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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 May 21, 2009 / 27 Iyar

Is America Premodern or Postmodern?

By Victor Davis Hanson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | During the last 20 years, science and a growing economy gave Americans the most sophisticated and leisured lifestyles in history. We inexpensively call or e-mail anywhere in the world. With online shopping and banking, Americans acquire and spend electronically — without seeing those with whom we do business. Taxes are filed over the Internet, and stocks are bought and sold daily online.


But with such ease and reliance on computers comes ever-increasing vulnerability. Brilliant engineers may have designed our laptops, cell phones, online commerce and 1-800 call lines. But someone still has to answer the phone, enter data into computers and assist customers who fall through the electronic cracks. And such human audit of the growing power of computerized commerce requires more, not less, educated workers than ever before.


And here is where problems arise.


Too many of us are growing more illiterate — reading less and watching television more. A conservative estimate of the national high-school dropout rate is 20 percent. Even for those who graduate, too often a therapeutic curriculum emphasizing self-esteem; race, class, and gender issues; and drug, alcohol and sex education has crowded out language, science and math.


A highly complex society, staffed by those who are unable to read well and compute at basic levels, can be terrifying. One mathematically inept transcriber or an American receptionist who cannot speak fluent English can do the public a lot of damage.


Their mistakes can get embedded into complex computers — the force multipliers of human error — whose functions they do not fully understand, which in turn automatically begin sending out mistaken notices, bills and payments.


To rectify these mistakes, the exasperated consumer dials in to a computer bank, pushes various buttons, is put on hold and, with luck, eventually finds a living, breathing real person — in India. (That said, Indian fixers often prove to be better educated and speak more precise English than their American counterparts.)


In the last year, I had many brushes with this growing dysfunctional side of America — experiences now common to millions. A Macy's clerk copied my address wrongly; then others sent three bills to a nonexistent location; and then, without my knowledge, still another reported the undelivered bill to a credit bureau.


DirecTV charged me each month for unwanted NFL football premium channels. Every time I called to stop payments, the phone-bank American receptionists either put me on hold, failed to understand basic requests or spoke English so poorly that communication was nearly impossible.


Most recently, a forger somehow got hold of my Citibank check-router number and began writing phony checks. In our impersonal world, the charges went through unnoticed to my account — even though the forger used clearly counterfeited checks with differently printed names and addresses from my own. We are a long way from my grandfather's world, where an actual person would have spotted such amateurish fraud.


I am sure that corporate dons, in their profit-loss models, have factored in all these potential foul-ups — and concluded that the greater profits of hiring poorly paid, poorly educated clerical workers — or simply turning everything over to impersonal computer audit — outweighs the greater risk.


But, on the other end of the equation, modern life is becoming not so modern at all for the rest of us. The more sophisticated the chain of our culture becomes, the more it is rendered vulnerable to a single weak link of the ever-more unsophisticated — costing us time, money and peace of mind.


Unless our schools return to an emphasis on language and mathematics, and then hire better auditors of our electronic world, it will not matter how many innovative thinkers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet that America produces.


Just a few poorly educated cogs in our vast electronic wheel can easily undo their work, making our glorious postmodern life once again premodern.

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

Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.


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