News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 9, 2013

Readers’ Forum: June 9, 2013


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Taking time to help the world

Twenty years ago today, I received the phone message I hoped I would never get. My twin sister Miriam had died at her home in Israel. Although I knew her cancer had been getting worse, there was no way I could have prepared myself for the trauma of losing the only remaining member of my family, my sister with whom I had been through the hell of Auschwitz. I wanted to say goodbye to her, because I never had the chance to do that for any member of my family. But I was not able to, and the pain I felt was almost unbearable.

Shortly after Miriam died, I received a phone call from Dr. John Michalczyk from Boston College. It was this phone call and my desire to do something in Miriam’s memory that led me to contact former Nazi doctor Hans Munch. And it was my meeting with Dr. Munch that led me to the surprising discovery of forgiveness. All of these events, even the painful ones, worked together to lead me to feel true freedom from the tragic events of my past.

I never would have thought that through the terribly painful event of my sister’s death I would find freedom through forgiveness. In life, we cannot avoid pain, and we cannot prevent every bad thing from happening to us. But we can look for hope within those events. If we give up, we doom ourselves to live forever inside the pain. But I have learned that there is a tomorrow after disaster and hope after despair and if we don’t give up on ourselves we might find ideas to help heal ourselves and others.

At times we feel lost in this big world, amidst the problems and tragedies we witness. Today in memory of my sister Miriam you could write a note to tell someone “You are not alone — I care” or “I admire your courage.” A simple word of kindness can do so much good for a neighbor, a teen, a child in need. A simple act of kindness will make you feel good that you can make a difference and help the world.

Every little bit helps.

— Eva Kor

Founding Director CANDLES Holocaust Museum

Terre Haute

Reform by politics will not improve education

As the Indiana political machine reels at the defeat of state schools superintendent Tony Bennett and education attempts to get back “on track” in Indiana, columnist Andrea Neal is at it again.

The recent subject of her piece about Common Core has no legitimate scholastic ground on which to stand and no educational expertise to back it up. Nowhere in her article are comparative techniques to assess educational outcomes even mentioned, which is what Common Core is all about. Instead, she appeals to ignorance by claiming that Indiana’s standards are superior without having anything with which to compare them.

Andrea Neal is all about setting meaningless tasks, tests and goals so that the people she represents can continue to control education filling children’s heads not with knowledge, but instead with propaganda. If you want to know the truth about what is going on, I invite you to Google three words, “John Garner Postmodernism” and to read what you find there.

Refusing to adopt Common Core is tantamount to claiming you have the best team in the NFL and then trying to prove it not by competition, but by dividing the team in half and then only letting them scrimmage with each other. Indiana is proposing to use developmental comparatism to accomplish political goals and while abandoning global comparativism that will give a true idea of the state of education in Indiana. What is the legislature afraid of? Let it prove to us how well its legislative ideas have worked. Let it earn it grades like everyone else does.

The first six words in Neal’s article, “Indiana’s Common Core debate is far from over,” state, “The Nation’s eyes are on Indiana.” I agree. This has been true since 1897 when the Indiana Legislature’s Committee on Education sent bill 246 to become a law that attempted to legislate the value of Pi. It continues to this day as the legislature continues to confuse belief and science by bills such as SB 89 that requires education in Indiana to weaken science by teaching in its place “multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.” This is obviously unconstitutional and a federal judge handed down a $1 million judgment against a school corporation in Pennsylvania that tried to do it.

You cannot “believe” science. Science is NOT a religion. Science is an empirical process to gain knowledge. The bottom line is that if the legislature cannot control science it intends to destroy it while using Orwellian “doublespeak” to claim that Indiana is a leader in education. It is obvious that they are receiving financial and political support from outside groups to do this. Just follow the money. The truth is that  legislators who are doing this deserve a big fat “F” concerning education just like the one given to Bennett last November.

If you wish to replace science with religion, have a true postmodern society and abolish secularism, then you may proceed as Neal advises. I cannot tell you what to do, I can only advise you to choose wisely. Before you make your decision please witness the ongoing emotional discussion in letters to the editor between a few of the members of the Indian ethnic group and others in the Terre Haute area.

There is an ideological religious battle raging between Muslims and Hindus that exemplifies what I am warning you about. These individuals are very educated and very intelligent and very knowledgeable in their fields, yet, apparently, their emotions are much stronger than are either their science or their religion.

The ideological religious battle in India has raged for over 1,200 years. We do not need ideological religious battles destroying science in Indiana. I do not wish for people to abandon their religion, I only want them to realize that religious faith can never be science and neither can science replace religious faith in people’s lives.

I wish for people to stop killing each other using religion as an excuse, and I wish for the legislature to realize where the path it is taking leads. Destruction of education and replacement of science with religion is not educational reform.

— John Garner

Terre Haute

Questions from a wondering mind

Today’s letter asks some questions. Sometimes my mind just gets to wondering about things.

Certainly it is easier to tear something apart than to combine things. It took about six years to go from the idea of a controlled nuclear fission reaction creating energy to Enrico Fermi’s working model. In less than 25 years we had a working commercialized nuclear power station. Why has controlled nuclear fusion been 10 years away for the 60 years since then?

If wind energy is so green, why does it kill over 570,000 birds per year? Most of these are protected under federal environmental regulation. In a piece of selective enforcement, though, few wind farms are held accountable by the government. It makes one think, doesn’t it?

Also, remember the old conservation of energy idea from school — every action has an equal and opposite reaction? So the turning turbine takes energy from the wind. Each of these turbines slows down the wind a little bit. How many of these turbines can be installed before they become dangerous to the environment?  

Studies have proven that wind energy cannot provide more than 10 percent of the world’s energy needs before the turbines would have to be close enough together that they would actually start decreasing crop production and causing harmful climate change.

Speaking of energy, we all have battery chargers for various things around the house — phones, games, e-readers, etc. Why can’t all these companies come up with one standard plug on the device? In my family, the five most commonly used devices all need their own separate charger. Talk about fun while travelling.

On the same subject, any of these little black boxes we plug into the wall have a small transformer in them. These transformers use energy anytime they are plugged into the wall whether the widget is plugged in for a charge or not. Leaving these plugged into the wall all the time adds about 25 cents to your electric bill. Throw in all the other devices in your home that have some sort of clock or program — TV, DVD, thermostat, etc. — this doesn’t become a huge amount but it can certainly add up over time.

Finally, speaking of spending money, what has happened to the customer service ethic? Certainly not all the time, but all too often nonetheless, restaurant and store clerks seem to view their customers as a bother that interfere with their chat time.  

No one expects Buffy and Biff to take a real personal interest in me, the customer, but could they at least stop the personal conversation about plans for the evening, or a review of their last date, etc., while waiting on the people who pay their wage?

— Dwayne Owens

Terre Haute