Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Right now in my U.S. History class we are learning about hippies. It’s really interesting to learn about the counterculture during the Vietnam War because most people in this generation only think of hippies as long haired, tie dye lovers. But in fact, the counterculture during the Vietnam War era was much more than that. The hippies started out as peaceful individuals concerned about their fellow Americans. They wanted to make a difference and make others realize that life wasn’t about material things. The hippie movement started in San Francisco, California in the Haight-Ashbury district. Here a small group of quiet, peaceful and loving hippies lived. They made sure everyone in their neighborhood had 2 meals a day, they put together little stores like the Salvation Army, to make sure everyone had clothing. Their idea was simple: live life peacefully and help others. Hippies didn’t work, because they felt a community could work together to support each other and that sitting in an office job just to make money was absurd. Of course, there were drugs too. But the original hippies handled these drugs well; they didn’t overdose and they didn’t walk around acting as a disturbance to the neighborhood. They took LSD, and this helped open their minds to new ideas; at the time LSD was completely legal.

The sad reality is the small community of hippies that lived and worked for the betterment of one another quickly ended. As summer approached, college students and bums began to move to San Francisco. They didn’t have the same values that the original hippies had, as many of them just came for the free food and drugs. And of course, any where that there are drugs, there is also violence. Soon, there were more hippies in San Francisco that the city could handle. The original inhabitants of San Francisco were angry; they felt that the counterculture had completely taken away their once medium sized town. As more and more people started taking LSD, the drug became widely available. People became to make bad decisions when taking LSD and they were having unprotected sex a lot, with people they didn’t know. A major part of the hippie movement was to love one another, and they took that literally. In one video we watched, a man who grew up as a hippie said, “You could meet a woman, go out and make love for the day, not say a word, and that was okay.” Due to this exploitation of sexuality, STD’s began to make their first major appearance. Syphilis was one of the many diseases that were common in the San Francisco area. It is sad to look back and see what the basic principles of being a hippie in the counterculture movement was, and then look and see how they were all ruined. Drugs violence became out of hand, people on drugs were making love with different people every day and spreading diseases, and the community eventually fell apart.

Real Madrid

As you may known based on early blog posts, I love Spanish soccer. I might not know a ton about it, but I have been following it ever since I went to Spain last summer. On Sunday Real Madrid (my favorite team) played their final game of the season. Before the Real Madrid game on Sunday, the team had 95 points and Barcelona had 96. But before I go any further, let me back up and explain the point system. This is how it works: for every game a team wins, they receive 3 points, for every game that is a tie, both teams receive 1 point, and if they lose, they don’t receive any points. A perfect score would be 115 points, at the end of the season, Barcelona had 99 points. This is the highest a team has ever scored. At the end of the season, the points are added up and the team with the highest number of points wins the Spanish Championship. Unfortunately, Barcelona won their game, giving them 3 points and Real Madrid tied giving them only one point. Barcelona ended their season with 99 points and Real Madrid ended their season with 96 points.

I was really disappointed Real Madrid didn’t win, especially because they came so close. Real is still a very competitive team though, and they have won more championships than any other team in Spain, with Barcelona coming in second and Atletico Madrid coming in third. To truly understand how big of a loss this is, you must understand the Barcelona, Real rivalry. When these two teams play each other in Spain, it is like the Iowa, Iowa State game time 100. The people of Spain are very passionate about soccer, and let’s just say they take it very seriously.

Last summer when I was in Spain, I got a glimpse of just how seriously Spaniards take their soccer. When I was in Sevilla, a huge soccer protest was going on, because the Sevilla fans believed their team needed a new coach, as they had been just recently been demoted to Division 2. What happens every year after the points are added is that the top 4 Division 2 teams move up to Division 1 and the bottom 4 Division 2 teams move up to Division 1. The people of Sevilla were very angry about this, and a mob of protestors decked out in their Sevilla jerseys, paraded the city for hours.

Here is a link to the article on Barcelona's win.


This is a base flute, which is one of the unconventional flutes we used during our performance at IBA.

On Friday, I and a group of 11 other flutists got the opportunity to play at IBA. IBA is a prestigious conference in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference is for all instruments including brass, woodwind, and percussion. I played in a flute choir in the lobby. Being able to play at IBA is an honor, because it is something you have to be invited to play at, you don’t just sign up. There were band directors there from all over the state of Iowa to listen to us and the other performers. It was nice to get a chance to show off all the hard work we had put into our music. Other than playing at the conference, we were able to go around and visit different organizations that had set up stands. Some of these were travel agencies (to organize band trips), music companies, and fundraising companies. They all had one thing in mind though; catch the attention of the band students and directors because they wanted our business. The fundraising stands were the best though because they had samples of basically everything they sold, including cheesecake, which is my favorite. After we performed and walked around at the conference, we watched the Washington Band perform. Out of all the schools in Cedar Rapids, Kennedy and Washington were the only schools that got asked to perform. We went to see the Washington band to support them; it was also a good learning experience for us as musicians. The performance seemed long but it was very good.

After we left the conference we all went to dinner at the Spaghetti House in Des Moines. It was between that and the Cheesecake Factory, but we were in a hurry to get home and the Spaghetti House was closer. The food there was really good and it was a nice celebration in honor of all the hard work we had been putting into band. The band parents even agreed to cover the cost of the dinner using the band account as a reward.

The performance for the flute choir was the last major thing we have this year. We are not done yet though, as next Friday we have to perform at graduation. After graduation, we are done until Hog Wild Days, which means we will just work on our marching skills. I’m really excited for this because we will be able to teach the freshmen how to march since they have never done it before.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Kennedy Assasination

Right now in my U.S. History class we are studying the Kennedy assassination. A lot of people think that his assassination could have been a conspiracy and not just the work of Lee Harvey Oswald. We watched on the conspiracy theory and after watching it I was almost 100% convinced that this was a conspiracy. If you look at all the small things in the case, they just don’t add up to one gunman. I talked to my dad about it and he thinks I’m crazy for thinking that it was a conspiracy but I’m just going off the facts.

Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s brother, was the first one to propose that this had been a conspiracy. He studied the facts of the case and helped put the word out there that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. Kennedy explained that the FBI and the CIA were working together to work secretly to defeat Fidel Castro in Cuba. Government officials believed Kennedy was being too soft on the communists. Bobby Kennedy had good reason to believe that the CIA killed his brother too. Bobby received the Cuban portfolio after the Bay of Pigs fiasco; in this portfolio was evidence of an alliance between the CIA, the Mafia and militant Cuban exiles. This group planned on assassinating Castro and forcing a regime change in Havana. He believes that because his brother decided to betray the anti- Castro cause, they decided to have him assassinated. This is just one of the many reasons I think that his murder was a conspiracy and not just a single gunman. Here is an article supporting the conspiracy theory that gives a much more in depth look at why this is the truth.


Today I rode my bike for one of the first times since it has gotten warm out, so I decided to do a little history of the bicycle. In 1817 the draisienne was created and from this the bicycles of the later 18th century branched off. The draisienne was a small vehicle similar to a scooter. The first bicycle to be produced was simply a more modified version of the draisienne and it was designed by Baron Karl Von Drais of Germany. This bicycle would not by any means meet the standard of a bicycle today because it had no wheels. The bike was steered using a bar that was connected to the front wheel. Then in 1839, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, added pedals to the bicycle and created the first bicycle of this type. Not long after this, in 1866, Pierre Lallement, a French mechanic, created what is called the pedal-powered bicycle. Lallement took out a U.S. patent on his new invention. Following the pedal-powered bicycle was the High-Wheeler in 1870. The High Wheeler was also called Ordinary or Penny- Farthing. The bike got the name High- Wheeler from its extremely large front wheel which on an average High- Wheeler bike would be five feet. The High-Wheeler had a small rear wheel. In 1885, the Safety Bicycle was created by J.K. Starley. Starley was an English bicycle manufacturer when he created it. This was the first bicycle that was considered safe to ride. The wheels on the bicycle were of even size unlike on the High-Wheeler, which is what made this bicycle so much safer and much easier to ride. This bike had several modifications and changes which include using a chain and sprocket system, and by 1890 air filled tires, the coaster brake and an adjustable handlebar. In the late 1800s the bicycle became a big hit and was very popular. As many as 4 million American’s rode bicycles at this time according to the World Book Millennium Encyclopedia. This did not last long though, by the 1900’s automobiles had become popular and bicycles were no longer as useful and essential as they had once been.

I think the bicycle was a very significant invention of the 1880’s because of how it affected the world. The bicycles helped immensely in the 1800’s when travel by automobile was not available. This allowed people to travel much longer distances and they were able to do it much faster than if they were on foot. With the invention of the bicycle cultures were able to interact more with cultures that once would not have been within walking distance. Although the bicycle in the United States is ridden more for entertainment and exercise so countries in the world use bicycles much more often than the United States. In China, bikes are used by a large population of people to travel to and from work every day and to go other places.

Experimentation on Monkeys

Whether the life of a human is worth more than the life of an animal has always been a heated topic that has been debated for years. The topic is taken to an even higher level when it is monkeys being experimented with verses when it is a mouse or rat because monkeys are evolutionarily close to us. At one United Kingdom University that doesn’t want to be named for privacy reasons, students and scientists are studying monkeys up close, performing a delicate surgery on their brains. In this surgery holes are drilled into the skull of the monkey and up to eight lesions are made, where small quantities of toxins are injected to destroy parts of the monkeys’ brain. This helps scientists discover what parts of the brain monkeys use to do different things and because of the similarities between humans and monkeys this helps make advancements in human medicine.

This can help identify several human brain disorders including Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADHD, and Depression. In this laboratory monkeys are kept in cages that try to stimulate their environments if they were living in the wild and monkeys are kept with up to fifteen other monkeys to provide interaction and play time. According to researchers the monkeys seem generally excited about testing, and are even disappointed on days they don’t get to be tested. In this specific scenario a monkey is brought out of his or her large cage and is put in what is known as a Perspex box. Then the monkey is given two options and presses a button, if the monkey chooses the correct button he or she is rewarded with a banana milkshake. If the monkey is wrong he or she will experience a short period of darkness in the Perspex box. Most of the monkeys are not stressed from this and don’t even seem disappointed when their light is turned off.

This brings up the next issue. Animal rights extremists think that because an animal might answer the questions wrong, the scientists are starving the animals until they get it right. At the institute in the article this is not the case. The scientists say that the food the monkeys are getting is just extra treats; the monkeys are still being served a healthy diet, even similar to the fruits they would be able to find in the wild. In a counter argument in this article, famous Primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, stated that the amazing human brain should find other ways of experimenting that does not involve the use of beings that have feelings and are capable of suffering. Although the author expressed both sides of the argument in this article it is evident that the author was leaning towards the idea that animal research, when done in a healthy and safe environment, is okay. The overall debate of this article is whether the testing of monkeys or for that matter animals in general should be allowed if the experiments could in the future lead to advances in human medicine.

Based on the information I have read in this article I take the side of the scientists that support animal testing. As long as the animal testing centers take the required steps to make the testing safe and provide an environment for the animals that is similar to what they would be experiencing in the wild. I agree with what the scientists at this United Kingdom University are doing because they are safely, without harming the monkeys, trying to study the brain in a way that could not otherwise be studied, which would provide crucial information for possibly creating life changing medicine in the future. I think that animal rights extremists are trying to make the institutions that support this research look bad most of the time, but it is my hope that animal extremists will continue what they do in order to discover other institutions that maybe aren’t treating their animals as they should be treating them and hopefully they can report them. After reading this article I was able to open my mind to animal research and realize that even though there are many institutions out there harming animals there are also a handful of institutions and universities that are doing important studies to better the human race at little or no expense to the animals whatsoever.

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was one of the most debated wars in history. It started out just as the Korean War had, in an effort to contain communism. The war continued to go downhill though, as the Vietnamese used Guerilla warfare and underground tunnels to escape the U.S. troops. The war quickly lost the support of the American people and ended in the first loss America had ever experienced.

Decades ago, the French colonized Vietnam. After World War II, Ho Chi Min and his band of communist soldiers fought a guerilla war against the French throughout the country. The conflict elevated in 1954 when the Vietnamese communists defeated the French in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and thereby occupied Hanoi, the capitol of Vietnam. Due to this, the French left Vietnam. Then, the United Nations split Vietnam into the North and the South. This was a compromise between communist powers and the western democracies. The North became communist and the South became a democracy. I think that the United States should have left Vietnam alone. During this time period, the people of the United States were happy and going to war with a country that they didn’t even understand was not something they supported. Without the support of the American people the war was even harder to fight and continue.

After North Vietnamese patrol boats allegedly attacked U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, President Johnson convinced the U.S. Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This was an unprecedented act by a U.S. president which allowed him to conduct a war without congressional approval. From 1959 to 1964 there were only a few thousand U.S. soldiers in Vietnam and they usually were not involved in combat. After the Gulf of Tokin Resolution was passed, it increased the number of troops from thousands to close to a half a million. Even though I don’t think we should have ever got involved in the Vietnam War, I think the president made the right decision by passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This allowed him to make quick decisions and not always have to rely on congress to approve them.

In 1966, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops launched a massive attack to surprise the U.S. troops. Before this attack, the U.S. public generally agreed that the U.S. was winning the war; this was the way the U.S. media portrayed it. The attack, which became known at the Tet Offensive, was a turning point in the war because it caused many Americans to no longer support the war. Even though the United States won the battle, the fact that the Viet Cong had the capability to stage such a major attack surprised Americans. I think allowing the media to share this information to the public was a mistake because without the support of the Americans at home, the war was guaranteed not to last long. This gave rise to many protests and movements against the war.

Due to the overwhelming superiority of American firepower and military strength, the Viet Cong had to resort to unconventional guerilla warfare against the United States. One of these tactics was the use of tunnels under South Vietnam. They used these tunnels to carry equipment, hide, and care for the sick and wounded. I was amazed to find out about these tunnels and I couldn’t believe that they had actually created entire cities and hospitals underground. I think that without these tunnels they would not have stood a chance against the American troops.

As the Vietnam War continued, more and more people began to openly protest the war. In 1967, a huge protest occurred at the Lincoln Memorial. Up to 50,000 people protested, including Mohammad Ali, who refused to be drafted into the war. It reached its peak in 1970 when 4 students attending Kansas State University were shot by the National Guard during a campus protest. I believe that these protests led to the U.S. government to end the war. The government realized how unpopular the war was and with the very little support of the American people, I think they knew they had to end the war as quickly as possible.

While I don’t believe that the United States should have gotten involved in the Vietnam War to begin with, I believe that once we did get involved, it was our responsibility to finish it. I think leaving Vietnam defeated only lowered the morale of the soldiers and the general American opinion of the war. Once we entered Vietnam, we should have done whatever it took to complete the mission, which was to ensure democracy to South Vietnam and even North Vietnam.