Saturday, January 8, 2011

Letters to Twain Paper

Richard Pryor
Bryant & Stratton College
Practices in Analytic Reasoning
PHIL: 250
Mrs. Palmieri
Dear Mr. Twain,
     I was writing to you in regards to your recently published column in my local paper. The quote I would like to address was "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." I could not agree more with this statement and will offer two possibilities for school being a source of interference.
            The civilized society we live in today is fraught with a variety of pitfalls that can set a person back. The dreams we all experience as children are unwittingly headed on a collision course with reality. The reality that is all too clear for some of us as early as grammar school, but for most of us reality strikes when we are on the cusp of high school. While I do understand that we all cannot be doctors or lawyers, the vast majority of us are nowhere near to our full potential. The reasons for anyone not realizing their God given talents are limitless however, I would like to focus on just a couple. The lack of parents being able and available to help with homework and the regulations schools are forced to adopt especially standardized tests.
            In my opinion, educating our children has become second to making sure every child can measure up to one single standard. This might work for some of the students however not every student will excel in math and English. Some of the children who have English as a second language in their home can show this. In some cases these students might really prosper in a more hands on environment as opposed to the rigid structure of math and verbal skills. In a world where unionized teachers hold the children hostage, the more specialized programs are the first to go when put under financial stress. This was made clear when recent budget negotiations for the Cleveland schools cut the charter schools first. The resulting cookie cutter approach is not going to be successful.
            The other point that I will stress is that the economic downturn has placed more pressure on parents to work second and even sometime third jobs just to make ends meet. This lack of quality home time leaves children without the help they need completing their homework and having less access to libraries and other resources they might need to properly understand their assignments. The schools and the parents are not intentionally trying to force the children into less productive lives it is seen by those who hold the leavers of power as collateral damage. I just wish there was a way to truly level the playing field for all who want success. It is fortunate that one can amass knowledge from other sources that formal education.
Dear Mr. Twain,
I was reading my local paper when I happened upon a quote which you said, "I have a higher and grander standard of principal than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won't." I found this to be quite a profound statement. George Washington was not of the YouTube generation and therefore we are not able to look at all of his words in context. The facts are cloaked in legend. I'm quite sure when he was commanding all of those troops on the bitter cold night before he made that historic crossing of the Delaware River he may have been selling a concoction of snake oil unlike we have ever heard of. Hell, he may have been promising those folks all time-share condominium's in the future state of Florida to retire in.
The bottom line is that we will never know if he ever told a lie or not but I can be sure that in the absence of the 24 hour news cycle a person's reputation was worth more than all the gold they may have possessed. If the general impression was that he was truthful in all of his endeavors then the legend is well deserved. I know that I am sure glad that he was there and said what he said to inspire the troops to brave frigid temperatures and possible loss of life so we can be semi-free today. As far as you choosing not to tell a lie, the only person who knows whether that is true is you. Writing it in a paper and five bucks will get you a pack of smokes. To have President Washington's reputation is something we will never know while we are alive, for the true measure of a person is what is said about them once they have departed this world. Perhaps you should chop down a cherry tree, fashion a chair, and sit and ponder that for a while.
            Dear Mr. Twain,
            I thought you quote in the paper was quite funny and true when you said, "Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable." This really hit home for me since statistics was part of a math class I just finished. The way statistics can be manipulated is similar to how the television networks can make the commercials so loud.
            I am taking a computer class now where the professor has the habit of drifting off topic and somehow we got onto commercial's volume's. I guess the television network can take the loudest noise to occur during a show and mark that as the typical volume for the broadcast. This number is an outlier to say the least but this is how they get away with making us listen to everything from male enhancement drug commercials to snuggie commercials at such a high level. I guess a long as you use those products in the correct order it will not be the end of the world.
            Facts are stubborn things especially when they are the facts of your adversary. I sometimes wonder if the I. R. S. isn't making it all up as they go along. I am reminded of those old Joel Hyatt Legal Services commercials where he would say "somewhere in all these dusty law books a great idea was lost. The idea that law was for the people, "now I wonder if the law is being used against all of us. They claim we owe so much in taxes and who has the time to go through the tens of thousands of pages of tax code to dispute that. Well in any event I just wanted to let you know that I did enjoy the quote. The fact is that it is statistically likely that I will continue to read your quotes. Thank you for your sense of humor.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Almost ready for a new semester. Wish Dad was here to see all he inspired.

     I am embarking on my 4th semester at Bryant and Stratton College. As Vice President Joe Biden said to the President just before a big speech "This is a Big F$#@ing Deal!" I knew in my heart that I wanted to go to school, but where? And for what? Time is our enemy and our friend at the same time.
Time when put to good use can slip away just as easily as money at an amusement park. The joy spending time in a constructive way cannot be understated. Living life for something that you are passionate about is truly a privilege while on this planet.
I had a role model and close mentor in my Father. He spent the majority of his time here, which ended in 1994, living his life to take care of his family. He was a devoted family man who always put the needs of his family above his own. That was his method. As my sister and me reached the age of majority and then some his focus shifted to furthering his education. This was a goal of his for most of his adult life but marring my mother and having children was how things worked out for him.
     He was finally able to return to college in 1990 through a correspondence program at Defiance College (No e-mail this was through plain old fashioned mail) This was his ticket out of the retail sales business that had caused him so much consternation in recent years.He woke promptly at six A.M. to crack the books and enjoy a hot cup of coffee while earning his degree. This became a great source of pride for him as it does me these days. Like my wife Lisa, my Mom was right there by his side the whole time offering him support and whatever else she could do to assist him. They were always a team in everything they did in their marriage.
     Upon completion of his degree my parents made some tough and some not so tough choices as to where they were headed next. This involved closing a kitchen and bathroom remodeling business selling their home and cottage in the Mohican area of Ohio and selling everything else that could help sustain them while my Dad was attending seminary. He was finally going to become an ordained minister. My Mom had to leave the life she had created for herself. Her friends, fellow school-board members and of course me. This was what my Dad wanted and he had waited long enough now.
     Well as fate would have it he would fall short of his ultimate goal when he died on a cold wintry day in November 1994. This was one of the worst days of my life. I was worried about my Mom her future,and  her living in Pennsylvania all alone. Life is truly mysterious. Was time going to become her enemy dragging on for a seeming eternity?Or would she do something to make the best of her time here and let it pass easily pursuing a passion of hers.
     My Mom is one of the strongest women I know! She started taking classes at the seminary and after 3 years of diligent studies she was an ordained minister. Wow, who knew. She has taught me to never waste an opportunity and always do your best. I have listened to her and I am closing in on completion of this first degree. I do wish my Dad was here to witness the greatness he inspired in my Mom and me. He must know somehow. Perhaps where he is g mail has a G in their domain. God mail. I am hopeful that I will finish what I started and pass the torch to to someone else who needs the kind words of reassurance as they begin a journey of self-renewal.