Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why Babies are Bald?

In the beginning there were many animals and only one man and one woman. The man and woman had no worries at all. The Great Spirit protected them, did all their shopping, and paid all the bills. They lived in a perfect world except for one little problem; they were jealous of the animals. The Great Spirit created the animals with thick warm fur and long majestic manes, but the man and woman felt slighted since they had been created with cheap shiny bald heads that burned badly under the summer sun and turned a purplish color during the winter cold. They looked anything but majestic; they looked more like land lobsters during the summer and varicose veins on stilts during the winter.

Baldness became a real issue for the humans. It became an even bigger problem than the sneaky serpent who flirted with the woman by throwing apples at her when she walked by his tree. That problem had been relatively easy to fix. The man asked the Great Spirit to speak to the serpent. The serpent was warned to leave the woman alone, but when the serpent proved too smitten with her to heed the warning, the Great Spirit removed the serpent’s arms and legs and gave them to the monkey. From that day forth the serpent slid on his belly and spent his time coiled at the foot of the apple tree scheming ways to get revenge on the Great Spirit and the man and woman he protected. Meanwhile, the monkey swung through the trees by his tail, learned to use his new hands to hold bananas, and since he could not figure any other use for his new legs, he practiced long hours to learn how to walk erect, which thousands of years later caused a great deal of confusion as to the origins of man.

As time passed, the man and woman grew cranky and mean and hardly spoke to each other. Every time they looked at each other, their bald heads reminded them how inferior they looked compared to the majestic animals. The day came when they could no longer stand the sight of each other; even their reflections in the rivers and streams made them ill.  Finally, they became so depressed that they sought professional help, but to their dismay they discovered professionals had yet to be invented.

Their depression became so deep that the Great Spirit began to worry about them, so he called all his buddies and the apprentice spirits to a great council fire called the Council of the Bald Knob. At the Council of the Bald Knob, a plan was devised to help the man and woman. In the spring, the Great Spirit gathered clay, the silk of the silk worm, the yellow rays of the sun, the curl of an Easter lily, and molded them along with a piece of his heart into a tiny being he called a child. The child with its head full of curly yellow hair and a manual called The Instruction Book were given to the man and woman. The Instruction Book not only provided hair care instructions, but it was filled with advice for raising children.

The woman was thrilled, but the man became very suspicious of her and the child. He refused to believe the child was his since it looked nothing like him. After all, the child had a full head of hair, but the man and the woman were bald, so how could the child be his? Of course the child was his; who else could it belong to, but unfortunately, the man refused to listen to reason. Nevertheless, the arrival of the child and his beautiful head of hair lifted the woman’s spirits; the child with his beautiful mane was more majestic than any animal she had ever seen.

While the woman doted over the child, the unreasonable man continued to deny the child was his and sank deeper and deeper into depression. The woman tried desperately to reason with him, but he was convinced he had been wronged and nothing she said could persuade him otherwise. Finally, the woman had enough and kicked him out of the cave they had shared since the Great Spirit created them. Meanwhile, the Great Spirit became very concerned that the man and the woman’s separation could play havoc with his time schedule for populating the earth, so he re-convened the Council of the Bald Knob, which he renamed the Council of the Bald Knob II. The Council had two objectives: help the foolish man cope with fatherhood whether he was ready or not, and convince the woman to take the foolish man back. After great deliberation, the Council finally agreed on a solution.

The following spring the Great Spirit sent the man and the woman a second son, but this time the child was bald like the man and the woman. The man was ecstatic; he passed out cigars to all the animals and partied for three days. He embraced his new son, and apologized over and over to the woman for doubting her, and pleaded for her forgiveness. Since he was the only erect walking option around, the woman forgave him and let him back into the cave. The foolish man learned his lesson and never doubted her again, and just to be make sure, from that day forward all babies were born bald, and even to this day most babies are bald or mostly bald at birth.

JL

©Jack Linton, November 29, 2014

A Visit from the North: The Back Porch Summit

Southern stereotypes such as hillbilly, hick, racist, Bubba, and redneck are often given more credibility than they rightfully deserve. These labels are devastating for many Southerners who spend their lives trying to disprove the misconceptions that so many Americans have about people in the South. However, most Southerners laugh at such stereotypes and feel sorry for people who have so little real knowledge of the true South; if tags are needed, they point to proud, independent, and defiant as being more appropriate and accurate. Southerners are who they are and believe what they believe despite what anyone thinks or believes about them. Once their mind is set, they are not easy to sway, they are defiant before any man or government who threatens their freedom of choice or independence, and they are quick to defend family, honor, and the Southern way of life.

Southerners are proud of their Southern heritage, and they are more than willing to share their beliefs and opinions about any and everything. They gladly welcome visitors with open arms as long as the visitors have the good sense not to overstay their welcome. If a non-Southerner wants to learn about the South, any Southerner worth his NRA and Good Sam Club memberships will be happy to teach him all he needs to know. Southerners have nothing to hide if people will just ask and not always assume that the negatives they hear about the South are true.

Recently, to my surprise three gentlemen from New York and New Jersey contacted me about making such a fact finding visit to the South. The three close friends said they had discussed taking a trip to the South for years, but due to work and family commitments, they had never traveled farther south than Williamsburg, Virginia. However, after recently retiring, they had by chance read and shared one of my blogs with its “Southern flavor” (their words) and decided it was time to take their long overdue road trip to the Deep South. I was flattered my blog had made it as far as New York and New Jersey, and I was honored the three gentlemen had taken time to read it, so it was easy for them to convince me to help them coordinate their visit. I am glad I did; it was an experience I will not soon forget.

I met with Mr. Douglas Smeelie and Mr. Albert Dungworth of New York City, and Mr. Sylvester Dwyer of Newark, New Jersey on a hot, humid afternoon in mid-July on my back porch in Petal, Mississippi. They were all too familiar with Southern stereotypes, but to their credit, they wished to learn about Mississippi and its people for themselves. As the first stop of their visit, I arranged a meeting between them and three Southern gentlemen, Dr. Earl Jubilee Wilson, Mr. Doody Dale McGregor, and Mr. Ray Leroy Jenkins.

Under the cooling influence of sweet ice tea and lemonade, the seven of us met around my patio table where shade and the only cooling breeze were provided by a large pool umbrella and an oscillating fan. My wife always the definitive host was livid; to her it was barbaric to subject our guests to the harsh Mississippi sun in mid-July. However, these men had traveled a great distance to learn about our state and culture and to deprive them of the experience of sweltering in the Mississippi heat and humidity would have been inexcusable. Later, all three men from the North admitted that the heat and humidity of that first day in Mississippi gave them an appreciation for the Southern romance with sweet ice tea and lemonade.

After the customary introductions and appropriate time for small talk and boastful crowing, we settled into the business of the meeting – a simple question and answer about the South. Prior to the meeting I had reminded my friends that they were to be on their best behavior. In turn, I had assured the visitors that regardless of what happened during the meeting my friends were good people with good intentions. Still, as an added safe guard in case the session spiraled out of control, I chose to act as moderator of the gathering.

There were only three rules for the session: (1) questions must not get personal, (2) answers must be truthful, and (3) since I was recording the session, a copy of the recording would be available to the police if the meeting turned sour. Everyone agreed to the stipulations without complaint and shook hands. What ensued was two hours of question and answer dialogue about the South and its people. The dialogue may have continued even longer if Mr. Smeelie had not passed out from the heat. After we dragged him into my air-conditioned kitchen and vigorously poured two glasses of ice cold sweet tea down his throat, he recovered nicely with as far as we could tell no ill effects. I believe the highlight of Mr. Smeelie’s day was discovering that Mississippi did indeed have electricity and air-conditioning.

Once Mr. Smeelie had recovered sufficiently, I made copies of the recording for everyone, and Doody Dale drove the three visitors back to their motel to freshen up for dinner later that evening. My wife and I met our visitors that night at the Purple Parrot where we had a wonderful meal and laid out the plans for the rest of the visit. To my surprise and relief, the three men marveled throughout the meal over the success of the discourse they had with my friends that afternoon. Mr. Dungworth made the comment that he was not always sure how honest my friends were being, but that there had been no doubt as to their passion and belief in what they said. Later, when I returned home, I listened to the recording, and like Mr. Dungworth, I marveled at the passion in the voices of my friends as well as laughed loudly as they playfully jousted with our Northern visitors.

Partial Transcript of Questions Directed to Southern Gentlemen

(The Back Porch Summit)

[Moderator’s Note: After the initial introductions and socializing, I called for everyone’s attention to begin the session. Now I must admit I had thought from the beginning that the format for the meeting was a little too formal, but the three gentlemen from the North insisted they had brainstormed questions they wanted to ask, and they felt a straight question and answer format would be best suited for their purpose. I asked the nature of the questions, but all they would say was the questions were simply intended to clear up misconceptions about the South they had heard over the years. However, as soon as Albert Dungworth asked the first question, I knew I had made a mistake by not insisting on seeing the questions before the meeting.]

Mr. Dungworth:      When will Southerners stop believing the South will rise again?

[Moderator’s Note: This was not a difficult question, but by the tone of Albert Dungworth’s voice, his words came across as an adversarial and disrespectful jab at the South. The mood around the table grew very uneasy. Finally Doody Dale blurted . . . .]

Doody Dale:            NEVER! Actually the South has risen; it’s just the best kept secret in America. If you don’t believe it, try to invade us and see what happens!

[Moderator’s Note: With the mention of an invasion, a heated debate ensued on who would win the war if the North and South were to go at each other today. After forty minutes, I had to step in and insist they move on to the next question.]

Mr. Dwyer:              Why are Southerners so caught up in their 2nd amendment rights?

[Moderator’s Note: I moaned inwardly when I heard this question. I thought this might be the question that blew the lid off the meeting. Hoping to diffuse the situation, I called on Ray Leroy to answer the question since he was probably the least volatile of my friends. To my relief, he answered the question in a fashion that that would make any Southerner proud.]

 Ray Leroy:              There are basically four reasons why Southerners embrace the 2nd Amendment: (1) Southerners love God, Jesus, family, and the Southern way of life, and they will not hesitate to take up arms to defend what they believe and love; (2) Southerners believe what is mine is mine, and others best leave it alone; (3) Southerners believe in law and order, and reserve the right to protect themselves and their families when necessary to preserve law and order; and (4) Southerners believe in the Constitution of the United States of America.

[Moderator’s Note: Doody Dale actually stood and saluted the small American flag I had hanging on my porch, and to my relief my three guests from the North hoisted their glasses of sweet tea and lemonade as a toast to Ray Leroy’s answer.]

Mr. Smeelie:             Why is the South so racist?

[Moderator’s Note: Just as I thought the winds of war were behind us, Douglas Smeelie tossed a bomb of a question into the simmering keg of dynamite. I had hoped we might address this question later in the visit, but it didn’t happen that way. I held my breath as Dr. Earl responded.]

Dr. Earl:                      When it comes to racism, the South is no different than any other region of the country. Racism has little regard for the color of a man’s skin, his status, or his class. It is an adult plague that is forced upon our children who in turn become adults forcing it upon their children. It begins at home – it begins with mamas, daddies, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who, out of ignorance, feed it to the children.   Racism is cultivated, massaged, nurtured, and molded not only in the homes across the South but across our nation. Racism is not a Southern thing; it is a people thing.

[Moderator’s Note: Wow! I could have kissed the good doctor! The other five men nodded their approval as well, and then Mr. Smeelie leaned over and whispered into Mr. Dungworth’s ear. Again, I held my breath.]

Mr. Dungworth:       What is so great about grits?

[Moderator’s Note: Although asked in an accusing sarcastic voice, I couldn’t help but feel relieved as well as amused. Ray Leroy was once again up to the challenge and deadpanned. . . .]

Ray Leroy:                 That’s easy. Eat hominy or Cream of Wheat and you will know.

[Moderator’s Note: Finally, the tension began to relax as a couple of chuckles were heard around the table. From this point on, it was the Yanks and the Rebs firing and counter firing.]

Mr. Smeelie:             Why do Southerners say “Bless your heart?”

Doody Dale:              Bless your heart, Northerners will never understand.

Mr. Dwyer:                Why do all Southerners drive pickup trucks?

Dr. Earl:                      All Southerners don’t drive pickup trucks, just the appointed ones. The appointed ones drive pickups to haul off all the bull continually shoveled on the South by Yankees, the government, and idiots – Bless their hearts.

[Moderator’s Note: All six men were now sitting on the edge of their chairs anxious to add their two-cents to the discussion. By the amused looks on their faces they seemed to be having a good time.]

Mr. Smeelie:              Why do Southerners think their cooking is better than other regions of the country?

 Ray Leroy:                 Biscuits, gravy, grits, cornbread, turnip greens, and fried chicken – nuff said!

Mr. Dungworth:       Are your mama and daddy related?

[Moderator’s Note: I just about choked. With this question, Dr. Earl’s face turned blood red and he quickly turned away shaking. I just knew he was fighting back anger, and that Mr. Dungworth may have crossed the line. When Doody Dale McGregor jumped up, I expected fists to start flying.]

Doody Dale:               Sir, another reason Southerners believe in the 2nd amendment is due to questions like that . . . .

[Moderator’s Note: I do believe Doody Dale would have cold-cocked Albert Dungworth if Dr. Earl had not stepped up and placed a calming hand on his shoulder . . . . ]

Dr. Earl:                      Yes, they are, (laughing) which gives us the same blood line as Northerners, so I believe that makes Southerners and Northerners either brothers or cousins.

[Moderator’s Note: Puzzled looks appeared on every face, and then the tension melted. Led by Dr. Earl, the men started chuckling and then burst into outright laughter. Eventually, Doody Dale started smiling and sat down much to Mr. Dungworth’s and my relief.]

Mr. Smeelie:             Why would anyone want to live in the South?

[Moderator’s Note: I thought at first Douglas Smeelie had thrown new coals on the ebbing fire, but to my amazement, Dr. Earl, still laughing, came to the rescue once again.]

Dr. Earl:                     To keep the Yankees out of paradise.

[Moderator’s Note: I couldn’t have said it better!]

Mr. Dywer:               What is the biggest difference between a Northerner and a                Southerner?

[Moderator’s Note: By the time Sylvester Dywer asked this question, all six men were at ease with one another and neither the questions nor the answers offended anyone.]

Dr. Earl:                    The biggest difference between Northerners and Southerners lies in how they handle stress. When Northerners suffer from stress they find relief in coffee, pills, and psychiatrists, but when Southerners suffer from stress, they chill out with sweet ice tea, rocking chairs, and porch swings.

[Moderator’s Note: For the next hour, the Yanks and Rebs hurled good natured insults and barbs at each other until Douglas Smeelie of New York passed out from the July heat and humidity. After recovering in my air conditioned kitchen, he fretted miserably for the rest of the afternoon at being the cause of prematurely breaking up a good time.]

End Partial Transcript

Overall, I was pleased with our back porch summit. There were no killings or even “ass-kicking,” so all in all, it was a successful start to the visit from the North. The next morning the seven of us crowded into my Honda Odyssey, and began our road trip across Mississippi. I prayed the trip would prove as successful as the back porch summit, but to be honest, I was not wagering any money on it.

JL

©Jack Linton, November 24, 2014

I Cut the Cord: How I Survived the Withdrawal Pains

I finally did it; I cut the cord! I have been threatening to do it for years, but each time I summoned the courage to do so, I chickened out at the last minute. I experienced pre-withdrawal to the maximum degree. How could I possibly live without cable/satellite television? What would cutting the cord do to my quality of life? Would I be ostracized by neighbors and friends and branded a rebel? How would I be able to converse intelligently with people if I did not have cable or satellite to stimulate my conversations? How would I be able to stay up to date on the latest products and gadgets such as the telescoping Comfort Wipe for the big guy or girl in the family; miracle vitamins that cause age spots and wrinkles to peel off in layers; exercise rages such as the Shake Weight and the amazing 30 second monthly workout; kitchen gadgets that can be used to slice and dice as well as clean dentures; real estate opportunities around the world where you can buy for pennies and sell for millions; all in one household tools that vacuum the floor, massage your feet, and breast feed the baby; music sets from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and beyond; or the latest home grooming miracles such as the Flowbee that handles all your hair cut needs? I could not fathom life without cable or even if there would be life after cable.

It is amazing how dependent our society has become on cable and satellite television. The grandchildren, the dog, my wife and I along with the millions of cable subscribers across this nation are cable junkies. Television is an addiction, so did I dare cut the cord and expose my family to the reality of a real world without commercials, mindless sitcoms, and fabricated reality shows? Did I dare cut the cord and refuse to contribute further to bringing obscure, ridiculous, and quite often morally flawed programming into our home? Would exposure to life away from television cause my family to crash and burn? What would happen if I took Cup Cake Moms, 19 and Counting, Dog Whisperer, Duck Dynasty, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Pawn Stars, and Half Pint Brawlers away from my family? Could we survive? If I took away the source of our mindless addiction to the flawed extremes of TV, would I risk alienating my family? What would my dog do without the comfort of Dog TV to comfort her while I was gone during the day? What would my wife do without channels such as Lifetime, QVC and HSN? What would my grandchildren do without Nickelodeon, Disney, and the Cartoon Network? But, most important, what would I do without ESPN?

Believe me; I did my best to bargain with my satellite company before I cut the cord. I begged them to let me choose à la carte the programming I wanted, but I was told that if customers were allowed to choose only the programming they were interested in viewing, purchasing programs separately would be far more expensive, and some of the smaller channels would be forced out of business since their very existence depended to a large degree on sharing in customer subscriptions. I also begged for lower more affordable rates, but I found lower rates are only available to new customers or sometimes fed up customers who were about to jerk the cord. I found there was not a lot of concern for the latter; the cable and satellite companies cater to new customers with promises of lower rates and bigger DVR toys if they sign a two year contract. The companies know that eighty percent of television decisions are made by the man in the house, and if they can entice him with a sweet enough deal such as including the full Sunday NFL package for “free,” they stand a solid chance of keeping him as a paying customer regardless of how much they raise their prices in future years. Why? ESPN! With the joint efforts of cable/satellite and ESPN to buy the rights to all sports programming especially the NFL and NCAA football, cable and satellite companies are effectively creating a sports monopoly for themselves. They know that men (and some women) will stick with them regardless of the price as long as cable/satellite provides almost exclusive NFL and NCAA coverage. Yes, there is still some NFL and NCAA football available on network television, but when it comes to sports, ESPN is slowly but surely cutting into that market as well (example, ABC Sports is now owned by ESPN and its mother company, Disney). A major part of the business model used by cable and satellite companies to maintain their strangle hold on the TV watching public is to monopolize sports.

As a result of my fears, questions and failure to find adequate sports availability elsewhere, I was reluctant to cut the cord. What finally convinced me was simple economics? My wife and I watch only a handful of channels offered through cable and satellite (over the years we have subscribed to both at various times). Our television time is primarily shared between ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu Plus. We occasionally watch the History Channel, ETV, Home and Garden Network, and the Smithsonian Channel. Although there are a handful of network shows we enjoy, we primarily watch movies, which accounts for our subscriptions to Amazon Prime and Netflix. Out of our 200+ channel subscription to DirecTV, we watched maybe nine or ten channels, but to get those channels, we had to subscribe to a larger and more expensive package since the smaller packages did not carry the channels we liked to watch; therefore, we paid for it all to get what we wanted to watch.

Other than high cost and lack of programming/channel choice, I have little against cable or satellite. The last television subscription we had was with DirecTV who provided us with good service and quality overall, but at a hefty price. Like most people we started with a very reasonably priced two year subscription, but within a year, the price began creeping ever higher. The day finally came when I realized we were spending $1,656 per year for satellite television plus an additional $400 per year on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus. Over $2,000 a year of our household income was being eaten by television! When my wife and I began thinking about what we watched, it became obvious we were spending a lot of money on programming that held little appeal or interest to us. As a result, I started doing some research. What I discovered was amazing.

I learned that all the network programs we watched were available for free with an OTA (over the air antenna), and the most amazing part according to my research was that the picture quality was superior to cable or satellite. I admit I was skeptical at first, but after using an OTA (purchased from Walmart for $40.00) for nearly three months, I can attest that picture quality is improved over what I received with satellite. With the OTA, I receive all the network stations free and with superior picture quality. We had also become somewhat addicted to the convenience of the satellite DVR, which allowed us to record our favorite shows as well as stop any program we were watching for a bathroom or snack break and then resume the program where we had left off. After some additional research, I purchased an OTA DVR that provided the same functions as our satellite DVR. The great thing was that there was no monthly subscription for the OTA DVR service (unlike satellite, cable, or TIVO). To satisfy our movie appetite, we kept our subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus. These three subscriptions also allow access to several television series and special programming. In addition, we purchased a Roku box and connected it to our television. The Roku box works off the wireless internet in our home and provides access to an unbelievable catalog of mostly free internet channels that offer new and old movies, old television classics, The History Channel, Smithsonian Channel, as well as ESPN replays. As a result, we now have access to our TV favorites as well as more content than we will ever be able to watch, and the great thing is that we are saving over 80% off what we were paying for television three months ago. To get a better picture of our savings, look at the BEFORE OTA and WITH OTA expense chart below:

BEFORE OTA and AFTER OTA Expense Chart

Monthly Cost BEFORE OTA           Replaced with/Cost              Monthly cost WITH OTA              

Satellite TV           $138.00                 OTA                       $40.00                                   0

Satellite DVR        —————–          OTA DVR *            $270.00                                 0

—————–          —————–         Roku *                    $69.00                                   0

Netflix                   $17.00                   —————            ————                                $17.00

Amazon Prime     $8.25                      —————           ————                                $8.25

Hulu Plus              $7.99                      —————           ————                                $7.99

TOTAL MONTHLY  $171.24                One Time Cost     $370.00                              $33.24

(* = Optional)

As can be seen in the chart, the savings experienced with the OTA setup was significant. The OTA DVR and Roku are listed as optional equipment since all you need to cut the cord to cable or satellite is an over the air antenna (OTA). There are two choices for an OTA – a directional or unidirectional antenna. The choice is up to the cord cutter, but websites such as http://www.antennaweb.org/ and http://tvfool.com/ offer advice as to which antenna may be best based on the address/location.

As customers, people should have the right to pick the channels they pay for without content being dictated to them. Unfortunately, for now the only choices available to consumers is to break away from the cable and satellite companies, or continue paying ever rising monthly rates for content they don’t need or want. Everyday more people are taking control and saying no to overpriced cable and satellite, but there are still many more not willing or ready to make that jump, but that is okay if they are happy with the arrangement they have with their cable or satellite provider.

I have been pleased with the decision to cut ties with cable and satellite, and for me the pros far outweigh the cons unless you are a sports junkie and then cutting the cord does significantly impact what you will be able to watch in sports. Yet, that too may change in the near future as more programming companies such as HBO begin to make their content available for streaming directly to customers with services such as HBO GO. Overall, I have been amazed at the improved picture quality as well as the control I now have over what I watch on television, but what is most amazing is the absence of the withdrawal pains I had anticipated and feared. Of course, I still get a little withdrawal tinge when there is a football game on television that I cannot watch, but I have found that there are still enough games available on the networks to feed my appetite for football. The bottom line is that after years and years of feeding the monster, I have discovered the monster can be tamed, and if you are committed enough you can not only improve the quality of your television picture and content by cutting the cord, you can improve the quality of your life as well by simply turning off the television and spending more time with family or a good book.

JL

©Jack Linton, November 16, 2014

God didn’t Entrust Chickens with Brains

Another election has come and gone, and as usual there were few surprises. As I watched the results on television, I pondered if anything would change, or would there be more of the same disappointment that has come to be associated with elected leadership. I wondered if the newly elected people had the political savvy and commitment to make a difference both locally and in Washington, but what I truly hoped and prayed for was that at least a few of them had common sense. Common sense in the political arena is a commodity that sometimes falls in short supply, so anyone elected with a little sound unbiased judgment would be a welcomed addition to the political scene. Granddaddy Floyd and my friend, Dr. Earl Jubilee Wilson (Dr. Juby as he preferred to be called) were men of common sense. They believed politicians were likely decent people with honorable convictions who were plagued by questionable politics, and as a result, their convictions and political actions did not always align with one another. Both men agreed that when it came to elections, all anyone could do was pray, and even then it did little good to have high hopes.

When it came to politics, Granddaddy Floyd and Dr. Juby loved to share their opinions through observations they respectively called Rubber Monkeys and Precepts. Although Dr. Juby’s Precepts may have had a somewhat more scholarly footprint than Rubber Monkeys, the two were basically the same – observations or musings intended to provide insight or influence on a specific topic such as politics. Each man had an uncanny ability to sum up almost any topic in a few concise words that often gave a voice to what those around them were thinking or believed. Therefore, as I began writing this piece, I realized there was little I could add about elections or politics that they had not already said much more succinctly. For example, Granddaddy Floyd always said, “Instead of looking to politics for guidance and answers, we should be trusting in God and common sense for guidance and answers.” Dr. Juby echoed those sentiments when he said, “God didn’t entrust chickens with brains, and he didn’t waste common sense on politicians.” Not exactly rocket science, yet wise words spoken by men who loved God, family, and country.

The Political Rubber Monkeys and Precepts of Granddaddy Floyd and Dr. Juby

  1. The road to getting elected in the South is through the pulpit.      Granddaddy Floyd
  2. If the truth offends you, you may be a politician. Lack of familiarity often offends.     Dr. Juby
  3. The average six year old often displays more common sense than the majority of elected officials. Many politicians would rather poop in the sand box than share with the other party.    Granddaddy Floyd
  4. Politics are filled with personal and party agendas; the agenda of the people is at best always on the back burner.  Dr. Juby
  5. Politicians spend ten percent of their time doing what they were elected to do and ninety percent of their time trying to figure out who they need to please next to get reelected or to be in line for a lucrative appointment.   Granddaddy Floyd
  6. Seems lately the party (Democratic or Republican) is a hell of a lot more important than the issues, what is right or wrong, or how we can fix America.   Dr. Juby
  7. Political victory in the South often boils down to the candidate who best beats the bushes in the name of Jesus, the second amendment, cornbread, and wrestling.   Granddaddy Floyd
  8. When you refuse to listen to or work with a man because he is labeled a Democrat or Republican, there is something seriously wrong with the system.  Dr. Juby
  9. I have never understood how it is the epitome of patriotism for young men to give their lives to ensure American freedoms such as free speech, but it is unpatriotic to use that blood stained freedom to speak freely against the loss of young lives in the name of wars run by politicians, old men and corporations.  Granddaddy Floyd
  10. The first thing I’d do if I was president is turn off the lights in Washington and send everyone home until such time they can agree to put their selfish agendas aside and play productively together.  Dr. Juby
  11. The politics of the South are often conceived and Baptized between the pews, on the steps, and in the parking lot of the church house.  Granddaddy Floyd
  12. When party platforms become sacred cows above compromise and the best interests of the people, the party system has outlived its usefulness to the people and should be abolished.   Dr. Juby

Truly these are the observations of wise men. Whether or not you agree with Granddaddy Floyd and Dr. Juby, their words ring with truth. Like the great American patriot, Patrick Henry, they were suspicious of politicians, especially those who ignored or compromised the rights and liberties of common men. Patriots such as Henry, envisioned elections as a protection and means to purge the political system from the hypocrisy of those elected officials who failed to embrace the common good of the people. Unfortunately, today’s elections rarely provide such protection. Today’s elections are more in tune with decaying party politics than the common good of the people. As a result instead of regularly purging our political system as the founders of this nation intended, votes are more likely to be cast for the party than for the common good of all people. Consequently, little ever changes from election to election, and parties grow stronger and stronger while moving further and further away from the people.

JL

©Jack Linton, November 9, 2014

Things about Teachers Your Child does not Want You to Know

When it comes to self-preservation, 99.9% of children will tell an outright lie or tell only the part of the truth that is in their best interest, especially when it comes to school. Many parents find this hard to accept, and although it is a flaw inherent in all who walk erect, they are offended by anyone who would dare suggest their children will not always tell the truth. Yet, telling a lie, shading the truth, or bending the truth to sway favor, to hide involvement, or to shun responsibility is a human trait that cannot be denied. Good parenting, the best mentors, Sunday school, membership in the choir, or good deeds in the community will not completely absolve this human flaw. This is not a condemnation of children but rather a confirmation of their less than perfect humanity.

Children understand their parents need to believe they are perfect and not capable of falsehoods, and they play that card to their fullest advantage. They are experts at presenting themselves as the innocent victim when sometimes nothing could be further from the truth. They understand that their parents are devoutly protective and will take their side of any story, especially if their story is contradictory to the story of a stranger such as a teacher. Children recognize that it is in their best interest to maintain a certain amount of distance between their parents and teachers at all times; they know that familiarity between the two breeds problems for them.   In their minds, life works best when they can keep their parents in the dark about school and at odds with their teachers. Children do not want their parents digging deeper into their story before reacting – gut or knee jerk reactions are much more likely to go in their favor. Therefore, the last thing they want is a prudent parent who seeks the truth by listening to both sides of the story before reacting, and the best way to prevent that from happening is to convince their parents that they are innocent victims of a conniving ill spirited teacher. This does not mean children are evil, but that they are committed to the human pursuit of happiness and the joys of liberty, both of which in their minds are often compromised by school in general and teachers in particular.

As a result, there are certain things that children would rather their parents not know about their teachers. For example, they are happy for their parents to believe their teachers are mean and uncaring, do not like them, pick on them, and that nothing of any educational value ever takes place in their classroom. As long as parents believe everything their children say about their teachers with little or no consideration that there may be some deception at hand, children are in total control. The only threat to their control occurs when parents and teachers get too close, or the parents catch the “sensible bug” and start questioning and digging for the whole story. Children understand their goose is cooked if their parents discover they are not above manipulating the truth. Consequently, maintaining a degree of separation between parents and teachers is crucial to preserve their pursuit of happiness and liberty.

So, how do children keep parents and teachers from becoming too chummy? That is quite simple; they use the old battle worn tactic of divide and conquer. Children know if they keep their parents believing their teacher is treating them unfairly, or their teacher is incompetent that they can be reasonably assured their parents will stand firmly entrenched in their corner with little inclination to listen to anything negative an inept teacher who is mistreating their baby has to say. In effect, children portray themselves as innocents awaiting rescue by knights in shining armor (parents) from the evil villains (teachers). This estranged relationship between parents and teachers ensures the separation of powers (parents from teachers), and effectively camouflages all that children do not want their parents to know about their teachers, such as . .

  1. Children do not want their parents to know their teacher is actually pretty nice. They do not want their parents to know that . . .
    1. My teacher greets me with a smile every morning though she knows she will rarely get one in return;
    2. My teacher patiently answers my questions even when I ask the same question for the sixth or seventh time;
    3. My teacher does not pick on me or single me out. My teacher has the same expectations for me as she does for all her students;
    4. My teacher remembers my birthday even when no one else does; and
    5. My teacher encourages me and makes me feel important even when no one else believes in me.
  2. Children do not want their parents to know their teacher did not really say or do that. They do not want their parents to know that . . .
    1. My teacher did not say I was a dummy; she said I needed to study more;
    2. My teacher did not say I was going to fail; she said I had several assignments I needed to complete before report card grades were assigned;
    3. My teacher did not yell at me to “shut up;” she begged, “I love you, so please shut up;”
    4. My teacher did not embarrass me by yelling at me; she became excited when she saw the paperclip I stuck in the electrical outlet; and
    5. My teacher did not say she was not here to teach me; she said she was not here to give me the answers.
  3. Children do not want their parents to know their teacher sent the information home twice. They do not want their parents to know that . . .
    1. I did not bring it home because it was not cool;
    2. I did not bring it home because I do not want you meddling in my life at school;
    3. I did not bring it home because I do not want you to have a conference with my teacher;
    4. I did not bring it home because the less you know, the better life is for me; and
    5. I did not bring it home because you might find out I am the problem and not the teacher.
  4. Children do not want their parents to know their teacher posted rules and consequences. They do not want their parents to know that . . .
    1. My teacher made sure students were aware of classroom rules and expectations;
    2. My teacher made sure students were aware of consequences for bad behavior;
    3. My teacher did not break the rules; I did;
    4. My teacher did not choose the consequences for my bad behavior; I did; and
    5. My teacher has high expectations for good behavior in her classroom; she does not warn repeatedly but follows rules and administers consequences consistently and fairly.
  5. Children do not want their parents to know their teacher gives adequate time to complete assignments. They do not want their parents to know that . . .
    1. My teacher gave me eight weeks to research, write, and turn in my project. It is not my teacher’s fault I waited until the night before it was due to begin working on it;
    2. My teacher gave me adequate time plus additional time to complete my test. It is not my teacher’s fault that I waited until the morning of the test to start thinking that maybe I should have studied for the test;
    3. My teacher gave me adequate time to complete or at least partially complete my homework assignment in class. It is not my teacher’s fault that I chose to use that time to daydream or socialize with my friends;
    4. My teacher gave me adequate time plus extra time to finish my classwork. It is not my teacher’s fault that I did not pay attention in class and had to stay in during recess or break to complete my assigned classwork; and
    5. My teacher gave me opportunities to redo assignments as well as retake some tests. It is not my teacher’s fault that I am failing. She is doing everything humanly possible to ensure I learn and pass despite very little effort on my part.
  6. Children do not want their parents to know their teacher comes to class prepared to teach. They do not want their parents to know that . . .
    1. Contrary to what I tell you, my teacher is always prepared to teach; however, I am not always prepared to learn;
    2. Contrary to what I tell you, when I pay attention and apply myself to the lesson I do learn something every day;
    3. Contrary to what I tell you, my teacher is very knowledgeable; however, I am more concerned with socializing, sports, planning my trip to the mall after school, and who went out with who this past weekend to pay attention;
    4. Contrary to what I tell you, my teacher makes learning interesting and relevant; however, I am too tired to keep my eyes open from staying out late or talking on my cell phone into the early hours of the morning to keep up and adequately participate in class; and
    5. Contrary to what I tell you, my teacher treats me with respect, has high expectations of me, cares about me, and does everything within her power to ensure I learn; however, it is easier for me to make you believe she does not like me and treats me unfairly. Once you accept that, it is easy to get you to blame all my self-inflicted problems on my teacher, which effectively vanquishes all my responsibility as a student. Thank you mom and dad!

These are just a few of the things children do not want their parents to know about their teachers. For them school is often seen as little more than an infringement on their happiness and liberty, and that will most likely only change with time and maturity. Happiness for a child has nothing to do with their future; it is cemented in the present. School for them is a fog shrouded social networked tunnel where the future is now. They live day to day with little thought outside their friends, the mall, dating, and liberty from the oppressive constraints of school and parents. If they can create or manipulate a divide between the two, so much the better since in their minds they can at least for a short time free themselves of any responsibility that threatens their idea of happiness and liberty.

JL

©Jack Linton, October 30, 2014