During my first view of Florida from the air, I wondered what all those boxes were, parked like trailers and hauled by big rigs. As the plane got closer to the airport, I recognized those boxes as mobile homes clustered in every available space.
Having lived for years in Bermuda, I was aware of strict building codes on that tiny hurricane-prone island. I was appalled that Florida had no such restrictions.
The Houston area and the state of Florida are sadly remiss in zoning codes for types of buildings allowed, where structures can be erected and the necessity of mandatory flood insurance in their hurricane- and flood-prone areas.
Individuals should take responsibility for their own flood insurance and safe building sites and structures and not rely so much on the federal government to bail them out every time a hurricane comes ashore. Some of the same places get flooded or have wind damage time and again.
Before anyone gets on their "high horse' about my observations, I have sent a nice check to help those affected.
Back the police
We're all mixtures of good and bad. Nobody's perfect.
Since every group and institution involves imperfect human beings, there are no perfect groups or institutions. The only question is how much the good outweighs the bad or the bad outweighs the good.
Some groups and institutions, e.g., criminal gangs, are by far mostly bad because their mission is benefiting from abusing the weaker. But after trial and conviction, it's appropriate to have mercy in sentencing those few criminals who are more good than bad.
Some groups and institutions, e.g., the police, are by far mostly good. The police's mission is enforcing law, defending the weaker against criminal abuse. But after trial and conviction, it's appropriate to punish without special mercy those few law enforcement officers who are truly more bad than good.
We're now seeing mob rioting and disrespect, harassment and violence directed against random law enforcement officers because of real or imaginary crimes by other officers.
Why? Who benefits if decent people don't go into law enforcement because of character assassination and physical attacks? Who benefits if police don't defend the public because of fear of mob or individual attacks?
Only criminals wanting no interference in their abusing the weaker will benefit.
Always back the police as a group in their protecting mission, and give individual officers the same right criminals have: being considered innocent until proven guilty in court.
License to carry
Texas laws allow the carrying of a handgun on one's person either concealed or in the open in a belt holster or shoulder holster. A license to carry, LTC, is issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
This comes after a training course, a written test and a shooting test with a handgun. The DPS then consults with the FBI on one's criminal history.
The law deals with where one can or cannot carry a handgun. Most large grocery chains and restaurants allow them to be carried or worn in. They constitute the areas that the largest number of the public visits.
If they do not allow LTC holders, they have to post signs saying so with the numbers 30.06 and 30.07 on public entry doors. Those without signs welcome LTC holders to shop or dine with them.
The list of places where a handgun can or cannot be legally carried can be found online at Department of Public Safety-LTC.
Any area where handguns cannot be taken are considered "gun free zones." This is nothing but an invitation to a criminal with a handgun to "come on in." Who is going to stop him!
Increase in crime has created the LTC law. Self-defense and saving the lives of others is best summed up by the slogan on a National Rifle Association T-shirt: "It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it."
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness is inaccurate, stressful and time consuming. For these reasons, students should not have to take the STAAR.
The test takes place on one day and doesn't reflect the entire year's learning. If a student doesn't feel his or her best on that day, then his or her performance could be negatively impacted. Illness or lack of sleep could reduce performance.
The curriculum is taught the whole year, but since the STAAR is always taken in the spring, teachers cannot teach all of the curriculum before the tests, which negatively impacts the student performance.
STAAR causes much stress. Many students feel pressured to do well on the exam, which leads to anxiety. Parents want their children to do well on the STAAR, so they pressure them.
Some parents threaten to punish students if they do not pass STAAR.
Teachers and schools also pressure students. Some teachers give excessive STAAR practice instead of teaching new material.
Many teachers try to cover all of the testing material before the test, so the concepts and skills are not covered thoroughly. Also, many teachers "teach to the test" so the curriculum becomes less flexible and creative.
The STAAR is expensive. Instead, this money should be used to help schools improve education by updating technology and hiring more teachers so that classes are smaller.
Teachers and administrators should assess student learning progress through the year, not once a year with STAAR.