Curtis Dahlgren
The joy of a great book
By Curtis Dahlgren
October 18, 2019

FOUR MORE GOOD BOOKS. And these were free. There IS a God! The other day I went to an out of town library to do my Internet thing. It happened to be the day after a used book sale had ended, and the lobby was full of freebies. My eyes quickly fell on four books that had been once discarded by the library (and rejected again by the scavengers):
  • "Dave Barry Slept Here; a sort of history of the United States"

  • "Israel; Opposing Viewpoints"

  • "The Baseball Reader," edited by Chas. Einstein

  • "And More by Andy Rooney"
Andy was no Einstein, but he was the highlight of Sixty Minutes back in the day when I had a TV. The only commentary I recall was on "Why can't we get good shoe laces anymore?" That makes me wonder which one of my 800 columns people may remember years from now. I hope it will be my previous one on the Pilgrims and how they chose free enterprise over socialism. With the latter you are totally dependent on the government but with the former you are depending upon God (Freedom requires a lot of faith, which is one of the reasons the skeptics on the Left hate capitalism). I have a way of finding the best nuggets in a book, and here are a few from the intro to Rooney's book:

"A writer's greatest pleasure is revealing to people things they knew but didn't know they knew."

"There are almost no people who are not dentists who can fix teeth, but there are a lot of people who aren't professional writers who write very well. This is one of the reasons why being a writer is tougher than being a dentist."

"When I write, I use an Underwood made in 1920. Someone gave me an electric typewriter, but there's no use pretending you can use machinery that thinks faster than you do."

"When it comes to politics, I don't know whether I'm a Democrat or a Republican . . Those of us who don't have a party affiliation ought to be able to register under the heading 'Confused.'"

"Fiction doesn't interest me at all. I haven't read a novel since Lorna Doone. I meant to read Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea when it came out, but I didn't. Fiction takes too long for the ideas contained in it. I'm not interested in being diverted from my own life."

On the other hand, Dave Barry Slept Here shows there's a place for fiction, at least humorous short stories. From his introduction:

"Tragically, many Americans know very little about the history of their own country. We constantly see surveys that reveal this ignorance, especially among our high school students, 78 percent of whom, in a recent nationwide multiple-choice test, identified Abraham Lincoln as 'a kind of lobster' . . Partly, of course, it is that our young people are stupid. Young people have always been stupid . . But another major part of the problem is the system used to teach history in our schools, a system known technically, among professional educators, as the Boring Method. You were probably taught by this method." The Greenboro News and Record said of the book:

"Impressive . . Genuinely fresh insight . . Dave Barry Slept Here might be the rallying point for reformers determined to restore rigor and bite to the public school curriculum."

P.S. Just one excerpt from
Israel; Opposing Viewpoints (1994), chapter "Syria is not committed to peace"):

"A senior U.S. diplomat involved in the peace process once privately admitted to me that 'what you are being asked to give up is irretrievable – while what the Arabs will give you is easily reversible.' This is particularly apt with regard to Syria . . "

Or as the old Soviet Union used to say, "What's ours is ours and what's yours is negotiable."

PPS: "The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind."
– John Stuart Mill

The problem with the public schools and university curricula is that students are spoon-fed the "ONE TRUE" opinion in the name of diversity! CONFORMITY, in other words, through the power of peer pressure: "Everyone is wrong but me and thee (and I'm not sure about thee)," is how the absent-minded professors look at it.

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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