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Ethnic thoughts

Ethnic thoughts

Dave Derosier

Some of my earlier opinion pieces may have given you a few ideas about how I think. Maybe some of you have even developed a mental image of me. Let me give you a few more tidbits about me as a person, and then identify one of my hot-buttons for you to ponder.

I live in Texas, but I’m from New England. In between I have lived in Europe and Canada. I have worked or just visited all 50 states and 49 countries. I was born in Rhode Island, the smallest state; and I’ll die in Texas, the largest state (or will be when global warming melts the ice in Alaska).

Both of my grandfathers were of French Canadian descent (Canucks). My maternal grandmother immigrated from Salt Hill, a small town next to Galway in Ireland. I never knew my dad’s mother, nor was she spoken of.

My wife’s mother was a Cajun. The Cajun French came from Nova Scotia (means “New Scotland”) in the late 1700s when they were deported by the British. Most ended up in Louisiana. In contrast, the Canuck French migrated from La Nouvelle France (primarily today’s Quebec) to New England for economic reasons.

My wife’s dad was from a Danish family living in Birmingham. I remember meeting her dad’s mother there once, she was a true “Southern Lady”. Once, while in Denmark, I looked up her family name in the phone book…and there were three pages of them.
I grew up in Rhode Island. Most of my friends were either Italian or Portuguese. When I say that, I mean that’s the language that their parents spoke – as immigrants.

Most of the Italians came from Sicily, in the south. The Casa Nostra (Mafia) was an integral part of the Rhode Island culture. The Portuguese came from the Azores off the coast of Africa (“Black Portuguese) or from the mainland (White Portuguese).

Immigrants tended to live in their own ethnic communities. Even today, many parts of New England have their ethnic equivalents of Boston’s Italian North End or the South Boston Irish.

So, here I was, growing up through high school with a French-Canadian name and strong Irish heritage, living alongside Italians and Portuguese.

Did I learn new, non-English, words and expressions? Yes. Did I learn to make judgements about people because of their heritage? Yes. Is that natural to do? Yes. For example, to this day I still associate Italian with the Mafia. I still associate being Irish with beer and hot tempers (and maybe red hair).

After high school I went away to college, Boston College in Chestnut Hill, about 40 miles from home. Ever heard of BC? It’s probably the 2nd best known Irish Catholic university in the US, following Notre Dame. It’s run by the Jesuits and sits smack dab in the middle of a well-established Jewish area of Boston. I learned a lot more non-English words and sayings from our Jewish neighbors.

Throughout my early years, ethnic influences have permeated my life. I’ll bet they have yours too.

Did I make ethnic judgements? Yes. Do I think those judgements are still valid today? Some.

A while back I wrote about Hypocrisy in the Anti-Discrimination rules in this country. In that article I defined a few words for clarification of my thoughts:
Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about groups of people.
Prejudice refers to the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes someone holds about a group.
Racism is a type of prejudice used to justify the belief that one racial category is somehow superior or inferior to others
Discrimination consists of actions towards a group of people. Keyword here is action.

Sticking just to ethnic judgements for the time being, let me tell you how my early life relates to these four words.

STEREOTYPES: Yes, I have cultivated ethnic stereotypes, I’ve already talked about some of these, like the Italians and the Irish.

PREJUDICE: This is prejudging a group based on stereotypes. Yup, I have a tendency to still do that on occasion.

RACISM: No, I do not look at ethnic groups as being superior or inferior to others. After decades of international business and living, in order to be successful, one had to live by, “It’s not better or worse, It’s different.”

DISCRIMINATION: No, I do not discriminate against groups. Yes, I DO discriminate between individuals, based on my knowledge of them. I suppose you could say I put people into groupings such as friends, acquaintances, not-friends, and unknowns; and I discriminate by treating them accordingly.

I have two good friends named Debra. Both are women. One is black and one is white. One is active in the bigger public community, the other is not. One is white collar; one is blue collar. They each have lots of differing attributes.

When I think about either of them, I think of her as an individual, as a friend. I do not think of her as a black friend or a blue-collar friend, or any other of her attributes. And, just for the record, I use the word “her” out of respect for her gender, not as a sexist thing.

I’m so sick and tired of all the polarizing that is going on today, especially how easy it is to refer to enemies as being racist – in what I hear (broadcast as well as discussions), in what I read (newspapers and the internet), and in what I see happening especially in the government. Just last month, five Democrat lawmakers even accused the COVID-19 virus of being racist.

Anyone out there have any ideas on how get the rhetoric down to what’s right? And stop blaming the “other side” for what’s wrong? There is no reason to have winners and losers.

Throw the race-card out and let’s all just treat people as individuals, as equals, and search for win-win solutions instead of trying to pick winners and losers based on ethnicity.


J. David Derosier consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services through OhainWEB.com, an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau that is rated A+ by BBB. He can be reached at JDAVID@Strategy-Planning.info

This article was first published in The Orange Leader on April 22nd 2020.

It’s Just a big still

It’s Just a big still

Dave Derosier

Ever wonder why the petrochemical plants look the way they do? Or what actually goes on in there?

I sure did when I first moved down here to SETX.  So, I looked into it and came up with a rather simple explanation. Conceptually correct, but not technically accurate by any means.

 These huge plants are really just Big Stills, gigantic versions of what the bootleggers used during prohibition.

 A still (distillery) takes a fermented liquid called “mash”, heats it, then captures and cools the steam.  To make moonshine, mixing water with yeast creates fermentation which produces alcohol in the mash.

 Beer is used as a mash to make whiskey; wine is used as a mash to make Cognac. The mash contains alcohol mixed in with other stuff.

 Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so the still is used to heat the mash just to the boiling point of alcohol. The alcohol rises as steam which is then cooled back to a liquid for storage in a separate container. Voila! Now we have pure alcohol.

 In the world of petrochemicals, instead of a mash they have “feedstock”, for example petroleum or natural gas. This is fed into a tank and heated under pressure until the desired ingredient’s boiling point is reached. The desired ingredient rises as steam, is cooled and stored separately. Voila! We have now captured a product which we can sell.

 But wait. Using what’s left of the feedstock, at different combinations of temperature and pressure, we can extract other products.

 The feedstock comes to the Big Still in a pipeline. The resulting products are distributed on down the line in another pipeline.

 As I said, when I moved here, I was totally ignorant of what I now know is called Process Manufacturing. What I always thought of as “manufacturing” before is really known as Discrete Manufacturing – to distinguish it from what comes out of the Big Still.

 Discreet (“traditional”) Manufacturing is ADDITIVE, that is, you add things (like raw materials) together to create something new (the finished product). An example could be as simple as a picnic table, made by adding pieces of wood and fasteners together with some labor.

 Process Manufacturing, on the other hand, is SUBTRACTIVE, that is, you start with something called “feedstock” (for example, crude oil) and subtract something (the finished product) from it using pressure and temperature to determine what gets subtracted.

 For example, gasoline is extracted from petroleum using this process. Other examples: ethylene can be extracted from natural gas or petroleum; and butadiene, the chemical that was most involved in the recent explosion and fire in Port Neches, can be extracted from ethylene.

the big stillSo next time you drive past a refinery or a petrochemical plant, you would be safe in saying, “It’s just a Big Still”.

 Please remember that this opinion is only intended to give you a conceptual image of what goes on in these plants. From a strictly technical view, this opinion can be challenged and most likely proven wrong in many things. However, once you have read it, I hope you will understand a little better what goes on inside all these places with the towers and pipes.

 David Derosier consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services through OhainWEB.com, an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau that is rated A+ by BBB. He can be reached at JDAVID@Strategy-Planning.info

 This article was first published in The Orange Leader on December 11th 2019.

Do anti-discrimination laws have it wrong?

Do anti-discrimination laws have it wrong?

Dave Derosier

A few days after this article gets published, I will have another birthday. This is a major birthday. I suppose it could be compared with going through a change of life, but then, that it would be sexist to say that.

Think about it. According to most definitions, being sexist is discriminating against females. And discrimination, by definition, is bad – right?

Somehow in my aging mind, I don’t think that comparing my state of mind to something that a person of another gender might be going through is inherently bad. It’s merely recognizing a unique characteristic of that other gender (assuming there are only two) and respecting it.

Actually, if you go to most dictionaries, you will find a second meaning for discrimination. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it is “the ability to judge the quality of something based on its difference from other, similar things.”

I guess the English language can be real confusing, eh?

I think our anti-discrimination laws have gotten it wrong. They define protected classes, whose members are protected from any kind of negativity.

Most folks have heard of the phrase “all men are created equal”, as written in the second paragraph of the American Declaration of Independence. Being right at the top usually means its real important.

Why not protect ALL classes of people? Why do some need to be protected while others have to fend for themselves? Sounds like discrimination to me.

How did we get here just by talking about having a major birthday? ‘Cause it got me thinking, which is not always a good thing.

Let’s take a look at three current items in the news – and maybe you can ponder whether there is discrimination involved, or whether everyone is created equal, or whatever.

Democratic Candidates

In their regular course of qualifying candidates for the 2020 nomination for office of President of the United States, the Democrats have had 29 candidates, at least 7 considered persons of color. Fourteen candidates have dropped out and 15 remain.

Prior to starting the process, the party set rules for qualifying candidates for the big national debates. The qualifications were based on the candidates demonstrated support -number of donors and public polling numbers. Only seven of the remaining 15 candidates currently have enough support to meet the qualifications for the debates. Only one of these is a person of color.

So, out of 29 potentials, only 7 have enough public support to make the cutoff. Even worse, 6 of the 22 candidate that didn’t qualify were persons of color. Whose fault was that?  The losers, who did not get enough public support, are calling this discrimination. Calling it racist!

What ever happened to treating all people equal? Does being in a protected class mean you don’t have to live by the same rules as the others?

Conflict of Interest

The House of Representatives has passed articles of impeachment against President Trump. One of the charges against him is that he involved a foreign government (Ukraine) in supporting him against a political rival – Joe Biden. The issue of whether or not an inquiry by a foreign official for potential corruption in his own country by an American was justified on its own merits does not count; as a political rival, it appears that Joe Biden is in a protected class and not to be treated equally.

Mueller Investigation

The Special Counsel investigation was an investigation of suspicious links between Trump associates and Russian officials, and Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Obviously, it is a no-no for there to be intergovernmental involvement in foreign elections.

In February of this year, NY Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke for 45 minutes on the phone with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party. No transcript of the call seems to have been prepared, however Mr. Corbyn tweeted afterwards, “Let’s build a movement across borders to take on the billionaires, polluters and migrant baiters, and support a happier, freer and cleaner planet.”

In April, they had conversation on Facebook. And this month, just prior to the UK elections, she tweeted, “The hoarding of wealth by the few is coming at the cost of peoples’ lives. The only way we change is with a massive surge of *new* voters at the polls. UK, Vote!”

Perhaps as a woman of color and a Democrat, AOC is in a double-protected class and intergovernmental foreign involvement is OK?

What do you think?

Can you see a distinction between the two definitions of Discrimination? Personally, I just can’t get over the feeling that if we only treated everyone equally, we would be much better off. The good news is, if you agree, you don’t need new laws, just do it.

It’s so much fun getting older.

Merry Christmas to all

David Derosier consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services through OhainWEB.com, an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau that is rated A+ by BBB. He can be reached at JDAVID@Strategy-Planning.info

This article was first published in The Orange Leader on December 18th 2019.

No kid sleeps on the floor in this town

No kid sleeps on the floor in this town

Dave DerosierNo kid sleeps on the floor in our town

Did you know that one in five people in Orange live below the poverty level? About one in ten struggles to make ends meet with less than half of the federal poverty level of income.

It is difficult to find the actual statistics, but too many boys and girls go without a bed or even a pillow to sleep on because their families cannot afford one. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets, and even floors. This can affect their health as well as their happiness.

A short time ago I was introduced to a group of volunteers in Beaumont dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need AT NO CHARGE. They are a chapter of a national non-profit (501-c-3) charity started about seven years ago in Idaho.

As of last weekend (9-14-2019) the Beaumont group have built and delivered more than 200 beds. They have a waiting list of 460! On the national level, the goal is to build and distribute 10,000 beds across the US and Canada. As of last month, more than 8,000 had been built.

The charity is known as Sleep In Heavenly Peace and they work entirely on donations and with volunteers.

This group is such a secret that even our local CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) was unaware of it. Their need? They have potential foster parents for kids that can’t qualify because they don’t have an extra bed for the foster child. Now that’s really sad.

The cost for materials for a single bed is $150, and $300 for a bunk set. This includes mattress and bed clothes. Anyone want to donate the money to build a bed for a kid?

Once a month, the Beaumont chapter does a public “Build Day”, downtown across the street from the Fire Museum with the giant fire hydrant. They always need volunteers – both to build the beds as well as administrative stuff like registering volunteers. Or just take some time and bring refreshments for those that are working.

Even just donating a “Bed-in-a-Bag” from Wal-Mart for around $25 will help. Bring it to a Build Day.

Bed deliveries are made on Saturdays and evenings, when the kids are home. Volunteers also needed for deliveries.

For me, one of the most exciting opportunities is for local groups like the Rotary Club, Lions Club, VFW, Elks, or churches, even golfing buddies. If they could get together 10 volunteers, Sleep in Heavenly Peace will arrange for their own “build day”.

What a great way to give back to the community.

Donations can be mailed to Sleep In Heavenly Peace, 1120 Ivy Lane, Beaumont TX 77706. You can find them on Facebook by typing in “Sleep in Heavenly Peace-TX Beaumont. The national website is SHPbeds.org.

And their motto> You guessed it, “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.”

J. David Derosier consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services through OhainWEB.com, an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau that is rated A+ by BBB. He can be reached at JDAVID@Strategy-Planning.info

This article was first published in The Orange Leader on September25th 2019.