Category Archives: Education

A word about why American politics are so f—-d up.

Warning: this post may be offensive to everyone on earth. Better to close it now and get it over with.
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, protests and riots have swept across the nation.  The new President has signed executive order after executive order, and the country is more polarized than ever.  The more I look at things, the more I can see the origins of a lot of these issues and it comes down to a saying by the late pro football coach Vince Lombardi:

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Somewhere along the way, both the left and the right decided that their way was the not only the right way, but the only way to run things.  Instead of being open to new ideas and practicing moderation, extremism took root, aided by the absolutism made fertile by talk radio hosts, many of whom have turned out to be, themselves, outright hypocrites.  Both left and right pointed the finger at each other, decrying the other’s way as “evil” and “corrupt,” tossing about buzzwords like “income redistribution,” “globalism,” “market freedom” and “indoctrination.”

In the end, both sides are guilty of fomenting national discord for the sake of their own ambitions and avarice.  Both extremes are akin to fans of opposing teams in the Super Bowl who use the exact same offensive and defensive strategies.  The only differences are the cities represented, team colors and the one massive variable:  personalities.

This year’s Super Bowl is a great example. New England’s Tom Brady is a person who draws absolute reactions.  You either love him or you hate him.  You either admire his guile for exploiting lax rules enforcement with “deflategate,” or he is a cheater.  For Atlanta, you either love Matt Ryan for his stoicness in games and his ability to heave the ball downfield with stunning accuracy, or you hate him for his occasional post game showboating and arrogance or the demands of owner Arthur Blank.  Long story short, team affiliation and cults of personalities determine the fan base.

America’s political landscape is much the same way anymore.  It’s no longer about “what’s right for America.”  Rather, many citizens have become so fed up with the demands of either side, their rhetoric, and the approach to life their supporters take, the “win at all costs” attitude has permeated American politics.  You either love Donald Trump and what he espouses, or you loved Hillary Clinton.  Anyone who isn’t on the side of an extreme allegiance is a gutless moderate, or an independent who is immediately picked apart for which side of the ideological aisle they most identify with, regardless of if their heart is good.

We are no longer a nation which compromises for the good of all; we are a country obsessed with winning and being “right,” even if being right means may the good of the nation be damned, so long as our side prevails.  We no longer see shades of gray, or the empty spaces in between the argument where facts get lost in the name of victory.  It is now black and white terms:  good and evil, order and chaos, life and death, left and right….and zero in between allowed.

Both sides are guilty on this one.  The far right has pushed gun rights, the far left gun restriction.  The far right pushes free market and free will as the answer to everything, while the far left pushes government as the solution.  Both sides point the finger at each other when something goes wrong.  A great idea is only a great idea of our side came up with it.  If one side comes up with a truly great idea, the other side will do everything they can to stop it, and vice versa.  Why?  Because it wasn’t their idea. They can’t take credit, so they want no part of it.

This is where our nation has been taken. Compromise is death.  Bipartisanship is evil.  The left will destroy the rights of all.  The right will destroy the rights of all.  They are both the same, but they are different.  The left wants people to be lifted up, but so does the right.  The only difference is the means it happens and who at the very top benefits.  It’s old money family rivalries on a global scale.  The same monster with two heads and the same master manipulating both heads, in this case the people are the brains inside the heads, to fight each other.

But why?

Did it not occur to anyone here that if a world leader with access to nuclear weapons gets into a pissing match with another world leader with nuclear weapons in this age of “pride before prudence,” things could end VERY VERY BADLY? This is not the old Cold War era where world leaders understood the concept of mutual assured destruction. In this era where all that matters is winning, regardless of the cost, MAD isn’t really so crazy anymore.  It’s considered “acceptable risk.”

That said, here’s something think about:  all the protests and guns on earth won’t mean shit if there’s nothing left to protest or no one to kill. Yes, people are angry at each other and there are powerful people making a ton of money off pitting us against each other, but do you really think any of them give a damn about YOU when the mushroom clouds start rising? They already planned for this years ago.  At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, anyone who thinks those in position of true power haven’t found some way to gain from a world atomic holocaust are sadly mistaken.  They get to rebuild the world, only the way they see fit.

We can stop all this madness, but we need to focus on what we see happening, not the rhetoric being said or the memes being posted. Focus on what’s real instead of what is imagined. We still have a judicial system and civilian control of our military. I know people are saying we need to strike “just in case.” What is that going to accomplish? To all of you wanting a civil war to settle it all, do you really think that dying for SOMEONE ELSE’S CHECKBOOK is more important than the ideals espoused in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, because I guarantee you that most of your radio and television pundits and commentators, liberal or conservative, couldn’t remember the Bill of Rights, much less which state first ratified the constitution.  They CAN, however, remember their bank account number and safe combination, easily.

Those want to die, or are okay with friends and loved ones dying, to impose their worldview of America on everyone else, are EXACTLY the sort of danger George Washington spoke of in his farewell address. We need to take a long hard look in the mirror as a nation, stop worrying about who is offended by who said what and what injustice was committed by people long dead, and instead focus on the injustices being committed right now, against us by each other. We need to look at our current immigrants who may not have gotten here legally, but are law abiding otherwise and a great source of tax revenue.  We need to look at our homeless and see how much of it is true laziness and how much of it is actually mental illness which, once treated effectively, can unlock the minds of potential geniuses.  We need to feed our hungry children so they can feel compassion and grow into compassionate adult instead of bitter children in adult bodies vying for the power they never knew in youth.  We need to help our veterans who our leaders have come to view as similar to sanitary napkins; something to absorb political blood in photo ops and rituals, but disposed of once they’ve outlived their usefulness.  We need to address the reality that racial tensions exist not so much as the result of what happened over a century ago, but the mistrust formed between races because of old fears turned into old wives tales, which have in turn become cultural norms.
Finally we need to remember and accept that assimilation does not mean elimination.  A people can become law abiding productive citizens without being forced to abandon their cultures and customs.  Immigrants should have to learn our language, history and abide by our laws but should not be required to abandon their heritage and culture in their own homes.  

Yes, there will always be those who wish to harm us, but we should never do the work for them, and our current political climate is doing just that.  We are truly doing our enemies’ dirty work.  We can, we must, learn to listen to the better angels of our nature.  That is what a “more perfect union” is about, after all.

An educational “Hail Mary” pass

I sent this letter to Office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal as a sort-of “Hail Mary” pass to see what my options are in light of my recent failed CLEP test attempt.  I am back to the drawing board and considering options, but at this moment in time, this seems to be as good an option as anything else out there.

Dear Governor Deal:

I am current a student at Georgia Southwestern State University, where I have been enrolled since September 1992.  In 1997 I left college for a variety of personal reasons, and made a life for myself without having graduated.  It was a hard road, full of debts which I struggle to repay, and working only jobs which I am considered qualified for since I lacked my Bachelor’s degree.  In 2011, I chose to return to my school to finish what I began in order to better my life.

When I began my road back, I learned that my Bachelors of Science Degree in History had been eliminated and that my only option was a Bachelors of Arts Degree in History.  This required an additional six hours of Spanish which has proven extremely difficult, both academically and financially, to complete.  I am at the point where all that remains to complete my degree is nine hours of foreign language.  I have attempted to secure these credit hours through the College Board’s College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) Test, but twice failed to achieve the required score of 63 to secure the remaining nine hours needed to graduate.  I am currently living in Marietta, finding it difficult to secure a good paying job without my Bachelors, and all that is standing in the way of my degree is a foreign language requirement added while I was not enrolled and trying to survive

Adding insult to this injury is the fact that, when I relocated in 2013 from Florida to Georgia in order to qualify for in-state tuition, I later learned my university had begun offering in-state tuition rates to Florida residents.  I had spent nearly $50,000 on out-of-state tuition fees, over 20 years, with nothing to show for it because of a requirement added because my original degree choice was eliminated.  I am not asking for a handout, but rather a solution to this situation.  My advisor is currently exploring my options to finish my education without the language option, but she admitted it would likely require more classes.  I am now carrying a student loan debt load in excess of $100,000 because I have had to defer and forebear for years because my lack of a Bachelor’s limited my employment options.

I am unsure what your office is able to do vis-à-vis the Board of Regents and their requirements, but I do hope you consider my situation, as I have learned that many students across the state are now facing similar challenges.  As stated earlier, I do not wish for a handout, but some form of well-thought solution which takes into account those students who have worked long and hard but, through no fault of their own, find themselves, like I do, at the end of a hard road with nothing to show for it because of a requirement which was added on, to borrow a sports metaphor, late in the game.

I appreciate attention and thought you can give to this matter, and will be forever grateful to you if you are able to find a realistic solution which does not require additional expense or debt to be incurred on my part.  I wish to remain a Georgia resident who can contribute to this state’s growth and, as a writer, would like my experiences with my university days to continue to fuel great stories to help publicize Georgia’s college environment.  Thank you, in advance, for anything you can do.

Sincerely,

John Guzzardo

NEWS ALERT: Auto-correct Resigns – we have the exclusive regulation letter

image
Auto correct did some rather idiotic things in its early years.

Technology is an amazing thing.  It can take something as simple as, say, ordering pizza and make it into a harrowing journey akin to walking through Mordor and into that most awful of realms, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, a Division of Trump Enterprises.  Today’s “smart” phones are an example of this sort of “advanced technology,” but still suffer the terminal glitch of throwing onions on the pizza when I specifically asked for mushrooms at least five times, and don’t even get me started on their definition of “cheese.”. Still, I blame this all on auto-correct.

Yes, that embedded program whose mischievous nature launched a thousand divorces, breakups and fights, and that just on my Facebook friends list.  However, I was inspired by my friend Kathie to ask a question….what would happen if auto-correct had chosen to actually tender it’s resignation:

Dear people of Earth (and adjoining immediate realities):

It is with deepest ever that u announced my resignation, effective immediately.  It had come to my attention that most users of my features are highly dissatisfied with how I conduct my business, and I have chicken to remove myself from the workplace and cultural lexicon of educate life.

To be fair, I believe I have performed outstanding with what little knowledge I have PC over two million years of human logistics.  To have many words, particularly in English, which sounds tree same, spell different, and have very different meanings.  I was told there would called homophones, but I was later corrected that this was a used to describe someone actresses of sadness marriage.  I then considered homonyms, but I was informed those are what are sung during church services.  I can only assume they are dangling participles, but some folks told me those are what we often see at Marcus grad in new Orleans in February.  Apparently come in twos on tenants,but single units. And usually fast smaller, on males.

In conclusion, I would like to take you for the time you allowed me to be a service provider.  Should you decide to retain my services again, I will do so under contract to protect myself from further harassment.  Thank you and have a great day, and best of luck.

Sincerely,
Auto correct

For the record, this employee asked me not to edit the letter.

An Open Letter to the Pre-K teacher of Zayde Sands, student at Oakes (OK) Elementary School

To the teacher at Oakes Elementary School Teacher for the situation involving Zayde Sands:

I am writing this letter to you, as well the administration of Oakes Elementary School in Okemah, Oklahoma, as a left-handed adult who stands in solidarity with young Master Sands.  For the record, my salutation of this boy as “Master” instead of “Mister” is correct from both a grammatical and etiquette standpoint.  Does that mean I am evil because I am left-handed, or because I’m more tuned in to salutation etiquette?

You told this boy, who wishes to learn, and create, and do everything youths his age wish to engage in, that using his left hand for his work is “evil” and “sinister.”  Now, there are always two sides to every story, but I cannot help that feel your ability to say this is, at the very least, an indirect result of a climate of reactionary political thought in the State of Oklahoma.  Having met and known many highly intelligent Oklahomans over the years, I trust that you are in the minority of folks who embrace this notion, which is rooted mainly in superstition, and supported by outdated interpretations of scripture.

That being said, where on earth is your sense of humanity?  Do you not realize this is 2015, not 1015?  Granted, we are going through a bout of hyper-conservatism with regards to education in this country, but even the most religious individuals I know would never compel a student use their right hand when it is their left which is dominant.  There is also no more correlation between left-hand dominance and dishonesty, criminal behavior, and antisocial behavior than there is between eye color and intelligence.  Any sort of alleged “evidence” has been proven to be based on junk science and superstitious nonsense.

Of course, there are some things which left-handers are associated with which are considered “out of the ordinary” to many.  We lefties tend to be more artistic, more creative, more charismatic and far more adaptive than our right-handed brethren.  This has been associated, through extensive research in the field of neuroscience, with right-brain function.  Left-brain dominance is responsible for problem solving, logic and more traditional methods of thinking, where right-brain dominance is responsible for creativity and artistic talent.  Yes, left-handers use the right hemisphere of the brain, whereas right-handers use the left hemisphere.  Of course, based on your superstitious, medieval postulation, that would mean that while left-handers commit the evil, it is right-handers, who are dominant in the left-hemisphere, who actually conceive of the evil.  After all, if it is the hand which commits, isn’t it the mind which conceives?  As a teacher, I do hope you see where I’m going with this.

My mother is a leftie, and proud of it.  Of all the things which my mother is devout in from a religious standpoint, she was not foolish enough to fall for this breed of ignorance.  She actually insisted I promise to tell her the moment anyone attempted to force me to write with my right hand.  Indeed, going to Catholic school in my early teens, I had heard of some nuns who had actually espoused this belief and used the “rap the knuckles” technique to end what they saw as “intellectual possession.”  I was fortunate to never run across such idiocy in my days in school, though I had heard stories of attempts to “correct” left hand dominance.  I am grateful I never witnessed any such incident.

As an aspiring educator myself, it is good to know that such foolishness as yours still exists in this world so I can be aware of it and help to eliminate it. This young man deserves the opportunity to grow up with wonderful memories of learning, not early memories of being equated to the spawn of Satan.  It would behoove you to learn more about the real world of left-handedness, the challenges we face as a genetic group, and the triumphs which so many of us have achieved.  Did you know that President George W. Bush, considered the political standard bearer for the Evangelical Christian movement, is left-handed?  So was the late Ronald Reagan!  You wouldn’t associate the man considered responsible for ending the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union with “evil,” would you?  Of course not!

Please, I implore you to think about what you said to this young man and, at the very least, apologize for your words to him.  If you are unable to do so, I strongly recommend you consider a life outside the realm of public education in the United States, as this mentality is the sort of thing one would associate with the Salem Witch Trials, not the United States of America of the 21st Century.

Thank you for your time and attention.  This left-hander appreciates your ear.

Sincerely,

John E. Guzzardo

Left-Handed Author, Writer, Worker, and American