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December 2, 2014

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 March 20, 2014 / 18 Adar II, 5774

Technology is not wisdom

By Victor Davis Hanson




JewishWorldReview.com | Americans now have more computer power in their smart phones than did the Pentagon in all its computer banks just 30 years ago. We board a sophisticated jet and assume that the flight is no more dangerous than crossing the street.

The downside of this complete reliance on computer gadgetry is a fundamental ignorance of what technology is. Smart machines are simply the pumps that deliver the water of knowledge -- not knowledge itself.

What does it matter that millions of American students can communicate across thousands of miles instantly with their iPads and iPhones if a poorly educated generation increasingly has little to say?

The latest fad of near-insolvent universities is to offer free iPads to students so that they can access information more easily. But what if most undergraduates still have not been taught to read well, think inductively or have some notion of history? Speeding up their ignorance is not the same as imparting wisdom. Requiring a freshman Latin course would be a far cheaper and wiser investment in mastering language, composition and inductive reasoning than handing out free electronics.

Technology also confuses us about the vast power and force of nature that remains more formidable than Yahoo or Google. Computer models assured us that the Earth would be now be getting really hot. But over the last 17 years, when carbon emissions reached historic levels, temperatures mysteriously have stayed the same or cooled. Nature remains fickle, complex and unfathomable, and can defy even computer-enhanced theorizing.

When wind-chill temperatures fell to 40 degrees below zero in the frigid Midwest this winter and there were occasional storm-related power outages, was it better to have a computer-controlled central heating system or an ax, some wood and a cast-iron stove?

The politicos who peddled the Affordable Care Act did so not just on the impossible logistics of giving more coverage to more people at less cost. They also hyped their new user-friendly website that would make getting health care no different from buying shoes on Amazon.

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Yet behind the cheery web pages on our laptops lie millions of hours of complex computer programming -- as arcane a task as deciphering Byzantine Greek manuscripts. Technological failure has all but sidetracked Obamacare. And the resulting shock is not surprising, given how something so difficult to do was sold to us as if it were already done.

Jets have all sorts of transponders, navigation computers and sophisticated tracking systems. So how could we for days lose track of a 250-ton Malaysian jetliner that recently disappeared from radar screens as if it were some lost clipper ship of the 1840s?

The answer is easy: The oceans are still big and the night remains dark. Jets, in comparison, are quite small. The seas are rough, the skies often stormy. For all our computerized sophistication, we really can lose a jet in a big and still wild world inhabited by millions who have not quite mastered technology, or who use technology to thwart technology.

The problem is not just that high technology is human-produced, and thus often crashes in the same way imperfect humans often fail. Sophisticated electronics also often disguise the brutal premodern world with a thin veneer of postmodern egotism.

Just because we post on Facebook, sell stuff on Craigslist or charge things on a Target card does not ensure that old-fashion Boston Stranglers or contemporary Bernie Madoffs are not lurking in the cyberspace alleyway to harm us. The ancient Greek poet Hesiod reminded us roughly 2,700 years ago that sometimes intellectual or material progress brings with it moral regress.


Our billionaire Lords of High Tech are not necessarily any different than entrepreneurs such as Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller or Leland Stanford of the late 19th-century Gilded Age. A fortune made in social networking is hardly any more noble than one made from monopolizing the railroad business, gobbling up steel companies or setting up tax-avoiding trusts.

Billionaire tech wizard Steve Jobs gave away less of his fortune than did Andrew Carnegie. Google offshores profits with accounting gimmickry that would have made J.P. Morgan proud. The hip Solyndra bunch got government-insider money and concessions of the sort that Mark Hopkins and Collis Huntington garnered to build the transcontinental line. Yet the old robber barons at least used government money to create something; their modern green techie counterparts squandered it.

Sending employment abroad is a Silicon Valley specialty. That the techie wizards of Menlo Park wear jeans, listen to rap and surf the net endlessly does not mean that these profit-driven grandees outsource fewer jobs than did U.S. Steel in the 1950s.

To paraphrase Shane of Western movie fame: A laptop is only as bad or as good as the person using it.

Victor Davis Hanson Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University.


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