carry. But that’s why you got into teaching, because you have big shoulders; and a big heart. You’re overworked (I would add underpaid, but you didn’t get into teaching for the pay, so it needn’t be said), underappreciated and exhausted. May I add one more item to that list? You’re also a miracle waiting to happen in the life of your worst student. He could likely be our next shooter. The next time (and there’s always a next time) he’s ready to wreak havoc in your classroom, I challenge you to pull him aside and ask him if he’s ok, if there is something bothering him and is there anything you can do to help? Your genuine concern for him may be just the miracle he’s looking for. The miracle we’re all looking for. I know you. I trust you. You are the answer.

A former teacher who is as heartbroken as you and trusting you not to walk out on the real answer,

David (yes, teachers really do have first names) Blair

I read the above letter at the same time I read several posts on Facebook that were very unkind towards teachers and our educational system.  I felt a need to first recognize the above letter as perfectly identifying the problem within our schools when it comes to ignoring students with problems.  Here are my thoughts on the subject of teachers and education.

I have heard all of the arguments regarding teacher’s salaries.  Some of those opinions are just that, opinions, some are actually based upon facts, training and education.  I believe our teachers are underpaid for the work they perform and more importantly for the results we parents expect them to produce.  Nothing will ever change my mind on that premise because it is true.

To be a teacher in most states, at least in the public school system, you must have a college degree.  If a teacher did not get a scholarship to attend college, the cost of the degree is entirely the responsibility of the teacher or the future teacher’s parents.  Yes some teachers receive scholarships, full or partial, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Few teachers I know work an 8 hour day.  Most if not all work MORE than 8 hour days and work during their so-called lunch time as well.  But “people” say they get their summers off.  That is true, they do but they do it WITHOUT PAY unless they arrange to have their pay spread out over an entire year meaning they receive less during the actual school year but do receive compensation over the summer.  The question becomes what do teachers do during the summer months?  A lot of people think they are being paid and doing nothing related to teaching school. The good teachers are expanding their professional abilities by attending classes, workshops, seminars almost always at THEIR own expense with no additional compensation from their school boards.  If you happen to do that for your job, good for you; most do not.

If a teacher obtains a Masters Degree or a Doctorial Degree they usually do so at THEIR own expense.  School Boards typically include an increase in base pay for teachers obtaining such advanced degrees but they do not differentiate between good teachers, mediocre teachers and bad teachers when it comes to pay as they are all on the same pay schedule rather than a compensation system that recognizes exceptional teachers.  One size does not fit all and that is ever so true when it comes to teachers.  As a student, do you remember the differences between the teachers you had while in school?  I do.  Some were great; others not so much.  In fact some where only there to collect a pay check.  Others were there to see that I received the best education possible.  Yet both teachers were paid the same and it was administratively almost impossible to fire teachers much like it is for any government worker.  The inefficient are just “carried” until something changes.

While on the subject of education, have you ever wondered how a student could reach the higher levels of High School and still cannot read?  The answer is simple.  The student was a problem like the ones identified in the above letter.  Instead of FIXING THE PROBLEM by holding the student back, the student is advanced to the next grade.  Why does this happen?  Teachers ARE evaluated on the success of their students.  Holding a student back regardless of the student’s ability to advance or not, is an adverse reflection on the teachers evaluation.  No teacher wants that so instead of having a student repeat a grade, they are literally kicked down the road like a rusty old soup can for the next teacher to deal with.  Meanwhile the student’s self-esteem is in the toilet along with his or her future.
NOW FOR THE FACTS.  Our school system is broken if you believe American students and the country should have the best education available on the planet.  The facts prove that this is simply not true.  Think about the direction of our schools when you consider all the political correctness and even political indoctrination that currently exists in most of our schools.  Think about the movement towards having no losers; everyone gets a trophy. 

In “real life” everyone does NOT get a trophy and to be teaching students that they should not worry about doing well in school because they will get a trophy anyway is just boneheaded thinking and teaching.  You either win or you lose; it is that simple.  Can you name the Indianapolis 500 Driver who came in second in the 2005 race?  How about the 2017 race?  Doubt it.  There was only one winner of the race.  It is possible to create win-win situations in business and life but when the attitude exists that everyone gets a trophy, you can forget the win-win situations.  It will almost always turn out that one person wins and everyone else loses.

Look at the statistics for yourself and you decide where America stands in relationship to students from around the world.  If you don’t think this is alarming, I would seriously refrain from operating any heavy machinery for the rest of your life.  These numbers are very disturbing but you decide:

Last comment, I promise.  Let’s assume you are a parent and have 3 school age children.  You want the best education for your children, right?  Of course you would; dumb question.  But in our present school system, government bureaucrats have decided which schools your children MUST attend because of the physical location of the home in which you live is located.  It doesn’t matter to the government whether the school is producing great educational results or not, that is the school you must send your children to. 

You can always choose a private school(s) but let’s be honest.  You pay taxes and tax money is used to fund the public school systems throughout America.  If you choose to send your child or children to a private school(s), you are paying for TWO SCHOOLS, the public one through taxes, the private one through your tuition costs.  How does anyone believe that to be fair?  More importantly, if suddenly all the private schools were to be closed and those students were sent to public schools, the public school systems would be overwhelmed and become more dysfunctional than they already are.
The solution is called School Choice meaning parents would have the right to choose the school for their children to attend.  This would force more emphasis to be placed on failing schools to bring their levels up to more acceptable standards; imagine that, competition actually works.  All schools would no longer receive participation trophies for merely opening their doors – they would have to prove their worth or be shut down and is that not what happens throughout the business communities of the world and life itself?  You fail; you close your doors and then start over.

Given all of the turmoil in our educational systems around the country, think about the above letter and what is expected and what was expected of our teachers in both teaching our children and protecting them from incidents so deplorable as the shooting in Florida.  We are asking a great deal from our teachers and compensate them as if we don’t care.  We care, don’t we?  Somehow I don’t think so.

I can think of no profession so vital to the future of America and the world than the teaching profession.  Isn’t it time we learn to appreciate what we have and treat them accordingly?  If we chose not to, Home Schooling will soon become even more popular than it already is.  Maybe that is not a bad thing.  Maybe that is what would be called the natural progression of things.  When you consider the amount of money we taxpayers pay to the Federal Government that goes just to the Department of Education not to the schools, it is mindboggling especially when you discover that the Department of Education IS NOT one of the delineated responsibilities of the Federal Government.  Imagine that.  We all would be better off giving that money to our local communities to fund education rather than paying huge salaries of bureaucrats in Washington.  Think about that for a moment.