Thursday, September 29, 2011

A funeral, a deployment

Melissa Correa (KRGV) reports, "The Valley came out to honor Staff Sgt. Estevan Altamirano, the Edcouch soldier who died Sept. 16 following a patrol in Iraq. The soldier's wife says he was cleaning out his weapon when it accidentally went off." Gail Burkhardt (Monitor -- link has text and video) adds:

Altamirano's immediate and extended family attended the funeral along with friends, soldiers, teachers and veterans. Altamirano had a daughter, Leandra, and two stepdaughters Kayla and Anaya, with his wife, Pamela. He also had two sons, Justin and Dominic, from his first marriage.
Altamirano's stepdaughter Kayla Martinez, 16, presented a slideshow of family photos.
"I love him and he was a wonderful man," she said, her voice wavering. "And there is no one who will ever be like him."

Erika Flores (Action 4 News) covers the funeral in this video report.

Also yesterday, there was a send-off ceremony in Oklahoma. Jerry Wofford (Tulsa World) reports family and friends gathered to see the 138th Fighter Wing of the Oklahoma Air National Guard off as they prepared to deploy for Iraq. Master Sgt. Scot Vaughn was among those deploying and Wofford notes:

Vaughn left Wednesday for his third deployment to Iraq. And for his wife, Diane Vaughn, and son and daughter, Maddox and Mary, this time is still as difficult as the first.
Maddox, 3, clad with his Captain America shield, and his sister, Mary, 4, hugged their dad Wednesday shortly before he went to gather with his fellow airmen to hear Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, adjutant general for Oklahoma, send them off.

He tells Tara Vreeland (News on 6 -- link has text and video), "It's harder for them then it is for me. It's hard for me to leave them here but once I get over there I have something to keep my mind off and focused on the job to do." KJRH explains, "The task for these airmen is what they will call 'alert status,' meaning the unit's F-16s must be packed and ready to go 24 hours a day. They will be on guard, ready to attack insurgents."

I'm not in the mood for crap this morning. I've bit my tongue about something that happened surrounding the funeral and will carry that over to Third on Sunday because I won't be stupid like the idiot who thought you showed up at Staff Sgt. Estevan Altamirano to whine about your own problems of thirty years ago. The day wasn't about that idiot (who didn't even know the fallen) but damned if he didn't try to make it about himself and damned if some in the media didn't help him with. Second, Medea Benjamin, please, dear, grow the hell up. We're not interested in her Iraq piece. I saw it, was willing to read over it to see if we could note it here.


Dianne Feinstein is not president. John McCain is not president. Etc, etc. Don't give me your crap about accountability when you've got harsh words for the people not making the decision. It's an embarrassing piece of crap written by the woman who couldn't take a hint when a Congresswoman did everything but draw Medea a map not all that long ago.

If and when Medea wants to grow the hell up and stop offering excuses for Barack -- excuses would include pretending that he's being pressured to do something he doesn't want to do -- we'll try to find time for her. Reality: Samantha Power supported the Iraq War from the start. She attempted a public make over that took only with the uninformed and idiotic. She has and does support a continued US presence in Iraq. She has been and is Barack's chief advisor on foreign policy. He tasked her with Iraq during the transition team days. He has long known and supported her opinion. And what he's doing now is a lot like what he told Michael Gordon he would be doing.

I'm really sorry that you were too damn busy attacking Hillary to pay attention to Barack. But that is the reality. So grow the hell up or resign yourself to being useless and stupid.

The following community sites -- plus, Random Notes, PRI and Jane Fonda -- updated last night and this morning:

Plus Ruth's "Dave Johnson and other bitches" and Elaine's "Jobs." Now we'll note this from Sherwood Ross and stay tuned for note at the bottom from me:


Salem, N.H.


Contact: Dean Michael Chesson (603) 458-5145



College history students today are required to buy “obscenely overpriced” textbooks that are “a vapid stew of half-truths and hilarious factual errors dumbed down to whatever reading level is desired,” the dean of a new history college says.

The texts are one of the factors college is so expensive, says Michael Chesson, dean of the new American College of History and Legal Studies(ACHLS), in Salem, N.H. Books in the hard sciences, computer science and math often cost three figures for a single title, he notes.

“‘New’ editions appear, with only a few problems, experiments, or equations changed. Even in the social sciences and humanities, textbooks now available as e-books for kindles and other devices, are prohibitively expensive (yet) students are required to buy them and are tested on their content,” Chesson says.

In a study he conducted some years ago of 17 of the most popular and widely adopted history textbooks, Chesson found the texts were “filled with factual errors, skewed or slanted interpretations, political agendas, and countless distortions, omissions, and failures to provide context.”

Checking the accuracy of writing about the Salem, (Mass.), witchcraft trials of 1692, Chesson said, “I was amazed to find that when it came to this complex and controversial subject most of the texts offered simplistic, dumbed down accounts of what happened and why. Many could not get even the basic facts right.” One Pulitzer Prize winner said in his text that 21 men and one woman were executed when, in fact, the actual number was 13 women and six men hanged and another man pressed to death.

Chesson said he was “awed” by the vague reasons the historians gave for the witch trials. These included “community hysteria,” “severe social tensions” and the efforts of Puritan clergy to start revivals.

“Entire forests,” he continued, “are cut down each year to feed the maw of the international publishing conglomerates that foist these so-called textbooks on unsuspecting students and their cash-strapped parents.”

“For many years I have refused to impose the expense of buying a fancy and expensive textbook on my undergraduates, preferring to use a free, online Wikitext, from the founders of Wikipedia,” Chesson writes on the ACHLS blog. “It is basic, with no frills, and written from a neutral point of view (and) in the years since I started using it I have found very few factual mistakes.”

As well as a history book each week, students at his own school are also required to read scholarly monographs. “We encourage them to buy used paperback copies of the monographs from online vendors at hugely discounted prices,” the historian says.

Chesson asserts, “No one in the profession cares if you get a lucrative contract for a textbook, or how much money you make from this sideline. The text can be churned out in your free time, often with three, four, or five co-authors. There is little if any fact checking by the prominent scholars whose names grace the title pages...The manuscripts go off to the publishing houses where they are all dumped into the editorial blender again, (with) no fact-checking.”

The ACHLS dean surmises that “Some professors continue to adopt an expensive textbook out of loyalty to the colleague who wrote it, perhaps a friend from graduate school who has made it, or the historian who directed their doctoral dissertation.”

“Why,” he concludes, “the vast majority of historians teaching at the college level continue to require their students to buy these costly texts is a mystery, since they are not collecting royalties from them, or deriving any benefit at all.”


Further Information about ACHLS:

Maureen C. Mooney

Associate Dean

The American College of History and Legal Studies

1 Stiles Road, Suite 104

Salem, New Hampshire 03079-4863

Telephone: 603.458.5145 ext. 11

Facsimile: 603.458.2478



Twitter: @LawandHistory

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Want to stop what's discussed above? One way is to make sure the college doesn't use the book. Many decades ago when I was in college, we had a professor who made you purchase four books for his undegraduate class, three written by him. There was no point to it and the books weren't used. The dean looked the other way on that. If a book's not used but it's written by the professor, there's usually a reason. Translation, read the book, catch the errors, type up a report on it and submit it to the dean. After that happened, no class was required to buy those additional three books (by the professor) for the next semester and, when the fall semester rolled around, he was no longer teaching at the college.

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