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Dear Political Winners and Losers –

Some of you were elected. Some of you were not. Another governor who makes my skin crawl will get to serve a third term.  A senator who should be the face for slime balls got re-elected despite the fact that he has an approval rating lower than acceptable.

The mudslinging of this campaign season was over the top. But, I should realize that a campaign with dignity is never going to happen.

So the Dems got more seats in the House and the Republicans held onto the Senate.  Is that a good thing?  No. It just means two more years of stupid government.

One thing I would like to ask the re-elected and the newly elected is: Who do you think you are?  That’s right. I’d like to know who you think you are.  The only problem with that question is that it will never get an honest answer because ALL politicians lost the ability to be real.  They even lost the ability to speak like human beings.  They speak politics which is not even close to English.

So you winners won. And now you will focus on your agenda…meaning that you will see what you can do to stay in office for another thousand years and work on climbing up the political ladder.

And I’m supposed to be the one who didn’t have a brain!  But you know something, I am real. I don’t have an agenda. You will never see me wearing silly hats and waving flags and banners at any political rally.

Our country is divided because rational people know that there are no simple issues. Our country is divided because people are arguing across the aisle to prove they are right rather than talking to see what is right.  And since you are a politician you don’t have what it takes to realize that right does not wear a political party label.

Even though some of you have a point that POTUS is a certified whack-a-doodle, your vitriol and antics only go to prove that you are as much a jerk as the man in the White House.

You winners and losers are an embarrassment. The only difference is that you winners have a chance to continue being an embarrassment.  You won because you got more votes, but I hate to tell you that you need to serve the people who didn’t vote for you.  You have to mean as much to them as the people who got you where you are.  The people who didn’t vote for you are your constituents, too.

Before I go pull the stuffing out of my head I want to ask you something important.  When you stop gloating, did you ever think of sitting down with your opponent and seeing how you can help to serve the people who voted for them?

Sincerely,

Scarecrow

 

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YBR Hope

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”  – Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

Those words could easily be the opening lines of an editorial in any newspaper in any city or town in America. Who could argue that today is the best of times. Who could deny that that today is the worst of times.

When Dickens penned the opening of his classic novel in 1859 he was talking about an earlier time when in 1789 the poor of France stormed the Bastille and ignited a revolution that paid homage to our revolution of 1776.

It really shouldn’t matter that there have always been times like today in the past.  In fact we should be inspired to see if we can change the course of history so the people of the future can’t say that we failed to do anything.

Mass shootings, school shootings, terrorists at every corner and a people who are divided by ideologies…political, religious and otherwise.  It’s almost to the point where we can no longer say that this is the best of times.

It is far too easy to blame it all on Donald Trump.  It’s just as foolish to point a finger at the Hilary supporters and say they are sad losers.

I think we are all to blame.  While some of us thought we were on the Yellow Brick Road heading to the Emerald City, we lost our way.  We are in the deep dark forest of despair. Some of us who don’t participate in mass rallies to support political characters are saddened by our current predicament.

The Scarecrow had no brains, but he was far smarter than all of us. We are the stuffed ones filled with straw.  We only hear what we want to hear. We only believe what we’ve been told to believe.  The left hates the right. The right hates the left.  The left makes a fist and challenges the right to a fight. The right makes a fist and offers a similar challenge to the left.

How much better off if the left hand and the right hand were to work together.

The Tin Man had no heart, but he was far more compassionate and understanding than all of us. But that does not mean that understanding is indiscriminate. A loving heart is balanced. A loving heart knows that the hungry fox should not be given the key to the chicken coop. A loving heart understands that “no” is not a bad word.

The Cowardly Lion might have lacked courage, but he had far more courage than we do. He knew the difference between right and wrong. As a citizen he would have castigated ALL our politicians. He would have called them out for being self-serving sycophants.  He would have pulled the curtain away from them and showed the world that not one of them was a wizard.

Trump’s rhetoric is hollow. His name calling is childish. In short he is a hollow man. But, his political opponents are as childish and hollow.  The venom that they spew is as equally dangerous as the putrid pronouncements from the White House.

Hatred is the entree of the day. Hatred is sapping our energy. Hatred is leaving us depleted of all hope.

When the vicious animals on the right and the rabid animals on the left realize their battle will destroy them both, they will turn on the rational people who still think, who still have heart, and who still have the courage to stand strong against the raging tide of the political tsunami that is threatening to drown us all.

 

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.
 – Robert Fulghum

A soundtrack for hope

purpose of a college education

I have been asking myself what the hell is the purpose of a college education for more than 50 years.  Despite all the pondering and exhaustive research I’ve done, I have yet to find an answer I can live with.

A former student, a bewildered high school teacher, and a college adjunct since 2001 I also have 40 years working in what is often called the “real world.” You would think at this point in my life I would start asking other questions.  But even when I dwell on other questions I still come back to wondering what is the purpose of a college education.

I don’t ask the “purpose” question in the abstract. I ask it every time I set foot at 8:00 am in a college classroom at the same college I earned my undergraduate degree.

I envy the students in what I tell them is “our” class. I envy them because they have so many opportunities to learn, to grow, to question, to follow their yellow brick road.

I also feel a bit sad.  I feel sad because I fear that instead of realizing that college is an amazing “all-you-can-eat” restaurant where they can fill their minds, hearts and spirits they stand in line at a fast-food restaurant where they fill their bellies  with required subject matter but nonetheless go away hungry.

My students deserve only the best. Unfortunately, I sometimes feel I am cheating them because I am not the traditional instructor they have come to expect.

This week my classes read a speech delivered in 1953 to the Rutgers class of 1957.  The speaker told his audience that it was more than likely that they would forget most everything they learned in class.

That’s wonderful to tell freshman, isn’t it?  But you know what?  It’s true. There’s a lot of forgetting that goes on in college classrooms.  But there’s also the possibility that there’s the chance that a lot of learning will go on…all not necessarily in the classroom, but in the thing we call the college experience.

I’d like to end this blog by posting two items I found on the internet.

“Do we send students to college mainly to grow and learn or strictly to prepare for a future career? The American public is somewhat split, but ultimately comes down in favor of the latter on balance. Just under half of the public (47%) says the main purpose of a college education is to teach work-related skills and knowledge. Another 39%, however, says that college is an opportunity for students to grow personally and intellectually. A little more than one-in-ten (12%) say the time spent at college should be dedicated to both pursuits.”  (2011 Pew Research)

“College was once seen as a place where adolescents went to explore courses and majors before settling on a job and career, often well after graduating. In a recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dan Berrett traced the history of when the purpose of college shifted from that idyllic vision to today’s view that it’s all about getting a job. He pegged the origins to Feb. 28, 1967. That’s when Ronald Reagan, then the new Republican governor of California (which boasted the best system of public universities in the country), told reporters that taxpayers shouldn’t be “subsidizing intellectual curiosity.” (2015)

 

 

waze

Even though I often ignore the pleasant-sounding woman who tells me when to turn left or right, I think any of the directional apps available are a true blessing especially for those of us who remember how hard it was to use a map the size of a picnic blanket while driving.

However, I think we’ve all lost something by becoming the slave to the GPS master.  Maybe we haven’t lost our way, but we’ve lost something I consider to be very important. We’ve lost our sense of direction.

Before Waze and the like took the world by storm, we had to develop a sense of direction, meaning that we had to have a map in our mind. We had to have a sense of where we were and where we wanted to go. In short, we sort of had to know where we were going was in relation to where we were.

Often this “know how” came from experience and a knowledge of roads and the location of towns. Even before I began driving on Long Island where I was raised, I knew the major roads and the connecting roads.  Living in Seaford, LI, I knew that Amityville and Babylon were to the east and that Baldwin and Rockville Centre were to the west. Manhasset was to the north and west of Seaford.  Got it?

I still might have needed written directions or had to refer to a map, but I could put my mental compass to work and use it to my advantage.

Waze and other similar apps make having a sense of direction obsolete.

Taking the practicality of direction apps and segueing into the realm of analogies and metaphors, I believe that many of us have lost our sense of direction.  Not only do we not know how to get there, we don’t even know where “there” is!

Many of lack any direction, and I think this is a problem facing today’s young people because our young people have been using a GPS their whole lives.  And I have to admit it isn’t entirely their fault. Their parents have plotted out so much of their lives that they never needed a sense of direction.

Don’t get me wrong. Parents should provide their children with direction, but they should not plot their children’s life out as if they were playing the classic game of RISK.

Today’s young person is told they have to do this and they have to do that. They are told they have to go to college and they have to major in this or major in that.  They spend four years in college following a GPS.  What they don’t do is think about where they are (and how they got there) and where they WANT to go.

I know that in math the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but life is not two plotted-points. Life is like a yellow brick road.

And to those who believe Dorothy was a victim of following a road not of her choosing, think again.  Dorothy was following her winding road. Her YBR was unique to her.

We are all, or we all should be, following OUR yellow brick road. And how do we follow it?  We follow it by using our head, following our heart and having the courage to keep on going.

With all the bad news filling the airwaves…a little break.

Along The Yellow Brick Road

I believe my fingers have ADHD (additional digit hyperactivity disorder), i.e. when I type, an extra finger comes out and randomly strikes my keyboard. Typos have made a number of guest appearances on my “blagh.” But I’m not alone. So, in an effort to lighten the load on the YBR, following are some interesting typos:

From job application cover letters:
“I have a graduate degree in unclear physics.” (I never understood physics either)
“I worked for 6 years as an uninformed security guard.” (ignorance is bliss)
“My last role was a plumbing and hating specialists.” (all that hating must be a real drain)
“Most of my experience to this point has been as a blue-color worker.” (must have been very cold)
“As part of the city maintenance crew, I repaired bad roads and defective brides.” (I’m sure you had your work cut out)
“My career goal is to shave my…

View original post 118 more words

TrafficJam

I don’t take the Yellow Brick Road to work, although I imagine it too can get congested, just as congested as the local highway was this morning on my way to work.  Fortunately I saw the backup before I committed to the entrance ramp and navigated around the traffic and took an alternate route that ran parallel to the highway. I only had to look over to my left to see traffic at a standstill.

I can’t take full credit for out-smarting the potential highway snafu.  It was not a stroke of genius. It was one of those rare serendipitous moments that saved me from getting stuck in a traffic jam.

But it got me to thinking.  Why should I have been one of the lucky ones?  And more importantly, why did so many people get stuck?

Life is like that, isn’t it?  Had the people in the traffic jam only known what I did, they could have done an end run and been merrily on their way.

We live in a world where for a number of reasons….many of which are out of our control…we get stuck in traffic. Poverty and lack of education are often the leading causes of getting stuck in traffic.

There are probably as many exits on a real highway as there are in life, but more often than not we fail to take an exit. Instead we inch forward in bumper-to-bumper traffic, cursing our lot in life.

Those of us fortunate to have alternate routes at our disposal often fail to realize how blessed we are.  Our blessings should be reason enough to engage in efforts to help provide people stuck in life with the tools to exit the highway to hell.

angry tin man

Today’s armed assault at a newspaper office in Annapolis is the umpteenth time that innocent people have been gunned down. While the news media will be focusing on this tragedy a divided nation will be further divided because we are basically stupid.  We stage protests, shake out fist at those who don’t agree with us, and damn Donald Trump to yet another lower level in hell….nothing, absolutely nothing gets done.

But guess what?  I’m not going to blog about the shooting or wave a magic wand to make things better.  Instead I’m going to go way out on a limb and talk about something that radically pisses me off!.

I’m sick and tired of hearing people say “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

That doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t go out to the victims and their families. It does.  But this pray bit has become total bull shit for me.  Not to disparage “believers,” but I can’t take all this crap about a caring and loving god!

I find the whole idea about organized religion to be the biggest sham ever.  I don’t believe for a minute the pious prelate who joins hands with someone from another religious belief claiming that differences don’t matter.

Ask a rabbi what they think about a practicing Jew converting to Christianity or a Catholic joining a Baptist Church or choosing to embrace another religion.

I’m not talking about crazy religions with some really outrageous rules a believe has to adhere to.  I’m talking about how we play the God card whenever something goes terribly wrong here.

Shit happens.  Storms and fires.  Accidents happen. Some people walk away from an accident while some don’t.  People get terminal illnesses.  Little babies die.

The God of the Old Testament was a real son-of-a-bitch.  People who didn’t keep dietary laws were condemned.  There were soooooooooooo many stupid rules just to make this whack-a-doodle god happy.

And then came Jesus who supposedly died for our sins.  Come on.  The whole story about original sin was a set up.  If you believe the crap about the Garden of Eden you know we did the right thing.

I don’t think we should be praying to this fickle God, we should say, “what the hell are you doing?  If you really loved us you wouldn’t act the way you!”

But you know what?  We are the ones responsible for our actions and we are the only ones who can do anything about it.

And natural disaster?  God has nothing to do with them,  They are natural.

NB:  If my blog had a real following I am sure I would be vilified for going out on a limb.