Council caving to developers?
At its Jan. 10 meeting, Humble City Council approved an ordinance easing building regulations for commercial development within the city’s floodplains. With the new ordinance passing, developers can now build at 2 feet above the 100-year flood plain elevation. Previously, developers had to meet more stringent standards and build at 2 feet above the 500-year flood plain. How soon they forget and give in to developers! Who will be paying for their flood insurance when things flood again? We the taxpayers, and they say we don’t subsidize business. Baloney! How irresponsible! The San Jacinto River is already flooding with as little as 2-3 inches of rain.
Remembering Mr. Dave
Recently, the Humble community lost a dedicated and much-loved volunteer. Dave Marshall, or “Mr. Dave” as we knew him, visited Jack M. Fields, Sr. Elementary School every week for many years, reading books to Kindergarten students and pre-Kindergarten students. I was privileged to greet Mr. Dave in the office with a hug, get a basket of books for the children, and escort Mr. Dave to the designated classroom, where he entertained the students with “Danny and the Dinosaur,” “Amelia Bedelia,” or “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” Next, Mr. Dave would share his “magic” coloring book; as students sat, transfixed, Mr. Dave would flip the coloring book, displaying the blank pages, and then flip the book again to reveal pages that were completely colored. Finally, Mr. Dave would distribute new or gently used books to the students. Each and every time I escorted Mr. Dave to classrooms, we were greeted with a chorus of students shouting, “Mr. Dave,” as Mr. Dave was loved and remembered by all. A tireless and enthusiastic volunteer, Mr. Dave often remarked, “I would read to the kids every day if you would let me.” He was a volunteer through “Bookbusters,” a group of incredible volunteers from Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital who visit classrooms every month, read to students, and provide brand-new books (generously donated by the Humble community). Mr. Dave will be greatly missed by administrators, teachers, students and me.
Poe a champion against Alzheimer’s disease
It’s important to remember that the sixth-leading cause of death of Republicans, Democrats and Independents is Alzheimer’s disease. Congress just passed the Building our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act with a strong bipartisan vote, and I want to thank Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) for championing this innovative legislation in his final term before retirement. This law will allow our nation to address Alzheimer’s as the urgent public health crisis it has become. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by 2050, the total cost of care for Alzheimer’s is projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion. Alzheimer’s-related costs have soared to $277 billion in the last year, including $186 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. By applying a public health approach, we can change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease. With this action, Poe sealed his legacy as a fighter for the 360,000 Texans and 5.7 million Americans living with the disease. I hope Rep. Dan Crenshaw will continue to work with his colleagues in Congress to address Alzheimer’s as a public health crisis that must be addressed.
Ben J. Sheppard
Alzheimer’s Ambassador for Texas’ 2nd Congressional District
Alzheimer’s Impact Movement
Science = Equality
- Gayre’s letter (1-16-2019) speaks of “uncomfortable truths” when comparing Galileo’s position on heliocentrism to that of James Watson on the effect of evolution on human intelligence. We know that Galileo was right in arguing for a heliocentric solar system, but we do not know that Watson is right in claiming that whites on average are more intelligent than blacks. Many reputable scientists disagree with Watson. First of all, “Defining intelligence is complex and there are many forms of intelligence, not all of which are captured by IQ tests,” said the Oxford neurologist Colin Blakemore. And as Craig Venter, who pioneered much of America’s work in decoding the human genome, put it: “There is no basis in scientific fact or in the human gene code for the notion that skin color will be predictive of intelligence.” Gayre omitted Watson’s argument for his controversial position. In 2007, Watson expressed a key part of his argument thusly: “A priori, there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of people geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.” Gayre ends by saying that “equality … is a political idea with no place in science.” Well, let’s see. Every mathematical equation has an equals sign. Per Einstein, energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Identical twins are genetically identical (or equal). Two normal distributions can have equal means but unequal variances. There you have three instances of equality in science.
In response to Andrew Gayre
James Watson’s linking of IQ tests to the comparative intelligence of human races (eugenics) has two major problems, as pointed out by Watson’s colleagues and other respected molecular biologists and geneticists worldwide in the recent PBS documentary. The vast majority of these disagree with Watson’s eugenics views. Watson was correct in pointing out that different races perform differently on average in standardized IQ tests, but his philosophizing on the general innate intelligence of races is where he ventures onto shaky ground. The first issue with linking the IQ result to innate intelligence is the effect of nature vs. nurture. In adjusting the IQ test results for nurture, how do we adjust for access to education, diet, wealth, education of the parents and friends, place of birth and where the child was raised (the zip code factor), attention disorders, etc.? There are just too many other uncontrolled nurture variables in the equation to support an accurate correlation of IQ and “genetic intelligence.” The second issue is whether IQ tests accurately measure intelligence in the first place. How exactly do we define intelligence? Is it a command of facts? Ability to memorize? Problem-solving ability? Mathematical ability? Language proficiency? Innate curiosity? Is wisdom in making good choices factored in? Any way you look at it, IQ testing is a highly selective and subjective measure of intelligence and remains hotly debated to this day. One person’s Wordsworth is another person’s Einstein. Watson’s attempt to relate innate intelligence to race via IQ testing has no scientifically factual ground to stand on, but then again he has always liked to stir controversy and the attention it brings him.
Build that wall
We need a wall for sure. How it gets there, I don’t know. But we have a problem and we need a better way to control that. Hope they can figure it out.
Young Master Sandmann gets an education
What is Nicholas Sandmann thinking right now? He is the young man photographed earlier this month smiling at Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist in Washington, D.C. attending the Indigenous Peoples March. Sandmann’s school group, mostly white, some wearing MAGA hats, were waiting for their bus home after attending the March for Life. Suddenly, some African-American members from a fringe religious group started to harass them, calling them “racists,” “white crackers,” “f****ts,” and “incest kids.” Into this, Phillips walked up to confront Sandmann and the other students, beating his drum in Sandmann’s face. That is when the picture is taken. In his turn with friendly media, Phillips called the students “beasts,” saying they were going to attack the black men, a lie, just like the lie the Left propagated about the boys harassing Phillips. Writers for National Review, GQ, and other outlets pounced with virtue signaling. Sandmann’s school threw him under the bus right away, promising an investigation, and actually apologized to Phillips. Jamie Lee Curtis, one of many celebrities who had criticized the boys, at least apologized for her snap judgment but still said there were “two sides to every story.” No, this story has one side: triggered Left-wing activist adults harassed school kids. Even days after the facts were out, a Washington Post story ran with the headline, “The face-off between Catholic school teens and a Native American elder is a reminder of 500 years of conflict.” No, it’s not. It’s a reminder that our media lies when useful to do so and won’t let facts get in the way of a good story. Just in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Sandmann was judged by just about everyone on the color of his skin and not the content of character, which seems strong.
“They Shall Not Grow Old”
I had the opportunity to see a wonderful example of film restoration with digital enhancement, Academy Award-winner Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old,” a documentary chronicling British soldiers going into World War I. Jackson and his team used original film footage stored at the Imperial War Museum and audio interviews of war veterans in later years from the British Broadcasting Corporation. The film was colorized to provide a fuller documentary presentation unlike anything seen before from that war. As films then were still silent, the veterans’ audio interviews provide the sole narration. Special audio effects, such as marching through mud and guns being fired, were added. Lip readers discerned what was being said on the screen at times, and voice actors were hired to dub in what was being said. No knowledge of World War I or military life is needed to appreciate the film. In fact, the film purposefully avoids mentioning specifics of dates or places, allowing the audience to focus on the soldiers’ stories and the documentary’s visuals. You follow soldiers as they join up, undergo basic training, ship out across the channel, march to the front, and eventually go over the top. Of interest, after the credits, Jackson explains the project’s origins and the restoration efforts. On Friday, Feb. 1, “They Shall Not Grow Old” will get a further release, opening in hundreds of theaters in the U.S. and Canada. If you have an interest in World War I or military movies in general, seeing this is a must. As a caution, the documentary consists of actual battlefield footage, so there are a few scenes showing dead soldiers and loud artillery guns being fired. This is an important historical document and needs to be seen on the big screen for full appreciation.