* Mexican drug war
* 'The Dumbest Generation' by Mark Bauerlein
* TechTest2008 'survivors' to be honored
Stratfor’s 13may08 assessment of the ongoing Mexican drug war (‘Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?’) should make us all think about and prepare for uncomfortable futures. Short of the US legalizing drugs – don’t hold your breath – this war has a high likelihood of spreading into our drug-consuming cities. The direct effect on the hinterlands like Nevada County will be the further curtailment of civil liberties and increased population pressures – people who perceive and can avoid the violence of LA will move out (we did). This $40 billion/year drug war is big in almost every dimension, and is now at a level in Mexico that it kills people from the highest levels of government officials and cartel leaderships. There is precious little to prevent its hopping the border. Every so often I have to remind myself that Jack Bauer is a fictional character, and even in the series ‘24’ drug cartels ran amuck in our country. Meanwhile up here we continue with our left-right spats on issues removed from reality. Perhaps La-la Land is no longer located in Los Angeles.
Mark Bauerlein’s new book – The Dumbest Generation – comes out this Thursday. In it he reports on sprinkling some academic dust on how the youngsters of the Baby Boomers stack up in the smarts department. Advance reviews don’t paint a pretty picture. In today’s WSJ David Robinson of Princeton reports that “aging boomer parents, rather than pass down a fixed, canonical culture to their kids, encourage a modern-day version of their own rebellion …”. Bauerlein makes the case “that cultural and technological forces, far from opening up an exciting new world of learning and thinking, have conspired to create a level of public ignorance so high as to threaten our democracy.”
Those readers familiar with my drift in Ruminations and previous talks on numeracy will recognize this message as another corroboration of the Department of Education’s longitudinal survey of adult literacy in America. Now Bauerlein agrees that we as a people are dumb and getting dumber while wealth-creation is demanding even smarter people. With such a population, socialism is the siren song where those who can’t and won’t will vote for a state that will take by force from those who can and do. The result is predictable. We were advised over two hundred years ago that ‘a nation ignorant and free, that never was and never shall be’. I will report more completely after my copy of Bauerlein’s book arrives.
In spite of all this, some of us will continue on the positive vein and look forward to announcing the winners of $15,000 of scholarship-prizes - those who scored highest on TechTest2008 given last April 5th. This annual test is sponsored by the Sierra Environmental Studies Foundation and seeks to promote technical careers among our county’s best and brightest. The young people who took this test will be the ones that make possible tomorrow’s Microsofts, Googles, and Intels. We will honor them this coming May 24th.