Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Statues are markers of human history. They are erected because a significant portion of the population want to memorialize somebody. They want future  generations to know that there was such a person and that his or her life ought to be remembered and studied, if not revered.

Usually a statue represents someone who was successful. Or honored. In short, someone worthy of being remembered.

The current spate of tearing down statues is an unhappy phenomenon. It stems from a desire to re-write history. Judging our forbears on the basis of current opinion of right and wrong is a form of censorship unworthy of a free and educated people.

History is the story of the human race. It is interesting and it is important. It is full of good deeds and wisdom. It is also full of bad deeds and stupidity. All of it needs to be remembered and studied.

A ten year old boy sees a statue of Robert E. Lee. He asks his father, “Who was he?”

That should trigger a discussion about the civil war. What was it? When did it happen? Who won? Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys?

If Robert E. Lee was one of the bad guys, why does he have a statue?

The answer is very simple. He has a statue because the people of his community didn’t think he was a bad guy. They admired him and wanted to honor his memory.

History is nothing if not the truth. What was, was. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were great Americans; founders of our nation. Their memories are revered and remembered.

Still, they were both slave owners. Should we, as enlightened progeny of their efforts, now condemn them as racist bigots? And if we do, does that mean that we cannot recognize or admire any of their achievements?

Solomon is not remembered as a bigamist, but as a prophet. Being endowed by our Creator with the faculty of free will, every human being is both good and bad.

The war against statues reflects the modernist notion that everything worth knowing is in the current edition of the book. The latest is the greatest.

Whatever happened to the idea that those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past?

Political sensitivity is reaching a scandalous peak. Who, exactly would have been offended if ESPN had allowed Robert Lee, a sports announcer of Asian descent, to broadcast the play by play of the game between William and Mary and the University of Virginia?

Hard to imagine, but the network shifted him to the game between Youngstown State and Pittsburgh, apparently to avoid the negative fallout associated with his name after to the brew ha ha over the statute.

Political correctness is running amuck. Not only did the City of New Orleans take down its statue of Robert E. Lee, they also renamed the circle in which it was located from Lee Circle to Trivoli Circle.

If we take down statues of Robert E. Lee because we do not want future generations to celebrate his life, or even to know about him, doesn’t it follow that history books should also be cleansed of information about him as well?

Perhaps. But first we ought to ask ourselves whether the dumbing down of our children and grandchildren by the sanitizing of our history books is really such a good thing.

The Civil War did in fact occur. And there were good people on both sides.

If we don’t study about why that happened in 1860, we might see it happen again.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


Back in the  1970’s, a member of the Cooley Law School Board of Directors, Jack DesJardins, was invested in a small Lansing company that was manufacturing a device they called a “personal computer.”

Jack was very enthusiastic about the product. He predicted that the day would come when literally everyone would own one. He would talk at length about the miracles that a personal computer would perform.

In those days, Cooley had a device called a ‘computer’ which was as big as a desk. It had a keyboard with which we could input student information; grades, etc.

The only output was a huge sheet of green paper on which all the information about each student was printed on one line.

Jack insisted that his PC’s could do that and much, much more. So I bought a bunch of them. I had one placed on my secretary’s desk, expecting her to giggle with delight. She didn’t. After a day or two, she insisted that I bring back her electric typewriter.

So there we were, proud owners of several PC’s. Unfortunately, nobody knew what to do with them.

Undaunted, I stopped by a store called “Software City.” Not wanting to admit my problem, I told the clerk I was the secretary of a bowling league and wanted a program that would allow me to keep track of bowlers’ names, addresses, scores and averages.

He eagerly brought out a package called “Nutshell.” I told him if he showed me how it worked I would buy it. He did, and I did.

From that day forward, I became what my niece called “a data base junkie.”

I spent countless hours on weekends and evenings typing in the names, addresses and academic records of students. During the day, I spent my time trying to convince the Registrar, Admissions Officer and Comptroller that they could do their jobs on Jack DesJardins’s PC’s using my $200 Nutshell software.

The dawn of the computer age at Cooley Law School wasn’t pretty, but the fact is that Nutshell ultimately morphed into a product called Filemaker which is highly sophisticated and still used, I believe, by Cooley and in many other places.

I am still a junkie.

I use Filemaker for lots of things; the Christmas card list; my personal filing system, and a diary which also serves as a calendar and, as the passing of time dims the memory, as a place to tell myself everything I promise to remember.

Most recently, I have been developing a scoreboard for the game of Golfball. If you want to know what Golfball is, take a look at my blog of July 22nd

Much as the electronic age has made life easier and allowed us to do things that simply were not possible in the age of pencil and paper, there are some drawbacks.

Sometimes, the computer just won’t compute. A week or so ago, my Macbook Pro went down. Not completely, thank God, but I lost contact with the Internet, which is sort of like having your house quarantined in the 1930’s because somebody had chicken pox.

No Internet, No Google. No Wikipedia. No email. Chuck Donnelly, Petoskey’s computer guru, was on vacation. It was like being in jail.

Strangely, I discovered that there is such a thing as life beyond the computer. I played a little golf, spent more time chatting with my wife, and horror of horrors, found myself actually watching television.

Donnelly finally arrived, did his magic, and now I’m back at the keyboard, all psyched up to write a blog. My first instinct is to write about this damned computer and how it has taken over my life.

On the other hand, who really gives a fig? Everybody has a computer, and nobody else is complaining.

Is it possible that this is the real world and everything else is fantasy?

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Korea has hosted human life since before 8,000 BC. Apparently, some scientists who know about such things have discovered pottery from about that time.

Wikipedia gives us an idea of how things have been going there since the fourteenth century. The Korean peninsula was a single nation under the so called Joseon dynasty which lasted from 1392 until 1910.

In 1905 Japan defeated Russia in a war that ended with the Treaty of Portsmith, negotiated in Maine under the auspices of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Under that treaty, Korea was left as an independent nation known as the Korean Empire.

Well, not exactly independent. The Koreans had to sign a protection agreement with Japan. “Protection” lead to annexation by Japan in 1910.

The Koreans weren’t exactly happy with that arrangement, and a number of resistance movements cropped up, mostly in neighboring Manchuria, China and Siberia. These efforts were coordinated under the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in exile. Korea remained under Japanese control until the end of the World War II.

Soviet Russia was invaded by Nazi Germany in June of 1941. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor that year, Germany declared war against the U.S.A., but Russia did not enter the war against Japan. The Russians had their hands full with Germany.

But Stalin promised Roosevelt that Russia would enter the Pacific War as soon as its war with Germany was over. Germany surrendered in May of 1945. On August 9th Russia invaded Manchuria, which was then occupied by Japan.

That was just one day after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three weeks later, Japan surrendered, Russia chased the Japanese out of  North Korea and the United States occupied South Korea.

It was agreed that Korea was a single nation and efforts were made to reunite North and South. The U.S. and the Soviets were unable to agree on the terms of unification and so the North and South remained divided.

Still, Korea is, by nature and its history, a single nation, having a common language and ethnic culture. In June of 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering a war that lasted until 1953. The Korean War ended in a stalemate, with the establishment of a demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel.

Today, North Korea is a communist dictatorship ruled by a man named Kim Jong Il, who succeeded his father, Kim Il Song. Kim Il Song ruled the country as premier from 1948 to 1972 and from 1972 until 1994 as President.

Kim Jong Il is the first leader of a communist country to have inherited the job. What we know about him is that he loves basketball and had developed a friendship with Dennis Rodman. And that he has led his country to become a nuclear power.

Most recently, it has become known that North Korea has developed atom bombs that can be delivered in inter continental ballistic missiles. That prompted President Trump to do some sword rattling of his own.

What does Kim Jong Il want? I suspect he wants the same thing his father wanted in 1950: to unite the Korean Peninsula as one nation, with himself as the leader.

It’s hardly big news when a politician wants to be the leader. Unfortunately, the folks in Korea still live in the dark ages of politics, when achieving pubic office was a matter of killing all the opponents.

Perhaps, instead of escalating a war of words with North Korea, President Trump would be better advised to send Secretary Tillerson and Dennis Rodman to Pyongyang and Seoul to suggest that a convention be called for the purpose of drafting a constitution for a unified Korea.

North Korea has more land, South Korea has more people. We have the same problem among the United States. That’s why we have a bicameral national legislature. 

Is it too sanguine to suggest that such a convention might produce a document that begins with the words, “We, the People of Korea…”?