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  • Explain "Critical Race Theory" Uh, Okay, Sure, Hold On. . .

    0 comments / Posted on by David Wudyka

    I like to stay current with ideas emerging as talking points in our country. After all, I’m a teacher. It’s good for me to do so.

    One such talking point raising ire on both sides of this issue these days is “Critical Race Theory.” So I turned to my “go to” source of explanations: Wikipedia.

    Let’s see what it says…

    Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework of analysis and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race and law in the United States and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice.[1][2][3][4] CRT examines social, cultural, and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the U.S..[5][6] A tenet of CRT is that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the result of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices of individuals.[7][8]

    Huh?

    Let’s go on…

    CRT scholars view race and white supremacy as an intersectional social construct[7] that advances the interests of white people[11] at the expense of persons of other races.[12][13][14] In the field of legal studies, CRT emphasizes that formally colorblind laws can still have racially discriminatory outcomes.[15] A key CRT concept is intersectionality, which emphasizes that race can intersect with other identities (such as gender and class) to produce complex combinations of power and advantage.[16]

    WOW!

    Let’s strive for greater clarity…

    Academic critics of CRT argue that it relies on social constructionism, elevates storytelling over evidence and reason, rejects the concepts of truth and merit, and opposes liberalism.[17][18][19]

    Since 2020, conservative U.S. lawmakers have sought to ban or restrict the instruction of critical race theory along with other antiracism education.[8][20] These lawmakers have been accused of misrepresenting the tenets and importance of CRT, and that the goal of their restrictions is to broadly silence discussions of racism, equality, social justice, and the history of race.[21][22][23]

    Got it?

    So here’s my “take”…

    Influenced by early attempts to frame the topic (e.g Frederick Douglass and others), CRT and its proponents take the position that discrimination is not simply interpersonal in nature, but results from the complex interaction of factors that produce discrimination, including ideas like white supremacy, power, social factors, institutional factors, and social class. Anti-CRT’ers want to limit the education and discussions about race in the classroom, including racism itself, social justice, equality, and the history of race.

    Does anyone actually understand any of this?

    Can you see it?

    Two groups meet in a parking lot: the Pro-CRT’ers and the Anti-CRT’ers:

    Someone yells “Frederick Douglass” and “W.E.B. DuBois” said that you Anti-CTR’ers discriminate because of the effect of your institutions on your attitudes toward people of color!  What’s more, what we believe are the ideas rooted in the protests in the 1960’s and ‘70’s by Blacks, Chicanos and Radical Feminists.” So there!

    Now THAT will persuade them!

    Someone on the other side yells “Oh yeah? Who cares? Who are Frederick Douglass and that “Dubois” guy anyway? What do they have to do with TODAY?! And leave teachers alone! We will tell teachers what to teach for the benefit of our children! Teachers don’t have the time to cover the history of race. And don’t expect students to understand what the complex factors are that influence racial outcomes”!  Even WE don’t understand it!  So forget it!

    That will solve it. I can see the sides coming together now.

    I’m exhausted.

    I hope I’ve answered your question.

    Now I have one question for all of you….

    “Can’t we all just get along?”

    The Make Life Good! Team
    Wrentham, MA
    November 2021

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  • OK "Doctor Rick". . . Now You've Gone Too Far

    0 comments / Posted on by David Wudyka

    Here at the Make Life Good! Company, we aim to improve all of our relationships with people. We think it makes for a better world.  Sometimes the images in the media that we experience suggest otherwise. Here’s another mis Advisor about improving the quality of our lives. You may have heard of him. . .

    Unless you haven’t been around lately, you probably know about the Progressive Insurance Company’s character known as “Dr. Rick” who supposedly helps all of us avoid being like our parents. I must admit that I don’t always understand his advice. But I guess that’s the point. I must think like my parents. Doesn’t it make sense that I would? Is it really that bad to do so?

    In any event, here is some of his sage advice:

    • Don’t use paper tickets for air travel
    • Don’t return other people’s carriages in supermarket parking lots
    • Don’t complement the manager of the deli for the sharpness of the meat slicers
    • Don’t strike up humorous conversations with people you don’t know
    • Don’t take snacks with you on an airplane that you buy in a concourse before the trip
    • Don’t buy signs about family, love or other sentimental ideas for display in your home
    • Don’t mispronounce “Quinoa.”
    • Don’t request discounts in department stores
    • Don’t talk about when to leave a football game before the game has started
    • Don’t check when your group letter will be called for boarding the plane.

    I guess it’s just me, because I don’t see what is wrong with these ideas. Especially the ones that improve relations with other people.

    I wonder what he would say about marriage? There are so many decisions to be made, some of which may reflect the recommendations of parents. Maybe it’s because parents have already experienced them. Shouldn’t parents know more?

    What would Dr. Rick say about the honeymoon? You see, some couples spend a lot of money on a honeymoon that could probably be better spent on their future living expenses. That is what practical newlyweds would do. But being frugal may reflect their parents’ advice.

    But this is life, a one-time deal for all of us. I say, “go for it.”  Go to the Mediterranean. Drink wine and eat pizza. Have a Gyro. Meet people. Take boat rides. Enjoy the beautiful environment. See the vestiges of history. Be a minuscule part of the evolution of Earth and Mankind. It will fill you with life itself.

    Yeah, I know. It’s expensive. REAL expensive. But here’s what I say. If it’s not traditional, then it must be what Dr. Rick would like.

    Imagine that. . .did I just agree with Dr. Rick?!

    In celebration of the future marriage of my son, Ian and his fiancée Morgan, in July 2022!

    Send me a postcard from Greece. Better yet send me a text message with pictures.

    I’m learning. . .

    The Make Life Good! Team
    Wrentham, MA
    November 2021 

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  • “Viral Pancakes Sir?” “No thanks, I’ll Have Gluten Free”

    0 comments / Posted on by David Wudyka

    History holds numerous examples of what are known as “serendipitous” discoveries that have changed the world. One of the more famous is about a resident doctor who noticed that his patients, who were thought to have inflamed ulcers caused by ingesting acidic food and drink, actually had ulcers that were caused by the presence of bacteria.

    He broke what is known as the “paradigm” of thought about the origin of ulcers. Paradigm is a term that refers to the “conventional” wisdom. No one believed him at the time, but the medical records proved that the correlation between bacteria and ulcers could not be denied.                     

    Sometimes the cause of modern illnesses is known to some medical practitioners, but their unconventional thinking doesn’t elevate to the level of mainstream thought. One such practitioner is Dr. Joel Wallach, 82, a biomedical research pioneer, who spent more than 40 years observing and researching the effects of individual nutrients on health. His innovative perspective is derived from his background in veterinary medicine. He claims to know why some people have fallen victim to the Covid 19 virus. It’s difficult to deny his scientifically-based connections between the virus and our dietary habits.

    In one of his regular appearances on “Coast to Coast AM,” a late-night radio program broadcast nationally and internationally, known for its emphasis upon the paranormal, he made a strong linkage between diets that reduce the presence of receptors in the lungs. These receptors facilitate the ability of the Covid virus to attach itself to the lining of the lungs.

    Dr. Wallach maintains that a dangerous diet that creates a pathway for the virus is a gluten-based diet. He cites international data showing that countries with culturally gluten free diets have much less evidence of Covid-related illnesses.

    However, there are inconsistencies across continents. For example, India and Japan have lower gluten consumption, but they are amongst the countries with the highest Covid-related illnesses. Like many countries, their diets are mixed with both gluten and non-gluten elements.

    Dr. Wallach also cites specific foods that he calls the “12 bad foods,” which are:

    Wheat, barley, rye, oats, oil in a bottle, fried foods, red meat well done, meat with nitrates, and the skins of baked potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes, carbonated beverages with a meal

    As a country that has had more than its share of recommended diets, feel free to add Dr. Wallach’s approach to the long list of our options in the U.S.

    I have my own diet, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s called the “A” Diet. I only eat food that begins with “A.” Here are some examples
:

    • A pizza
    • An ice cream cone
    • A submarine sandwich
    • A donut


    You get the idea. But don’t do it. There must be something better.

    I’ll keep looking. . .

    The Make Life Good Team
    Wrentham, MA
    November 2021

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  • Recognizing the Season*

    0 comments / Posted on by David Wudyka

    

    Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.

    A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable, not unlike Lincoln’s, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid.

    “Oh my, she exclaims her breath smoking the windowpane, “it’s fruitcake weather!”

    “I knew it before I got out of bed,” she says, turning away from the window with a purposeful excitement in her eyes. “The courthouse bell sounded so cold and clear. And there were no birds singing; they’ve gone to warmer country, yes indeed. Oh, Buddy (as she called the Author) stop stuffing biscuit and fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat. We’ve thirty cakes to bake.”

    And so begins one of the few books that Truman Capote ever wrote called “A Christmas Memory” that describes his early years being raised by an elderly distant cousin, Ms. Sook Faulk. Each year she recognized the arrival of “fruitcake season” and commenced baking fruit cakes that she distributed to people about whom she cared. She recognized the characteristics of “the season”: the courthouse bell sounding cold and clear, the leafless trees and the absence of birds singing. She knew that it was time.

    There’s something to be said about the importance of “recognizing the seasons” in one’s life, especially when that season is so important, not only for you, but for so many others. We are in one such season now. “Late November” will be too late to recognize the season that we, as Americans, are in. November 9th will be too late. This November, even more importantly than the seasons of four, eight, twelve or more years ago, we must recognize the importance of this season, for it will dramatically affect the future of our country. We must choose the ingredients now, and let them rise in our collective consciousness before November 9th.  Make that day a day of celebration. The Season will be over.  

    Therefore, just as the baker must recognize the difference between “baking powder and baking soda,” we must recognize the difference between “love and hate,” and between “democrats and demagogues.”  

    Your choice can make life good for so many people.

    Recognize the Season.

    The Make Life Good Team!

    *This blog was originally published on another platform in the fall of 2016.

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  • The Rocking Man

    0 comments / Posted on by David Wudyka

    I love commercials that make me think… commercials that transcend messages about the marketing of products and services. I like commercials that make us all think about life, kindness, forgiveness, or, in other words, making life not only good for us, but for others. This is the very premise of the Make Life Good! Company.

    In the 1980’s a commercial appeared on my television set that I didn’t understand. But I do now. Here is my description of it...

    A man is sitting on a rocking chair on a porch in some unknown location. He is rocking slowly while reading a newspaper. It is a slow, unstressed rocking. It is all in silhouette. We are left to imagine where it could be.

    I know where I imagine it is. It is at a home that is located on the Northern tip of Block Island, Rhode Island. An enviable location for a home that I will never own. Nor will a lot of other people.

    But back to the commercial…

    Overlaying the commercial was a narrated soundtrack. It described the horrible events of the day. War, financial disasters, and the sad plights of various people. It made our world sound so ugly, and especially, frightening. It was much like Simon and Garfunkel’s closing song “Silent Night/7 O’Clock News” on the “Scarborough Fair” album.  

    Despite the ugly events of the day, the “Rocking Man” appeared quite calm and unconcerned.

    Was it heartlessness? Or was it something else?

    It was the image of a secure man. He did something that made his life that way. The commercial suggested that he made the right investments and bought the right insurances. It cleverly urged us all, in a subliminal way, to draw the same conclusions and invest as he did.

    Why do I mention this? I imagine that the folks who own the Block Island home had the same life mindset as the Rocking Man. I know, I know, they could have inherited it all, right? Perhaps.

    I like to think that it wasn’t that easy. As I tell my students who ask me to “explain America,” I tell them about the Rocking Man, who followed one of America’s prescriptions for success: educate oneself, graduate from college, pursue strong work opportunities, work hard, advance one’s career, make meaningful investments, and be kind to others. There are other paths, with varying levels of risk.  Personally, I like the Rocking Man’s choice.

    In the meantime, I think I’ll spend some time on my deck, thinking about life.

    I might even buy a rocking chair…

    The Make Life Good! Team
    September 2021

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