How Writing by Hand Makes Kids Smarter

Many early indications were that the increasing prevalence of digital communications -- even those written conversations that take place via mobile devices or instant-messaging services that seem to engender a sort of abbreviated 'txt spk' -- were not apparently having any significant effect on our ability to recall more formal and socially acceptable grammatical styles when the need would arise. In a classroom setting, for instance, or when typing a business letter, it was shown that instant message users could readily 'revert' to the style that was expected of them. However, as digital communications continue to penetrate into our global monoculture, and perhaps ESPECIALLY when encountering other forms of written language that are more ideographic or pictographic than phonetic, we are seeing that these early assumptions could very well be mistaken. The phenomenon of "character amnesia" is becoming much more noticed by the media in Asian nations; where more complicated script leaves children (and tech-savvy adults alike) at a loss when trying to recall the pen-strokes that produce the written forms of language. And so, it's becoming apparent that comparisons of 'instant messaging' with 'email' or even printed documents that are type-written with machine aids is not at all equivalent to comparisons of machine-aided writing versus writing done solely by hand. Reports are now flooding-in, that confirm what should have likely been obvious from the first time humans used a calculator or a spell-checker... digital assistance for actions that were once solely mental & physical actions is leading to atrophy of our innate abilities. Just like most any other part of our body; the less we use our brains, the weaker they become. And so, while exploring this entry on how writing by hand makes kids smarter, perhaps it's worth asking yourself: When is the last time that YOU put a pen to paper? (continued...)

You Can't Be 'Neutral' on a Moving Train

Sometimes I think of the enormity of darkness which our world contains, and find the tragedies involved simply too crushing. How small we are! How seemingly powerless! So many people spend their time preparing for 'the revolution', even agitating for it... and without some historical perspective they have no firm grasp of what it is they are actually agitating for. They seem to feel the urgent need to move, but don't know where to go or how to proceed. And I find myself in need of hopeful words -- words that succinctly explain how the revolution is NOW. Not something that we have to wait for, or organize for, or agitate for... it's something that can begin in the ways which we live our lives; the foods we choose to eat, the ways we bring our children into this world and raise them to adulthood, and the stories that we tell about our histories and our day-to-day existence.

I found such a succinct explanation, today, in the conclusion to Howard Zinn’s 1994 book You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. Actually, the words were a truncated version of what follows and (believe it or not) they came from the mouth of Matt Damon, in his narration of a documentary about the life of Howard Zinn with the same title as Zinn's book. If you feel you’re invested in bringing good to your world, by whatever means, perhaps you’ll find these words encouraging. (continued...)

How To Control People - by Charley Reese

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The difference between true education and vocational training has been cleverly blurred. Here are a few tips on how smart people can control other people. If any of this rings a bell - Well, then wake up!

The first principle of people control is not to let them know you are controlling them. If people knew, this knowledge will breed resentment and possibly rebellion, which would then require brute force and terror, and old fashioned, expensive and not 100 % certain method of control. (continued...)

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