We Have not Taught This Generation. . .That is our biggest problem

Much have I travelled in realms of gold,

Many the goodly fields and cities, I have beheld,

But little did I see of America today,

Until I viewed an old YouTube clip

Of Dennis Prager at the University of Denver: http://youtu.be/XNUc8nuo7HI

Taking seriously the charge that “we” have failed to teach this generation what it means to be an American, I went back to “Letters From An American Farmer “ by J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur.  Just “What is an American?”  Crevecoeur’s answer:

“What then is the American, this new man?…He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He has become an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of man, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims.” (from “Letter III,” 1782)

In revisiting the question, a couple books from my past come to mind: “Travels with Charley”, by John Steinbeck and “Blue Highways,” by William Least Heat-Moon.  I’m thinking that “Travels with Charley” would be a great book to re-write in 2012, but I don’t have a pickup truck and I don’t own a dog.

In summary, Crevecoeur advanced the social concept of America as “The Great Melting Pot.” “e pluribus unum” –from many come ONE.  Steinbeck, by contrast, showed scenes from very different worlds of people who were isolated in many respects from other parts of America.  Perhaps, the division between the “have’s” and “have not’s” which Crevecoeur said existed only in Europe has now come to America.

Not to be lost in any discussion is the flow of money which now supports “diversity”.  In another time, many of these would be called “rabble-rousers”, but today they are called “leaders” or “community activists”.  It seems that America has devolved into a litigious society which garners America’s wealth into the pockets of those “power-brokers” who portray some disenfranchised people as “victims”.

People seem to have lost a sense of personal responsibility and a vision of the common good.  What isn’t working?  America has spent billions on “physical fitness” and the citizens are fatter than ever.  America has spent billions on Medical research and treatments but people feel sicker than ever – or at least they are seeking more medical treatment than ever.  Educational expenditures have outpaced every other inflationary measure and yet we have fewer solutions to society’s problems of quality of life.

Perhaps it is indeed true that America’s biggest problem is that the citizens have lost the pride of personal responsibility, have lost the will to live an honest, self-reliant life which results in making the world a better place to live.  Crevecoeur referred to a “mild government”, well, that has been lost to big government, which requires increasing taxes.  It is time for America to set a new course in the spirit of the founders, a nation based on principled, productive living.

Sources: “Letters From An American Farmer “ by J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur.

Dennis Prager at the University of Denver: http://youtu.be/XNUc8nuo7HI

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” John Keats


The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease!

Perhaps it’s a sign of old age, the cycles become apparent.  The profound thought becomes a quote, then a platitude, and then a cliché. (How about that: TheOldGuy found the “é” symbol in Word!)

I find the current tone of public discourse irritating at best, possibly disgusting.  It does seem that “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease”!  I did appreciate the comment by Newt Gingrich, in response to hecklers, “Noise does not necessarily equate to intelligence!”  Bless you, Newt.  He knew that using 4 and 5 syllable words would cause the hecklers to hesitate, while they ask each other, “What did he say?”

A friend posted on Facebook, a concern about the lack of common decency in today’s world.  I hear a lot about the “double standard” of treatment by the media, regarding the news of the liberals and the news of the conservatives.  Rush makes a bad statement and several organizations call for his firing and cause 17 sponors to pull their ads.  A Kennedy calls a Senator by the same appellation and most people don’t even hear about it.  I remember Trent Lott was called upon to make some remarks at another Senator’s 100th birthday.  In trying to find something nice to say about that person, the loudmouthed, disrespectful left managed to get Lott to give up his important political position for one remark that was an attempt to be kind!

So now we have another cycle: the spokesman, excuse me –the spokesperson—the voice, the mouth, the demonstrators, the protestors.  How is “Public Opinion” created and controlled in America today?  Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend in American discourse: dissenting opinions are shouted down or denied access to a public forum.  On the other hand, authorities are demanding increasing access to private information.  For example, colleges and employers are now demanding passwords and access to social media sites.

We should not take lightly the impact of the TV talking heads who promote split screens and bait their guests to yell and scream, to interrupt, to talk without giving the other person a chance to respond and then close with, “Gotta go to a break!. Great Debate, folks.”  I wonder if some TV anchors even know what a real debate is.  The scary thing is that some of them are actually lawyers, even judges!

So where do we start a change?  It sounds sad, but I think it starts with the money.  The media makes its money from advertising.  Hollywood makes its money from movie tickets.  Celebrities make their money from endorsements.  Why did states vie so adamantly for early primaries?  It certainly wasn’t to improve the election process; it was to bring in the “big bucks” from the hospitality services provided for the media crews and the visiting politicians.  The media exacerbated the least fabric of dissension to encourage the sale of advertising time.  A Presidential visit generally costs a community something in excess of $100,000.  Much of that cost is actually charged to taxpayers, but politicians and media see it as bringing money into their coffers.

Why has this happened?  I’ll continue with that answer in my next blog. –FinePickens

In the meantime: squeak! squeak! http://bit.ly/u8UQmT

Wow! I’ve made it to DAY TWO

So why should YOU read my blog?

That’s a great question.  With gurus galore and millions of new books published every year, millions-or is it billions- of new blogs  — What makes my blog different?  Honestly, I am sure that you can find at least hundreds of blogs that are similar to mine, but they all lack one thing that this blog has —  This blog has ME –Ken Dauer, aka FinePickens, recently added also aka TheOldGuy.

So, welcome to the blog of FinePickens.  A few of you may benefit from looking up the definition of the words in my tagline.  Perspicacious, Peripatetic — I like those words; not because they have so many syllables, but because they engender so much meaning.

If you are reading this blog, you should give yourself much credit for how smart you really are.  Like it or not, your life is blessed with the trials and tribulations of modern society.  I used to congratulate my students on their intelligence with this story:

“You are smarter than some of the Presidents of the United States.  Just imagine what might happen if George Washington could walk into this room, right now.  If I were to ask him to turn on the lights, he would probably reach in his pocket and pull out a match and start looking for the candles.  If I were to ask any one of you, you would walk over to a strange switch on the wall, flip it the other way and fully expect something to happen to the objects in the ceiling.”  Just to tickle their minds I would add, “Can’t you just imagine when George needed to go to the bathroom — he’d be out behind the schoolhouse looking for a much smaller building?”  Of course, I realize that some of you younger folks will look at that last comment and wonder, “What in the world is he talking about?”  Folks, things change!

Things change, we change as the things around us change.  Our culture changes as things change, so here I have another story.  In the 1980’s computers came into the schools.  I was blessed with the support of a school board and administration which saw fit to put into my high school English/Language Arts classroom, one of the first file-sharing computer networks using word processing on a Novell platform.  From today’s perspective, it was archaic at best; but then, it was one of less than a handful of computerized “writing labs” across the country.

At the same time “Technology Education” became quite a catch-phrase.  Consequently, students would come into my class, excited about the latest robot they had created or the machine that would replace five humans.  In my classes, I expected the students to continue to talk about great ideas from literature and history.  They were expected to use the computerized writing lab to share their research and to engage in “peer editing”.  About that time another phrase popped up: “Collaborative Learning”.  I was finally able to capture the time with this statement to the students.

“You go to Vocational Education courses where you learn how things are changing; you come to English/Language Arts to learn how things are remaining the same.”  There is the old cliche: You should learn from history because you won’t have time to make the mistakes of the past.

Life is filled with choices.  For me, among the most meaningful of choices is to be clear about “What to remember” and “What to forget”.  When my wife makes a remark about becoming forgetful, I remind her that from my perspective that’s a good thing.

(c) FinePickens

Please visit www.kendauer.com  www.1to1mall.com


Hello from FinePickens

I’ve heard a lot about this new-fangled technology: you know, the blogosphere the technograffitti, etc.  So I thought I’d put in my two cents.  Notice that I used the correct “two”.

From swinging on “hay ropes” in the barn and building tunnels in the bales of hay to being a sysop in one of the first file-sharing networks in a high school English classroom and then into a working retirement, I’ve managed to develop a few opinions and observations –not necessarily in that order.

I invite most people to follow this blog, but I make no promise that it will be something that lasts forever.  Given the learning curve to start up, I may lose interest very quickly.  If you are a compassionate person who would like to give me some encouragement through the learning curve, you would be deeply appreciated.

For me, it is time to seriously rethink what we have become.  That is not to say that the world is a bad place, but it is sometimes very difficult to face.  I see many people struggling for success, but they have no idea of where they are going.  I see lots of good intentions destroyed by unintended consequences.  But I do know of a source of hope, something less than fanatical, that provides that quiet sense of a meaningful life.

If you chose not to follow me in this blog, I won’t even know it.  But if you do choose to follow me, “Thank you, I look forward to becoming acquainted.”


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