29 June 2010

Time flies when you're super busy

I know, I know -- I promised I would write more.

Before you call me out, at least allow me to explain: I've been extremely busy. The wife and I are in the process of buying a house, and with all that comes the constant conversations with mortgage brokers, home builders, inspectors, etc. and the numerous headaches that go along with the process of buying the house, waiting on a closing date (which we're still doing, by the way), and getting prepared to move all of our stuff (my least favorite part of the whole process, because you never realize how much stuff you have until you have to move it all into a new place). So, needless to say, I've barely had time to think, much less sit down and write.

But I at least wanted to take some time to write something, if for nothing else but to add to the archives to show that I didn't disappear from the face of the earth during the month of June, 2010.

Hopefully I will be completely moved in by the end of next week, so I can get back to living an abnormal life, and hopefully I can be inspired to sit down and type out some more thoughts on the abnormalities of my abnormal self.

But first, I've got some more packing to do.

02 June 2010

We the (ignorant) people...

I was surfing the web earlier today, and came across this article that proved to me our society is headed down a long and dreary road of ignorance, and after reading some of the facts about our country that the majority of citizens don't know, I am gravely concerned about the future. When important decisions will be made by the offspring of these people who are so ignorant to basic facts of American civilization, there's really no telling what kind of shape our world will end up in.

Here's the part of the article that really bothered me (emphasis mine):
A recent poll gauging U.S. knowledge of civics and Revolutionary-era history pointed up all sorts of sobering gaps. The American Revolution Center sponsored a national survey of 1,001 U.S. adults who took a multiple choice test. Before the test, 89 percent of respondents expressed confidence they could pass it; 83 percent went on to fail. Among the findings:
  • More Americans could identify Michael Jackson as the composer of "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" than could identify the Bill of Rights as a body of amendments to the Constitution.
  • More than 50 percent of respondents attributed the quote "From each according to his ability to each according to his needs" to either Thomas Paine, George Washington or President Obama. The quote is from Karl Marx, author of "The Communist Manifesto." [This one I can somewhat forgive - the average person isn't familiar with Marx.]
  • More than a third did not know the century in which the American Revolution took place, and half of respondents believed that either the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation or the War of 1812 occurred before the American Revolution.
  • With a political movement now claiming the mantle of the Revolutionary-era Tea Party [or as I call them, Tea Baggers], more than half of respondents misidentified the outcome of the 18th-century agitation as a repeal of taxes, rather than as a key mobilization of popular resistance to British colonial rule. [And I would be willing to bet that half of these misinformed people are part of the new Tea Party. Are we sure that we want these people taking over our country?]
  • A third mistakenly believed that the Bill of Rights does not guarantee a right to a trial by jury, while 40 percent mistakenly thought that it did secure the right to vote.
  • More than half misidentified the system of government established in the Constitution as a direct democracy, rather than a republic - a question that must be answered correctly by immigrants qualifying for U.S. citizenship.
Okay, I probably expect a lot more out of the average citizen than most people because I have a B.A. in History, but come on - these are things that everyone should know. The average American should know the basic principles of our history and government -- I mean for God's sake this stuff is usually taught in 5th Grade -- and it's sad that so few take the time to learn these things. I know most people don't enjoy reading the Constitution and studying the Bill of Rights, but everyone should at least know what those documents are and be able to answer basic questions about them.

If the results of the referenced survey are true, then I'm afraid of what our future holds. Parents, please take the time to educate your children on the basics of American Civics, because we can't afford to grow any more ignorant than we already are.