Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

No cable TV made life better
Feb10

No cable TV made life better

In the fifth grade, the popular thing to do after returning home from school was to go straight to the bedroom and turn on the Disney channel, maybe eat cookies with milk while lost in the daze of the television’s glow of dancing colors until dinner. Not me. Instead of plopping on the sofa with soda and remote in hand, my sister and I did our homework like the angels we were asked to be. When we finished, there was no Nickelodeon or Lizzie McGuire waiting for us. Instead, we had to burrow our way through the fuzz as we adjusted the antenna to get a 13-inch picture on the only working television our family owned. There was no such thing as a hundred channels. We were lucky to pick up five, one of which was in some unintelligible language we later learned was called Spanish. On the weekends, there was plenty of entertainment besides television. But on more than one occasion, a friend would ask to watch TV, until she saw the scary long antennae sitting on top of a box smaller than the family microwave and would say, “Let’s just go play with the Pound Puppies instead.” Today, if someone were to show up and snicker at the undersized screen, I’d recommend sitting outside on the porch for some truly fresh country air and something foreign to much of this generation — conversation. Growing up in a small town of about 3,000 people had its pros and cons. But life in the country had rewards well worth the few bug and snake scares. Have city folk ever seen the stars? It may surprise a few people, but there are more than a dozen up there. Have urban dwellers ever been able to stand in the yard and not see a single other house than their own? And the country sunsets — not even Belton’s can beat those. I’ve seen deer, rattle snakes, opossums, scorpions, hawks, baby vultures (they’re actually cute), blue martins, a crawdad, turtles, wild bunnies, roadrunners, wild hogs (including a blind one) and even a bobcat. Yes, I’ve seen the destruction a raccoon wreaked in our garage … and when we first planted trees in our front yard the neighbor’s goats nearly knocked some over. Once when a friend was over, several goats had just started partying in the front yard. The male goats were rubbing their horns on the thin tree trunks, scratching them and then eating the leaves. We put on our tennis shoes. My friend had a special treat that day as we chased the goats. It was quite fun. The males...

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MLK saw promised land near
Feb10

MLK saw promised land near

By Ryan Busby UMHB Alum Thousands of years ago in the Ancient Near East, a group of slaves led by a man named Moses escaped from their oppressors in Egypt.  While they wandered in the desert, God promised them a place where they could rest, a place to call their own. That land was called Canaan, and one day they did settle into the Promised Land, but without Moses. In a similar fashion, the face of race relations and equal rights for the United States was the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He represented and worked to see his people freed from oppression, but his life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet, and he did not get to see the fruit of his and many other’s labor. King, in his sermon, “The Birth of a New Nation,” (praising Ghana’s independence from British colonialism) used Moses as a metaphor for leaders unable to see their dreams become reality. He explained, “There is something deep down within the very soul of man that reaches out for Canaan. Men cannot be satisfied with Egypt… Moses might not get to see Canaan, but his children will see it. He even got to the mountaintop enough to see it and that assured him that it was coming. But the beauty of the thing is that there’s always a Joshua to take up his work and take the children on in.”  This sermon was delivered April 7, 1958. King’s last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” was given the night before he was assassinated on April 3, 1968.  In this speech, Dr. King continued his ten-year-old motif stating, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop! And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” Indeed, King, it is a shame you did not get to meet your Joshua. Regardless, he is here, and on January 20 2009, the Jordan parted and the first steps into the Promised Land were taken. We still have a long way to go; many enemies and obstacles remain as your children settle into the land flowing with milk and honey. However,...

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Valentine’s Day: A love-hate holiday relationship
Feb10

Valentine’s Day: A love-hate holiday relationship

“This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Feb. 14 is a day of conflicting feelings. Depending on who you are, your stage of life and your relationship status, Cupid can shoot either painful stinging arrows or endless love bullets into your heart, causing you to enjoy or despise the holiday that plasters affection across every superstore isle and through every American mind. It’s quite interesting and sometimes disappointing to examine Valentine’s Day and its effects on the general public. While I do not claim to be an expert on national, holiday, celebration protocol, I’ve compiled a list of why Feb. 14 is such a healthy holiday for our nation. Sales thrive off of people madly in love. The holiday brings in annually over $14 billion. Suddenly giant stuffed animals are worth 50 bucks, and the cost of your average Hershey’s bar wrapped in red displaying “I love you” inflates to a dollar more. Men are willing to ignore outrageous price tags to surprise their ladies with diamond rings and the sort. Flower businesses see skyrocketing profits as carnations and arrangements flood vases or melt young women’s hearts as their man waits at the door with a dozen roses in hand. In an economically-thirsting stimulation, what could be better? Babysitters also experience a peak in business on this day as the demand is high and the labor is low. Parents, desiring romantic escape, are willing to fork out big money for someone to watch their children. Other service industries benefit, too. Waiters and waitresses can expect to see big tips because nothing seems to speak louder than “here’s an elegant, expensive meal for you honey and don’t I look great if I give our server a monster tip.” Now, for those who do not have a significant other, this is no reason to pout. Just because Mr. or Mrs. Right didn’t give you a box of chocolates doesn’t mean you can’t spoil yourself with some sweets. Many pessimists have renamed Valentine’s Day as Singles Awareness Day, wearing shirts that promote destruction of lovely holiday festivities. This is ridiculous. If it takes a national holiday to make you aware of the fact you are single, then you have bigger problems to address than not having a boyfriend. Then there are those people who use the holiday as a reason to publically practice unneeded romantic gestures. While intimacy is a gift God gave to couples, children do not need to see what it looks like or how it works prematurely. PDA overhaul should not be abused, nor is it justified because of...

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City showcases immigration issues
Jan27

City showcases immigration issues

The city of Laredo, with a population of about 220,000, clearly has a culture different from that of many other Texas cities. Even Police Chief Carlos Maldonado likens Laredo to an island, since there are virtually no other large American cities within a 200-mile radius. This “island” embodies the constant American struggle to balance national security with sympathy for fellow humanity. The governing principles in place are failing. Thousands of undocumented immigrants enter the United States every day. However, becoming a citizen of this great nation the legal way is extremely difficult and takes several years. Only the winding Rio Grande separates the border town of Laredo from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a place virtually cohesive with its United States counterpart by culture. Two main bridges grant legal passage from one country to another, creating much hustle and bustle. A constant flow of people cross the bridges carrying cardboard boxes, shopping bags and rolling suitcases behind them – full of the day’s purchases or personal belongings. A border patrolman explains his daily routine on the Rio Grande as a continuous cycle. He shared a trend in trickery used by undocumented immigrants who make it across the river, unknowingly being detected. One time the border patrol apprehended a mother and two daughters who had run for about 10 yards as fast as they could and then stopped in the middle of a city park, pretending they came there to play and had been there a while. Others try to blend in with Laredo citizens as they have barbecues on the park grounds. Hearing these stories put the process of legalization in a different light. Countless times people ask, “Why do undocumented immigrants take the risk of the river crossing, of being caught and of deportation? Why not just come the legal way?” The legal way is a long way, taking nearly seven years after paperwork and a series of tests. Looking from “our side of the river” to the other, Mexico is noticeably different economically. Even with all the media cries of the “economic crisis” in America, seeing the dusty roads and homes made of scrap metal in Mexico, where one is either poor or rich, Americans have much less to cry about. Why else would there be such draw to come to the United States? Since Laredo is so intertwined culturally with Nuevo Laredo, the issue of immigration (both legal and illegal) is complicated. Some issues are hardly talked about, such as the fact that when an undocumented immigrant is caught for a crime like prostitution, he or she must have a medical screening before being admitted into a jail...

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Slightly filtered observations on news from Christmas break
Jan27

Slightly filtered observations on news from Christmas break

Over the holidays, it’s easy to get behind on current events. Spending time with family, going out of town on vacation and catching up with old friends all take importance over staying glued to CNN’s breaking news coverage. But have no fear. I have compiled an unbiased and objective re-cap of events all people should have handy in their brains in case of an awkward back-to-school conversation about current events, as well as the tools you need to make this semester a smashing success. The economy boarded the train to Hades, but everyone has known that for awhile. However, it’s just been recently that the “nonpartisan” National Bureau of Economic Research and other Dow Jones monitors have publicly admitted that America bought the one-way ticket in December 2007. Don’t worry. Economists say it will be back to pick up any forgotten passengers in 2010. The job market, well…it’s not looking so good. To say the least, there have been better times to graduate and find a career. But look at the bright side. Thirty years from now, when your grandchildren are sitting on your knees, you can tell them how you overcame the odds and got a job during the great recession of 2009. If all else fails, Whataburger is hiring managers for the night shift. In this recession, as religious leaders will say, pride cometh before a fall, or in this case, America’s fall before its people’s pride. To those in a serious relationship fulfilling the over-clichéd joke of “ring by spring” that trails through every corner of the Quad and then some, your expectations for a fabulous wedding have been set. A couple in Normal, Ill, exchanged vows over hot sauce packets in Taco Bell. After nine months of cyber dating, Caragh Brooks and Paul Brooks are now Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Caragh Brooks after a $200 wedding that made national news. No, they were not immediate relatives, and, yes the sauce packets displayed, “Will you marry me?” So, my fine Crusader gentlemen, don’t waste college loan money on a fancy ceremony. Grab your lady and head to the nearest fast food joint. If she really cares for you, she’ll understand. In other news, yet another political scandal rings in the New Year as Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is on the road to impeachment for abuse of power and engaging in “a plot to obtain a personal benefit in exchange for his appointment to fill the vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.” There’s nothing like political distrust in the governing body supposedly protecting our rights. That Illinois seat was previously held by President Barack Obama, which...

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Hail to the Chief: Americans should put politics aside, wish President Obama the best
Jan27

Hail to the Chief: Americans should put politics aside, wish President Obama the best

President Barack Obama. Three months ago that phrase would have sent a cold chill down my spine. Now it has a nice ring to it. Such is politics. In his much-anticipated inaugural address, our new commander-in-chief proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” Mindful that some in the crowd no doubt voted for the man he vanquished on Nov. 4, the president urged “unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” I could not agree more. Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, the time has come to rally around the former senator from Illinois. He is our president now. To many Republicans, such a statement will seem treasonous, as if their primary loyalty should be to the Republican Party, and they should wish every Democratic elected official failure, ruin and disgrace. Indeed, it is common to find on conservative blogs something like this: “I can’t wait for Obama to screw this country up, because when he does, then everyone will realize their mistake and put Republicans back in power!” What is left of George Washington would be rolling in his grave. He feared political parties for that exact reason. When people become Republicans or Democrats first and Americans second, they forget the purpose of government is to serve the people, not provide power to their political factions. Radical Democrats were guilty of this when they salivated over every failure in Iraq because the political damage it did to President Bush was oh-so-sweet. That fanatical Republicans are prepared to rejoice over the possible failure of President Obama’s policies is equally inexcusable. This does not mean that everyone should become a liberal and agree with Obama’s ideology; I certainly won’t. It is the duty of the Republican Party, as the opposition, to point out the new president’s mistakes and offer a competing vision for how America should be run. Yet it would be a horrible betrayal of every soldier who died for this country to hope for failure just to prove the other guy wrong. As a conservative, I don’t think Obama’s massive new government spending will fix the economy. But I hope it does. I think some of his foreign policy will be a disaster. But I hope it isn’t. Better for my ideology to be proved false than my country brought to its knees. There are more important things than scoring political points. At heart, we are all Americans, and we all want our country to be safe, prosperous and secure, though we may think that is best achieved through differing means....

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