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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan 3, 2012/ 8 Teves, 5772

Don't die stupid

By Cal Thomas




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A friend of mine hands me what looks like a business card. It says, "Don't Die Stupid." As America begins another round of voting to select the next president, or retain the current one, what we need is a stupid test. Flunk it and you shouldn't vote.

Evidence of the dumbing-down of America is everywhere. Some of it is chronicled in a new book, "Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America" by Daniel J. Flynn (Buy the book at a 34% discount by clicking here) .

Flynn contends popular culture has divorced itself from the life of the mind. He has plenty of examples in case television, texting, video games and improper use of English ("she was like and then I was like") are not enough.

Flynn calls the digital age that has sped up the process by which we receive information "Idiotville," because it has made us less intelligent.

"Stupid is the new smart," writes Flynn. He says we arrived at this lower level of brain activity because as recently as the last century "the everyman aspired to high culture and ... intellectuals descended from the ivory tower to speak to the everyman." Today, he says, "Those who pursue the life of the mind have insulated themselves from popular culture. Speaking in insider jargon and writing unread books, intellectuals have locked themselves away in a ghetto of their own creation."

That has left the nonintellectual class to fend for itself. One library in Portland, Me., rather than leading, is being led by the unformed teenage mind. "Video gaming is just a new form of literacy," says the "teen librarian." If so, what's the new form of illiteracy, ignorance about how to use a joystick?

Flynn quotes from Steven Johnson's book, "Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter." Sure, and sugar makes us slimmer. Johnson says, "Reality shows ... challenge our emotional intelligence." Emotional intelligence? In an age when feelings trump everything and too many reality TV programs feature well-heeled housewives and love-starved bachelors, "emotional intelligence" is a contradiction.

"A mind is a terrible thing to waste" is the slogan of the United Negro College Fund. It certainly is.



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Here's a potent example of what Flynn means when he writes about the destruction of our minds: "At the tony Cushing Academy in western Massachusetts, $40,000 in tuition doesn't even get you a library anymore. 'When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,' the prep school's headmaster notes, adding, 'This isn't 'Fahrenheit 451.'' "

"It is, and '1984,' too," comments Flynn. "In place of the twenty thousand discarded books, the school spent $500,000 on an Orwellian 'learning center' complete with three giant flat-screen televisions and a cappuccino machine. School officials guessed that only a few dozen books had been checked out at any one time."

The solution? Get rid of the books. Don't get kids interested in books when they'd rather play "World of Warcraft," or if younger, watch cartoons, which can't be that different from "The Canterbury Tales," right?

Our intellectual depth increasingly resembles floor wax; shiny on top, but lacking depth. A muscle atrophies if it is not used. Similarly, a mind becomes lazy if it is not well fed. And a weak mind dumbs-down our politics. We elect people we come to dislike because too many of us require no more of them than we require of ourselves. We then wonder why little seems to work and the country soon suffers.

In Iowa this week, followed by New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, Republican voters will begin the process of selecting a presidential nominee. It's not that sufficient information about the problems confronting us -- along with solutions that actually work -- are not available. It's just that we're not reading much about them.

Like, ya know, man, that's just the way it is. Like, ya know what I'm sayin'?


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Cal Thomas Archives

JWR contributor Cal Thomas is co-author with Bob Beckel, a liberal Democratic Party strategist, of "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America". Comment by clicking here.

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