Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Is Cursive Writing Dead?

 Recently I read an article about a young woman who is making her living by helping people who were never taught cursive writing.  In particular, she helps them learn how to have a respectable signature!    

In 2010, Common Core removed the teaching of cursive writing from their standards for English language, arts and mathematics in grades 1 through 12.  While that decision was not mandatory, many states removed the teaching of cursive writing from their curriculums, causing some states to stop  teaching cursive.  It was not long, however, before teaching cursive began a comeback.  

Kansas is among those states: "The Kansas Department of Education believes that cursive handwriting as a student skill still holds an important place in the instructional practice of every school's curriculum and can be integrated in multiple content areas.  Research supports the role that handwriting instruction plays in the cognitive development of children and this activity is even more important in an increasingly digital environment.  The Board expects educators to insure that all students can write legibly in cursive and comprehend text written in this manner." 

What brought this reversal to my attention was the receipt of thank you notes from local 4th grade students who attended a program at Fort Hays State University that we helped support.  Most of those students were not comfortable writing cursive yet, but their neat printing was a pleasant surprise, as were the hand written thank you notes!  

One of the reasons given for continuing to teach cursive writing is that many of the treasured documents of our American history are written in cursive.  Researchers without training in reading and writing cursive would have lost the ability to read those documents without translation to print.  In addition, genealogy research, less likely to have been translated to text, would be difficult to read.

However, there are other benefits to teaching cursive writing, and by January of 2023, twenty-one states required cursive instruction.  Among the benefits of teaching cursive are:

1.  Cursive promotes a better understanding of words.  

2.  With cursive, the barrier between thought and action is minimal.

3.  Different neurological pathways open in the brain than what occurs with typing.

4.  Information is better retained when written in cursive.

5.  Cursive helps develop motor skills.

6.  Students using Cursive are more likely to retain proper spelling.

I was very disappointed when teaching cursive writing was dropped, but my objection had more to do with esthetics than anything else.  I observed that printed correspondence was unlikely to show much effort to make the correspondence attractive.  Thank you notes are always appreciated, but those thank you notes received during the time teaching cursive was neglected showed little attention to printing neatly or arranging the printing attractively on the page.  If the thank you notes received recently from the 4th graders are any example, writing neatly seems once again to be emphasized.  One of the students had already mastered an attractive cursive penmanship, but all of the students had made an effort to write neatly.  The thank you notes were a pleasant surprise, and we enjoyed sharing their appreciation for a day at FHSU, meeting illustrators and learning about how books are created!  

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Protesting Events: Effective or Annoying

Following the 1st game of the 2nd set of the semifinals between Coco Gauff & Karslina Muchova the match was interrupted by protestors for 49 minutes.  Some of you may have been watching.  Did you find it Effective or Annoying, or did you even know what the protest was about? 

Suffragettes Protesting for the Vote.

Sometimes protestors appear at events that they oppose, but other times the protests have little or nothing to do with the event or location of the protest.   Where do these protestors get the right to publicly protest?  The answer is that they are protected by the 1st Amendment; however, the right is not without limits.  It is strongest in locations considered "traditional public forums,' such as streets, sidewalks, and parks.  It may also be exercised by permission of the owner of the property where the protest takes place, and the owner can set rules.  Even on public property, there may be particular rules permits.  The right to protest is a valuable right. 

Clearly the US Open was not public property, but in today's world, the management had anticipated the possibility of protestors and had set aside a particular location.  However, the protestors who interrupted the tennis match were inside the arena when they interrupted the match, shouting about Climate Change and wearing shirts that read "End Fossil Fuels."  An environmental activist group "took credit," with their slogan "no tennis on a dead planet."  Their spokesperson said their purpose was to urge the government to stop approving fossil fuel projects. 

Three of the protestors were easily removed, but the fourth protestor chose to glue his bare feet to the floor of the seating area, requiring medical personal to safely remove him.  During that time, those who had paid to attend the match and those watching on television were interrupted, as were the tennis players.  It may or may not have altered the outcome of the match, a significant financial impact for those two women.  Did the protest accomplish anything productive?  Most people did not even know what the protest was about.  I certainly didn't.  Is it likely that those in the government making decisions about fossil fuels were influenced?

Some might say that the fact that I am posting this blog is proof of success, although that is not my intention.  It is true that they aroused my curiosity, but my research did not discover their purpose.  Instead, I found an article online by someone who missed their intended objective, writing instead about the ecological impact of tennis balls!  According to that article, 330 million tennis balls are produced yearly, with 125 million tennis balls discarded into the trash each year.  The three words on the protesters t-shirts, "End Fossil Fuels," seemed insignificant to their purpose.

According to doctors, "Tennis is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that improves muscular strength, endurance, balance, coordination and agility."  It has become a popular sport, in a nation where we need to encourage exercise.  We dispose of far more indestructible and unnecessary trash than the tennis ball, which actually has a beneficial purpose to our health.  My blog may reach more people than the four protestors at the US Open Tennis did, and although I share the protestors' concern about fossil fuels, I conclude that their protest was more annoying than effective.  What do you think? 

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Story of a Dog...and a few other 4-leged friends

 I knew I was in trouble when my husband came into the Duckwall's where I worked during college and asked me how to pay for something with my employee discount...especially when I noticed the little pink cat collar in his hand.  Prince was our first rescued pet, and fortunately, he quickly outgrew the pink collar.  Somehow, we were talked into leaving him at the farm the following summer, and although we regretted leaving him, he became my father's best buddy, at just the time my dad needed a pet.
I had grown up with pets at the farm, both cats and dogs, but never house pets.  Eventually my husband and I began thinking about getting a dog.  I think we rationalized that a dog could be left outside in the yard and would be easier to take care of than a house cat with a litter box.  Lady, our second rescue, became a house dog almost immediately.  She had been dumped in the middle of nowhere in winter in a cardboard box, with her mother and two other pups, with no food and no shelter.  Fortunately, the man who checked the pump site where they were left arrived soon enough to rescue them.  She was smart, beautiful, gentle, and ready to try whatever we suggested, including riding with us on our motorcycle.
Lady got us through college, the Air Force, living in NYC, Law School, and getting us settled into our careers.  I'm not sure we could have managed without her.

During our marriage we have had 2 dogs and 5 cats, and only one of those pets was a pedigreed dog.  We bought Abbey because she reminded us of Lady, but our careers meant that she was often left alone.  One night, while she was outside, she began barking at a black and white kitten hiding in the bushes.  We rescued him, intending to find him a home, but the home we found was our own.  We named the cat Remington, and after a few days getting acquainted, he and Abbey became pals.

Abbey & Remington

 Black Kitty and Jacob were stray kittens adopted when the mother cat abandoned them.  A neighbor threatened calling the city animal catcher because the pair of kittens were spending too much time at  his bird feeder.  I tried to find them homes, but no one wanted the half-wild kittens.  We were about to move, so the only solution was to take them with us.  They moved from Georgia to North Carolina to  Texas, and finally to Kansas.  They spent days outdoors but nights in the garage, and they seemed perfectly satisfied with that accommodation.  The last of the four finally became an indoor cat, and when she died, we were retired and decided not to get another pet.  We had never liked boarding our pets when we travelled, so we agreed not to have another pet for a while and to enjoy traveling.

Until, one icy cold December after midnight, we were returning from a weekend in Kansas City, and  only a few miles from home we saw a little grey and white kitten sitting by the side of the road.  We stopped, only to discover that he was a full-grown tom cat and he was clearly sick, but we decided to  get him healthy and find him a home.  As you may have guessed, we did.  Ours!

I shared these stories to remind people how wonderful rescued pets can be.  How fortunate Pratt is to have Manager, Alexis Moss and all the others that make the Pratt Humane Society possible.  Even if you don't need a pet right now, you might consider calling your local Humane Society (in Pratt, 620-672-6777) to see how you might help.  For those of you who live out of state, I am sure there are Animal societies near you who would love your help, and who have wonderful animals hoping for someone to love them.

An interesting idea found on Face Book

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Banned Book Favorites

 Some classic favorites have delighted children for generations.  In a world where children have so many opportunities to see violence on television and in the news, it seems to me a wonderful fact that many clever books are still beloved by kids.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I have never outgrown my love for collecting children's books, and one of my favorite bookstores devoted to children's books is celebrating 43 years of introducing children to wonderful books.  Books of Wonder was always on our list back in the day when we made frequent trips to NYC, and even now I enjoy their website online, which includes older collectible books, as well as art.

Recently, while I was online looking at children's books, I stumbled upon a website of banned children's books.  I knew that there are current books that some parents oppose, but the discovery that some of my favorite children's classics have been banned was disturbing.

We are not living in the Victorian era.  What children today see on television can be pretty personal, and even worse is the exposure to violence.  Given that exposure, what sort of books are being banned?  For example, what was the Detroit Public Library thinking when they decided that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had "no value for children of today."  And, why was J.K. Rowling's books, that got children excited about reading, banned in many places for "promoting godless witchcraft."  Perhaps we adults have allowed our imaginations to grow idle, but kids know fantasy when they read it, and it is fun.

Even Alice in Wonderland was disapproved.  Apparently, the smoking of a hookah by the caterpillar upset some adults, even though Alice didn't like the caterpillar, nor his blowing smoke in her face.  Yet, some adults feared that the caterpillar would promote drug use.  Others saw the threat of sexuality in the caterpillar's shape.  What?!  Maybe scholars analyzing the text can find interpretations from their adult perspective, but generations of kids have seen no such things.

Another reason for disapproval of some children's books is the idea of animals talking.  Apparently, in many countries, books that show animals talking are objectionable.  A quote taken from China declares:  "Animals should not use human language, and it is disastrous to put animals and human beings on the same level."  Personally, I agree that dogs and cats are very smart, but hard as they may try, they can't quite manage speech.  Those of us who have pets know that they are very good at training us, and they can be trained to understand commands (although cats generally pretend otherwise), but it seems doubtful to me that allowing children to read books in which the animals can talk will make them think animals are on the same level as people.  If they do believe that, it is far more likely that it is because of the devotion their pets have shown them.  A prohibition against books in which animals speak would empty a great many shelves of wonderful books in both homes and libraries.

Maurice Sendak had a special gift of remembering what it was like to think like a child.  He never lost that childhood perspective of remembering how imagination is fun, and the scary stuff is just pretend, especially if your mother's lap is just a few steps away.  Yet, the popular Where the Wild Things Are was widely banned.  

Imagination is essential to childhood. How could children figure out who they are or what they want to be when they grow up if they could not be a fairy princess or cowboy one year and a doctor or a movie star or a scientist or an Olympian or a dog trainer or a tennis pro or an astronaut the next.  Fantasy is only a dress rehearsal to figure out who you really are.   Books are where kids can learn things without having to find them out in ways less desirable.  Books are ways to ask parents and others you trust about things you need to know and find confusing or troubling.  Today's world is more complicated than the world I grew up in, and books are still a safer place to learn about those complicated things than facing them for the first time in complete innocence.  I certainly don't have answers, but banning books that teachers and librarians have read and approved isn't something likely to protect kids.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A Unique Discovery

 I was never one of the "cool" kids in school.   When Elvis became popular, I liked Pat Boone.  When my mother bought me some new fashion, (in one case, pedal pushers), I put them away until the other girls started wearing them.  I wasn't exactly shy, but I suppose I preferred to adhere to what was more traditional.  I gradually gained more confidence over the years, but even today I suppose I am fairly traditional in my my love for history and traditional art.  

Tom Waits

That may explain why I missed out on Tom Waits.  My best friend from childhood has always been much 'cooler' than me.  So, it isn't surprising that she was the one to post a quote by Tom Waits on face book that I found interesting.  This is the quote:  We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge, quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness.  We are monkeys with money and guns.  Who is this guy? I asked myself.   And, in contradiction to Waits' dislike of 'the weight of information,' I looked him up on the internet.  

I found that he has called himself a Folk Singer, a Blues Singer, and a Jazz Singer.  He is described as a musician, a composer, a songwriter, and an actor.  Wall Street Journal critic, Jim Fusilli, described him in 2008 as having a library of work "comparable to any song writers in pop today,"   Adding that he is "a keen sensitive and sympathetic chronicler of the adrift and downtrodden ...[who] creates 3-dimensial characters, who even in their confusion and despair, are capable of insight and starting points of view.  Their stories are accompanied by music that's unlike any other pop history."

That made me even more curious, so I set out to gain more information, apparently breaking another rule of Tom Waits, according to this quote: "Everything is explained now.  We live in an age when you say casually to somebody 'What's the story on that?' and they run to the computer and tell you within 5 seconds.  That's fine, but sometimes I'd just as soon continue wondering.  We have a deficit of wonder right now."  

Only a little embarrassed about defying Waits's dislike of searching for information, I found a website  to listen to his singing.   I was impressed by his musical talent on the keyboard, but his voice sounded like he had been eating rocks all of his life, so gravelly that the words of the song came out like rubble.   But here is the bottom line.  I disagree with much of what he sings and writes.  Sometimes it seems not to make any sense.  But sometimes what he has to say opens a new perspective to consider.  For instance, "The way you do anything is the way you do everything."  Or how about "Memories are like a can see it getting smaller as it goes away..."

Sometimes his words are lyrics in a song.  Sometimes they are simply statements.  Some are long and some are short.  He is a guy with a wife and three kids who likes to keep his personal life separate.  He is a guy who has been around for a long time and doesn't really care if people like him or have never heard of him.  

As for me, I am glad I finally discovered him.  I enjoy reading what he writes more than listening to his songs, and I doubt that I will spend much more time searching for what he has to say, although I might enjoy stumbling on to some of his words.  However, I will share something from Tom Waits that made a lot of sense to me...although I would not have described it as he did.  It may make more sense to some of you with a little gray in your hair.  

Here it is.  "They have removed the struggle to find anything.  And therefore, there is no genuine sense of discovery.  Struggle is the first thing we know, getting along the birth canal, out in the world.  That's pretty basic.  Book store owners and record store owners used to be oracles, in that way; you'd go in this dusty old place and they might point you toward something that would change your life.  All that's gone."

I know what he least what it means to me.  We valued the search more when we had to work for it.  We collected things that we wanted to keep forever because the discovery was precious.  We worked hard for certain things--with study or training and discipline, so that when we won the blue ribbon or the silver cup, we genuinely felt the thrill of victory that told us we deserved it because we had earned it.  And when we did not get the silver cup, we understood that we had done our best but someone else had been better.  Blue ribbons and silver cups for everyone have cheated us of the thrill of knowing we did our best, have stolen the thrill of finding a dusty old book in the back of a store that we had been searching for a very long time, and have left us with a diminishing since of value.    

I'm not so sure about the 'birth canal stuff,' but thank you Tom Waits for sharing your unique way of helping us view the world from a different perspective. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Are you fed up with TV ads?

 Many years ago, as I was nearing Law School graduation from Baylor University, the President of the University came to our class to discuss the ethical responsibilities we would be assuming as lawyers.  Among the topics he mentioned was the strict limitations on advertising.  A simple ad in the phone book was allowed, but advertising as if you were a merchant was absolutely forbidden.  What I specifically remember was the prohibition against sending a professional greeting card to existing clients, thanking them for their business.  Even what might have been intended as a courtesy was not approved.

A reminder of what ads were allowed years ago.

Boy! have times ever changed!!  I am personally embarrassed by the advertisements of lawyers soliciting business on television, on both local and national channels, from small firms with a few attorneys to law firms with offices in many places.  'Were you injured or sickened by somebody?  Lucky you!  Hire us and we will make you rich.'  Maybe they aren't that obvious, but some of them are close.  It isn't that people with legitimate claims shouldn't bring lawsuits, but some of the ads sound more like carnival hucksters than professional attorneys.  Sadly, it isn't just the lawyers.  The drug companies, the insurance companies, the guys trying to buy your life insurance policies...and so many more are annoyingly common.

Can you believe this old ad?

Most evenings we watch the evening news, and recently we timed the commercials that interrupted the news.  We didn't use a stopwatch, but basically of the 30 minutes of "news," programming, less than 20 minutes was news, with advertisements and promotion of the local news station consuming about a third of the programing.  That evening, there were 17 different commercials plus the local station promotion.  That particular network chose to deliver uninterrupted news for the first 15 minutes, and then bombarded us with commercials and 3 short news briefs jammed between commercials during the remaining time.  The first fifteen minutes without interruption were appreciated, but the number of commercials during the closing minutes was beyond annoying.

When I become annoyed with the current state of commercials on television, I remind myself of the talking stomach advertising Pepto-Bismol and the brasier ad showing a closeup of a woman's chest with the company's bra displayed over her sweater.  Perhaps those of you who remember commercials in the 50s remember some of those ads.  Television ads have always included some that were annoying or ridiculous, but I don't recall the extent of interruptions being as numerous in the past.

Had you forgotten old liquor and cigarette Ads?

Here is the problem.  The places to advertise are disappearing.  Lawyers may still advertise in phone books, but most of us have cell phones and rarely look at a phone book.  Newspapers and magazines are struggling to stay alive because they have diminishing subscribers.  Television is now the best place to advertise.  Advertising pricing is based on the number of people watching, and the price of an ad for the Super Bowl is huge, but other programing is less expensive.  National news has more viewers than local news, but even that is declining. According to the web site, Science Daily, "Nearly a 1/3 of TV ads play to empty rooms."  If you have a business or a product to sell, television is about your best choice, and if short ads on less watched stations are cheaper, repeating the ads to catch the viewers who left the room or hit mute may be your best advertising option.

According to Science Daily, older viewers are more likely to change channels during commercials, while younger viewers just leave the room.  We keep the remote control handy and mute the commercials.  However, from the perspective of businesses, what are they to do, with the decline in newspapers and magazines?  Science Daily says the commercials that viewers are most likely to watch are recreational products, like beer and video games, and the least likely to be watched are drug ads, particularly for treating serious conditions.

Unless you record programs and delete the ads quickly as you watch or you buy ad-free programming, most of us are going to endure way too many ads!  Thank goodness Lady Bird kept our highway bilbords restricted!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Edward R. Murrow, an interesting look back in time


Edward R. Murrow



    A few years ago, a local library was selling books it no   longer felt it had room for in their collection.  I bought   Prime Time, The Life of Edward R. Murrow, by Alexander   Kendrick.  At the time, I was busy with the publication of   Prairie Bachelor, and I put the 548-page book aside to read   later, when I had more time.  Recently, I made time to read   it, and once I started, I could not put it down. 

As you may remember, Murrow was a newsman who first made his reputation on radio, particularly during W.W. II, but returned as a newsman for CBS when television was joining radio as a source of entertainment and news.  Some of you may recall his radio news reporting, but others, like me, may recall watching him on our small screen televisions.  He was a highly respected and admired newsman.  

As television gained viewership, and found profitability in selling shows to advertisers, Murrow became increasingly concerned about the direction television was taking, and with his fame as a reputable deliverer of the news, he felt the responsibility to speak out concerning the importance of providing viewers the news.   From the perspective of those deciding how broadcasting time was to be allocated, the revenue received from advertisers of the news was insignificant compared to the money advertisers were willing to pay for Westerns, game shows, and other entertainment.  Their response to Murrow's concern was to tell him that the programing he belittled was what paid for the in-depth news specials he hosted.

The public respect for Murrow did give him some protection to speak out against Senator McCarthy of Wisconsin in the years following W.W. II, as the Senator used television to destroy opponents and gain an audience, although many were afraid to speak out.  Murrow delivered his criticism without the bombastic slanders of McCarthy, but saying, "The line between investigating and persecution is a very fine one, and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly." Ultimately, Murrow stated his concern clearly enough that it could not be ignored.  "His [McCarthy's] weapon was fear.  He was a politically unsophisticated man with a flair for publicity, and he was powerfully aided by the silence of timid men who feared to be the subject of his unfounded accusations.  He polluted the channels of communication, and every radio and television network, every newspaper and magazine publishers who did not speak out against him, contributed to his evil work and must share responsibility for what he did, not only to our fellow citizens but to our self-respect...The timidity of television in dealing with this man when he was spreading fear throughout the land is not something to which this art of communication can ever point with pride."

He was not the only television executive to speak out.  NBC President Silvestor Weaver said, "You can't really have in your hands the power that television has in this time of crisis, and be agreeable to salving the problem by letting it become a jukebox in the corner of the room to keep the kids quiet, and just pile on one crime or Western or game show after another."  

Murrow agreed, and he went public with his concerns when he received the Albert Einstein Award, saying, "If television and radio are to be used for the entertainment of all of the people all of the time, we have come perilously close to discovering the real opiate of the people."

Today, we do have many sources for receiving news.  Murrow had believed that Americans were suspicious of propaganda, and that suspicion would protect them from the harm of people like Wisconsin Senator McCarthy.  He believed that newsmen only needed: "To be persuasive, we must be believable.  To be believable we must be credible.  To be credible, we must be truthful.  It is as simple as that."  Murrow trusted the American people to eventually sort through the nonsense and fabrication and arrive at the truth,  

For those of us with gray in our hair, we may know W.W. II history only from textbooks, and although we might have been old enough to pay attention to Senator McCarthy's humiliation, we probably had our minds on something else at the time.  I am so glad that I finally read Prime Time, The Life of Edward R. Murrow.  I do remember him, although more from his visits with famous people in their homes than with his news reporting.   I do remember the trail of smoke that constantly rose from the cigarette in his hand.  I did not remember so many other things he did in his amazing life until reading this book.  If you are intrigued by this remarkable American, you can still find this book online for a few dollars.  Used hardcover books are more expensive, and mine is not for sale!

P.S.  As a measure of his credibility as a reporter, the man who was almost never seen without a cigarette in his hand did a special news report on the dangers of smoking as research revealed its serious risks, cementing his determination for telling the truth, even about something he was known to enjoy.  He died of cancer, but it was of the brain rather than of the throat.  One lung had previously been removed, but after his death it was found that the remaining lung was clear.  His brain had been riddled with cancer, but it could not be determined whether the brain cancers had traveled from the earlier removed lung.    

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Humor from a 19th Century Vice-president

    John Nance Garner was the 32nd Vice-president of the United States.  When asked what he thought of serving in that esteemed office, he is said to have replied that it was "Not worth a bucket of spit."  (Some references suggest that he might have used a cruder word than spit.)

To explain his opinion more specifically shortly after leaving office, he said, "Worst damnfool mistake I ever made was letting myself be elected Vice President of the United States.  Should have stuck with my old chores as Speaker of the House.  I gave up the second most important job in the Government for one that didn't amount to a hill of beans.  I spent eight long years as Mr. Roosevelt's spare tire."

Vice-president Garner does not seem to mind meeting
these Azalea Beauty Queens!

Having discovered John Nance Garner's quotes, I decided to explore a bit of information about former vice-presidents.  The following is what I found:

15 Vice-presidents have become Presidents

8 seceded because of the death of the President

6 were elected after having been the Vice-president

One became President because the former President resigned 

Only one President served as Vice-President & President, 

although he was never elected to either post.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of Vice-presidential history.  Maybe some of you can even take the challenge of filling in the missing information about just who the 15 Vice-presidents who became President were (or are).  I suspect most of you know who the man was who filled both of the Office of Vice-president and President without being elected to either office.

In earlier years, the role of Vice-president was fairly limited.  Nelson Rockefeller was quoted as saying, "I go to funerals.  I go to earthquakes."  Obviously, judging from Garner's picture, sometimes they got to meet pretty girls!  However, in more recent times, Vice-presidents are generally given more responsibilities.  Perhaps modern Vice-presidents might not agree with Vice-president Garner's description of the job.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Have We Forgotten History?

Recently, a friend sent me an article he thought I would enjoy.  The author of the article is Hugh Hewitt, and his premise is that by neglecting knowledge of history we are unable to make informed judgements about what is happening in present time.  Naturally, since I am a history buff, I was intrigued by his premise.  

Hewitt directed his attention toward young people's knowledge of history, citing recent test results, showing "alarming declines in eighth graders' understanding of history and civics."  His suggestion was to encourage kids to read historical fiction as a way to entice them to enjoy learning history.  I like the idea, if he means reading books with fictional characters but accurate historical references.  As an example, he suggested Herman Wouk's "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance," pointing out that while Wouk may have invented characters, he told the historical account of W.W. II with accuracy.

I also chose to tell history in my book, Prairie Bachelor, The Story of a Kansas Homesteader and the Populist Movement, using what I considered narrative nonfiction, telling history as a story with real people and real events.  I researched extensively and included foot notes and a bibliography, but I wrote in the style of a story rather than a textbook.  Both Wouk's books and mine were written for general readers, but we shared history as accurately as possible.  Several people who read Prairie Bachelor told me that they were not aware of the populist movement before reading my book. 

Hewitt focused on teaching history to young students, but I fear that both young and old are lacking in historic knowledge.   I enjoy reading history, but there is a lot of history that I do not know, and I certainly agree with Hewitt's statement that, "Without the sense of scale that even a decent grasp of history provides, it is simply not possible to appreciate the difference between what, today, might seem to be a deeply dangerous divided country [without being aware of ] the violent social upheaval of the 1960s, much less of the pre-civil War era."  

However, while his conclusion that awareness of history can show us that we have survived threats in the past, helping us keep current problems in perspective, we must not assume that just because "things worked out then" we need not be concerned about today's problems.   Germany did not have nuclear weapons in W.W. II, and how different the war might have been if Hitler would have had that weapon first. 

A reminder found in Philadelphia 

It is true that every generation will face challenges, and America has survived severe situations.  Yet, just because we survived difficult times in the past must not make us assume that today's threats will eventually be resolved wisely.  Nuclear weapons, global warming, and AI capabilities are obvious examples of things past generations did not confront. 

Hewitt's emphasis on the lessons history has to teach is valid.  I agree.  Ways to teach history to young people are extremely important, but we adults also need to reflect on the lessons to be learned from the past.  Perhaps, instead of a debate, prospective political candidates should participate in a quiz show, answering questions about American history.   It seems reasonable that we voters should take better notice of how well schooled in history and the American Constitution the people we send to State Capitals and to Washington, D.C. really are.  But, of course, before we can judge their answers, all of us may need to brush up a little on our own awareness of history.

Thanks to my friend who suggest that I read Hugh Hewitt's article.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Advice from Alvin Toffler, with comments from me

 The illiterate of the 21st Century

will not be those who cannot read & write, but those who

cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Last week's blog focused on the impact of AI on authors and writers, but the issue involves everyone.  The quote above is from futurist Alvin Toffler, 1928-2016), whose wife Heidi also deserves crediting.  They wrote prolifically, but probably most well-known are Future Shock, 1970, The Third Wave, 1980, and Power Shift, 1990. His influence during his life has been acknowledged by individuals such as Ted Turner, Mikhail Gorbachev. George H. W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, and Carl Sagan.   

In addition, his ideas have had significant influence in education.  It was Toffler's opinion that school should focus on "students' critical thinking skills, creativity, and adaptability to change."  (  In other words, students must learn how to learn so that they can solve problems in our rapidly evolving world.  

Alvin Toffler

Reflecting on last week's blog about writers, I worry that as AI begins to replace humans in some roles, are we going to be flexible and adaptive enough to stay ahead of AI?  Today's generation of children are clever enough to utilize AI, but are they keeping up with their own skills of creativity and critical thinking?  Just because they are better able to navigate their computers and phones, does that mean they have the wisdom and knowledge to fulfill the three requirements Toffler named--critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability to change?  

Our computers are essential, and most kids are more proficient with them than are their parents and grandparents.  But is that a measure of Toffler's big three?  His big three doesn't include the ability to interact with others.  In doing my research for this blog I found a blog from 2016, by BBC News Washington writer Courtney Subramani.  It delt with the question of whether Toffler's idea that the wave of information and data might spark social isolation.  One of her interview subjects said, No, "We are not isolated by it.  And when the information overloads us, most people are still wise enough to use the power key of the off button to gain some peace."  Since that response from 2016, I believe that we have learned otherwise, with the lack of will to hit the off button as often as we should.  

I believe we have seen a downturn in socialization, exacerbated by Covid, that has actually done what was predicted regarding social isolation.  I recently blogged about what I called 'careful speech' in which we avoid opening conversations in which conflicting ideas might emerge.  We text instead of calling friends, or we simply stay in touch on face book. My husband still has phone conversations with friends, but I admit that I rarely do.

Toffler was right to urge 'learning, unlearning, and relearning, but I believe there must also be the firm foundation of knowledge and history upon which to build for a stable future.  And, I also believe we should resume friendly conversations with those with whom we may not always agree.  Maybe if ordinary people resumed sharing ideas, our politicians might learn the value of exchanging ideas too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Will AI and GPT Make Writers Obsolete?

Is GPT Scarier than any of Edgar Allen Poe's Stories? 

 Recently, I have blogged about my concern for the impact of AI.  Until the recent edition of "The Authors Guild Bulletin" I had overlooked the impact of AI on professional writers, but Professional writers in Hollywood are already aware of the impact on their livelihoods and have joined other strikers to seek protection from being replaced by AI.  

Recently, the Executive Director of the Authors Guild interviewed the founder of a company providing GPT for writers.  After reading this blog, you may want to google GPT to find a more detailed description; however, my simple explanation is that GPT is an artificial intelligence that can process our natural human language and generate a response.  What is significant about GPT for authors is whether the art of writing will eventually displace the need for authors.  The striking writers in Hollywood have already recognized the threat.

However, some authors see AI positively, using it as an aid rather than a threat.  For example, Al can assist with word selection or composing a description.  GPT can provide ideas in each of the five senses.  I sometimes use my dog-eared 'Roget's Thesaurus. to find the exact word I want, so GPT could help in that way, but it goes a lot further than just finding the best word.  It can also help a writer create characters and outline story structures.  The more I read, the more I could imagine a future in which  authors become nearly unnecessary, reduced to prompters.  

The man being interviewed used the calculator as an example of how something new may seem disruptive of tradition and norms, but once implemented becomes quickly accepted.  Children may still learn the multiplication tables, he explained, but with calculators on smart phones, few of us rely on our grade school memory to do calculations.  

Another example is the impact of cell phone cameras.  Professional photographers have not disappeared entirely, but most people are satisfied with their cell phone cameras, and taking snapshots and waiting for them to be developed to put into photo albums is uncommon.  

Near the end of the interview, the Guild interviewer asked whether he thought writers would become nearly extinct.  He answered that he believed there would always be a professional class of creators.  However, he predicts that as GPT is programed by having been feed the words of the world's greatest writers, the role of human authors will become more a matter of "training" GPT.  

As I write this blog, spell-check is warning me when I misspell words. That is a predecessor to loading massive collections of writings to educate or train the GPT to do what it does.  

With some writers already using GPT to help create characters and to help structure settings and describe scenes, the technology is racing ahead of the law, neglecting the issue of copyright and some kind of compensation to writers for the material with which they "train" the GPT.  Should it be forbidden for GPT to use copyrighted material?  Has that already happened?   Are writers who have begun using GPT helping to make themselves obsolete?  These questions are what the Hollywood writers have already recognized.

From the Interview, it appears that most of the GPT is currently used for fiction, especially science fiction and short stories.  However, the man being interviewed acknowledged that AI has proceeded without determining whether or not their actions exceed 'fair use.'  He admitted that from a pure ethical standpoint, authors should be compensated for using their work.  The interviewer agreed, asking how can the work of those writers, whose books and other material have already been used for training, be compensated?  Should authors have the right to refuse to allow their work to be used?  How long should copywrite protect authors?  As the old saying goes, 'Is it too late to shut the barn door once the horses are out?'  Perhaps those strikers in Hollywood are trying to round up the horses!

The man suggested that some kind of an automated collective licensing system should be developed to compensate authors, with some legislation licensing solution to get compensation back to the creators of the words already being downloaded.  Just how to make that happen hasn't been figured out.

Are our brilliant minds dashing forward, ignoring ethical issues and consequences?  Is it possible that this is not only a question of fair dealing but also a risk of using human intelligence so carelessly that we are making ourselves obsolete? ( P.S.  I had already written this blog before the strike, but I am glad to have it ready, with a few additions regarding the strike, to share this information that may help explain why the Hollywood writers are concerned. )

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The Problem With Careful Speech--in my opinion

One of the most valuable freedoms we have is freedom of speech; however, that freedom is being tested as never before.  The internet can not only spread information faster than our past means of communication, it can package about anything to look authentic. A lone person can post false information that looks professional and real, causing intelligent people to be misled.   

Remember when...

That is not to say I long for days gone by... I love the internet.  It allows me to do research from my home, far from the research libraries I used for my early books.  But the good guys that are trying to keep the bad guys from messing with the internet are struggling to keep up.  Too much bad information is already out there, impersonating facts.  

There was a time when I loved nothing better than to go to a party and get into a debate with others about some topic.  Sometimes the topic was sports.  Sometimes it was movies, or popular music, and sometimes it was even politics.  We came armed with facts, statistics, opinions based on experience, and a willingness to change our minds if the right facts, statistics, and other logic persuaded us.  Often, we learned something we had not known, sometimes our minds were changed, sometimes not, but always, we left as friends.  I don't think that happens much today, and that is a shame.

We need to challenge ourselves with new information and new perspectives.  What we do not need to do is deposit garbage in our minds.  The balance of having access to information while avoiding misrepresentation or outright false information is becoming harder and harder.  What happens, for some of us, is that we avoid the pollination of new ideas.  We develop the habit of 'Careful Speach,' talking only with those we believe share our perspectives.  We watch the television programs that we generally find consistent with our opinions and we visit the websites we like. 

Without cross pollination of ideas we are weakened.    As the nation divides, we engage in "Careful Speech," avoiding topics that might offend or anger.  We miss the opportunity to broaden our perspectives, to see things from another point of view.  We cheat ourselves of the opportunity to better understand different perspectives.  Careful Speech may be safe, but it is also isolating and narrowing our empathy for others.  That is the problem.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Celebrating the 4th of July...too Late?

 The annual celebration of the 4th of July is over.  Many of us gathered with family and friends for backyard parties, some traveled to watch elaborate fire works, and other stayed home to enjoy fire works and patriotic music on television.  During our celebrations, how many of us toasted Richard Henry Lee?  How many of us even know who he was??

Richard Henry Lee was born in Virginia into a historically influential family in Virginia politics.  His father was governor of Virginia.  He was tutored until the age of 16, when he was sent to England to complete his formal education.  Both of his parents died while he was away, studying for two years, but he remained abroad for three more years to complete his education and tour Europe.  He returned to join his brothers in settling his parents' estate, and only five years later he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he met Patrick Henry and became further involved in advocating independence.

Richard Henry Lee by Charles William Peale, National Portrait Gallery

Most of us know about the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774, followed by the Second Continental Congress in 1776, and we are aware of the courage of the men who attended those events, risking losing everything, including their lives, by confronting the British as they did.  However, we may not know that it was Richard Henry Lee who put forth the motion to the Continental Congress to declare Independence from Great Britain.  

His Resolution on June 7, 1776, contained three parts:  a declaration of independence, a call to form foreign alliances, and a plan for the confederation.

Four days later the Congress appointed three committees, which, respectively, drafted a declaration of independence, drew up a plan for forming foreign alliances, and began to prepare for forming a confederation.  

Many members of Congress thought Lee's proposal was premature, and the actual vote of approval did not occur until July 2, when only the declaration was adopted.  The plan for making treaties was not approved until September 1776, and the plan for confederation was delayed until November of 1777.

Lee himself had returned to Virginia by the time Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence, but he signed belatedly when he returned to Congress.

The actual signing of the Declaration is disputed, but ultimately 56 delegates signed; however, eight delegates never signed the Declaration.  For those of you who enjoy history, the descriptions of the prologued signings are worth reading.  The research makes it clear that although we celebrate July 4th, it is not too late for you to drink a toast to Richard Henry Lee for 'getting the ball rolling,' as we say!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Six or Nine * A Modern Fable

Six or Nine  *  A Modern Fable

Two people are leaving work and are in a hurry to get home.  They hear a young woman with a megaphone calling, "Don't miss the parade tomorrow.! Support the Graduates!!"  Both people are in a rush to get to their cars before the other employees fill the parking lot and clog traffic, and when they reach their cars, both grab the flier slipped under their windshield wiper and lay it in the seat without looking at what it says, not wanting a waste a second getting into the line leaving the parking lot.  When they get home, they each take the flyer they picked up into the house, noticing for the first time the cleaver design of graduation caps and diplomas in a circle around the time of the parade.  What a cleaver reminder, they both think to themselves.  The next morning, one of them tells everyone at breakfast to get dressed for the parade at 9 o'clock so they can get downtown to stake out a good vantage point for watching the parade.  The other person tells her family that this year the parade is at six, so that everyone can walk to the auditorium for the graduation ceremony as soon as the parade ends.  She tells them to be ready to go by 5:30, so they can get a parking place closer to the auditorium so they will not have to walk so far after the parade.

This blog is about how we see things.  Sometimes it doesn't matter.  Are sun rises more beautiful than sun sets?  Are dark blue basketball uniforms or bright red uniforms better.  Are chocolate bars better with or without nuts?  Everyone has a right to an opinion on things like that.

However, some things are not a matter of opinion.  In the example of 6 or 9, it matters.  Is it an evening parade or a morning parade?  There is a right answer, even if the flier was confusing.  If something isn't clear, we must take the responsibility of searching for more information so that we get it right.  Just showing the piece of paper to someone else isn't always going to give you the right answer, since their opinion is not necessarily going to be any better than yours, unless, of course, they have made a genuine effort to learn the correct time of the parade.  Just because we would prefer the parade to be in the morning, or because we asked someone else who didn't bother to consult a reliable source for the correct information, doesn't mean they can tell us what time the parade starts.

I know this is a silly example, but I do fear that many of us are becoming careless about the sources we rely upon for accurate information.  Sometimes we just don't want to get up early on a Saturday morning to go to a parade, so we figure out a way to be assured that the parade must be at 6 o'clock in the evening so we can sleep late.  We may even suspect that it really isn't an evening parade, but if we are willing to fool ourselves, we can enjoy a late morning in bed, and then blame someone else for the careless flier.  

Whether it is a six or a nine can really make an important difference.  It matters.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Do Traditions Matter Today?

Christmas at Grandmother's House

Does it matter that today many traditions are disappearing?  Before answering that question, it must be recognized that traditions have sometimes excluded others.  That may have been unintentional, although at other times exclusion may have been intentional, for a variety of reasons. Like so many things, it seems today that the line between traditions for positive purposes and traditions for hurtful purposes are sometimes challenging to distinguish.  I am not talking about ossification, where traditions are a way to exclude or hold back others.  I am talking about the positive use of traditions to reinforce values.

Families have traditions, as do communities, organizations, and countries.  Traditions can pass down unwritten values, can introduce young people to role models, allow opportunities for reflection, and pass memories through generations.  Traditions can be a way to welcome new people by inviting their participation in traditional events and stories.  It can be a positive way to pass beliefs from one generation to the next and to the next after that.  

 Many traditions are not written down, and the only way they are learned is through participation.  For instance, folk dances are often learned by joining in.  Family recipies, holiday traditions, family generosity are often learned by having participated.  Simple gestures of kindness, integrity, manners, and a work ethic are forms of tradition.

So, you may ask what the difference is between tradition and culture.  They may sometimes overlap, but Tradition is more about passing knowledge and values through generations, while Culture is about constant evolution and change.  As we adapt to differences, the culture must change.  We still stand upright and walk on two legs, but we are now able to probe into deep space, and while Culture has changed, Tradition helps us decide how to use that ability.  If culture changes too rapidly, we tend to forget the values, mores, and courtesies of the past.  By preserving our Traditions, we maintain our balance, and it is not just our personal balance but also our national balance.

It occurs to me that Tradition and Culture are a bit like driving a car.  You have the wheel, and culture keeps moving you down the road while tradition keeps you from going too fast or getting in the wrong lane.

Put another way, Tradition reinforces values, personal responsibility, ethics, faith, and integrity.  It gives you meaningful pause and opportunity for reflection, as well as role models to emulate and the sense of belonging and history.  Culture changes constantly, as it should, for as we learn we must change.

What is important is that simply because we can do something does not mean we should.  Generations have always worried about change.  That is nothing new.  However, traditions are the guard rails, the things that keep us grounded, and when we ignore traditions, it seems to me that we risk losing ourselves.  Every generation of grandparents has worried about what their grandchildren are doing--how they dress, how they talk, how they think.  I know that, but recently Culture seems to be outrunning Tradition...or is it just that now I am a senior citizen resisting change?


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Are Traditions Disappearing?

 Recently I was watching the French Open and was rather appalled to see orange courts!  One of the players was wearing an orange T-shirt nearly the same color as the court itself and the other player was wearing a variety of colors.  So why did that upset me?  I suppose it was a matter of tradition.  Not that long ago, both men and women generally chose white tennis attire, and some courts required it.  I liked that.  Somehow it seemed to me to represent a respect for your opponent on the court.  Neither age nor wealth nor social status mattered, particularly if the match was on a public court, rather than a country club or private court.  Neither player was showing off.  It was all about the game, and when the game ended, the players traditionally shook hands.

Frankly, I like traditions...more about traditions in next week's blog.  But, for this week the traditions I will share relate to tennis itself.  We tend to think about Wimbledon and England when professional tennis is mentioned, but my research indicates that the roots are in 16th-century France with a game called jeu de paume that was similar to tennis.  It was played indoors, and the players wore white.

When the game moved to England, wearing white continued, probably because tennis was a game for the rich, and white signified privilege and wealth.  When the game became co-ed, women at that time certainly were not wearing shorts or trousers, so they were influenced by the lawn dresses of that time, made from lighter fabrics like linen and cotton, and often adorned with lace inlays and embroidery, in white of course.

The exclusivity of tennis for the wealthy continued for a while but eventually most towns had public courts, like the small public court in the park in Macksville, where my husband grew up.  I doubt that he had tennis whites when he played there, but after we lived in cities, he did.  Playing tennis was a good way to meet people and make friends, especially if you have a good game, and my husband did.

I played a little, but I have one eye that is near-sighted and the other is far-sighted, and that isn't very helpful when a tennis ball is coming straight at you!

Today, most professional tournaments have rules for players' attire, and some even have rules for those in the stands.  In general, the rules for players are "professional tennis attire," which today permits a great deal of color and imagination.  The rules also may prohibit T-shirts, casual wear, or general workout wear, but some players appear to stretch those limitations.  

In 2022, Wimbledon modified the rules for women to allow players to wear dark colored under shorts beneath their skirts or shorts, for personal reasons not applicable to men.  However, the rules regarding white remain traditional for both men and women, requiring attire that is almost entirely white, and excluding off white or cream.  The rule applies as soon as the player enters the court surround.  

Hurrah for Wimbledon!  I like traditions, when they are not used for exclusion or hateful reasons.  Watch for next weeks' blog about the purpose of traditions. 


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Books, Movies, and Artificial Intelligence--Just a difference of Technology?


A dress and hat the Lost Lady might have worn.

    Those of you who have followed this blog know that I love the writing of Willa Cather, and that we often enjoy attending the Cather Conferences in Red Cloud, Nebraska.  This year, the book chosen to be explored was A Lost Lady, published by Alfred A. Knopf.  Knopf sold the film rights to A Lost Lady to Warner Brothers, and Cather was so dismayed by the film version that she resolved never to permit a screen adaptation of her work in the future.  

     As with many of her books, names of towns and people are changed, but the identities of people and locations are often identifiable, and that is particularly true in the case of A Lost Lady.  This past week, several speakers explored Cather's use of actual people in this particular book.  Were there reasons for the family to have been offended?  Was the identity obvious, despite changed names and other variations?

    This week's blog ponders the question of privacy.  Did Willa Cather invade the privacy of the people she used as inspiration for her characters, and did it matter that she waited until after their deaths to 'borrow' their lives?

    One speaker at the Conference observed that all writers of fiction rely on creating their characters from individuals they have met throughout their lives.  Most writers are good observers, catching expressions and mannerisms and countless other details with which they construct imaginary people for their stories.  When does that 'borrowing' go too far?

    In the case of A Lost Lady, Cather altered appearances, professions, and names, but she used descriptions of their home, their travel habits, and their uniqueness in that community which made it easier to associate those details with the couple.  Today, countless Cather scholars and fans like me have learned the identities of the real people Cather used in her books.

    Lately, I have blogged about AI and the ability to impose the features of real people to make it appear that they did or said things that they never did or said.  Was what Willa Cather did a century ago an early example of that, just done without the technology?    

    Will it matter if movies are made using the images of long-dead movie stars from the past as characters?  Should their descendants receive payment for using the images.  Should anyone have the right to object on behalf of the dead movie star if AI is used to impose nudity or vulgar language or to express opinions the person would never have held?  

    It seems ironic that Cather was so offended by the changes to her book in the film that followed that she refused to allow her other books to be made into movies, since she had altered the lives of real people to create characters in her novels. 

    The possible uses of AI have concerned me, as the questions raised in some of my earlier blogs have shown.  Was Cather's use of adapting real people's lives in her fiction  a forerunner without the technology to what is happening now?  Can it be stopped, and should it be?  Or is AI just a technical advancement of something we long ago accepted?

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Remembering the Veterans

Civil War Veteran Aaron Beck 

    We entrust those we elect to bear the responsibility of careful consideration before sending men and women into war.  Before the decision was made to turn Memorial Day into a three day holiday, I remember how people dressed in their Sunday best and filled the cemetery to honor those who had served the nation and remember those we loved who were burried there.  The band marched, and flowers covered generations of graves.

    Local communities continue to honor those buried in our local cemeteries, but the crowds are smaller.  Many of the people buried in these local cemeteries no longer have family living near.  With the opportunity to have a 3-day weekend, many people travel.  School is out for the summer, and the band no longer marches.  I miss how special Memorial Day once was, but for many years I was among those who lived too far away to attend the services and decorate the graves.  I understand that times change.

    This year I want to honor my Great Grandfather, who served the nation as a Union Soldier, and the many other soldiers buried in the Farmington Macksville Cemetery.  He served during 4 years of that tragic war and kept a daily diary that he carried in his knapsack.  On September 19, 1863 during the battle of Lookout Mountain, he wrote:  "It was an awful slaughtering...Col. Balding commanding the brigade fell.  Col. Strong is feared wounded.  ,,,About sundown they attacked us all along the line.  We was holding our position finely but the enemy got in our rear and McCooks corps was cut off from the rest and entirely surrounded.  There was but one thing for us to do {and} that was to cut our way through, so we made a dash for the hills in our rear.  ,,,It was a sight I never want to see again.  We ran right over the dead and wounded in many places, the enemy and our men lay side by side."

    May those we elect have the wisdom to understand the responsibility they have been given to act with respect and consideration for our constitution and for all Americans, never again failing in their duty so tragically that our nation becomes divided and those we elect fail in their duty to all of us.


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Is AI a tool or a threat?

Is Artificial Intelligence a positive tool or a threat to humanity?

Medical Challenges of Covid,   Art by Lyn Fenwick

The pandemic was what awakened us to the potential of AI.  If you are curious, I recommend that you visit to learn more.  That article explains how AI can "spot anomalies early enough to give them time to dynamically respond to the threats."  Having recognized the threats, AI can move more quickly to create simulation modeling, workforce planning, and demand projection.  

Using AI to confront covid showed us the importance of quick responses and constant oversight, and having seen the value of AI, its development and use has advanced rapidly.  The question is, while we are smart enough to have made rapid advancements in AI technology, are we wise enough to establish ethical guardrails to avoid the abuses AI can accomplish?

Challenges on our Planet & in Deep Space

Google has announced a new computing device capable of doing in 3 minutes and 20 seconds what current supercomputers could not complete in under 10,000 years.  I cannot even wrap my mind around that capability.  

I struggle with blocking robocalls on my phone, and I am struggling with learning how to do the same things I did efficiently on my old computer on my new computer which has, so far, intimidated me.  I respect the fact that younger minds can deal more easily with the current computer world than I can, but are they wise enough to remain smarter than the computers they create?

We already know about the threat of spying on us through face book and the websites we visit, the ability to deceive us with altered images, the use of computers to draft essays assigned by teachers rather than doing the research and writing yourself, and the loss of personal skills once valued, like creating art, poetry, music, and cursive penmanship, relegating those skills to computers.   Are we willing to abandon too many of the things that define humanity, the ethical judgements, the wisdom of generations, the refinement of beauty in art and music, the very exercise of intelligence that allowed us to create these computers?  

Or, is this just a generational thing that parents and grandparents for centuries have viewed with skepticism and worry about the natural evolution of new thinking and the opportunities of technology?  I don't know.  But, I do know that the younger generation must be smarter than our generation has been because they are going to be responsible for far more dangerous decisions than past generations faced.