Saturday, December 31, 2016

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Well as hard as it may seem to believe, we are once again at the close of one year and on the precipice of another. In accordance with the Gregorian calendar, we are moving quickly towards the sixteenth anniversary of our beginning the century of the Anno Domini era, (Latin for after Christ); in layman's terms, the Twenty First Century.

As Christmas has swiftly passed and Kwanzaa is coming to an end, many ask each other the question, "What are you doing New Year's Eve?." so much so that a song was composed using that question as its title. I fondly remember hearing Lou Rawls in his unmistakable voice belt it out on my stereo during each holiday season as if on cue as it was a part of the discography on one of the holiday albums I played each year.

This very same question has been asked of me several times this year as we look to close out 2016 by friends, family members and sometimes even strangers in the holiday spirit.  My answer........ "I intend to go to Watch Night service at my church and make a beeline for my or possibly a friend or family member's home. New Year's Eve like several other holidays in the year are not times I choose to be moving about too much because too many use holidays such as New Year's Eve, Halloween, and even July Fourth as excuses to be stupid. What I mean by "stupid" is, one drinking/drugging excessively in the name of the holiday. Many lives have been lost because someone celebrated too much and felt capable to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. On Christmas Eve of 2015, my wife's car was totaled while sitting parked during the night because someone decided to celebrate and then get behind the wheel. This occurred while we were at home and sleeping. The driver lost control of the car and careened into my wife's parked car. I had a similar experience with my car on Thanksgiving of 2010 as it was totaled while parked by an inebriated driver. In that instance, the driver took out five cars and left his overturned in the street. Thankfully in these instances, we were not in the cars or moving about the vicinity when these accidents occurred.

While I was not able to interview either driver, I would be willing to bet that when asked what happened? or why did you do that?, the answer would be, "Because it was Christmas," "Because it was Thanksgiving."  Similarly, all types of heinous activities occur on Halloween in the name of "fun."  Why did you do that?  "Because it was Halloween."  It's as if special licenses are granted to act foolish and irresponsible because it is a holiday. Countless lives are lost and property damaged, all in the name of "celebration."

I write this post as an encouragement for us all to be safe and sensible, particularly on what could be considered a higher celebratory holiday such as New Year's eve and any holiday or day for that matter and not drink and drive. The same holds true for smoking marijuana or any other sense altering drug. Do not get behind the wheel, weapon or action under the influence of anything. There is not that much celebration in the world that someone needs to lose his/her life or property.

So whatever you choose to do this New Year's Eve, please enjoy responsibly. As for me, I will be going to Watch Night Service at my church and then making a beeline for home. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Be grateful for 2016 and have an awesome 2017! 

You are invited to hear me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host my book talk radio show, The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. It can be heard around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. My first guest for 2017 on January 7th will be Dr. Steve Perry followed on January 14th by Dr. William Pepper. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What Do You Give When You Have Nothing To Give?

It's that time of year again when many stress over what gift to give and who to give presents to. Folks scurry to and fro moving from store to store and mall to mall spending even money that they do not have (aaaahhh..MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, etc. etc. etc.). For those who have decided not to deal with traffic and shop online, the concern is still the same.....what do I get for "So-and-So?" Added pressure comes when you receive a gift from someone who you did not purchase a gift for or have on your original "gift list." When that happens, what do you do? Do you run out at the last minute and buy something to give to that person even though you had not originally intended to give that person a gift? And then when all is said and done and all is done and said, comes the day after Christmas where far too many people are standing in the "Return" lines at the stores because they did not like what they received. They return the gift for a store credit or refund. Stores even give "Gift Receipts" now in anticipation of the gift possibly being returned. After someone stressed over giving that perfect sweater or other trinkets, at the end of the day, the gift winds back up at the store in the return pile like the gifts on the Island of Misfit Toys seen in the Christmas television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

But, what do you give when you don't have any gifts to give? Your financial resources are maxed out? You cannot exchange a material or physical item? What can you give? I have written in the past how the story and song about The Little Drummer Boy is my favorite Christmas story because of the answer to the very questions I've asked in this post.  If you are familiar with the story there are many people gathered around a long open box or trough where horses or cattle eat from in a stable where the baby Jesus was just born. History has it that everyone in the huddle had come prepared with gifts to give to the newborn King. All except..... you guessed it, the little drummer boy. 

Like us, the little drummer felt bad that he did not have a gift to give, but then it came to him. He did have something. He would give the best that he had, which was himself........his talent. The only thing he had with him was his drum and his ability to play it and play it he did (I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum). He admitted that he was a poor boy (I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum) and that he had no gift to bring (I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum), but he asked permission (Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum), to play on his drum. The baby's mother nodded yes (Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum) and before it was all over the animals were keeping time (The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum) and the baby smiled (Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum). I could be wrong, but I don't think the gold, frankincense or myrrh or any of the other gifts for that matter garnered a smile like the smile depicted in the lyrics of the song.  

My point in the writing of this post is, sometimes the very best gift(s) are not monetary or material. Sometimes, even when we think that we have nothing to give, we do.  How can that be you say? How about we start with a smile, as you never know just how much a smile can mean to someone who is having a bad day. A hug. A short hand written note/card. A random act of kindness without looking to be repaid. Your talent like in the story. Finding a way to show you care about what matters most to that person. Something hand made. The list can go on and on. 

So this holiday season, if you feel that you are limited financially, come up with a list of ways you can deliver a message of love and joy that remains with the recipient long after the gift has been consumed, returned, used or put away. Something to critically think about........

You can hear me live each Saturday beginning at 6 a.m. ET as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org and broadcast locally in northern New Jersey on FM radio WP88.7 FM as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.  Have a Happy Hannukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and New Year!


Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Airline Baggage Scales of Life

Well folks, I'm taking this opportunity to play Wednesday morning armchair quarterback. As you know Election Day was last Tuesday, November 8th and the results, for the most part, was made public by Wednesday morning, hence the Wednesday morning quarterback versus the Monday morning quarterback we usually talk about in football.

My last post in this blog [The Critical Thinker] questioned whether a vote for Donald Trump really was a vote for the person or for the spirit that this person represented during the campaign. A lawless say anything about and to anybody persona that could lead one to believe that anything goes; no rules, no boundaries. Insult whatever group you choose, use a bully pulpit, and talk locker room talk all in the name of not being politically correct. While I do believe political correctness allows one to tap dance around and skirt the truth in too many instances, what we witnessed verbally and behaviorally out of candidate Trump ought to have been seen as unacceptable even for those of us who do not necessarily agree with political correctness or pussyfooting around (no pun intended Mr. President-Elect). Oddly enough, the verbal free for alls were not viewed as unacceptable, at least not enough not to be elected President of the United States.

The constant verbal assaults were Mr. Trump's baggage. And then there was the baggage of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the reason for my using the metaphor of the scales at the airport where we weigh our luggage before it being accepted onto the plane. The scales that let you know whether or not the weight of your luggage will be acceptable for you to pay your luggage fee, have your bag checked underneath the plane and you get on board. For those of us who fly, I'm sure you can relate to the feeling of not being sure if your bag is overweight or not as you approach the scale. Usually, the maximum for each bag is anywhere from 50 to 70 pounds with the former being most common. Travelers oftentimes witness fellow passengers with bags that are deemed overweight, taking out items to get down to the accepted weight. Literally throwing away items in the airport in order to get that bag on the plane.

Metaphorically speaking, Hillary Clinton's baggage was just too heavy for the American people's baggage scale. Mr. Trump had a lot of baggage too but somehow it was weighed in at 49.9 pounds compared with Mrs. Clinton's 50 plus pounds. Let's be clear, both candidates had heavy baggage, but I do believe that the American people viewed Mr. Trump's baggage to be just a tad lighter and therefore chose him as the 45th President of our country.

Without a doubt, this was one of the worst if not the worst political campaigns ever waged in America and is likely symbolic of where we are as a country. Anything goes........  In my last post (10/23/16), I highlighted the fact that society has gotten to the point where everybody has a RIGHT, but nobody has a RESPONSIBILITY; this race epitomized that.

Now that President-Elect Trump will be taking office, we as the American people must hold him accountable to do what he promised that he would do. According to him, he will be "the greatest jobs president that God has ever created," so we will need to see some jobs created. The same holds true for businesses no longer leaving the country and all of the other promises that were made that is supposed to make America great again.

Personally, I think Mr. Trump is in for a rude awakening of how Washington and the world runs. It will be interesting to watch this saga continue to unfold. I don't think Mr. Trump will be able to Tweet his way out of the many challenges ahead. As always in The Critical Thinker, agree or disagree, it is something to critically think about.

Hear me live as I webstream around the world on gobrave.org and on FM radio WP88.7 FM in northern New Jersey as host of The Reading Circle each Saturday beginning at 6 a.m. ET. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What If I Were To Tell You That A Vote For Trump May Not Really Be A Vote For Trump?

What if I were to tell you that a vote for Trump may not really be a vote for Trump? I've ruminated and marinated long and hard before penning this post as I really struggled coming up with an angle to write about concerning the bizarreness of this presidential campaign. It seems as if the longer the campaign has gone on and the closer that we've gotten to Election Day, the stranger the events surrounding our final two candidates have gotten. Truthfully, this post is not really about either candidate, but a possibility of why Donald Trump may be receiving the support that he is receiving. It is a personal theory; a personal opinion; a personal hypothesis if you will. 

Truthfully, for as long as Hillary Clinton has been on the political scene and not unbeknownst to anyone on the planet, one would think that she would have been winning by a landslide from the onset of Donald Trump being named the Republican nominee. He's a political outsider, a businessman with no formal political experience whatsoever, an entertainer. Sure, in business, one must be political to get things done, so from that standpoint, I am sure Mr. Trump knows how to play politics, yet, for the most part, the numbers are still relatively close especially considering Hillary's long-term presence in the political arena, hence my theory. It dawned on me when I heard Newt Gingrich say the following: 
"You know, presidents have to be disciplined, and in that sense Hillary is probably better trained to be president, just because she's the most corrupt person to ever get the nomination of a major party."
The light bulb went off for me. I knew at that point the angle to take for this post, the notion of discipline or in too many instances in 2016, lack thereof.  I was cruising through my timeline on FaceBook and came across this post that served as further confirmation of my theory. The post read:
"Society has gotten to the point where everybody has a Right, but nobody has a Responsibility."
Could it be that the numbers for Trump are where they are because those resonating with his behavior like the idea of not having to be disciplined? They love the name calling and no holds barred commentary and actions displayed by Mr. Trump. The bully tough talk and the throwing of people out at rallies are cheered. The same cheering takes place when Mr. Trump rudely interrupts his opponent or the moderator during debates. Even with this latest revelation of his conversation with Billy Bush eleven years ago, many of his supporters still cheer, after all, it's just "locker room talk." While I must agree with Mr. Trump's position on political correctness, it does not give him a license to be crude, rude, disrespectful and condescending. Though I must admit his quick-wittedness can be funny, we are not seeking an entertainer, we are looking for our next leader of our country.

We have seen over the decades the deterioration of  our society and her values.  Vulgarity on the radio; slightly less than full nudity on television; the showing of underwear by sagging pants; bodies fully covered in ink; the constant rise in gun violence; and the list goes on and on and on. All signs of a society that has become undisciplined. Too many of us have embraced the do and say anything you want to anyone you want in any old manner that you want philosophy and Donald Trump has personified it for us on the worldwide stage. It is this personification that caused me to wonder if the support for Donald Trump was really for Donald Trump or for the personification of being undisciplined? The relating and resonating with behavior that is representative of what so many wishes to be, wayward, unrestrained, ungoverned, disorderly and downright naughty.  

If by chance Mr. Trump becomes our next president, no one will be able to say that he fooled us. To his credit, he did not. He ran true to form. He ran as himself, so if we were to put someone in the seat who we know is not disciplined based on his own behavior and words, then there really would be nothing that we could say when that same behavior is exhibited in the White House. Something to critically think about.

You are invited to join me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bored In 1st Period by Obasi Davis


Asia comes from repossessed dreams
and nightmares that last as long as 
the absence of her father
I think that the reason her clothes are always so Boa
Constricting any amount of longing she might have felt
for him to me
Daniel spent his childhood running
from Richmond bullets and the ghost
of his dad
Daniel is a thug
He brags about seeing grown men
ground to dust under heavy boots for
their iPhones and their wallets
He rocks a long gold chain, and two
diamond earrings with
every outfit
Daniel only cares about money
but I can see genius bursting
from his pained skin
It is the deepest black, pure
like Earth's blood
but for some reason, most
seem to see it as an impurity.
He paints himself a gangster
to cover what they call ugly
Jonathan chooses to come
to class once a month
or whenever we have a sub
He shoots dice in the back corner of the
classroom with Duma and Daniel
When I ask them why, they
tell me money is everything.
It seems they are the products
of a broken society and a torn home
My home is not broken
My parents are divorced but
they get along
I haven't known death to 
come close,
and violence hasn't found me
vulnerable
And then, while sitting in
1st period pretending
to read Macbeth, it 
clicked for me
My classmates and I are different
In the words of Dr. King 
our elbows are 
together yet our hearts
are apart
I'm not asking for some all
holy savior to come and 
coddle us into equality
I'm asking for you to 
understand our struggles and
our hardships
To understand that if we have to 
learn with each other we should also
learn about each other so we can
bring each other up

This poem by Obasi Davis is certainly something to critically think about. It is taken from the book written by Christopher Emdin, FOR WHITE FOLKS WHO TEACH IN THE HOOD AND THE REST OF Y'ALL TOO: REALITY PEDAGOGY AND URBAN EDUCATION and after reading it, I felt compelled to share it with my Critical Thinker audience. 

Join me live as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley each Saturday beginning at 6 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and on FM radio WP88.7 FM in northern New Jersey. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and readingcircle01. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Franchise and Store Managers Beware

The sagging pants phenomenon has never and still does not make any sense to me at all. My mind just does not process the concept. I've heard people try to justify it by saying "It's the style," as if by saying that or it being the "style" makes it any better. The truth of the matter is, it's and ignorant style. I've even had some try to compare the sagging of pants to Black people wearing Afros in the sixties and seventies. Let me be clear on that one, the Afro was meant to be a powerful political symbol which reflected Black pride. The intent was to reflect pride. Which brings me to the question that I always have when I see anyone walking around with his/her pants sagging and exposing his/her underwear; what message are you trying to send? What is it that you want me the receiver to receive about you when I see you walking down the street or riding a bicycle with your pants half way down your thighs showing a part of your boxers, briefs or thong?  I can tell you what I receive it as. It tells me that I am looking at a slack individual who does not care about him/herself or anyone else. It tells me that I am looking at a person who does not give a damn. It tells me that I am looking at someone who is saying screw you and screw the world. It tells me that the person is not very intelligent. In short, it tells me he/she is saying the two words that rhyme with bucket. Yes, that's right, the "F" word in front of the word "it." That's what it tells me. It tells me that the person has given up and all hope is lost for him/her.

This issue has been around a while now and I am sure most if not all of us have heard the variations of its beginning in the prison population, so I won't waste the time to go over it again in this post. My reason for writing about this issue from a different perspective, is that I've noticed that the sagging has made its way into the business community. By business community, I am speaking specifically about the retail franchise industry such as McDonald's, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, etc. etc.  An industry that for one, serves food and two lives and dies by image, messaging and professionalism. Sagging has become so pervasive that it has entered this arena and I question if store managers are aware of it or have become immune to it?

On two occasions over the last couple of weeks, I was in such aforementioned franchises and noticed some of the employees behind the counter with his/her franchise uniform pants sagging and showing me and every other customer his/her underwear. As I walked out of the store, I could have kicked myself for not saying something to the young men or their managers on both occasions. In one of the scenarios, an individual in a manager's uniform was standing right next to the employee who was serving and sagging. Needless to say, he did not notice it or did not care. That did not give me the warmest or fuzziest feeling about the food I was going to receive given that I had just viewed the employee's gray BVD's, Hanes, or Fruit-of-the Looms. You notice, I remember the color. After the second occurrence at a different establishment, I told myself that if I enter another store and see this, that I am going to take it upon myself to speak to the manager and point it out to him/her.

You read above of what I perceive the message that sagging sends. Can you imagine that message now being sent by a representative of one of the franchise's. In sales, professionalism and image are the life blood of the business. People will not continue to purchase or patronize a store or company that sends the wrong messages. That's why companies have such large public relations and advertising budgets.

If you are reading this and you are a manager at a store, particularly in the food industry, but it is not limited to that, I hope this raises your antenna to the dress of your employees that you supervise. If sagging continues to invade the work place, I predict that sales will begin to drop as customers become turned off to seeing the underwear of employees behind the counter. If you are not the manager of one of these establishments, but know someone who is, I encourage you to share this post with him/her and I also encourage you to join me in speaking up when you are being served by someone at an establishment of business who is sagging. Something to critically think about...............

I invite you to join me each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET, as I host The Reading Circle on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to visit my website at thereadingcircle.ontrapages.com and thereadingcircle01.com.  You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and readingcircle01.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

You Deserve a Break Today

Since July 18th, I have consciously chosen not to turn on talk radio or watch the news. I did not even watch the political conventions. While I heard little snippets here and there on Twitter and other social media feeds about candidate commentary, for the most part, I totally tuned out the rhetoric. The reason for this post is to let you know that it felt and still feels good.

For months I have been listening to the candidates and the pundits say the same old things in different ways every day, so I decided to turn off Sean, Mark, Rush, Rev. Al, Rachel, Chris, Don, Wolf, Jake and Anderson. I don't have to say the last names, because you know who they are and the networks which they are affiliated. It has been nearly a month since listening to any of them now and as I stated above, it feels good.

Now this is not to say that I won't tune back in at some point and I am sure that when I do, it will be as easy to resume my place as it is when you miss some episodes of a soap opera. You know how in soap operas, no matter how many episodes you miss, when you come back, it's like you have not missed a one? I am sure that's the way it will be when I check back in on what's going on with Trump and Clinton.

If you have been or are glued to the radio or television hanging on every Trump foot-in-mouth commentary or Clinton's latest email issue, I strongly encourage you to give yourself a break. Trust me, it will do you good. Take a few days away from the campaign between now and November. You will be amazed at how refreshed you will feel after taking a break from listening to all of the foolishness and buffoonery. In the words of that vintage McDonald's advertisement, "You deserve a break today." 

With that said, as always, I trust this post has given you something to critically think about. I invite you to join me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as the host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley as I web-stream around the world on gobrave.org and broadcast locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Pray For This Cruelty To End And For Peace and Tranquility To Return Again

Late Officer Montrell Jackson and Son
The more I looked at this photo of Officer Montrell Jackson, one of the officers killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the more it dawned on me how all of these lives being lost are impacting our family structures. In every one of these senseless killings whether it was initiated by one in uniform, a civilian or a terrorist, a void was created that was not there. Each individual lost was some one's father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, cousin or friend. They were people who were loved by other people who are now left behind with only their memories.

It doesn't matter if it was a terrorist attack such as Orlando or Paris or an individual shooting as in Minnesota or Baton Rouge, family members were taken away; innocent people who had absolutely nothing to do with the events that precipitated the attacks in which they were killed.

Late Officer Montrell Jackson symbolizes what I am seeking to convey in this post in terms of the losses we are suffering as families as a result of all of this killing. He was the father of an infant who will now no longer have his dad. For every loss, some family will no longer have whatever role the deceased played in their lives. Sitting here looking at this picture, I can't imagine how Officer Jackson's or any of the other families who have lost loved ones to this madness must feel. Senseless deaths; senseless losses; senseless voids.

We as humans, we as a people must come together to stop the madness. Something has to give as we cannot keep suffering these types of losses as human beings. My heart and prayers go out to ALL of the families who have suffered and are suffering as a result of the actions of a few. I end this post with a quote from Anne Frank, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Something to critically think about. You are invited to join me each Saturday morning at 6 a.m. as the host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. The show web streams around the world on gobrave.org and is heard locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's Never Too Late for Your Dreams and Intentions to Manifest

 With all of the chaos going on around the world, I decided to write on a lighter topic for this post. What prompted me to write this post was my experience of flying my remote controlled (RC) airplane and drone yesterday in the park.

As I guided my little Horizon Hobby Sport Cub S followed by my Discovery Quadcopter, my mind went back to 1972 when I was ten years old. I reflected as I guided the Cessna replica on being a child spending my summers in South Boston, Virginia (Halifax County) at my father's sister's house atop a hill at the end of a gravel and dirt road. My father's sister Irene had a son who was a couple of years older than me who made a great playmate given the rest of my father's siblings had daughters. Not that I minded playing with my female cousins, it was just more fun doing "boy things" with another boy. 

I just mentioned that my aunt's house sat atop a hill; on the other side of that hill at the bottom was a large field where RC plane hobbyists would come and fly their planes. I would see them pass the house on their way to "The Bottom" and moments later hear the hum of the at that time gas powered RC planes. They had a distinct sound and I always wished that I had one. 

I've loved aviation since I was a child to the point where when another cousin who lived in that area who was a furniture architect/designer who created the blueprints for a furniture company asked me what I would like for him to draw for me, I asked him to draw me an airplane. He did just that and that picture hung in my childhood room for years. 

As I listened the hum of those little engines on the RC planes, I said to myself that one day I was going to own and fly one of those planes. Herein lies the title for this post. I made those statements in 1972 and did not purchase my RC plane until 2016. In between that time, life happened and I never gave much thought until recently to just going out and buying one [RC plane]. This after having served nine years in the Air National Guard as a jet engine mechanic, having flown all around the world for vacations, business, and fraternity conventions, taking a flight school promotional flight as the pilot of a Cessna out of Teterboro Airport and flying countless hours on Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX). My love of planes and aviation has never wavered. 

I am a true believer in the power of words, the law of attraction and my religious faith. They all are connected and one does not negate the other. While I consciously had forgotten about my wishing and stating that I wanted to own and fly an RC plane, my subconscious and God/Universe had not. Even though forty- four years had gone by, this dream/intention came to pass. My owning and flying of my own RC plane was realized. All of this popped into my mind as I flew the pattern and figure eights in the park yesterday. 

So by now if you have not gotten the point, you are probably asking, "What's the point of this post?" I'm glad you asked. The point of the post is, it is never too late for any of our dreams or intentions to be realized no matter how small or insignificant you may think they are. Words and thoughts are powerful and do not go away just because we no longer bring them to mind consciously. They also do not go away no matter how much time passes by as in my case of forty-four years. 
It is for this reason that we must be so careful of our words and thoughts. This works both positively and negatively. Negative words and thoughts could come back to haunt us years later. Something negative that we said years ago could come to pass in our present or future. So let's always be speaking positive words and having positive thoughts because we never know when something that we thought about will manifest. 

I am truly enjoying my RC toys and I am happy for the childhood memories that owning and operating them brought back. Something to critically think about. 

You are invited to hear me live as the host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org and broadcast on FM radio in northern NJ on WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Evil In The Hearts of Men - This is Lunacy!!

Since the events that transpired over the course of this last week,  I have been trying to come up with a Critical Thinker blog post to address them. The incidences I speak of are the killings that occurred in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas. I could not get my thoughts together to put my words on paper, however, I was able to express my thoughts via my podcast The Marc Medley Show on Spreaker. Please take a listen and I truly hope it causes us all to critically think and then act. Enough is enough with all of this killing.



As always, something to critically think about. You are invited to join me each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley book talk radio show. The show is heard around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to join me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

We Are Losing Our Game Changers


On Thursday, April 21st, I was saddened to learn of the passing of the epic and iconic musician PRINCE. I began to reflect on my Prince moments like the rest of the world as his songs began being played incessantly on radio stations and newscasts around the globe.

Oddly enough, when Prince first came on the scene in 1979 with I Wanna Be Your Lover I was not impressed, in fact I didn't even like the song. That all changed with the release of his movie Purple Rain and the accompanying sound track. I remember watching Purple Rain and it seeming to me to be more like being at a concert than a movie. I fell in love with both Prince's band and Morris Day and the Time in that movie. I purchased both the Purple Rain and Morris Day's Ice Cream Castles albums and listened to them time and time again. Purple Rain is the only movie that I actually paid to see in the theater three times with the only other movie that I paid to see more than once, The Blues Brothers (twice). I did not even pay more than once to watch my favorite movie of all time Top Gun. I say all of that to say how much of an impression Purple Rain made on me. The music in the movie was electrifying and from that point on I was a Prince fan. I did not always like everything he released, however he was indeed a musical genius. I didn't learn until later years the plethora of artists he wrote and produced for that include but are not limited to Chaka Khan, Morris Day, Sheila E, Sheena Easton, Patti Labelle, Sinead O'Connor, Tevin Campbell, and Alicia Keys. Wow! What a loss to the music world!

We are losing our game changers and in my view as a musician there are no replacements coming up the pike. I am not making this statement to offend, disparage or discourage our current artists, but none of them are anywhere close to the musical caliber of the folks we have been losing over the past few years. There will never be another Prince, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Maurice White, Marvin Gaye, Natalie Cole, or David Bowie. These along with others were game changers. Who are the game changers of today? Can we honestly say that in 2066 much of the music we hear today is going to be revered in the same manner as the music of the icons we are losing? Personally, I don't think so. I could be wrong and truthfully I hope that I am, but as a musician, I know what I am listening to and it is not game changing. 

As I watched the various performance clips on the news of Prince, I could feel the energy and hear/see his gifts shining through. Prince like so many of the others listed was a musical genius and I am grateful to be alive during this period of time when we had musical geniuses who were game changers. Their talents were surreal and I am grateful they shared them with the world. Oh, yes as each one passes, he/she is truly missed by all. What contributions they made! Something to critically think about. 

You are invited to join me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. The show is web streamed around the world on gobrave.org and is heard locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and readingcircle01. 



Monday, April 18, 2016

Spousal Tip: Surprise Him/Her Once In A While


Judy arrived home after midnight with one thing on her mind. She peeped in on her two boys, who were sound asleep in their rooms, before she entered her own bedroom.
There, she found Marlon asleep as well. Perfect! she thought as she closed and locked the door. She slipped off her panties while keeping on her black dress. "I thought you said you were gonna call me on your way in," Marlon boomed through the darkness and startled her. "I thought you were asleep. I wanted to surprise you."  
                                                          Excerpt from ALL ACCESS by Omar Tyree

I began posting Spousal Tips on my various social media sites on a lark. To my surprise, I began receiving a lot of favorable feedback (likes, Re-tweets, comments) for the tips and anticipation for the next one. One follower even asked when was I going to write a book?  Spousal Tips are all based on my experiences in life, just plain old common sense and having a pretty good idea on how relationships work. None of the tips are new, just phrased based on my interpretation and creativity.

For example, I opened up this post with an excerpt from Omar Tyree's latest novel, ALL ACCESS to immediately grab your attention and to strategically set up a very important spousal tip that I am sure many will debate and even disagree with. Yet, if this tip were followed more often, there would be a lot more excitement, spontaneity and not knowing what to expect next in our marital relationships. In short, the old routine (a.k.a. boredom) would be interrupted.

Reflect on the excerpt above and think about what scenarios like that and beyond would do for your marriage. Sexuality, romance, and affection play large roles in a marital relationship as each partner wants to feel that he/she is desired by his/her mate. Unfortunately, when one mate or the other  begins to feel undesired by his/her mate, the door is now open for someone else to make him/her feel desired, causing all sorts of problems. These problems can be avoided if more often than not both partners would arrive home like Judy (excerpt above) with "one thing on his/her mind," his/her spouse. It's not about either partner seeing the other as a sex toy or anything of the sorts, but it is about acknowledging the desire that you have for the one you supposedly love.

We run into trouble when we start taking each other for granted or feeling as if we do not have to do once we are married what we did to attract the person before we were married. Trouble starts when one partner feels the other partner no longer desires him/her. I encourage all married couples not to let their marriage go flat. Make each other feel he/she is wanted. Keep some excitement going. Literally, want to surprise him/her. Anticipate the reaction of your spouse and how much you will enjoy yourself.

Marriage ought not be drudgery or feeling like you are fulfilling some duty. There is no rule that says marriage can't be fun. Yes, there are children, bills, work/careers, religion, etc. etc. However, none of those things listed ought to take priority over your partner. The same amount of focus and energy that is placed on all of the other things must be placed on your partner.

So, by now I hope you have figured out this Spousal Tip and you look forward to my posting others. Something to critically think about. You are invited to listen to me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Families Must Get Back To Basics

For the past two Saturday nights my wife Yvette and I have intentionally carved out time to go "old school" in terms of our spending time together.  Last Saturday night, we went to a movie (Miracles From Heaven) and this Saturday we stayed home and played a good old fashioned game of Scrabble. We had not played Scrabble in so long that we actually had to refresh ourselves with the rules and scoring.  While I play Words With Friends and other word games like Scrabble online, it is a different dynamic when actually playing the board game face to face with a person. The two of us had a wonderful time.

A few days ago, I started posting on my various social media sites "Spousal Tips"  that unbeknownst to the reader was not necessarily for them, but for me and should my wife happen to read them coming across her feeds. I suspect though as my Connections and Followers read the daily tips, they are being challenged as well. The tips are extremely simple and are not new. I've shared nuggets such as "laugh,"  "play," or "carve out intentional quality time together"  receiving many positive likes and comments.

Think about the last time you were in a restaurant and looked around at other visitors. Let's say for example there was a couple or a family of four. I'll bet you saw in each scenario both parties (couple) or all four people (family) doing something individually on his/her mobile device whether it be a cell phone or tablet. The latest trend in restaurants now is to even provide some type of multi-use device that can be used for game playing, advertising and ultimately paying for your meal at your table. I share the example of everyone at the table doing his/her own thing because it speaks to how we communicate or more importantly lack thereof with each other today. A couple or family who has gone out to spend time with each other sit at a restaurant table and each is in his/her own world with his/her mobile device and in the event you did not bring one, there is one awaiting you at the table provided by the restaurant.  With that being said, we wonder why we do not feel connected to each other. The photo below of the family in bed with four devices says it all.

We have lost  touch with each other and have literally become silos even when we are together as a group. We do not talk to each other anymore, in fact, it seems we are losing the skill to converse with each other. Discussion questions illicit one word responses and off we go back to our electronic devices. And we wonder why we are continuing to see the decline in our family structures. We don't talk or interact with each other as we once did. Families do not come
together at the dinner table and talk about issues or their day and even when they do come together many come to the table with earbuds in their ears plugged up to..... you guessed it.... an electronic device. When is communication, affection and family intimacy given a chance?

As a child, especially before my latter teen years, I remember my family always eating dinner together and while there was a television in the kitchen, my father always ensured that it was switched off as we ate (Petticoat Junction would usually be on). We were not allowed to watch TV while the four of us were eating dinner or Saturday morning breakfast. Mobile devices had not been invented yet, but if they were, they would not have been allowed at the table. We talked to each other. Gee fancy that?

As far as television was concerned, there were certain shows that we watched together as a family such as Good Times, The Jeffersons, All In The Family, Sanford and Son, and The Waltons (I'm dating myself, I know).  The key word was "together." My point is, there were basic activities done together that helped keep the family together. There is that old cliche or adage that says the family that prays together - stays together or a different spin on that being, the family that plays together - stays together.  Either way, it was the fact that whatever was being done, was being done together.

We've lost our sense of togetherness as families and we need to get back to that. Spending time with each other is a basic. Talking with each other is a basic. For any family member to be able to express something that is concerning him or her without a battle is a basic. Playing board games (not computer games) with each other is a basic. Saying "I Love You" is a basic. Going to the park or on a day trip together is a basic and there are so many other basics that we have done away with in 2016 that is causing  the downward spiral of our family structure. Think about it, so goes the family, so goes the rest of our society and world.  Our families MUST get back to basics. I encourage anyone who is reading this post to intentionally carve out some quality time with your loved ones. Put down the mobile devices and talk to each other. Be intentional. Something to critically think about and act upon.

I invite you to join me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley on FM radio WP88.7 FM in northern NJ and as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.


Monday, April 4, 2016

If You Are Alive And Your Body Is Functioning As Designed - You Are A Miracle

Saturday night my wife and I went to the movies to see Miracles From Heaven, the newly released film about a ten year old girl who is miraculously healed of an incurable disease. I won't get into the details of the movie as I would encourage anyone reading this post to go out and see the movie for him or herself. It was interesting for me to see the various ratings based on one's religious belief or lack thereof. Non-Christians rated the movie one way and Christians rated it another, but that's another post for another day.

My purpose for writing this post is what came to my mind as I watched the movie in terms of just how many body parts and systems have to function properly in order for us to have a healthy and disease free body. Anna one of the main characters is suffering from a pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and is unable to eat, and has to use feeding tubes for nutrition. Until viewing this movie, I had never heard of pseudo-obstruction motility disorder. There is a scene in the movie where the doctor shows how the digestive system works with a focus on the intestines which caused me to think.

It dawned on me just how magnificent our bodies are and I shared with my wife that someone who lives to be in their eighties or nineties or for that matter their fifties with all of their body systems and parts working as they should is truly blessed and is a walking "miracle." Think about how our systems work without us having to think about it. Our body parts and systems work automatically. In fact, you are very much aware when a system or part stops working.  Get a paper cut or sun burn and see how quickly you realize your skin is there. Stub your toe or have a tooth ache and again see how alive that part or system becomes.

The functioning of our bodies is an absolute second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year MIRACLE. Be grateful and thankful if you are alive and your body is functioning as designed.  Something to critically think about.

You can hear me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Monday, March 28, 2016

We Can't Even Have A Simple Easter Egg Hunt Anymore

When Malcolm X was interviewed and questioned about his thoughts on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, somewhere in his response he said "the chickens came home to roost" meaning according to him that the president's assassination was the result of the climate of hate.

Like Malcolm, I must say that much of the craziness that is going on around the world today is another example of the chickens coming home to roost. Not only are we in a climate of hate, but a climate of total disregard, disrespect, and a spirit of defiance regardless of what it is, even when it is something as simple and traditional as an Easter egg hunt. An annual event sponsored by the PEZ Candy company had to be canceled not due to the behavior of the children, but the deplorable behavior of their parents. The article from CNN appears below.
(CNN) PEZ Candy abruptly canceled its third annual Easter egg hunt Saturday after parents stormed the field in Connecticut, according to a company news release.
Children as young as 4 were pushed aside by parents eager to grab as many of the 9,000 eggs hidden in three fields.It was originally advertised to be three separate events, to be broken up by age groups, beginning at 10:30 a.m ET, before a visit from the Easter Bunny, according to the PEZ Company.
Instead of waiting for their designated time, people chose to enter the first field before anyone from PEZ starting the event, the release said."When it came time, at like 10:30 a.m. ET, the parents just bum-rushed that area," West Haven resident Nicole Welch told CNN affiliate WFSB. "When my son left, he had a broken basket, and he was hysterically crying." 
The general manager and other staff quickly responded to the situation, letting visitors know if someone didn't get an egg or candy, they would be compensated, the release said."We made efforts to get everyone something before they left and passed out tons of candy and coupons," PEZ said. "Due to the actions of a few, the good intent turned into a mess."
Following the events, disgruntled parents took to the PEZ Candy Facebook page to complain."This event was a joke to put it mildly," said Susan Kristie Nadori DeRose. "We have a 3-year-old. The parents first of all were letting their uncontrolled children pick up eggs prior to the start. Then when the event started all the parents rushed in and we're picking up the eggs." CNN reached out to PEZ but did not receive a response.
Police made no arrests and reported no injuries.
If you are a regular reader of THE CRITICAL THINKER, then you know I often write about where we find ourselves as a society based on the actions or behaviors of the young and the not so young. What I mean by the chickens coming home to roost is, the things we are experiencing are the consequences of one or more generations not having been taught respect for authority, rules, decor, etiquette, work ethic, and manners. We are truly in a society now where anything and everything goes, where there are no holds barred and no boundaries and we are paying for it.  Vulgarity and profanity has become the norm on television and radio and even in our current presidential campaign for the party nominees.

Suicide bombers terrorized Brussels and Pakistan not long before the parents barnstormed the Easter egg hunt in Connecticut. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are off insulting each other's wives. What type of display and modeling are our adults showing our children? What did the children of those parents learn at that Easter egg hunt? What are our children learning as they watch the presidential debates? What are our children learning when all they see around them are suicide bombers, guns, and slashings (and we wonder why they don't learn 2+2=4)?

I know I cannot be the only one observing and questioning where we are going with all of this defiance of rules and authority. If parents at an Easter egg hunt are not going to follow the directions of the event sponsors, what can we expect their children to do?  If our presidential candidates can go on worldwide television and call each other names and talk about each other's body parts and family members, what do we expect our children to do?  More importantly, what type of chickens are we setting up to roost in the future? The sad truth is, it does not seem to be getting any better, but worse. We are not only seeing a decline in the United States, but we are seeing it around the world.We are in a death spiral.

I do not write this as one with no hope, but to make more of us aware that more of us need to be working to turn this thing around. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that children as young as 4 were pushed aside by parents eager to grab as many of the 9,000 eggs hidden by PEZ that they could. The event was for the children, not the parents. What on earth have we become when a child leaves an Easter egg hunt with a broken basket and hysterically crying because he was bum rushed by adults?

Yes, the lack of respect and disregard for rules and authority are tearing the fabric of our world apart and we are seeing the manifestation of those chickens coming home to roost every day and in every way.  Something to critically think about.

I invite you to listen to me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET via world wide web stream on gobrave.org and locally in the northern NJ area on FM radio WP88.7 FM as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Nothing Funny Indeed!


On Thursday (3/17) evening, I was perusing my various social media sites and happened across the video shown above. It caught my attention for a lot of reasons with the primary one being the title which described the motivational speaker shown going "off script" because of the lack of respect shown to him by the student body he was addressing. As the speaker was sharing a much needed message, some students in the audience continued to talk regardless of the speaker speaking on the stage.  The gentleman's experience hit home for me as I frequently have similar ones when addressing the students in the school where I serve. When the video was placed on YouTube, it was entitled NOTHING FUNNY, and that is an appropriate title as the ignorance and disrespect displayed by too many people both young and not so young alike is far from funny, in fact it is sad.

Too many of our children (and I keep prefacing my statements with "too many," as I do not want to generalize)  are not being taught in their homes about respect and other life and social skills. Too many children are raising themselves and are as should be expected doing a horrendous job. It is not the job of a child to raise him/herself, as that's the role of parents. The truth of the matter is, too many of our parents were faced with having to raise themselves and therefore are clueless about raising children themselves thus continuing the terrible cycle. Poorly raised adults have children and raise them poorly. It's hard to teach what you yourself was never taught or never learned.

Life skills such as manners, respect, love, work ethic, punctuality, discipline, self esteem, and so many other skills needed to be successful in society/life are not being taught to our children at home. The burden of this teaching is too often left to our schools and in some instances our churches (if the child or family attends a church).  The motivational speaker in the video above was a visitor at a school with the intent to motivate and inspire the students to reach for more; to reach for excellence and not to settle for mediocrity or slackness. As he is sharing his story in his message, he hears chatter and can see the students from his position on the stage blatantly talking while he is talking. He can see the students not listening or paying attention. At that point, he leaves his original message and commands the student's attention by an impromptu message that came from his heart as of result of their disrespect. What he began sharing with them was once again the type of discussion that need to be occurring in homes at the dinner table or family gatherings in the living room. In order to get their attention, he had to come across as a drill sergeant or prison warden.

It's ashamed the only way we can get the attention of too many is by having to dictate, yell, scream or carry a big stick. What type of mentality only responds to that type of communication? It took for this gentleman to "Tell like it really is" in a harsh manner for the students to realize just how disrespectful they were being when he was speaking to them in a calm and logical manner.

Parents, as I have said within the confines of this blog before, too many of us have dropped the ball and our society is paying a heavy price because of it. Children do not ask to come here and far too many parents abdicate their responsibilities at conception and delivery. After that it is for everyone else to raise their children. The government; the schools; the daycare centers; the churches; the streets; and finally the penal system. At what point does it become enough?  If you have not done so already, please take the seven minutes and fifty-three seconds to watch the video in this post. I'm sure you will agree that it is something to critically think about and act upon.

You are invited to listen to me live as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. eastern time. The show is web streamed around the world on gobrave.org and heard locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical and @readingcircle01.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Other Countries Don't Play That

Otto Frederick Warmbier, a 21-year-old American student
Once again a young American faces consequences for misbehavior in a foreign country most likely driven by the thoughts that (a) I won't get caught and (b) even if I do get caught, I will be dealt with in the same manner as if I were in the United States (Miranda Rights, fair trial, jury of my peers, etc. etc. etc.) only to learn that the systems and the penalties in other countries are much different and harsher.

21-year-old Otto Frederick Warmbier is accused of allegedly  trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel while visiting North Korea. The sign was written in Korean, so I can't fathom what Mr. Warmbier intended to do with it had he gotten away with it. Some would say a school boy prank or perhaps Mr. Warmbier wanted a souvenir.

The first problem I have with this story is the fact that we as Americans were already warned not to visit North Korea for myriad reasons, yet Mr. Warmbier chose to disregard the caution and visited the country anyway. As if that were not bad enough, he goes there and allegedly tries to steal a poster which this act in the U.S. would have been probably viewed as an act of vandalism and not necessarily a big deal. A misdemeanor such as this in the U.S. probably would have garnered a mere slap on the wrist or maybe a fine and some community service. At best, a verbal tongue lashing from a judge. But in North Korea, that act cost Mr. Warmbier fifteen years of hard labor in a North Korean facility.

In 1994, when Mr. Warmbier was probably still in the womb, another youngster Michael P. Fay, an 18-year-old high school student from Ohio who was attending the Singapore American School, thought it would be fun to spray-paint cars and deface property over a ten day period of time. For his days of fun, Fay was sentenced to four months in prison and six strokes from a four-foot-long, six-inch-wide rattan cane. The saga became known as The caning of Michael Fay. Even the intervention of then President Bill Clinton did not overturn the punishment.

Americans need to think about culture before traveling because the world does not live by our American culture. The world does not operate under the same rules of law and protocols that we do in United States. Learning about the culture you are traveling to is one of the first rules of traveling internationally.  For example blowing your nose in public in Japan is considered rude; showing the sole of your shoe is an insult in the Arab culture; In China, avoid personal contact with people and the opposite sex should never touch in public; Lastly, right hands have been cut off at the wrist as punishment for theft in Sharia-controlled areas of Nigeria and in Saudi Arabia.

We must know before we board that plane or cruise ship that other countries are not as tolerating of even the smallest of what they consider criminal activity as we are in the United States. As that old saying goes, "Think BEFORE you act."  Something to critically think about.

You are invited to listen to me live as host of The Reading Circle each Saturday at 6 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDST) as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org and locally on FM radio in northern New Jersey on WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and readingcircle01.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them The First Time

The title of this post is a quote by the late, great, Maya Angelou. She stated "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." This was Poet Angelou's way of trying to help us not to  try to make someone something he/she is not. Her way of letting us know that we cannot change the essence of who a person really is deep down inside and we ought not attempt to. She is speaking of the person you are when no one is looking and when the world is looking (character).

Other cliches and idioms include "A leopard doesn't change its spots," meaning that a person's character, especially if it is bad, will not change, even if he/she pretend it has and "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" with the first impression being the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person.

Donald Trump in my opinion is showing us in this spectacle of a presidential nomination race just who he is. Throughout this race he has insulted, name-called, bullied, incited, instigated, lied, and the list grows longer daily and at each event. With all of this said, his support base still grows causing me to wonder, what is it that all of these voters are believing they will be getting in a president? Mr. Trump has been anything but presidential throughout this campaign so far. It has been an absolute circus; an embarrassment to the United States.

Mr. Trump's slogan is "Make America Great Again," causing me to wonder again what "America" is he referring to? He makes statements about protesters being carried out on stretchers in the old days and punching people in the face reminding me of Bull Connor during the Civil Rights Movement and even worse, the likes of  Adolf  Hitler. Over and over again Mr. Trump has said how Mexico was going to pay for a wall that he intends to build sparking former Mexican President Vincente Fox to explicitly let him know that Mexico is NOT paying for any wall. Mr. Trump talks as if he intends to bully Mexico into paying for his wall. He has made similar statements about activities that would occur in other countries that he would make them pay for. At recent Trump rallies, people have been moved to physically fighting each other. A seventy-eight year old man actually reached across and punched a protester who was African American and was being escorted out of the rally by police. The protester was defenseless because he was in police presence and could not and did not strike back. The seventy-eight year old went on to say in a later interview that if he were to see the young man again, he would kill him. This is the kind of activity that has been spawned from the constant negativity spewing from Donald Trump's mouth.

Other players in this circus has been Pope Francis (who was correct in his commentary concerning building bridges compared with building walls), Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, and most recently Dr. Ben Carson. This race has been an absolute freak show and too many Americans seem to be loving it. The problem is, this is not a reality television show. This is not the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) or The Apprentice. This is a race for the highest office in the free world. An office where the person in the seat must be able to deal with world leaders and infinite issues. While he may be a very good business man,  Mr. Trump has not shown the ability to run a country throughout this race. When he does not get his way, he starts calling names and insulting people or he just doesn't show up as was shown with the second debate moderated by Megyn Kelly or the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). If Mr. Trump becomes president, he will not be able insult or call our world leaders names or not show up to meetings because the meeting is not going to go his way.

Donald Trump is showing us who he is and too many of us are not believing him. This nomination race is our "first time" in Maya Angelou speak and if we [Americans] are wise, we'd better believe him. Mr. Trump stated that he loves the "poorly educated" and I think I know why.  Once we elect Mr. Trump into the presidency, it will be too late.The same Donald Trump that we are seeing in this race will be the same Donald Trump we will see as president. The fact that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is now his front man is symbolic of what Donald Trump is going to do. I predict, the same thing that Governor Christie did to his New Jersey voters, is what Donald Trump is going to do to his American voters. At this very moment there are people who voted for Chris Christie who now have bumper stickers on their cars saying "I voted for Chris Christie and I am sorry I did," "My child is an honor student - My Governor is a moron,"  "I voted for Chris Christie and he screwed me."   If Donald Trump wins the presidency, there will be similar bumper stickers with his name on it on cars in a couple of years.

If you listen to Mr. Trump, he honestly believes that when he says "Jump!" that the Congress and the Senate are all going to shout "How high?" That's not going to happen and neither will it with the world leaders. His bullying and so called anger tactics will not bode well in the White House. He will not be able to just bellow "Get um out" and expect world leaders to leave with their tails between their legs. We Americans must really consider who and what we are supporting. Donald Trump is showing us who he is and we better believe him. Something to critically think about.

You are invited to listen to me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. eastern daylight savings time around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern New Jersey on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

If He [Barack Obama] Can Do It, Anybody Can

As I start this post, I want to be clear that I am not playing the "race card," nor looking to do anything other than to make an observation. My view and opinion is solely my own and is just that, an opinion based on what I am observing during this presidential nomination race.

I think we all can agree that this race has been unprecedented in terms of the behavior exhibited by too many of the candidates. Yes, we know politics can get down and dirty; however, this race has taken down and dirty to an all time low.  Thus far the race has been an embarrassment to the United States of America. I can't imagine what must be going through the minds of world leaders watching this buffoonery along with we, the American people. This circus has included everyone from the Pope to the former president of Mexico and the topics of debate have ranged from penis size to Barbara Bush. The debates have been utterly ridiculous.

As I watch the debates, I am reminded of a time when I was a kid and a bunch of us would gather around and crack [jokes] on each other. I remember Darren, Glenn, Michael, Jerome, Frankie, Todd and myself standing in a huddle making jokes about each others' sneakers, clothing, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, head sizes, lack of athletic ability, lack of sexual knowledge, lack of being able to fight and on and on and on. Some were more quick witted than others and garnered the biggest laughs. Many would call it running the Dozens.  I wasn't very good at it, so in most cases I just stood around and laughed at the various put downs oftentimes becoming a target for not being able to pull off a laugher. In some instances, nick names for certain group members were created emanating from the jokes about him. The teasing was all in fun and to see who was the most skilled at creating the funniest put down. I share this because watching these debates look like this same activity to me with the exception of these men and women are running for the highest office in this country, if not the world. What I am seeing is nothing close to presidential, yet they are all vying to be our next president.  As I try to determine who I will vote for in November, the only thing I keep hearing is "Little Marco," "Lying Ted," "Con Man Don," and "You're a liar, No, you're a liar."  "You lied, no you lied" and more and more vicious attacks.

Donald Trump has mentioned on several occasions with venom and disdain how Mitt Romney, John McCain and Hillary Clinton should have beaten Barack Obama "easily,"  and each time he says this, I have to question, why should it have been so easy? He says this with an anger....with a burn and the burn is not for Bernie Sanders either. Mr. Trump's tone and body language when he references the races against Barack Obama leads me to read between the lines of what he is really saying or shall I say, not saying. When he dismisses Clinton, McCain and Romney for losing to Barack Obama, what he really is saying is how could you all lose to that Black man? It's written all over his face. He has literally called all three of them "losers," and he is not just saying that because they lost. He is emphasizing "loser" because they lost to a "Black man."

When the race began there were nearly twenty Republican candidates and close to five Democrats seeking their respective nominations.  I believe these numbers were so high, particularly on the Republican side of the house because somewhere in these candidate's heart of hearts each said to him/herself, "If Barack Obama can do it, anybody can." If that Black man who was a community organizer can make it to the highest office in the land, then surely I can, hence the candidates we are witnessing today.

The truth of the matter is, not just anybody can do that job and it is not as easy as these candidates seem to think. Again, if Barack Obama can do it, how hard can it be? I've heard all sorts of "First Day in Office" promises spewed during the debates. "I'm going to repeal this.............," "I'm going change that......."  Listening to these candidates, one might think that being President of the United States is a dictatorship that does not have to deal with the three branches of government. If you listen to Donald Trump, he believes that just because he says "Jump!" that everyone, including other world leaders are going to ask "How high?"  He is in for a rude awakening and based on what we have seen so far from him, when this happens he is going to get frustrated and either start insulting, calling names or just not showing up (picking up his marbles and going home like at the debate moderated by Megyn Kelly or the annual Conservative Political Action Conference). The response coming from former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox about Mr. Trump's wall is nothing compared to what Mr. Trump is going to receive if he behaves with the world leaders the way he has been behaving during these debates. If Trump were to win, I don't think a leopard changes his spots that quickly. There is a sadistic part of me that actually hopes Donald Trump wins just so that he can see that the presidency is not what he thinks it is. Being President of the United States is not the same as being a business man negotiating deals.

Anyone in a leadership role can tell you that from the outside looking in, it is very easy to talk about what you would do or be the Monday Morning Quarterback; however, when you are actually in the seat, it is a whole different story. I believe President Obama found that out as well and he had it even worse than some of his predecessors because the congress and senate blocked in one way or another just about everything he proposed.

As we grapple with our decision as to who we are going to give the nod to be our next Commander-in -Chief, we must really take into consideration that old adage, "Be careful what you ask for (or in this case, vote for) because you just may get it." Don't believe me? Ask New Jerseyans who voted for Chris Christie.  Something to critically think about.

You are invited to listen to me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET as I web stream around the world on gobrave.org and locally in northern NJ on FM radio WP88.7 FM as host of The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. You can also tune in on my podcast The Marc Medley Show on Spreaker  and follow me on Twitter @readingcircle01.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

When We Place Conforming to a System Over People


"Excellence too often is not prioritized over conforming to the system, yet we want to be recognized for our individuality."  

"How can a society predicated on the conviction that individuals can only be evaluated in reference to the average ever create the conditions for understanding and harnessing individuality"
I begin this post with the quotes by author Todd Rose to generate thinking and reflection concerning the notion of we as a society placing systems and standardization over people. In my January 18, 2016 post (see Flint, Michigan's Water Problem is Another Example of Placing Money (Profit) Over People), I wrote how we in too many instances place profit over people and now I am asking us to tackle the ramifications of our placing a system or systems over people. Now let me caveat this early on with the fact that I am not against taking a systematic approach to obtain a desired result; however, I am against prioritizing a system over individuals. The system in and of itself should never become more important than a person or the people.

I experienced a combination of events causing me to write this post. I've had numerous conversations with people sharing how they feel that their creativity and ability to apply methods that they know through education and experience will work to obtain a certain goal is being overridden by a one-size fits-all cookie cutter system/process. I see it every day in education where students are tested ad nauseum to the point that we no longer foster a love of education but a fear of education. Frustration levels among employees are high as the words in a rubric are used literally to determine an evaluative rating. Then I began listening to the audio book version of Mr. Rose's book THE END OF AVERAGE: HOW WE SUCCEED IN A WORLD THAT VALUES SAMENESS.

While I have not completed the book, what I have learned so far has been eye opening to say the least.  I was not aware of the term"Taylorism"  until this book. By definition, Taylorism is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes and to management. Its development began in the United States with Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and '90s within the manufacturing industries. If we were to parallel the objectives of the manufacturing industries with education today, the main objective for educators would be to improve student's standardized test scores.

As I am making my way through THE END OF AVERAGE, I cannot help but to mull over how Albert Einstein eloquently reminded us to think twice before measuring ourselves (and others) against inappropriate standards with his thought that "Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid."  

If the ability to climb a tree is a metaphor for standardization and the fish is symbolic of our individuality (students, teachers, employees, etc. etc.), are we not prioritizing the conforming to a system over the various talents and skills that are within each individual?

Alfie Kohn wrote THE CASE AGAINST STANDARDIZED TESTING in 2000 and an excerpt from the synopsis of the book reads as follows:
Our students are tested to an extent that is unprecedented in American history and unparalleled anywhere in the world. Politicians and business people, determined to get tough with students and teachers, have increased the pressure to raise standardized test scores. Unfortunately, the effort to do so typically comes at the expense of more meaningful forms of learning.
The expense of more meaningful forms of learning and teaching seem to be at the heart of the issue. It actually seems as if the system has become more important than the person and the test score more important than the student.

Without a doubt, systems and systematic approaches have its place,but there must be a balance between the letter and spirit of the system. We are reaching a point of diminishing returns. Caitlin Emma wrote an article titled Education Department: Too much testing, partly our fault in the October 24, 2015 edition of Politico.  An excerpt from the article appears below:
The Education Department took some of the blame for the sometimes stressful, excessive and time-consuming testing at many schools and said Saturday that it hasn't done enough to help states tackle the problem.
The Obama administration is responding to loud complaints from across the country about how much time students spend on testing and the dozens of consequences now associated with poor results on those exams for students and teachers — policies it had a hand in expanding. Schools have taken on a "test-and-punish" culture, advocates say, a movement that got underway with the 2002 No Child Left Behind law.
"In too many schools, there is unnecessary testing and not enough clarity of purpose applied to the task of assessing students, consuming too much instructional time and creating undue stress for educators and students," the plan says. "The administration bears some of the responsibility for this, and we are committed to being part of the solution."
The department issued a "testing action plan" with recommendations and proposals for cutting back on testing that include easing up on the widely criticized use of student test scores in a proposed rule about evaluating training programs for teachers.
It seems as if humans, the part of any equation that should have top priority are always last and to really throw salt in an open wound, we [humans] are last under the guise of what is being done is best for us or in our best interest, when in reality it is not. This is clearly seen as we continue to value profits and systems more than people.

For further insights, I highly recommend reading Mr. Rose's book and then reflecting upon the impact the average-size-fits-all model (standardization) has on our ability to recognize individual differences and talents. Refer to Einstein's thoughts on judging a fish to climb a tree. Something to critically and reflectively think about.

You are invited to join me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. eastern time as I host The Reading Circle which is web streamed around the world on gobrave.org and is heard locally in northern N.J. FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.




Sunday, January 31, 2016

Is A Show About The Fallen Angel Lucifer Symbolic Of Our Fallen Moral and Ethical Values?

"The series focuses on Lucifer Morningstar, "who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell and resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the beauty of Los Angeles." (FOX)
"12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." (Isaiah 14:12-15 KJV).
 Let me begin by being clear on what this post is not. As a radio talk show host and one who is in the media, this is not about censorship or censoring; however, it is about questioning why a show would be created about the epitome and purveyor of evil. It is about questioning what the creation and viewing of such a show says about us as human beings. I keep hearing how America is in decline and how our morals and ethical values are being destroyed and it does cause me to wonder if this is not true with shows such as Lucifer premiering on FOX.

Think about the degradation we have seen over the last fifty plus years. There was a time when full body nudity, sexual acts and profanity on television and radio was only hinted or subliminally suggested. I've seen in my lifetime us move from suggestion to blatant. Lyrics in songs, particularly hip-hop/rap are barely listened to if most of the words are not F.... this or F...that or nigga' this or nigga' that. In many instances the entire song is nothing more than a string of profane words to a beat. I can remember when I was a kid, my mother disgustedly turning off the radio when Donna Summer's Love To Love You Baby would come on the car radio if me and my sister were in the car. She would turn that knob with a vengeance in utter disdain that such a song would be on the public airways. Now our lyrics make Love To Love You Baby look like Mary Had A Little Lamb. I use this example to illustrate that just as Lucifer is considered the "fallen" angel, that like him our moral and ethical values could also be considered "fallen."  I am no prude or perfect, but I am not blind either. I have witnessed and continue to see the decline in the quality of all of our lives as we slide further and further into the moral and ethical abyss. We are to the point where anything goes.

In my view the creation of a show titled Lucifer is yet another example of the same progression that we have made from not being able to show or say certain things on television and radio to being able to blatantly show what used to be considered "private parts" and saying the vulgarest of words. There was a time when there was always the hint of an evil being but with this glorification of the fallen one, it is flagrant and in our face. The title of the show is Lucifer, a one word title. Does it get any more unabashed than that? Lucifer has made the big time! An entire series about him. He must really be happy now. I'm being facetious and sarcastic, but is this not ridiculous?

Do we not have enough evil in the world that we need a show about the one who seeks to kill and to destroy? Could this show be a part of the deception to perpetuate all of the evil and heinous acts occurring in the U.S. and abroad? Do we have to wonder why we keep getting what we are getting? Now I know there will be some out there telling me that this is art imitating life and my response will be that this is art perpetuating a bad and wrong way of life.

After viewing the advertisement for the show, I wondered what would be the response from the Christian community, if any?, and as I was conducting my research for this post I did learn that there are groups who have already begun to take action such as signing petitions to let FOX know of their displeasure. The next step I would think would be to stop purchasing anything from any of the advertisers and sponsors of the show. When all is said and done, the economics will speak louder than words. If the companies who sponsor the show are not patronized or receive enough negative publicity for being a part of such a travesty, Lucifer will once again be banished, this time not from heaven, but from FOX.

While I am not for censoring FOX, I am for extremely low viewing and ratings of this show based on the subject matter. I thought we had sunk to a new low with all of the "Real" this and "Real" that (housewives, husbands, preachers, etc. etc.) and the Kardashians this and the Kardashians that (which I still have yet to figure out why everything is defined by the Kardashian girls, but that's another topic for another day) but Lucifer takes us to a new low.  You can rest assured I will not be watching one episode of Lucifer as I am not that curious and secondly we see more than enough Lucifer in our daily lives. Don't believe me?, just listen to first thirty seconds of any news broadcast.

I'm sure I have made Lucifer angry now, so I guess I better watch out. As always, something to critically think about. You can hear me live each Saturday at 6:00 a.m. ET as a book talk radio host on The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. I broadcast around the world on gobrave.org and locally in the northern NJ area on FM radio WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.