In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 April 11, 2007 / 23 Nissan, 5767

America for Dummies

By Lenore Skenazy

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Maybe the dumbing down of America should not be blamed on whatever we're blaming it on this week. (It's too much testing in the schools, right? Or is it working moms? FOX TV? It's hard to keep track.)

In any event, it is quite possible that people are getting dumber than Drano for the simple reason that that is how they are being treated by the world in which they shop.

"Standard, full-size hanger holds everything from wash and wear to outwear!" proudly proclaims a standard, full-size hanger at K-Mart.

Yes, that complex and daunting device dangling there in home furnishings can be used with every confidence to hang your clothes. And not just certain, very specific clothes. It can hold virtually any garment — which is big news, because we all know that wash and wear and outerwear usually demand such very different hardware.

But of course, it's not just hangers out there hitting you over the head.

It's food: "Croissant swirls ideal for snacking!" (They are? Could that be why they're sold in the grocery store?)

And clothing: "Choose your favorites!" suggests the sign at Children's Place. (Gee, may I?)

Even once-reticent office supplies can't shut up. This ballpoint pen, says a Pentel package, is "for notes and general writing." RoseArt assures us that its erasers are fully ready to "erase and erase and erase." Paper Mate boasts of a pencil: "Ideal for school work and general writing."

And less ideal for broiling with lime and garlic, I'm guessing? Not to be used as a giant toothpick? Cannot serve, in a pinch, as a very narrow snowshoe?

"I'm looking at a package of Crayola crayons right now," said Richard Laermer, author of "Punk Marketing" and a student of the advertising absurd. "It says, 'Good for children.'"

By the time the folks at Crayola are telling you that the quintessential childhood item is the quintessential childhood item, something's wrong.

The problem can be partly traced back to that most American of fears, the fear of litigation. This has, admittedly, lead to some great moments in labeling. Not just the ol' "Contents may be hot because it's a CUP OF COFFEE!" but more baroque missives, such as the one I found on the box of a little electric heater.

Among its 17 instructions (including instruction No. 1: "Read all instructions") was the advice: "To disconnect, turn to 'off,' then grip plug and pull from wall outlet." That way, when you happen to assume the best way to disconnect the heater is actually to turn it to "high," submerge it in the tub and lower your naked body — and your cat — in next to it, you cannot blame the company for any discomfort you (or your cat) may feel.

But fear of lawsuits alone cannot explain the painfully obvious explanations on painfully obvious objects. When a duster says, "For removing dust" — and one I saw does — it's not because the company is worried someone may mistakenly use it to remove a kidney. It's because we are becoming a nation of idiots and dummies, just like the book series suggest. We have come to expect everything to be spelled out for us.

So next time you see an umbrella that, according to its manufacturer, "Opens full size" or you find a set of Dixie cups "for all occasions," and not just, say, for wakes; or you learn from the package of Halls cough drops that you are supposed to "dissolve one drop slowly in the mouth" and not use them as suppositories, be grateful for one thing: You can go home and hang pretty much any darn thing you want on your standard, all-purpose hanger. (Except the person who wrote the hanger instructions.)

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