26 April, 2016

"To valet or not to valet......that is the question!"

As many the world over will know this last weekend has seen the marking of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Here in the UK there have been many events, TV programmes and media articles about the Bard, how his anniversary was celebrated, and various commentaries upon his relevance in today’s world. On Saturday evening there was an enjoyable tribute to Shakespeare on TV, “Shakespeare Live”  broadcast from the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre at Stratford upon Avon. His heritage was celebrated in a variety of ways: words, music, dance and so on – and from a huge variety of performers from great Shakespearean actors, to ballet dancers, to rappers, to comedians and various musicians. At one point in the show several acclaimed Shakespearean actors performed an amusing sketch using the famous words from Hamlet “To be or not to be, that is the question.”  Each actor had his own “take” on the line; each placing the emphasis upon a different word. For example, “To be or not to be that is the question” or “To be or not to be that is the question.” In the end, the actors were joined by Prince Charles who put them all to rights by explaining that the correct way to speak the line is “To be or not to be that is the question”.
Prince Charles corrects all the famous Shakespearean thespians!

It was all light and gently amusing stuff and for me, as I suspect for many others, it was also  good to hear again some of the very great words of the Bard spoken by some of our very greatest actors and actresses: Simon Russell Beale performing John O’Gaunt’s famous speech, “This royal throne of Kings.....”;  Judy Dench being a wonderful Titania from Midsummer Night’s Dream; Helen Mirren reciting the glorious words from the Tempest “.....And like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep”;  Roger Allam as Lear, Antony Sher as Falstaff and a truly memorable piece from Sir Ian McKellan whose wonderful voice stilled the audience as he spoke the words of Sir Thomas More castigating those who would mistreat refugees – a short piece written by Shakespeare to be included in a play he did not write. Wonderful stuff all of it.

But this blog is not about Shakespeare. It is about something altogether more prosaic – polishing my car! Bear with me!
The wonderful Sir Ian Mckellan in Shakespeare Live

For as long as I can remember I have loved to keep my car(s) clean. At one time, it was almost a Sunday morning religion in the UK – everyone, it seemed, washed and polished their cars and I was one of this merry band. In latter years, however with the advent of car washes and the like car washing has become, it seems to me a more opportunistic and erratic event, done on odd occasions and as necessary and as convenient. In my own case, I still like to keep my car sparkling both inside and out but I certainly do not clean it every week. On the other hand, I am keen that at least twice or three times a year it gets a thorough wax polishing – my reasoning being that the wax polish will give the paintwork some measure of protection through both the winter and the summer. Maybe I’m wrong in this belief but at this time of year I am anxious for that spring clean and deep polishing to take place.

There is, however, a small problem. My painful back and ageing bones mean that getting down to scrub and polish becomes an ever more difficult exercise and, unlike yesteryear, not something to look forward to! So, for the past week or two I have been giving this some serious thought: do I just take the car(s) – mine and my wife’s – around to the local car wash and forget the twice yearly deep polish, do I get the cars washed and risk injuring my back further by polishing, or do I get another plan? Paraphrasing the Bard “To polish or not to polish, that is the question!”

Having given this some thought I did come up with a third option – namely to pay to have the car(s) professionally cleaned and polished – a full professional valet service. I knew this would be expensive but, I argued, it’s only twice a year that I need to use this option so it might be worth it. In the interim, I can simply visit the car wash for a quick clean. I must admit this option had (and has) a huge appeal – to have the car gleaming on my drive as if just from the showroom, a high wax polish, gleaming tyres, scrubbed upholstery and the rest. Yes, definitely something worth considering. What the hell to the cost? I reasoned......as my father always said “You can’t take your money with you – there are no pockets in shrouds!”  Mind you, Dad was always very careful with his money – a bit of a miser if I’m honest – so I’m not too sure his argument bears much scrutiny!
Now if I had my car valeted it could look like this - except that sadly, I don't
own an Aston Martin. If I did then it would really set the neighbours' tongues
wagging! And if  I paid to have it cleaned too  there would certainly 
be some talking behind my back!

I had almost decided that this was the route down which I would go. I had trawled the internet and found two or three local companies who offered this service and all I had to do was to book an appointment for the work to be done. But then another thought, and a worrying one, hit me. All the companies seemed to be mobile valet services. They come to your home and do the cleaning and polishing on your drive. Now in one way that is very convenient, of course, but the more that I thought about it a small concern entered my thinking – namely, what would the neighbours think when they saw the valet service van appear on my drive and two smartly overalled guys scrubbing and polishing my cars! Maybe, I worried, I would be viewed by my neighbours as a rather lazy bloke – unwilling to use a bit of my admittedly large amount of leisure time to do such a basic task as keeping my own cars clean. And further, I thought, wouldn’t the local tongues wag?: “He must have more money than sense paying to have his car washed and polished when he could do it himself” I seemed to hear them say! The more I thought about it the more I came to the view that this was at one level an unnecessary waste of money but at another a rather telling show of my priorities.

So, my initial enthusiasm waned somewhat and I began now to ask not “To polish or not to polish” but rather “To valet or not to valet that [was] the question!” In the end, discretion got the better of me and I opted for the good old British compromise. I took the cars around to the local car wash and had the top of the range wash and polish. Not really what I wanted; Pat and I still had to spend an hour or two giving the insides of the cars a good clean out (which didn’t do my slipped disc any good whatsoever) and even though the cars looked good on the drive, deep down I knew that they hadn’t had that deep wax polishing to protect the paintwork through the coming summer months that I would have liked. In short it was a second best solution.

The whole thing, however, set me thinking. Mobile car valeting services are clearly big business – a fact that I discovered when I began looking at the internet. There can be no doubt that both the number of services available and the high tech that they use indicates that there is indeed a market out there of people who use these services. It seems that many people don’t have the hang-ups that I have about it; clearly many don’t mind neighbours knowing that someone else cleans their cars or that they have sufficient money to spend in this way. Maybe, I thought, some people might see this as a good way to advertise their financial well-being – a mobile car valeting van on the drive – a sign of their successful life, social standing and financial soundness!

She constantly reminds us that we are deserving of all
the fripperies, trinkets and luxuries that we desire -
even, perhaps, car valeting!
And, as I thought on this it occurred to me that as a society we are far more open and brash  than in previous years about advertising our wealth or our successful  financial/social standing. In years gone by it was deemed unseemly to make a display of your wealth. If one goes back in history it was indeed frowned upon and often deemed immoral. The Parable of the Widow’s Mite in the Bible is clear about displays of wealth. In early Christian times avarice was deemed one of the seven deadly sins and in the middle ages comments such as that by Heinrich von Langenstein were not unusual: “He who has enough to satisfy his wants, and nevertheless ceaselessly labours to acquire riches, either in order to obtain a higher social standing or that his sons may become men of wealth and importance are incited by a damnable avarice, sensuality and pride.....”  Most religions of the world teach temperance and the curbing of appetite and desire and in during the industrial revolution and Victorian times thrift was held as one of the great virtues.

Odysseus deaf to the voices of the sirens and keeping his
ship on course.
Not so today. Indeed, so often the maxim seems to be “if you’ve got it flaunt it”. Last week the Sunday Times published its annual awful “Rich List” of the richest people in the UK and as every year this makes TV news headlines and newspaper column inches. Society is increasingly obsessed with what people have got. Our magazines and newspapers are full of adverts for designer labels, the young especially must have the latest mobile phone or electronic gizmo to prove their street cred, and it is not unknown for people to shop at particular high-end retailers just so they can afterwards walk through the streets displaying the carrier bag with the shop's logo for all to see! Social media plays its part too: “Look where I am” accompanies the selfie picture; “Look at what I have got” says the Facebook post. A plethora of magazines and TV ads tells us all that we are not real people unless we build our lives around the latest beauty treatment or luxury item: “Go on.....you’re worth it” says the beautifully made up super model in a kind of 21st century re-enactment of the story of Odysseus as he had himself tied to the mast and his ears plugged so that he might not hear the beguiling voices of the sirens calling him and thus have his ship founder on the rocks. And the young increasingly see fortune and fame as their desired career goal rather than personal/professional  satisfaction and worthy endeavour. Our modern society, it seems to me, is not only built around acquisitiveness in the sense of wanting more and more but also in the sense that we are not ashamed to display our acquisitions to prove that we are real and successful 21st century people - for after all, what is the point of a have it all society if one has to keep it all under wraps!
This seems to me to be a more realistic explanation of
the real consequences of Thatcher  and Reagan's much
 loved trickle down effect

So maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about showing off my bit of “wealth” – such as it is! I can afford it so why not flaunt it. My children, I know, would be the first to say “Do it Pops” and after all the ads tell me I’m “worth it”. Maybe I can salve my conscience and justify it (as so many “fat cat” city bankers do their million pound bonuses) by suggesting that by employing a mobile valeting service I am in fact performing a social service, a service to the economy and a morally good act, for by doing it I am providing work for the men doing the valeting  and so putting food into the mouths of their  children. In other words, I am part of the much vaunted “trickle down effect” an economic theory rampant since the time of Thatcher and Reagan to justify their "free for all" markets and "have it all" societies. By me spending my bit of money I will have a positive trickle down effect on those “below” me in society. Mmmmm – it makes a kind of sense but I can’t help thinking there’s a flaw in the argument somewhere! As I think of this I am troubled because it seems to me that in using the trickle down effect as a justification I am also, by definition, acknowledging that there is a "pecking order" in society. It is almost a justification of inequality; I can only feel good about myself and my actions by knowing that I am in some way superior to others - it makes me a sort of "Mr Bountiful" dispensing little titbits to those less well off or less worthy than myself. By being able to do this I am, perhaps, subconsciously reminding myself that I am successful, have money, have standing, not one of the lesser mortals who have to wash and polish my car to scrape a living! Maybe I'm wrong - I just don't know! Or maybe, I fret, in being prepared to pay to have a gleaming car on my drive  I am simply “inciting damnable avarice, sensuality, and pride." as the mediaeval scholar Heinrich von Langenstein warned all those years ago.  

As I say, “To valet or not to valet that is the question”!

13 April, 2016

On Planet Imbecile

I don’t seem to get too much time for blogging at the moment – or maybe it’s just a case of writers block. Certainly, here in the UK there is no shortage of newsworthy items for a grumpy old man to pontificate about – to name but three, the bizarre and frightening world of Donald Trump, the leaked “Panama Papers” exposing the dubious financial world of the rich and powerful (including our own Prime Minister), or the debate about the UK’s membership of the EU which is so critical to the nation’s future.  Headline grabbing all these thing might be, but I get the impression that no one really cares about them and this leads me to the belief that the lack of serious and compelling debate plus lack of politicians and public figures of sufficient calibre and integrity to mould public opinion will result in the worst case scenario: Trump elected as the most powerful man on the planet, the further growth of world inequality as the rich and powerful world elite strengthen their grip upon the world’s resources and wealth, and the UK going it alone - out of Europe and increasingly dependent upon the goodwill of the USA or more particularly the manic whims of President Trump! None of these are outcomes I wish to contemplate!
A  wonderful book - especially so for
grumpy old men like me

Instead, I will ponder more personal issues. For the past week or so two things have dominated my life: firstly, Pat and I have been away in Twyford, near Reading, where our son and his family live. Ruth, our daughter in law, has been recovering from a hip operation so we went to look after the children while she convalesced and hobbled around the house on crutches. Each night I tumbled, mentally and physically exhausted, into bed soon after the three under 8 boys went to bed at half past seven or so knowing that early next morning the boys, all on holiday from school, would make their presence known!!!! The second thing that has filled my last few days was that as I tumbled into bed each night I tried to read a few more pages of a hugely entertaining book that I have been devouring – Bill Bryson’s, latest offering The Road to Little Dribbling. A chapter of Bryson made the perfect end to the day – exhausted I might have been but it never failed to make me chuckle with delight and mutter to myself in the empty bedroom “That’s exactly right, exactly what I think!”

In his book Bryson, as in all his works, gently reports and pokes fun at his subject. This particular book is a follow up to his first book – Notes From A Small Island – written many years ago and is a wonderfully funny, generous and gentle appreciation of his adopted country the UK. Bryson, born in the USA but resident in this country for several decades, has an acerbic wit and can get to the heart of a situation with a few deft words. The appeal, to me, of his latest book is that he is writing as a senior citizen” – so I can relate to his feelings and comments very well. Amongst the many things that he pours gentle scorn upon are the shallowness of our modern, celebrity obsessed society, the increasingly grubby and litter strewn environment, the decline in the basic knowledge and over all awareness of the population..........and so the list goes on. Every one something that I can relate to. At one point in the book, having picked up a magazine while travelling on a train and he comments upon the “celebrities” apparently so important to many in our society: “.....why are these people famous. What qualities do they possess that endear them to the wider world? We may at once eliminate talent, intelligence, attractiveness and charm from the equation, so what does that leave? Dainty feet? Fresh minty breath? I am at a loss to say. Anatomically, many of the don’t seem quite human. Many of them have names that suggest they have reached us from a distant galaxy: Ri-Ri, Tulisa, Naya, Jai, K-Pez, Chlamydia, Toss-R, Mo-Ron (I may be imagining some of these.) As I read the magazine, I kept hearing a voice in my head, like a voice from a 1950s B-movie trailer saying: “They came from the Planet Imbecile!” I could go on – Bryson’s wonderful book is filled with little anecdotes, perceptive observations and not insignificant amounts of information all lovingly and entertainingly praising or gently chiding his adopted country. 

During the week I had much time to reflect upon Bryson’s commentary. My three grandsons are – so far as I can gauge - all bright, healthy and happy children. Of course they are still very young but at the moment they seem to be doing very well at school and in my experience as a former teacher I think that they clearly have the ability to make a success of their education. No-one knows what the future will hold but for the moment at least Pat and I feel very lucky that the three boys and our two grand-daughters, who live in Manchester, are all healthy, bright, able and generally well behaved kids with wonderful parents who ensure that the children make the most of everything.

Bill Bryson
And yet........and yet......reading Bryson’s book and reflecting upon my own increasingly “grumpy old man view of the world”......... I cannot deny that I have a concern for my grandchildren and, indeed, all children bearing in mind the world into which they are growing. This concern has been the subject in some way or other of many of my previous blogs so I won’t explore it again sufficed to say that the world, it seems to me (and might I add to Bryson) is increasingly a dumbed down one. True, we live in a world of huge technological wizardry, where things I cannot even begin to comprehend are possible but we also, I believe,  live in a world of mind numbing stupidity, shallowness and mindlessness. As Pat and I filled our days with our grandchildren last week I was horrified at the content of video games and the mindless drivel of endless cartoons on offer on TV. I don’t mean that these things were necessarily unpleasant (although I found them so) – they were simply mind numbingly  stupid and quite indecipherable requiring mindless presses on a touch screen or the constant “zapping” of some awful looking monster. From the TV cartoons emanated endless poorly pronounced and enunciated Americanised trivia from characters clearly produced by corporate organisations to influence and infiltrate young minds. What made it more objectionable and insidious for me is that most of these games and programmes spawned a retail element – encouraging children to buy the Lego models or such like of these “creatures”. I’m pleased to say that my son and daughter and their respective other halves are vigilant and ensure that the grandchildren are monitored in what they watch and how they respond to this rubbish, but I guess many children, sadly, are not.
Is this tasteful, appropriate or worthy for
young minds - or is it just corporate
brain washing of the crudest kind?
And young children get hooked on this mindless and violent dross

It would be easy to dismiss my concerns as just the ramblings of a grumpy old man – and maybe that is all it is – but I think not. I got the distinct impression that there are huge manipulative forces at work here which hooks into society’s (and children’s) lowest common denominator aspects. There was no nuance in the story lines or relationship to what I will loosely call “humanity” -  it was all whizz bang crash, asking nothing of the viewer or game player. Of course, at its most extreme this, I suppose, is the theory and mindset behind virtual reality games – you can watch and act not as a human, with human emotions, mores, beliefs or morals but as another “being” not subject to the normal rules of life and living. In short it was nothing more than the shallow brain washing of young minds. If one looks at the vast number of films flowing out of Hollywood in recent years which are based upon digital technology – Toy Story, The Lego Movie, Star Wars and the like – one might conclude that they are simply good entertainment – well maybe. For me, however, they are also about manipulating minds – my grandsons have their bedrooms full of what has been implanted into their brains as good and worthy: Star Wars light sabres, Darth Vader masks, Toy Story puppets, Lego kits to replicate the grotesque characters and space ships from the various movies and cartoon series. The corporate plot is simple: bring out a mindless TV cartoon or Hollywood blockbuster - something that will easily influence young immature minds - and then produce a range of expensive toys and games to further boost the corporate coffers. Result? - the young captive audience and their parents have been made even more captive. It is exactly the same philosophy and merchandising that the back street drug dealer users; the difference is that we despise him and see him as immoral. When Lego or Disney do it they are lauded. We live in a strange world.

Another element of this is what Bryson explains as the Dunning-Kruger Effect which can be briefly summarised as being too stupid to know how stupid you are. When the BBC reported on this research a couple of years ago their headline was “The more inept you are the smarter you think you are” – which fits in well with Bryson’s commentary. Bryson reflected (as do I) if we are all becoming more stupid at the same rate then maybe we don’t realise it because we are all getting stupid together. In this increasingly dumbed down world this seems to me a distinct possibility. Bryson also makes, I think, a very valid point that if that were the case then we would see a deterioration in IQ scores  (and indeed, there is an increasing body of evidence to back this up) but, wonders Bryson, “...what if it’s not the kind of deterioration that shows up in IQ tests? What if it were reflected in just, say, poor judgement or diminished taste?” Bryson’s question is again supported by several of the pieces of research quoted by the BBC one of which was “... a Pittsburgh bank robber called McArthur Wheeler......who was arrested shortly after robbing two banks in broad daylight without wearing a mask or any other kind of disguise. When police showed him the security camera footage, he protested "But I wore the juice". The hapless criminal believed that if you rubbed your face with lemon juice you would be invisible to security cameras. If that is not poor judgement then I don’t know what is!

When I read that story I couldn’t not but believe that this was the sort of plot that would appear in the cartoons, films and games indoctrinating children today – and, like the bank robber, I believe they will increasingly be unable to distinguish the sensible, appropriate, acceptable, right, logical or thoughtful course of action from the crass, unacceptable, immoral, inappropriate or plain stupid.  When I look at the drivel that fills our TV and cinema screens today – from Strictly Come Dancing to the awful cartoons, i-pad and X-box dross that entertains children I think Bryson has an irrefutable point. Of course, it would be easy to say “Oh, it’s a bit of fun, it’s only entertainment .......”  Presumably that was the explanation the bank robber gave – “I learned about the lemon juice on the TV so it must be true.”  Our children and my grandchildren have young minds capable of huge mental capacity – the human mind is the most astonishing thing in creation – so why fill it with dross?
Who reads this stuff ?- sadly millions do and worse still
they think it is important and meaningful. 
There is another dimension to this – and one I have written about before (see blog: "Some French guy who lived a few hundred years ago" July 2013). In his book The Price of Civilization  American economist  Jeffrey Sachs discusses what he calls “the epidemic of ignorance” pervading western societies but especially the USA.  He suggests that “in America the growth of untrammelled commercial TV and its “race to the bottom programming” based upon “lowest common denominator entertainment rather than instructive public education; the growth in internet use and, at the same time, the demise of newspapers and reading as an activity has meant that citizens are increasingly ignorant of basic facts about important issues”. He comments “It would be a profound irony if the new information age coincides with the collapse of the public’s basic knowledge regarding key issues that we confront as individuals or citizens.........The insulated mindset of individuals who know precious little history and civics and never read a book or visit a museum is fast becoming a common, shame free condition”.  Sachs further says that, in America, at least, academic scores are declining. If this be the case then the consequences for individuals and the society will be profound firstly at an economic level – politicians never cease to tell the young that they must get the best qualifications possible so that they can get a job, earn a living, become materially “well off” and by default contribute to the GDP. Sachs, however, raises another more pervasive and ultimately more dangerous scenario – namely that ignorance can threaten the very soul of society: “....when the country must grapple with complex choices about taxes, spending, military involvement and outlays and all the rest, the lack of basic knowledge becomes dangerous. A poorly informed public is much more easily swayed by propaganda and much less able to resist the dark manoeuvrings of special interest groups that pull the strings in Washington.”   If the electorate is increasingly intellectually unable grasp the issues or unwilling to understand them because the next episode of Strictly Come Dancing, Big Brother or the next Premiership football match is more appealing and the limit of their interest of interaction or because they accept, unquestioning, Fox News or News International’s warped view of the world then democracy and civilization is indeed under threat. Sachs is right. If the world is to be increasingly populated by Homer Simpson clones unable to ask pertinent questions or use their knowledge and minds to critically consider and make judgements upon what they are presented with by peers, politicians,  and the media; if these Homer Simpsons know what they like and like only what they know and are interested only in lowest common denominator views and entertainment then society is at risk of a scenario where  powerful lobbies and potential extremism and evil will flourish. It is easy to influence the unthinking (think of the lemon juice bank robber!) and, as Edmund Burke reminded everyone “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.
We'll all be Homer Simpsons soon. 

As President Trump’s spectre increasingly casts a shadow on the horizon, as we in the UK grapple with issues relating to our membership of the EU, or as we try to decipher the important issues relating to the Panama Papers leaks and how it affects our democracy and moral/legal viewpoints it is a worrying thing to know that our society appears to be becoming less able to make sensible and appropriate judgements on these issues. That we allow our children to grow up on this powerful diet of overt dross brain washing where Apple, the I-Pad, the X-Box, Strictly Come Dancing, Eastenders, Big Brother, Hello magazine, Toy Story, Star Wars, Ninjago and the rest dominate the lives of many is a sad indictment on our society.

As we sat having breakfast one morning last week I picked up the Weetabix packet (I will not comment upon the extraordinary spelling of this product – as an ex-teacher it will upset me too much!). My grandson, Alex, asked if I was going to try and win one of the “Weetabuddies” (see photos). I shook my head in sadness – at one time cereal packets and the like had little activities that children could do – meaningful occupations requiring developing skills like cutting, building or colouring – things that would help to develop young minds. Now it is just bizarre faces which you can win by simply entering – no skill required. And I thought back to possibly my favourite children’s short story of all time – The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken - a story that I have read to countless classes of children who have been universally engrossed and mesmerised by its storyline and its “cleverness”. I have no hesitation today in saying that few children of 2016 would understand either its “cleverness” or its storyline – it is too subtle and requires a maturity and knowledge of things and situations not experienced by most of today’s children. Today’s packet of Weetabix simply advertises a funny face unlike the cereal packet in the story The Serial Garden (it’s a pun on words) where the cereal Brekkfast Brikks, eaten by the story’s hero Mark,  gives away a series of things to cut out making a magical kingdom and with it an associated story about growing up which is guaranteed to make the coldest heart melt and at the same time introduce the child to the world of adult emotions and feelings. But my grandson, Alex, knew nothing of this – instead, he is growing up in a world where, like the rest of his generation, the development of maturity through a carefully thought about storyline and a cereal packet that might encourage him to develop little skills of cutting and fixing together is sacrificed in favour of the banal, the trivial and the immature; a world where endless episodes of the violent, whizz bang crash corporate cartoons like Ninjago rule the young mind. It is brain washing of the crudest kind inflicted upon unknowing children and as a society we should not only be alarmed we should also be very angry.  But sadly, too many adults in our society are also brainwashed – their minds turned to sludge by an endless diet of TV and Hollywood dross – Strictly Come Dancing, The X Factor, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Dragon’s Den, The Apprentice, Hello Magazine, Premiership football  and the rest – increasingly unable to discriminate between the worthy and the unworthy, the valuable and the valueless, the tasteful and the distasteful, the appropriate and the inappropriate, the right and the wrong.
I suppose Bertrand Russell's comment was another way of signalling
the Dunning-Kruger effect

As we drove back up the motorway after our week away I had the car radio on listening to classical music. I heard one two of my favourite pieces: the achingly beautiful Handel’s Ombra Mai Fu  and what I think is possibly the most beautiful piece of English music ever written and which I have as my mobile phone alarm, Purcell’s Fairest Isle. And I wondered about how society’s aspirations seem to have changed or maybe declined since the days when these pieces were written. How can today’s younger generation –develop a comprehension of beauty, loveliness, worth, or taste when their experience of the world (except for a very few children fortunate enough to have schools or home backgrounds which promote these virtues) is limited to whizz bang crash pressing of a touch screen or mindless watching of distasteful and shallow TV and films. If we do not feel angry and guilty as a society at the way we have allowed corporate media brain washers to intrude into our homes and the minds of our children then we should be. We have sat back and allowed a mass dumbing and a coarsening of humanity and the human spirit in the past three or four decades – it will be difficult to reverse that.