Why I Support the Concept of Common Core

Let me tell you why I support at least the concept of Common Core. I want national standards, because I lived the problem on no standards.

Now I admit that the implementation of those standards has left a lot to be desire.

I graduated from a tiny school in Texas, and I was fairy smart. I went to Trinity University as a Math Major. I went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and found out that I was among men (and they were all men at that time) whose slide rule (if you are old enough to remember those) I was not qualified to carry!

The only way that the academies get geographical representation, is to let Congress Critters appoint four nominations in each academy at any one time — or else every Cadet or Midshipman would come from Massachusetts. No one from MISSISSIPPI, Louisiana, California or Hawaii could ever enter an Academy!

There are certain common pieces of knowledge that all educated people need to know. As a Professor of Computer Science, I was dismayed by the lack of knowledge of my students, so I devised my own “Common Knowledge” test 88 questions) on which my wife and Editor each scored 77 correct.

The test was administered only to those who wished to take it, and one would think that would be those who thought they could do well. The AVERAGE was SEVEN! The HIGHEST, was TWELVE!

I support, not cookie cutters, but everyone knowing the basics. How we get there can be under local control, but Common Core was devised by STATES, not the federal government as some would infer. Yes, the Feds have tried to co-opt those standards, but they did not write them!

Quick Hits

Government grows under Democrats and Republicans…it even grew under Ronald Reagan!

All each politician wants is power, and power is gained by increasing size, then distributing the increased size benefits (contracts or political plums) to friends or fellow politicians. Only when government has fewer benefits to distribute will things improve, but I don’t know any politicians willing to do that!

Sweden has reached an agreement with four right-of center political parties (Alliance) to put off a “Snap” election until 2022. — to avoid an election that will rally the current left-of-center government around the center, but it thwarts the Right. The agreement gives the Alliance the budget, but the agreement does not address the elephant in the room.


European governments are under pressure to accept Muslim cultural practices, such as providing multiple subsidized dwelling units to the multiple wives and children of Muslim men — under the guise of “Diversity.”


A cave in France found 20 years ago has disclosed some of the oldest art — art that makes the pyramids seem as if completed this morning.

The French cave has produced 442 paintings of animals seldom seen by modern man (and only by very early “man”), and were likely done by a species of humans that also do not any longer exist, but inhabited France about 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals, possibly, and their blood lines are still within us as shown by DNA. It is difficult to say, because 40,000 years ago is a time when Neanderthal and modern man overlapped. Carved figurines from a German cave of about the same period demonstrate the wide-spread ability of artistic development.

Of course, if one describes “art” in geometric terms rather than in recognizable animal or human form, beads have been found that are 100,000 years old, and the first human “art” was found etched on seashells dated to 460,000 to 540,000 years ago, but that may or not be “art” to your mind. At any rate, human-kind has a very long history.


It should come as no surprise that I am an “info-maniac” — I crave knowledge. My search days consist of perusing a number of apps, Drudge report and it’s newer challengers AP, Smart News and FOX; CNet; and my favorites, POLITICO, and Flipboard.

Flipboard is an oldie but goodie, and it is far and away the most complete news source because the others concentrate on daily news or technology, while Flipboard can be personalized to cover all subjects from Archeology to Zoology.

In Flipboard I am constantly thinking,”I didn’t know that!”

The Feds are going to “Rate” colleges, no doubt spending taxpayer money to employ more academics.

U. S. News and World Reports does it annually for FREE. We don’t need government for this — it is just “make work” for Ph.Ds,

As we have seen from the case of Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor who thinks voters are stupid (true, but impolitic), who has gathered more than $5 million in various government pay, this administration is rife with academics, and anxious to employ more!

Immigration Solution No One Will Listen To

Illegal immigration is a classic Cost/Benefit situation.

The Benefit is cheap labor for jobs Americans are simply too lazy to do. All advanced nations import their manual labor, because the world has plenty of it, and it’s cheaper than automation for those kinds of jobs.

The cost is in Gangs, use of schools and Emergency Rooms, and general crime — almost none of which is done by the workers themselves but by their families. When I was the Mexican Connection in my community for 20 years, and twice the head of the HOA, not ONE criminal act or use of ANY support system was reported in our community.

The laborers went back to Mexico twice a year to visit their families, plant and harvest crops, then returned to work. They all came to our community from the same tiny town that had one telephone.

Then the government decided to close the border — sort of. Napoleon said, “if you start to take Vienna, take Vienna,” and the half-way measures of sealing the border meant that our workers could no longer go home and return twice a year — they are uneducated but they are not stupid, so they brought their families north. Even if it took several tries, it was cheaper than going and returning several times.

It is the families who join gangs, and utilize services. We should offer the workers a deal: Send your family’s home in exchange for a fire-year Green Card, renewable four times. The alternative is deportation of the worker and his family if caught.

Carrot and stick. It would be a reasonable solution — one that no one will listen to because their feet are all in cement.

The Question of a “Christian Nation”

When I joined the Navy as an Enlisted man in 1951, throughout Boot Camp every man was MARCHED to Chapel on Sunday, and beginning in 1953 I was again MARCHED to Sunday Chapel EVERY Sunday at the US Naval Academy for four years!

(I should not complain, because I have always sung in the Choir, and was the Baritone Soloist in the Naval Academy Chapel Choir. When we sung Handel’s Messiah in my Plebe (Freshman) Year, we needed female voices, but we had none in the Academy so we annually went to nearby all-girl Hood College. One of my friends tried to set me up for a girl at Hood to host me for the dinner and dance when we went to Hood for a recital. The girl, a Junior, refused, saying “Why would I want to date a Freshman?” After many refusals, she finally relented. We were married four years later!)

Now you may say that story was from long ago, and that is true — but within the last 30 days, the Air Force dropped the REQUIREMENT that Cadets swear “under God” in their “swearing in” ceremony.

Mind you, it made “under God” OPTIONAL, that’s all, and Facebook erupted! Thousands upon thousands of posts ascribing nothing less than Devil Worshiping to the Academy, and demanding that the words be put back in!

You can see the comments on many Facebook pages about this being a “Christian Nation” as opposed to a Nation founded by Christians, or a nation founded on Christian principles.

There are those who would have me marched to church, TODAY.

Traditions Are Falling Fast

Now that the Gay Rights battle is virtually over, and since it was based on “Equal Rights” and delivered with the tag line “no one can tell us who to love” the same arguments can be used — and will be used — to justify both polygamy and incest.

Both movements have already been organized and are ready to roll when their efforts might gain traction.

“Marriage” as a civil matter did not begin until the Middle Ages, and in most Europe people “married” simply by pledging to each other without the formality of church or even witnesses. Couples in western Europe simply made their vows, quietly.

As usual, things became more complicated when government got involved, and today marriage is DEFINED by government. Using the currently accepted reasons for Gay Marriage it may be legally difficult to deny polygamy. Incest may prove longer and more difficult because of medical concerns, but I can see the day when it is approved, given the current trajectory.

While polygamy has deep historical roots, and even modern acceptance in many parts of the world, incest is not without ancient acceptance. The well-known King Tut was the result of a Brother-Sister marriage of his parents, and Tut himself was married (at age 10, no less) to his half-sister. There was a long period of Brother-Sister Kings of Egypt. Perhaps that was the reason for King Tuts fragile bones. (He died of a broken leg, and subsequent Malaria.)

The Roman ruler, Caligula, who was admittedly as crazy as a loon, believed himself the son of a God, and like the Egyptian rulers, married his sister for the same reason as the Egyptian Kings — to keep the Godly bloodlines pure.

Societal norms are always in flux. Everyone lives in the present, and everyone believes things should always be as they are now.

That has never been true and it never will be true.

Overlooked in the News

The disclosure that one of the nation’s premier universities, the University of North Carolina (UNC) which is so well entwined with my family, has cheated — yes the word is cheated — not just the NCAA, and the student- athletes, but colleges and universities in general, is difficult to swallow.

Yes, everyone has suspected for decades that some, perhaps many colleges have passed athletes who did not meet the standards. We only need to listen to some professional athletes speak on camera to know they didn’t meet university standards.

But the disclosure of a study that the UNC Department of African Studies, a questionable subject matter to begin with, had not just once in awhile, here and there nudged an athlete or two above the passing line, but had for decades had classes with no content for thousands of people. More than 3,100 “students” over 18 years got “A” and “B”grades for fraud.

Regrettably, the news did not get the wide distribution that it deserved because it had to compete with wall to wall Ebola coverage. The length and breadth of this academic fraud may not initially rise to the current crises of homegrown Jihadists or Ebola, but it might just open the Pandora’s box of not just athletes getting a pass academically, but the academic rigor required of African Studies, and even Women’s Studies.

Athletes get a full scholarship, a great opportunity for a good education, but we know just from observation that many are on campus simply for the ticket to play professional sports with a four year stopover for campus partying, but the UNC report gives us a look under the rock. We must not let still more important news events let this opportunity pass.

During the 18 year period investigated, the results determined by the Rawlings Panel have now been addressed by the University with the sort of washy-washy educational jargon one would expect — but that doesn’t mean that the University will not actually address the problem. They probably will, but you can bet that they will not place themselves in a non-competitive position.

Only a full overhaul of all college and university football and basketball team academic situations in Division 1 athletics can solve what is a societal problem, long unaddressed. The NCAA had previously investigated North Carolina but had apparently not uncovered the African Studies Department, and that was the elephant in the room.

The special treatment of “student athletes.”

Quick Hits

David Plouffe is a Washington Rainmaker, so politically connected that it is likely that if he called President Obama on the back channel line, Obama will answer. David Plouffe is REALLY connected!

Uber has hired away from the administration, and just for good measure, Uber hired away a guy who sat in the inner circle of Rham Emanuel’s Chicago administration to help in Chicago, and just for good measure, Rudy Giuliani has been hired.

There is a great article in POITICO, and the analysis is that Uber has gone into cities, set up and dared anyone to stop them, claiming that as a new technology they should not be held to laws designed for ancient technologies.

The article notes that taxi cab owners and taxi driver unions have a presence in Sacramento politics developed over the years amounting to $3,500 for every $1 donated by Uber and LyFt. Obviously, Uber has decided on a political counterattack using name brand political operatives.


I understand that teachers want to disassociate themselves from their unions. In truth it is difficult for a single teacher to have much effect when there are 300,000 teachers in various teacher unions. However, every union responds to large reform movements, and I know there is one in LA BUT IF THERE IS ONE HERE IT IS TINY.

On the local level, teacher unions are the major donor to the election of the majority of School Boards, making those elected members beholden to the local union in negotiations. Thereby the union is represented on both sides of the negotiable table!

FDR was right. Government employees should not be permitted to unionize!


Every time I enter a debate with teachers (more often they idetify themselves as teachers, but they are also Union organizers or union exceutives) I here that theer and many reasons that Massachusetts students do better than us on rankings by the US Department of Educaation.

Yes, there are many variables: Massachusetts is at another longitude and longitude, they are in another time zone, they speak a different dialect of English, they have Plymouth Rock…

If you are going to blame non-English speakers, then let’s look at that. Administrators and teacher unions have always objected to identifying non-English Language Speakers, have always refused to segregate NSL speakers until they are proficient, and there are cases in recent history where in border communities in both California and Arizona where school districts where districts sent buses to the border to pick up Mexicans — all because schools get paid by occupied seats.

Teachers cannot support a Governor who INVITES ILLEGAL ALIENS to come to the state, objects to identifying them, will not segregate them, and then complain that our education suffers from Non-English Speaking students!

Talk about killing your parents and then throwing yourself on the mercy of the Court because you are an orphan….

One Of the Greatest Spies Ever Recorded

I am deep into a newly released book on the Soviet Spy Kim Philby, called “A Spy Among Friends ” and, although I am a student of Soviet Spying and have written a précis on the subject (http://allenhemphill.com/new_page_26.htm), I have been more interested in the activities of the subjects, rather than how their personal relationships furthered their activities.

For that detail study of individuals, I have limited myself to studying the British Double Agents like ZigZag and Garbo, so I am enthralled with the details of a dedicated college Communist who easily penetrated the British spy agency, M6, because he was a member of the Old Boys Club, a jolly fellow, well-bred.

Over time, I’ll drop little nuggets of the book, but I commend the book to you. If you happen to use the Audible.com, which is a part of amazon.com, you can enjoy a great British voice reading the book.

I am impressed with the ease with which the so-called Cambridge (Communist) Spy Ring moved within the British spy services (including Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean), one of whom was posted to Istanbul, a neutral Turkish city absolutely filled with spies of all nations. Like most spies, they gathered to eat and drink at a common bar, and they all knew each other and their spy job. It was so familiar that when the head of the American spy service arrived, the band struck up with:

I’m involved in a dangerous game,
Every other day I change my name,
The face is different but the body’s the same, Boo, boo, baby, I’m a spy!
You have heard of Mata Hari,
We did business cash and carry,
Poppa caught us and we had to marry,
Boo, boo, baby, I’m a spy!
Now, as a lad, I’m not so bad,
In fact, I’m a darn good lover,
But look my sweet, let’s be discreet,
And do this under cover.
I’m so cocky I could swagger,
The things I know would make you stagger,
I’m ten percent cloak and ninety percent dagger, Boo, boo, baby, I’m a spy!
–popular song in Istanbul during World War II

Click to access 00-Poem-2.pdf

The Soviets first didn’t believe that any spy could so easily infiltrate M6, and even when he passed tests they set to check if he was real, they thought him a potential double agent. But his Eaton, Cambridge upper-class education insulated him — “one just didn’t spy for a potential enemy, you know” and he would not even be suspected when all of the clues were there. It was one of history’s greatest spy success stories!

One thing that impressed me was the fervor for Communism that the spies held. When the Stalin purges decided to kill many of the spy controllers, they would recall them, torture them in the infamous Lubyanca Prison, and execute them, many of the Controllers duly returned anyway, to their deaths! One such Control, said, “They would kill me here, or there, so better there.”

When I was in Moscow, there was a joke that the Lubyanca Prison was called the “Roach Hotel, because people went in, but never came out.”

The spy business was running fully in WWII.

It is past time for schools to divest themselves of many non-academic activities, but certainly the first is sports.

Sports can quickly and easily be “outsourced” to already existing Little League, Pop Warner, Youth Soccer, and the numerous Boys and Girls clubs and the YMCA and YWCA sports systems.

Bureaucrats worldwide try to grow their domains because larger domains mean larger staffs and larger paychecks, so school bureaucrats have embraced more and larger non-academic activities like busing, cafeteria and, largest of all, sports.

All of these non-academic activities may be desired, but there is no reason they should be managed by schools.


Clinton admitted in an audio tape made years ago in Australia that (in effect) he traded 3,000 innocent Americans lives for 300 innocent Afghanistan lives.

He admitted that ha could have taken Osama out, but feared the missile would destroy an Afghan village.

Nice call, Mr. President. Not.

Local Analysis.; DataQuick says that the million and multimillion dollar market has been great for the first half of 2014, but it has passed over Rancho Santa Fe and is hot only in La Jolla, Del Mar and Coronado — coastal property.

In inland areas like mine, the days of lore are just that, and our rate of price increases, year to year are just a third of 2013, and are likely to remain that way. this is because the rising tide of overall economic advance is still anemic.

The real estate market can no longer lead the economic recovery, and it must rise along with the overall market. We are still 15% to 20% below the top of the market! but that was a bubble.

The recent rapid rise was investor driven, and that has ended. This could be considered a “historically normal” market, driven by wants and needs but not driven by outside forces.

After 37 sporadic years in this business — interrupted by entrepreneurial, corporate and academic forays — I have seen Tulip Craze rises and precipice-dropping falls. Normality lasts a bit longer than the crazy times, so perhaps we can deal with more rational and less hectic markets for a few years.


Seeking Solutions

I am so tired of hearing that the reason for California students ranking 47th in the nation is that we have so many English Learners who not only score poorly on tests, but hold back the English speakers.

For 14 years, and 6,000 classroom hours I taught Computer Science at a local university, everything from Beginner through Artificial Intelligence, Undergraduate and Graduate, and more than half my students, particularly graduate students, were foreign. Some Indonesian, Thai, Korean and Chinese. Even a Brit or two.

Not once did I slow my delivery because one of them looked puzzled, nor did I have to stop and explain a word — and the reason is simple: They had to pass a State Department proctored exam to demonstrate English proficiency, just for entry on a college Visa.

Yes, I know many of the ESL group in high school do not arrive on a Visa, but the system should remain the same: No one should enter a classroom who does not understand the language. It harms both the person with the language difficulty, and those whose study is compromised while explanations take place.

Immigration, legal and illegal (so the Feds tell me), is a federal matter. Education is a State matter. The federal government should run language classes until such time as the ESL student can be mainstreamed into State public education.

Public education has accepted many non-academic roles to increase its managerial power: Transportation, food services, physical exercise, and now ESL classes.

I don’t care where the ESL students came from, who they are, or how they get here, I t is a federal problem, and the Feds must solve it!

Asking public educational professionals to reduce their non-academic footprint is asking the Sun to rise in the West!

Executives get paid depending upon the size of their domains, and that is why Superintendents and Principals happily accepted non-academic activities — bigger employment rolls and larger budget equal better management salaries.

Every bureaucrat quickly learns that there are two easy paths to higher salary — move to a larger district/city, but that entails moving the family and leaving your Country Club — or growing your domain. Often growing your domain is easier.

The only way to get ESL into the Feds is to appeal to some related federal agency to grow THEIR ranks and budget, and the Feds could then take over their rightful responsibility. The Feds will have to seize it, the public schools will not easily give it up.

We may have to await a Cosmic Event — the schools in Louisiana were really terrible, at least around New Orleans, until Hurricane Katrina struck and destroyed the schools and scattered the students. Governor Jindal seized control of the schools and reconstituted them as Charter Schools. A similar, if less violent event happened in the 1990s, when Massachusetts instituted a pop literacy exam (based on 10th grade literacy) to their incoming teachers — and more than 50% FAILED. The outcry of parents was so great it even overcame the teacher unions, and reform took place.

California must pick its time and place.