Originally posted in September 2010 – RIP Ray Bradbury

“Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries of more. School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?”   – Captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451


Ray Bradbury wrote his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 in 1950. Most kids were required to read this book when they were seventeen years old. Having just re-read the novel at the age of forty-seven makes you realize how little you knew at seventeen. It is 165 pages of keen insights into today’s American society. Bradbury’s hedonistic dark future has come to pass. His worst fears have been realized. The American public has willingly chosen to be distracted and entertained by electronic gadgets 24 hours per day. Today, reading books is for old fogies. Most people think Bradbury’s novel was a warning about censorship. It was not. It was a warning about TV and radio turning the minds of Americans to mush.

It is now sixty years later and his warning went unheeded. A self imposed ignorance by a vast swath of Americans is reflected in these statistics:

  • 33% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
  • 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 57% of new books are not read to completion.
  • There are over 17,000 radio stations and over 2,000 TV stations in America today.
  • Each day in the U.S., people spend on average 4.7 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
  • The projected average number of hours an individual (12 and older) will spend watching television this year is 1,750.
  • In a 65-year life, the average person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
  • Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child –  20,000
  • Number of videos rented daily in the U.S. – 6 million
  • Number of public library items checked out daily – 3 million
  • Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges – 59%
  • Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court – 17%

When Ray Bradbury wrote his novel in the basement of the UCLA library on a pay per hour typewriter, television was in its infancy. In 1945 there were only 10,000 television sets in all of America. By 1950, there were 6 million sets. The US population was 150 million living in 43 million households. Only 9% of these households had a TV. There was one TV for every 25 people. Americans read books and newspapers to be aware of their world. Today, there are 335 million television sets in the country. The US population is 310 million living in 115 million households. There is a TV in 99% of these households, with an average of 3 TVs per household. Your reality is whatever the corporate media decides is your reality.



Bradbury envisioned gigantic flat screen wall TVs that interacted with the audience and people wearing seashell earbuds so they could listen to the radio. Anything to keep from reading, thinking, questioning or wondering. Today, anesthetized kids and non-thinking adults sit in front of the boob tube with their Playstation controllers in hand and a microphone attached to their ear, killing zombies while talking to their fellow warriors, sitting in their own living rooms somewhere in the world. Apple has sold 260 million iPods since 2001 that allow people to zone out and live in their own private music world, never needing to interact or associate with their fellow humans. Millions of Blackberry addicts roam the streets of our cities like androids, forcing alert pedestrians to bob and weave to avoid head-on collisions with these connected egomaniacs. They are overwhelmed with their self importance.

For those who have not read the book since high school, or have never read the novel, here is a quick summary of Fahrenheit 451:

Guy Montag is a fireman who burns books in a futuristic American city. In this dystopian world, firemen start fires rather than putting them out. The people in this society do not read books, enjoy nature, spend time by themselves, think independently, or have meaningful conversations. Instead, they drive at extreme speeds, watch excessive amounts of television on wall-size sets, and listen to the radio on “Seashell Radio” sets attached to their ears. Guy meets a girl that makes him rethink his priorities. He starts to question book burning and why people fear books. After not showing up for work, his boss Beatty comes to his house and explains why books are now banned.  According to Beatty, special-interest groups and other “minorities” objected to books that offended them. Soon, books all began to look the same, as writers tried to avoid offending anybody. This was not enough, however, and society as a whole decided to simply burn books rather than permit conflicting opinions.

Montag connects with a retired English professor named Faber. He tells him that the value of books lies in the detailed awareness of life that they contain. Faber says that Montag needs not only books but also the leisure to read them and the freedom to act upon their ideas. After Montag’s wife turns him in and he is forced to burn his own house to the ground, he turns his flamethrower on Beatty. He is hunted by a mechanical hound and the chase is broadcast on national TV. He escapes to the forest where he finds a group of renegade intellectuals (“the Book People”), led by a man named Granger, who welcome him. They are a part of a nationwide network of book lovers who have memorized many great works of literature and philosophy. They hope that they may be of some help to mankind in the aftermath of the war that has just been declared. Montag’s role is to memorize the Book of Ecclesiastes. Enemy jets appear in the sky and completely obliterate the city with atomic bombs. Montag and his new friends move on to search for survivors and rebuild civilization.

Knowledge versus Willful Ignorance

“Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.” Captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451



In Bradbury’s novel the fireman’s duty is to destroy knowledge and promote ignorance, in order to equalize the population and promote sameness. Any impartial analysis of the current state of affairs must conclude that he was absolutely right. In an interview with the LA Weekly in 2007, Bradbury clarified his views:

“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television’s effect on substance in the news. “Useless,” Bradbury says. “They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full.”

Bradbury wrote his novel shortly after WWII, at the outset of the Korean War, during the early stages of the Cold War and in the midst of McCarthyism. The novel reflects these influences. Orwell’s 1984 used television screens to indoctrinate citizens. Bradbury envisioned television as an opiate, keeping the public sedated. The wall televisions in Fahrenheit 451 allow characters to interact with those watching. Bradbury captured the future of reality TV. Entertainment today is dominated by reality TV. We are blasted by the likes of Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Survivor, Big Brother, Project Runway, Dancing With the Stars, Amazing Race, Housewives of OC, NJ, NY, DC, and Atlanta, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and fifty other mind numbing reality shows. Morons with names like Snookie and The Situation are better known by teenagers than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In Bradbury’s world, television was used to broadcast meaningless drivel to divert attention, and thought, away from an impending war. Today, television is used to broadcast meaningless drivel to divert attention, and thought, away from ongoing wars, government corruption, impending financial collapse, and truth.

Bradbury still lives in Los Angeles and observes the alienation aspects of his novel playing out exactly as he envisioned:

 “In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.”

Bradbury directly foretells this incident early in his novel:

“And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talking coming in.” – Fahrenheit 451

Montag spends the entire novel seeking truth. Professor Faber becomes his mentor, leading him toward the truth. It is not a coincidence that Bradbury named the Montag character after a paper company and the Faber character after a pencil company. Faber was the instrument through which Montag was taught. Montag was clearly fighting an uphill battle. The majority had stopped thinking and seeking truth decades ago. The majority always wants things to remain the same.  

“But remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority. Oh, God, the terrible tyranny of the majority.” – Professor Faber

Government did not need to ban books. As technology advanced and filled the days with 24 hours of entertainment, infomercials, propaganda, and trivia, the population willfully stopped reading books. Why think, ponder, or question when you can be entertained and directed to believe in whatever the state thinks is best? When entertainment wasn’t enough, the population would drive their cars at speeds exceeding 100 mph with a goal of running animals and people over. Today, the mainstream media is controlled by a few mega-corporations that do the bidding of the state. They are responsible for keeping the population sedated, entertained, confused, and misinformed. The public willfully accepts the reality presented by those in power, rather than thinking, questioning or seeking the truth.

“Remember the firemen are rarely necessary. The public stopped reading of its own accord. You firemen provide a circus now and then at which buildings are set off and crowds gather for the pretty blaze, but its a small sideshow indeed, and hardly necessary to keep things in line. So few want to be rebels anymore.” – Professor Faber

In America’s pleasure society we drive as fast as we want, heedless of danger. We care only for our own gratification, not for the welfare of others. For enjoyment, we memorize lyrics to Eminem rap songs. Thinking is not pleasurable so we envelop ourselves with flat screen HDTVs that provide nonstop distraction. Reading books is no longer necessary in our world. This is reflected in the fact that 40% of all adults in America can be classified as functionally illiterate. The U.S. public school system has been so dumbed down, with equality of all as the mantra that one wonders whether the state purposefully wants to process non-thinking, non-questioning autobots into society. A thinking, questioning public is dangerous to the state.

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.” – Captain Beatty

Political Correctness & Censorship

“It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals. Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Sam’s Cabin. Burn it.” – Captain Beatty


Bradbury imagined a democratic society whose diverse population turns against books. He imagined not just political correctness, but a society so diverse that all groups were “minorities.” It was essential that all thought become like vanilla tapioca. First they condensed the books, stripping out more and more offending passages until ultimately all that remained were footnotes. Only after people stopped reading on their own did the state employ firemen to burn books. Once you sacrifice liberty to the state, the state will not restore it without a fight. Political correctness has been taken to the extreme by those in power in America. The text books used to educate our children have had all “offensive” facts extracted. History has been revised to satisfy the agendas of those in power. The truth is inconsequential when a minority group might be offended. History books used in our public schools have more references about Marilyn Monroe than George Washington. Bradbury was prescient in his ability to see the future denigration of those who sought wisdom.

Our public schools have the power to place students into roles such as runner, football player or swimmer. By being placed in a role, a person is doing what is expected of him and not being an individual.  We dread the unfamiliar.  To be an individual is to be unfamiliar.  Thus, to conform is easier.

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word `intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.”Captain Beatty

The ruling elite and the mainstream media are openly scornful and antagonistic toward those they label intellectuals. Fox News and MSNBC prefer talking points, misinformation, and dogmatic ideology from their anchor entertainers and insipid guests. The numbskulls on these shows are never in doubt and always wrong. There is no true debate between reasonable people. These entertainment shows appeal to the baser emotional instincts of the public, not to their reason or intellect. The American public no longer has the capability to critically analyze what they are told by the mainstream corporate media. They gave up reading books decades ago, leading to a steady decline in critical thinking skills. No need to think when you can go bungee jumping, mountain biking, sky diving, yachting, or paint balling.

In the ultimate irony, Bradbury found out in 2003 that over the years editors from Ballantine had censored 75 separate sections of his novel, fearful that it would contaminate the minds of our young. The idea of today’s censorship is not to burn books, but to remove every controversial word or phrase that could offend anyone. Books are made so generic and bland that no one would want to read them anyway. Bradbury is still full of piss and vinegar, sixty years after writing his masterpiece:

“The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/ Italian/ Octogenarian/ Zen Buddhist, Zionist/ Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib/ Republican, Mattachine/ Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.”

Never Ending War

“Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, We’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steam-shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.” – Granger


Bradbury had known nothing but war from the time he was 18 until he wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the age of 30. He describes the sound of bombers continuously flying over the city. America had started two nuclear wars since 1990. The degenerative effects of mass media in today’s info-bite world can be clearly seen in how they are able to manipulate public opinion to support undeclared wars without question. If Americans were still able to think and interested in exercising their responsibilities as citizens of a Republic, they would have required that Congress exercise its responsibility to declare war rather than allow one man to declare and wage wars all over the globe. It is easy when the state controls the message.

“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war.” – Beatty

Montag is stalked by the Mechanical Hound throughout the book. It was programmed to hunt down Montag and lethally inject him with poison. Bradbury didn’t know it, but he had described an early version of a predator drone. Today, a man can sit in front of his computer in the Pentagon and direct an unmanned predator drone to fire missiles at “enemies” without faces, halfway around the world. No danger, no consequences, no responsibility. The American public blindly believes the state is protecting them by murdering “enemies of the state”. They will think differently when predator drones circle the skies above their towns seeking out “domestic terrorists” and non-conformists.

The hunt for Montag was broadcast on national TV. Bradbury’s imagination produced a vision of fake reality TV, fifty years before it became an everyday reality.

“Mechanical Hound never fails. Never since its first use in tracking quarry has this incredible invention made a mistake. Tonight, this network is proud to have the opportunity to follow the Hound by camera helicopter as it starts on its way to the target…- TV announcer

They’re faking. You threw them off at the river. They can’t admit it. They know they can hold their audience only so long. The show’s got to have a snap ending, quick! If they started searching the whole damn river it might take all night. So they’re sniffing for a scape-goat to end things with a bang. Watch. They’ll catch Montag in the next five minutes! – Granger

The search is over, Montag is dead; a crime against society has been avenged. – TV announcer

They didn’t show the man’s face in focus. Did you notice? Even your best friends couldn’t tell if it was you. They scrambled it just enough to let the imagination take over. – Granger

As I read this passage visions of the OJ Simpson slow speed chase along the LA freeways appeared in my mind. It was immediately followed by the fake balloon boy video from a few months ago. Lastly, the streaming video of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico came into focus. When the cameras are turned off, the show is over. Cold blooded murderers are released due to political correctness. A child in danger was just a show. The effects of 200 million gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico on the environment and the citizens of the Gulf region aren’t apparent when the cameras are turned off. So therefore, there are no effects. The world today is one big TV reality show. The populace wants to be entertained by its news. Sound bites are essential. Dazzling special effects are required. Beautiful people presenting the show are necessary. Facts are optional. The truth is a nuisance. There is only one requirement – THE SHOW MUST GO ON.

There are few builders left, while millions of burners lurk behind every bush. First it will be Korans and Mosques. Then it will be bibles and churches. Then it will be libraries. Eventually it will be your house. America was built by those who cherished liberty, freedom, responsibility, knowledge, and truth. A fog of complacency and malaise settled over America in the last six decades. It is almost as if Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 were used as instruction manuals rather than warnings by our society. The worst aspects from all three of these dystopian novels have been adopted or implemented in present day America. The citizenry has become dependent upon the state for information, direction, support, and protection. The unquestioning obedience toward the faceless, nameless, hapless state bureaucracy will lead to tyranny. The state will demand your compliance. The state will monitor your thoughts and movements. The state will tell you what to believe. The state will brutally punish anyone who attempts to think or question. The match is lit. The books are piled high.

 “There was a silly damn bird called a Phoenix back before Christ: every few hundred years he built a pyre and burned himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over, but we’ve got one damn thing the Phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, someday we’ll stop making the Goddamn funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember, every generation.” – Granger

At the end of the novel, the city is destroyed by atomic bombs. The “Book People” begin to move back toward the city in an effort to rebuild their civilization and help it rise up from the ashes. Our society has gone so far off course that a peaceful reversal seems highly unlikely. A revolution that sweeps away the old order and provides an opportunity for America to start anew will occur during the next fifteen years. Just as in the novel, there are surely dark days ahead, with much suffering, pain and death. The majority do not see this revolution coming. Those in power are blinded by their own ignorance. It is up to the minority of thinkers, questioners, skeptics, and truth seekers to insure that America rises up based upon its founding principles of liberty, freedom and personal responsibility. I urge you to look up from your Blackberry. Turn off the TV. Take the iPod earbuds out of your ears. Log off your computer. Read Shakespeare, Twain, Orwell, Bradbury, Huxley, Dickens, Tolstoy, Hemingway, or Faulkner. Don’t believe anything that the mainstream media declares as fact without verifying it yourself. Question everything. Question everyone. Believe no one. The state is not your protector. Government cannot replace reason. Montag was responsible for memorizing the Book of Ecclesiastes in order to pass along that wisdom to future generations. Ask yourself – What are you leaving for future generations?

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” – Book of Ecclesiastes

 “Those who don’t build must burn.” – Professor Faber – Fahrenheit 451


  1. Great article.

    Mark me down as one person who is glad that he missed (or ignores) all that “wired in” shit, save for a good college football game every now and then. Fuck reality shows. I’m proud that I have not wasted one minute of my life on that bullshit.

    I love to read and always have. Admin said, “History books used in our public schools have more references about Marilyn Monroe than George Washington.” Sad, but true.

  2. I haven’t owned at TV that was connected to anything other than my DVD player or a VCR for nearly 20 years. Until about a month ago, when I finally had to get cbale in order to maintain an internet connection. I let the guy hook it up to my one little ancient tv and have flipped through the channels a few times since it was installed. Yep. Still a bunch of worthless shit out there. 1000 channels of ‘buy this worthless shit you don’t need on credit’ or ‘come to jesus’ or ‘you really should be thinking THIS instead of THAT’.. same old shit. Oh, and fuck ipod’s. Never had one, never will.

  3. A lot of food for thought.

    For instance, while I concur that our political “leaders” do all possible to obscure and mislead the people, and that there exists a group of “elites” that do all possible to ruthlessly protect their own interests, it appears to me the real problem lies elsewhere.
    I believe the real issue is the mass of uneducated, unskilled, largely below-average intelligence, lazy people with an overwhelming sense of entitlement that is the real problem. The proportion of the population that falls into this group has become overwhelming.
    They populate the free shit army. Their answer to everything is to want to take increasingly more from the bright, the hardworking, the skilled and the thoughtful.

    The current example is the movement to tax “the rich” more because they can afford it. No mention of the fact that each taxpayer in the top 1% pay for 40 others. Of course, the free shit army fls hat is not enough, and the rich need to carry even more of them. Never mind that the free shit army has done nothing to deserve being carried, by and large. Never mind that the bottom 50% pay virtually no tax at all. The industrious need to pay more.
    Democracy is doomed when it becomes the norm to take from the worthy and distribute to the nonworthy. Unfortunately this is now entrenched.

    I have graduated from reading a wide range of books to primarily reading history books. My family buys literally hundreds of books a year. My children read daily. I hope they are prepared for the future. I hope there is something left for them to aspire to.

  4. Those are pretty damning statistics at the start of the piece. Any sources to quote?

    As someone who read several hundred books (plus a minimum of 140 magazines plus 730+ newspapers [ yeah, I know, it takes almost zero time to read a newspaper these days] ) a year, I need a little backup data.

    It what you state is accurate, we’re beyond screwed as a Nation. I find a lot of them difficult to take on face value and as a mathematician (retired), I tend to distrust statistics without at least references to source data.

  5. LLPOH

    Excellent comments. My reading is almost exclusively limited to history. By the time I die, I’ll have everything figured out.

  6. SSS – thanks for that. I have been reading everywhere (recently including the shit for brains Krugman) how the rich are in an uproar over proposed tax increases. They never print the real facts, and play up to the lowest common denominator: the rich can afford and should share your pain, those selfish bastards”. In otherwords, they should happily fork over even more than they already do to provide more free shit to the unworthy.
    Hard working, aspirational folks are sick and tired of forking over to the unworthy. It is time they faced the fucking consequences. Piss poor planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Enough already.

  7. Very convincing article. Thank you. I think I shall have to pick up a book at the next commercial! I wonder how the internet fits in to the next round of dystopian critique… so much power for good and evil in an innocent little mouse click.

    FYI, I think there’s a little Freudian slip in your text…

    Political Correctness & Censorship

    “It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God. Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time, you are allowed to read comics, the good old confessions, or trade journals. Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle **SAM’S** Cabin. Burn it.” – Captain Beatty

  8. The ignorant sheeple masses of small people who are Too Unimportant To Matter do not need to think, they simply need to OBEY there Wall Street/Ruling Class Masters without hesitation or question.

  9. This old fogey reads. My morning book now is “Generations”. I intended to order “Fourth Turning” from Amazon and hit a trifecta: Generations, Fourth Turning, and Millenials Rising special price. My evening book is “Cradle of Gold”, about Hiram Bingham’s finding Macchu Pichu.

    Before that, “The Lost City of Z” about Fawcett’s explorations. Fein’s “American Empire Before the Fall.” Earlier,, Hazlittl’s “Economics in One Lesson”, Bastiat’s “The Law”. Rothbard’s “The Cast Against the Fed”, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal,David Cay Johnson’s “Free Lunch”,George Victor’s “The Pearl Harbor Myth”, Thomas J. DeiLorenzo,’s “How Capitalism Saved America”, Addison Wiggin”s “The Demise of the Dollar:, David Haidu,’ “The Ten Cent Plague”, Bill Kauffman”s “Ain’t My America”, Thomas J, DiLorenzo’s “The Real Lincoln”, Stephen Kinzer’s “Overthrow”, Robert Higgs’ Resurgence of the Warfare State”, Ron Paul’s “The Revolution” and “A Foreign Policy of Freedom”, Jim Powell’s “FDR’s Folly”.

    Other than that, I’ve been plowing through my collection of golden age SF paperbacks

    Well, TV, yeah, I have satellite TV, doesn’t get a lot of use, handy for weather reports during cyclone season, the occasionalnews spin which I can compare against reality (the Australian election hiatus was amusing … )

    But of course, I worked in the biz, broadcast engineer from 1967. The alternative would have been to settle for “semi-retirement” at AT&T (guaranteed employment, ya know, fugem!) Of course, I used my technical skills and credentials, took little notice of the nonsense from the suits. Helped build a UHF station in Cincinnati, from there to Saudi Arabia as a contractor, back to the U.S. (reluctantly) and then Samoa and Australia, where I stayed. Last TV job was chief engineer of a commercial production house in Melbourne. Watching the client reps (usually under the influence of alcohol, cocaine and maruguana) second-guess people who knew what they were doing was fun, too. Alas, I did too good of a job in upgradining the editing facilities to Sony state=of=the=art equipment and the competition bought us out. Seventy people on the street … such is life.

    Then into the computer industry, field engineer, workshop supervisor, service administrator. Retrenched from the Australian subsidiary of an American company that went Chapter 11. Too old to be employable, it seemed.

    So I volunteered as a tutor at a TAFE college, ended up with invitation to a pilot project which gained me a certificate as “adult literacy tutor” (and some part-time paid work) and concurrently, a diploma in ‘professional writing and editing’.

    Anyway, back to TV, I eventually understood the difference between free-to-air network programming (although some of the dramas of the golden age, Rod Serrling, Sumner Locke Elliot, and others was a benchmark) but cable TV unleased some really great writers, too. freed from the confines of lowbrow Amerika.

    Like Theodore Sturgeon said, “Ninety percent of everything is crap!” So one has to be selective.

    Hmmm, “451” … about the same time was “The Space Merchants” about advertising manipulation and a beaut short story, “The Marching Morons”,Cyril M. Kornbluth. Both read in high school (graduated age 16, 12th grade.) So I had a head start on all this saga. LOL.

  10. •33% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
    •42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
    •80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
    •70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
    •57% of new books are not read to completion.
    •There are over 17,000 radio stations and over 2,000 TV stations in America today.
    •Each day in the U.S., people spend on average 4.7 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
    •The projected average number of hours an individual (12 and older) will spend watching television this year is 1,750.
    •In a 65-year life, the average person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.
    •Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child – 20,000
    •Number of videos rented daily in the U.S. – 6 million
    •Number of public library items checked out daily – 3 million
    •Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges – 59%
    •Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court – 17%

    At this rate, how many people can you expect to visit your website?

  11. LL: outstanding comment! Your kids are very fortunate to have a dad that cares and spends time with them. After reading this post, one could easily reach the conclusion that the only course of action is to give up. I say never give up! I believe we will send the PTB a message in Nov and we must hold their feet to the fire. My two biggest issues are 1: end the unconstitutional, illegal wars and 2: bring our troops home to immediately secure our borders. If I remember correctly F451 is the temp where paper starts to burn.

    1. Fahrenheit 451″ author burns at idea of digital books
      Wednesday, 18 August 2010

      Famed US author Ray Bradbury on Monday told the Los Angeles Times that this country needs a “revolution” and that he gets burned up by the idea of his works going digital.

      Bradbury, author of “The Martian Chronicles” in which colonists from a devastated Earth encounter natives on Mars, lashed out at President Barack Obama for not backing development a moon base to be used to “fire off a rocket to Mars”.

      “Then when we do that, we will live forever,” he told The Times, before going on to complain about the growth of government in the United States.

      “I think our government needs a revolution. There is too much government today,” he said.

      Bradbury also bridled at the spread of modern technology, saying: “We have too many cellphones. We’ve got too many Internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now.”

      The author of “Fahrenheit 451”, which depicted a US future in which critical thought was banned and books burned, told the Times he had rebuffed proposals to convert his written works into digital formats to be read on devices like’s Kindle or the Apple iPad.

      “I was approached three times during the last year by Internet companies wanting to put my books” on an electronic reading device, he said.

      “I said to Yahoo, ‘Prick up your ears and go to hell.’ “

      Bradbury is being celebrated in Los Angeles with a week dedicated to him to mark his 90th birthday on August 22.

      His other works include “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “Dandelion Wine” and “The Illustrated Man.”

  12. Jim, was that you snooping outside my window? I just read Fahrenheit 451 last week.

    • Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges – 59%
    • Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court – 17%

    Let’s not sell The Three Stooges short. They have more positive contributions to a constitutional lifestyle than at least three justices of the Supreme Court.

  13. Ok, I fibbed a little bit on my attachment to the boob tube. If any TV station completely loses its mind and decides to broadcast a Cleveland Indians or Cleveland Browns game, I’ll watch. My wife immediately makes a headlong dash out of the house and let’s me alone to suffer an agony that’s 10 times worse than waterboarding.

  14. Admin

    You and my older son – who was weaned on the likes of Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt, and Steve Carleton – are loving life right now. Enjoy.

  15. “With Hugh Beaumont….Barbara Billingsley…Tony Dow…and Jerry Mathers as…The Beaver.”

    Yup, I watched enough TV in the late 60’s and through the 70’s to kill enough brain cells.

    I can also recite the entire cast of Gilligan’s Island (including their real names).

    Anyone for a little Hogan’s Heroes?!?

  16. I am a baby boomer who was also raised on TV.

    We killed our television years ago and haven’t missed the dreck and drivel. One evening last year as my husband and I were working in the garden, and my girls were turning cartwheels in the front yard, a woman walked past on the street. She gazed at our family and said in the most wistful tone you can imagine–“It looks like television was never invented.” We’ve never looked back or regretted it.

    Books are a line item in our budget, we have cultivated our library; and that’s true of most people we know. No wonder our nation is so polarized! I’d like a quick survey of the politics of book-buyers vis-a-vis non-book-buyers. How utterly terrifying.

  17. This is the most fantastic article you’ve ever written.

    I want to physically drag my significant other from his perch in front of the big screen and make him read it, but it would make absolutely no difference whatsoever in his “everything is wonderful, I don’t know what the hell YOU are talking about” world. It just isn’t worth the effort anymore.

    I buy most of my books at the local library. They have a lot of the classics, unedited. Plus, when you buy one of their discards, you support the local library. It’s a plus for them. I have tons and tons of books, and every year I go through them and try to “weed out” and get rid of some titles (due to space issues), and every year I just end up buying new books. I have no idea where I’m going to put them all. Plus the kids read them too, which acts as another disincentive to get rid of them.

    There’s always the basement.

    To the reader asking about political affiliations, I am unaffiliated. I refuse to become a member of either party. Every year I hold my nose and pray, pulling the lever for the person that I feel will do the least damage. It really doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone is beholden to several special interest groups, and will do the bidding of those groups over the bidding of the people pulling the levers to send them to office.

  18. “Bradbury was prescient in his ability to see the future denigration of those who sought wisdom.”

    Bradbury was not necessarily ‘prescient’, anymore than our Founding Fathers were prescient. He simply understood – like our Founding Fathers, the virtues and vices of men and the never-ending vigilance required to keep those who would rob us of our liberty, in check.

    Wisdom is power. Much more so than knowledge by itself. Nobody understands this virtue better than upstart tin-pot dictators, which is why we are on the verge of Authoritarian rule here in America. Although somewhat ‘spotty’ and ‘regional’ right now, Government Power is coalescing rapidly, as a dumbed down and apathetic populace distracts itself with America’s got talent and other inane crap.

    What is old will soon be ‘new’ again – Liberty.

  19. It is not the role of the small people (those who are Too Unimportant To Matter) to think, it is mearly enough that they OBEY their Too Big To Fail Wall Street Ruling Class Masters without question or demand. That is all.

  20. The author says to turn off your PC and read fiction.

    1. How does he think we’re reading this? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. PC’s are responsible for bringing the world to one’s desk if he choose to use it for that.
    2. How is reading fiction on paper better than reading history, news, etc over the web? One can get a better education on the web than one can get in a typical university these days. Bill Gates seems to agree with this, btw..
    3. Perhaps people aren’t forced to tune out of society but choose to. Walk down a beach and try talking to those you pass by. Do it enough and you’ll get the cops called on you. Sit on a bus and try talking about anything intelligent and see the reaction you get. I suspect many “tune out” not because someone’s forcing them to but because it beats interacting with many of those out there who simply aren’t interested in anything beyond the moronic.
    4. Maybe those asinine reality shows exist because the alternatives were worse. For every “Seinfeld” or “Arrested Development” there are hundreds of terrible programs on. There are 1-2 watchable movies out each year. Interesting non-fiction is rare.

    Again and again this author destroys his own credibility by writing something with an excellent thesis, then making a mess of it with bad examples, hysterical prose, and exaggerations. There has always been a moron class, those uninterested in science, knowledge, etc. The only difference is that they now dominate society because a) we allow them to procreate freely due to the welfare state paying for it, and b) we figured out that morons are easier to fleece for cash.

    1. Brutus

      There has always been a moron class, and you just proved it. Thanks for enlightening my readers with a perfect example of the ignorant masses. Real life examples are so much more educational.

  21. Wisdom. Here is the thing about wisdom. We dont have it. And if you think someone has it, they dont. Wisdom does not come from mankind. It comes from the space between mankind.

    You can access it once you achieve certain states of thought. You will never own it. And if you think you are the owner of wisdom.

    Your a fool.

  22. Brutus – here I was thinking maybe the idiots would stay away from this article, but, nope, there you are, representing the idiot constituency in all its glory. WC Fields was right and you are living proof.

  23. Brutus

    You got off to a really bad start by saying, “The author says to turn off your PC and read fiction.” Don’t think Admin said that. Then you said, “Again and again this author destroys his own credibility by writing something with an excellent thesis, then making a mess of it with bad examples, hysterical prose, and exaggerations.” Well, that’s your opinion, but Admin and LLPOH showed you what can happen with imprecisely worded and poorly supported accusations on this site. Please continue to visit. I liked some of your comments (see below).

    Admin and LLPOH

    I agree with some of Brutus’ comments, such as “The only difference is that they (the moron class) now dominate society because a) we allow them to procreate freely due to the welfare state paying for it, and b) we figured out that morons are easier to fleece for cash.” Or how about, “Interesting non-fiction is rare.” How true on both points.

  24. SSS – a true statesman you are.

    Brutus – I too spotted a couple of good things in your post. However’ overall a skewering was in order given the general tone.
    Vigorous debate is welcome here. Missteps are jumped upon heavily. Welcome.

  25. We are doomed to go thru a c;ycle of hell….. or can we avoid it as a society …… and if not as a society….. how about as individuals……
    My plan is in motion….. if you think we are sliding down a slippery slope …. do something other than pick up speed…..
    Because I’ve been a seaman for too many years before I was land based …. I shall purchase a sailboat…. register it right….. moor it right ….. and not be as subject to the governments as most…. and if things start to spin out of control at one location….. your home and life is easily moved to a new location.
    It isn’t the time to be a rugged individual….. but rugged individuals usually live life better and survive longer than most…….
    Just think ……. many rugged individuals harnessing the power of a group…. a mutual aid confederacy……
    I welcome discussion…… [email protected]

  26. Hi: I really liked this piece and I couldn’t agree more that we face unparalleled threats to our civil liberties and personal freedom. Several years ago I published a series of collections of quotations on several subjects relating to this issue. These are all available free as downloadable PDF files. In case your readers are interested I’m listing some of them here:

    Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic

    FREE Downloadable Ebooks.

    These downloadable Ebooks are available at no cost. I’ve had a lot of fun compiling these collections and I want to make them widely available. If you have questions email me at [email protected].

    The Writer’s Rights
    Over 1,600 Selected Quotations on Freedom of Expression, Civil Liberties and Individual Rights. Compiled by Laird Wilcox. 136 pp. ISBN 0-9761337-4-1. 2005.

    Propaganda, Persuasion & Deception
    Over 1,125 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic. Compiled by Laird Wilcox. 124 pp. ISBN 0-9761337-0-9. 2005.

    Rationality, Rhetoric, Skepticism & Logic
    Over 835 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic.. Compiled by Laird Wilcox.
    80 pp. ISBN 0-9761337-3-3. 2005.

    Fanaticism, Dogmatism & Ideological Thinking
    Over 1,050 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic. Compiled by Laird Wilcox. 95 pp. ISBN 0-9761337-1-7. 2005.

    Political & Social Psychology & Behavior
    Over 1,250 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic. Compiled by Laird Wilcox. 121 pp. ISBN 0-9761337-2-5. 2005.


    Laird Wilcox is founder of the Wilcox Collection on Contemporary Political Movements, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. He is also co-author (with John George) of Nazis, Communists, Klansmen and Others On The Fringe (1992) and Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for Inquiring Minds (1995) published by Prometheus Books. From 1978 to 2000 he published annual research guides, Guide to the American Left and Guide to the American Right and numerous other related publications.

  27. The author should consider the even more horrific possibilty that this state of affairs is beyond anyone’s control to stop. We may have arrived where we are because of on inevitable process of cause and effect. Hegel intimated that the underlying force of history was ‘Geist’ which followed a predetermined path. Maybe, maybe not. In all events we have set up social structures on an evolving basis not a planned basis (such as political correctness) that cannot be easily dismantled, and they all point to a continued worsening of the situation and a massive erosion of basic freedoms. The author implies that there is a ‘they’ behind all this but I wonder what that is, and who it is comprised of. Certainly there are self-seeking elite politicians, businessmen, and moneyed entities, that wish the corrupt system to continue and help it on its way, but they are more like beneficiaries than actual dastardly planners of the events that have come about. There is no ‘Illuminati’ or ‘ Bilderberg’ group that is planning to take over the world and impose a world of homogenised National Socialism. Besides, why would they want to as most of the members of the Bildeberg are ancient dodderers who will be dead in 20 years or so. What would their motive be?

    It has been mentioned that lack of education is a crtical factor in the evolution of this process and with that I would agree only up to a point, but how are we going to suddenly educate everyone even if they wanted to be educated, which in fact they don’t. Actually, they don’t even recognise the problem, so where to begin? Also, beware of education because it can be a two edged sword. For example the Japanese and Germans were quite well educated before the war, and look what that lead to..

    The critical factor – far more important than education – is individuality. Only individuals stand up to oppressive systems and ideas, but they cannot be created. Individuals are born that way just as sheep are born to be passive and mindless, and that is how it has always been. The vast majority are sheep and easily lead astray. The question is: can the individuals dismantle the system we have now and rebuild another? At the present time the answer is almost certainly not, until it breaks down completely, and this may well be what is going to happen. But out of the ruins what will arise: something much better, or something even more oppressive and terrible than what we have now?

  28. Brutus doesn’t think he can gain any wisdom from books written by Shakespeare, Swift, Hemingway, Faulkner, Bradbury, Orwell, Huxley. He thinks cruising the web makes him smart. This is Brutus walking down the street.


  29. •42% of college graduates never read another book after college.

    I seriously doubt this statistic. Where is the proof of this? No college grad I know hasn’t read many books. Because of this I doubt all of the other statistics.

    Of course I am a Book Person!

  30. chris kruger……please take your……spamming shit…….and stick it up your………..ass and take it home…… …………your momma.

  31. Several months ago, I canceled my satellite service, and have since only used the TV set as a platform for documentaries and a few movies. I now find time to read about 3 books a week, and have also discovered the joy of audio books when I am in the mood for a novel.

    But Mr. Quinn, in your pieces you frequently reference and quote Rock songs, as if THEY WERE PROFOUND. Until you recognize that rock is an adolescent enthusiasm with adolescent thought-feelings, and until you grow out of that, your present message is truncated.

    1. Rick Johnson

      Music lyrics can’t have wisdom? Look in the mirror to see your own ignorance. I question anyone who makes such a dogmatic statement. That says a lot about you. You can judge whether Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics have anything worthy in them? Are you the music fireman?

      I suggest you read Fahrenheit 451 and decide whether you are a builder or a BURNER. I think I know which you are.

    1. wonder

      It’s the words that matter. It’s the concepts, the thoughts, the wisdom. It doesn’t matter whether it is on paper or a screen.

  32. I personally read a hell of a lot. I have noticed that for most others, however, functional illiteracy coupled with a range of the moment perspective seems to have become quite stylish. Worse yet, they vote in droves while I usually choose not to vote out of disgust for the typically sad choices available each election cycle.

    Berman’s The Twilight of American Culture does a good job covering what is occurring in this country from an eductional-intellectual point of view. I sincerely hope that his prediction of another Dark Ages is wrong because that possible (probable?) future won’t be pretty.

  33. Marc—–I, too, have tremendous confidence in my fellow Americans. I, as do you, also go with the choice of the majority on nearly every election.

  34. To Rick Johnson –
    Music, like art, literature, poetry and other art is a reflection and a snapshot of a society/culture at a given point in time, and of course all of it is subjective and open to interpretation. Not all art, literature, poetry or music is great or substantive, much of it may be pure crap or inconsequential fluff. Many people in the 1760’s probably thought much of Mozarts work was drivel (many today still do) many considered it profound (and still do.)

    I teach U.S. History at the high school level and this year I am using Strauss & Howe’s Fourth Turning as one way to help the student interpret American History – I used music from the 60’s through today as a means of making a reference to popular culture over the period 1945-2010 – you may argue about the profundity or merit of song lyrics but Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” reflected to mood of youth culture in the early 1960’s, just as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” reflected the angst and anger of Gen Xers coming of age in the early 1990’s, as I was.

    1. Ryan

      The reason I’ve used music lyrics in my articles is to try and connect with people. If history is boring and vanilla, they won’t listen. I think song lyrics can have as much impact as Orwell’s 1984.

  35. By and large, we ARE a nation comprised mostly of Dumbfuk Morons.

    Of this, there can be no doubt. Simply try to comprehend the statistics mentioned at the beginning of the article. 80% of adults have not read even one book all year? Holy crap!! Or, just contemplate the dumbassness of the millions of people watching the mind numbing farce known as “professional” wrestling. Or, the jaw dropping stupidity of half the people in Nevada who would still vote for Harry Reid.

    But the dumb ass nature of most Americans is most clear when it comes to religion. (Whippet will just love this!) I am NOT talking about atheism vs. belief. God exists for the purpose of this exercise. So, I am talking about only BELIEVERS … and what they know, or don’t know. One would assume that with something so important as your eternal salvation, that Believers would at least have the most basic understanding of what is involved.

    So, here is a 10 question “test” for Believers. The answers will be given in the next post.

    =============== =
    Q1: Name the first book in the Bible.

    Q2: Who delivered the Sermon on the Mount?

    Q3: What is celebrated on Easter?

    Q4: What was Moses’ wife name?

    Q5: Is the Book of Hezekiah in the Old Testament or New Testament?

    Q6: True or False? Jesus said that God helps those who help themselves.

    Q7: Name the 6th commandment.

    Q8: What is Sodom and Gomorrah?

    Q9: How many animals did Moses take on the ark before the Flood?

    Q10: True or False? Jesus sinned while he lived on earth.

  36. The source for these questions / answers / statistics are from the December 2000 issue of The Baptist Standard and also The Barna group is like the Gallup organization, except they specialize in religious surveys and reports. ONLY believers were asked these questions.


    Q1: Genesis ——— only 42% answered it correctly

    Q2: Jesus ———- only 33% answered it correctly. 12% answered Billy Graham.

    Q3: Jesus’ resurrection ———- 42% got it right. 58% did not!!! This is simply astounding.

    Q4: Miriam (or Mary) ———- only 15% got it right. 18% answered Joan of Arc.

    Q5: Neither. There is no book named Hezekiah ———- only 13% got it right

    Q6: No. That is nowhere in the Bible. ———- over 80% of Christians think it is

    Q7: Thou shalt not kill ———- 7 in 10 Christians got it wrong. Less than 1 in 6 Christians can name all 10 commandments.

    Q8: Two cities destroyed by God for their sinfulness —- 50% said “a married couple”!!!

    Q9: None. It was Noah … not Moses.

    Q10: False. This is perhaps THE most fundamental tenet of Christianity … that Jesus led a perfect life and died for our sins. Yet 39% of American Christians answered incorrectly. Absolutely stunning stupidity. See link if you don’t believe me.

    How did you do??

    So what does that tell us when one of the most important aspects of a person’s life — their faith, their relationship with God, their very salvation —- is met with such disdain and ignorance? Is there ANY hope then for the more mundane things in life? You know. Things like the US Constitution and the eroding of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by the current POS/POTUS?

    Decide for yourself.

    Personally, I think the USA is fucked. The gross ignorance of most Christians is merely one example. We’re mostly a nation of dumbfuks, and it will lead to our doom sooner or later.

  37. Rick Johnson,
    You sound like an old fuckin’ man! Who are you to judge what is adolescent or relevent in music lyrics? Why don’t you tell us all what books we should read or what great art looks like? You don’t have to listen to rock music, you probably prefer Lawrence Welk, but a comment like yours stinks like prune-juice and Depends.

  38. Some nice quotes, imho, about books.

    “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”
    Mark Twain

    We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.”
    BF Skinner

    “The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.”
    Oscar Wilde

    President Clinton signed a $10 million deal to write a book by 2003. Isn’t that amazing? Yes, and get this, not only that, President Bush signed a $10 million deal to read a book by 2003.
    Conan O’Brien

    Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
    Thomas Jefferson

    I am like a book, with pages that have stuck together for want of use: my mind needs unpacking and the truths stored within must be turned over from time to time, to be ready when occasion demands
    Seneca, Roman Stoic Philosopher

    Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.”
    Heinrich Heine (German Poet and Writer, 1797-1856)

    Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.
    Oprah Winfrey

    I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
    Groucho Marx

    I do not recall a Jewish home without a book on the table.
    Elie Wiesel

    Don’t join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower

    And my three favorites ….

    Books give not wisdom where none was before. But where some is, there reading makes it more.”
    Elizabeth Hardwick

    “Master books, but do not let them master you. – Read to live, not live to read.”
    Owen Meredith

    The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts
    John Greenleaf Whittier (American writer 1807-1892)

  39. 6 out of 10 is kinda cutting it close. It depends on which 4 you missed. If you answered #10 wrong, you’re fucked no matter what. I’m guessing you missed #’s 4, 5, 6, and 7. That’s OK. Say 45 Our Fathers and 30 Hail Mary’s every day for the next 3 days. Or, donate an extra hundred this week.

    RE. Nice to hear from you. You’re going straight to hell for hating on Amish farmers. God loves the Amish. Even ricj ones. You are sooooo fucked. Sucks to be you.

  40. Stuck—You can’t be serious. You think pro wrestling is fake? It’s as real as the NFL or NASCAR. You think the hundreds of thousands of fans of that sport are all duped? Come on Stuck.

  41. You know, Smokey, I actually went to a pro-wrastli’ event once. It was free. Company sponsored event. Had ring side seats. It wasn’t one of those mega Raw events, but it was the real deal.

    I must tell you, it is worse in real life than on the TV screen. Yeah, the 280 pound muscled freak stands on the ropes, jumps as high as he can, and drops his elbow right on the windpipe of his opponent … who is just lying there cuz just prior to that his testicles were ripped off and thrown in the fourth row. Amazingly, and I know this is hard to believe, he got right up and started beating the shit out of the other guy!

    Anyway, the acting — in person — is absolutely laughable. Most of the time they miss each other by a country mile. But we got drunk for free plus free transportation back to the hotel and the tittie show between rounds was spectacular.

  42. Stuck—-I’ve never been to one. My nephew has been to a few of them. He knows the shit is fake but goes for the laughs. I wonder what the life expectancy is for the average pro wrestler. With the fucking steroids they do, I’d put it at probably 62 to 63 yrs old. I remember back in the mid eighties the CEO of the entire organization was on a TV news program, 60 minutes or similar. Anyway, he said our wrestlers are paid professional actors, pure and simple.——Yet, you go to one of those things and the majority of the fans there are ready to fight you if you tell them that shit is fake. But I mean, they could use any one of those inbred crowds to audition for the Jerry Springer show.

  43. Wow, that was great. This is definitely one of your best. I didn’t read the book for high school, a friend told me to read it, after I had read Brave New World. He was much smarter than me so I listened. It was the mid 90’s and COPS was big on TV, the internet was doubling in size like every 11 seconds or something. Big brother was out there. I was 16.

    I didn’t stay vigilant, however. (Brutus makes another good point) Along the way I got distracted. I’m a gamer, though my online account has lapsed along with my frag count, due mostly to this site. I assumed other people were keeping an eye out for that kind of stuff. I chose to tune out. Now that I am tuned back in I look around and think, look what we let happen…

  44. Maybe we could just make 3 books compulsory reading in all schools: 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 plus the American Constitution. Wonderful stories in these books and so not difficult to read. This would also involve weekly classes in interpretation taught by the most enlightened, animated, and supremely gifted teachers on double salary. For the rest of their schoolwork you can just let it continue in its usual boring chronically awful way. The masses can still have their boob tube, their Oprah, Dr Phil, soaps, sport, and propaganda CNN. Fair’s fair!

    In these classes the children would be taught how valuable our basic rights and freedoms are, and how, because of them we are not living like people in North Korea, Stalinist Russia, or Nazi Germany.They would learn that it took hundreds of years to obtain these rights thanks to the sacrifices of amazingly dedicated and courageous men and women, with much bloodshed along the way, and they should not be tossed away lightly, but treasured and revered as sacrosanct., thereby rendering them Cheney proof.

    “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”, thus stated so accurately by the Jesuits long ago.

  45. To “dwd:”

    According to GfK/MRI data (2010 Doublebase), 35% of the 70 million Americans who bought at least one book in the past 12 months read at least two days a week. There are some 60 million Americans who bought 5 or more books in the past year, and 46% of those read at least two times a week.

    As for political outlook, of those who bought at least one book in the past 12 months, some 33% consider themselves “somewhat” or “very conservative.” 27% consider themselves “middle of the road” and 22% say they are “somewhat” or “very liberal.”

    Similar statistics for those who purchased 5+ books in the past year: 34% consider themselves “somewhat” or “very conservative.” 27% consider themselves “middle of the road” and 25% say they are “somewhat” or “very liberal.”

  46. Thomas Friedman wrote an excellent article regarding American laziness with a significant influence by Strauss/Howe generational theory. How can ‘we’ address the laziness or lack of curiosity as a nation/culture?

    I want to share a couple of articles I recently came across that, I believe, speak to the core of what ails America today but is too little discussed. The first was in Newsweek under the ironic headline “We’re No. 11!” The piece, by Michael Hirsh, went on to say: “Has the United States lost its oomph as a superpower? Even President Obama isn’t immune from the gloom. ‘Americans won’t settle for No. 2!’ Obama shouted at one political rally in early August. How about No. 11? That’s where the U.S.A. ranks in Newsweek’s list of the 100 best countries in the world, not even in the top 10.”
    The second piece, which could have been called “Why We’re No. 11,” was by the Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson. Why, he asked, have we spent so much money on school reform in America and have so little to show for it in terms of scalable solutions that produce better student test scores? Maybe, he answered, it is not just because of bad teachers, weak principals or selfish unions.
    “The larger cause of failure is almost unmentionable: shrunken student motivation,” wrote Samuelson. “Students, after all, have to do the work. If they aren’t motivated, even capable teachers may fail. Motivation comes from many sources: curiosity and ambition; parental expectations; the desire to get into a ‘good’ college; inspiring or intimidating teachers; peer pressure. The unstated assumption of much school ‘reform’ is that if students aren’t motivated, it’s mainly the fault of schools and teachers.” Wrong, he said. “Motivation is weak because more students (of all races and economic classes, let it be added) don’t like school, don’t work hard and don’t do well. In a 2008 survey of public high school teachers, 21 percent judged student absenteeism a serious problem; 29 percent cited ‘student apathy.’ ”
    There is a lot to Samuelson’s point — and it is a microcosm of a larger problem we have not faced honestly as we have dug out of this recession: We had a values breakdown — a national epidemic of get-rich-quickism and something-for-nothingism. Wall Street may have been dealing the dope, but our lawmakers encouraged it. And far too many of us were happy to buy the dot-com and subprime crack for quick prosperity highs.
    Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.”
    Contrast that with the Baby Boomer Generation. Our big problems are unfolding incrementally — the decline in U.S. education, competitiveness and infrastructure, as well as oil addiction and climate change. Our generation’s leaders never dare utter the word “sacrifice.” All solutions must be painless. Which drug would you like? A stimulus from Democrats or a tax cut from Republicans? A national energy policy? Too hard. For a decade we sent our best minds not to make computer chips in Silicon Valley but to make poker chips on Wall Street, while telling ourselves we could have the American dream — a home — without saving and investing, for nothing down and nothing to pay for two years. Our leadership message to the world (except for our brave soldiers): “After you.”
    So much of today’s debate between the two parties, notes David Rothkopf, a Carnegie Endowment visiting scholar, “is about assigning blame rather than assuming responsibility. It’s a contest to see who can give away more at precisely the time they should be asking more of the American people.”
    Rothkopf and I agreed that we would get excited about U.S. politics when our national debate is between Democrats and Republicans who start by acknowledging that we can’t cut deficits without both tax increases and spending cuts — and then debate which ones and when — who acknowledge that we can’t compete unless we demand more of our students — and then debate longer school days versus school years — who acknowledge that bad parents who don’t read to their kids and do indulge them with video games are as responsible for poor test scores as bad teachers — and debate what to do about that.
    Who will tell the people? China and India have been catching up to America not only via cheap labor and currencies. They are catching us because they now have free markets like we do, education like we do, access to capital and technology like we do, but, most importantly, values like our Greatest Generation had. That is, a willingness to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations.
    In a flat world where everyone has access to everything, values matter more than ever. Right now the Hindus and Confucians have more Protestant ethics than we do, and as long as that is the case we’ll be No. 11!

  47. Umm, StuckInNJ?

    Q4: What was Moses’ wife name?
    A4: Miriam (or Mary) ———- only 15% got it right. 18% answered Joan of Arc.

    WRONG answer.

    Moses’ wife was Zipporah.

    Miriam was Moses’ sister.

  48. LLPOH commented:

    “…it appears to me the real problem lies elsewhere.
    I believe the real issue is the mass of uneducated, unskilled, largely below-average intelligence, lazy people with an overwhelming sense of entitlement that is the real problem. The proportion of the population that falls into this group has become overwhelming.
    They populate the free shit army. Their answer to everything is to want to take increasingly more from the bright, the hardworking, the skilled and the thoughtful. ”

    Sounds suspiciously like Kornbluth’s “The Marching Morons”.

  49. Ben, I would like to nominate YOU as the SMARTEST person on this website.

    I provided the wrong answer to the Moses’ wife question on purpose just to prove the point I was making. Kudos galore to you, and only you, for catching it. Well done, sir.

  50. Dear Sirs,
    i read your excellant article entitled “Those who must burn…’ and i feel you gave an great summary and review of Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451 and its possible ramifications over 50 years later. But i think you are being an alarmist!

    YES, nobody reads anymore- but did they ever really? I rmeber growing up in a world where people hated to read even when TV was in its infancy. The fault, I think lies not with schools but with parents . Parents who don’t read – have children who don’t read either! My parents read- and going to the library was a family affair! I still go to this day and i think upon all the years I have been a library patron and the vast amount of books i have read – all thanks to my loving mother who made sure we kids learned to love to read. So You can blame society of you want- but its familes who must take the brunt of the blame.

    Another thing is people don’t read the Bible anymore, if they ever did. Its a book nearly everyone owns and nobody reads! It would be a better world if people knew their Bible and reffered to It daily. I d and. I feel I have a balanced eye for what is good and for what is evil and I shun evil things. Its that simple to live a good life.

    Lastly i have to argue that i feel your article is a too cynical! Everyone is NOT as moronic and controlled by the corporate media as you beleiee. Less and less people trust the news in newspapers and seen on TV – knowing its all corporate lies. Most get their news from the internet now, from a wide variety of different sources. You can see the rising tide of revolt against corporately owned government in the rise of the Tea Party which is a grass roots revolution determined to bring the Consitution back into prominance in US Government.!

    Also iIfeel that some credit should be paid to our American government. America has had the Atom bomb since 1945. And hasn’t used it any war since then. That shows a country with a sense of responsibilty and reverence for life on Earth. One wonders where the world would be say had the Soviets invented the bomb first? or the Nazis or the Japanese? I think we all know the answer to that one.

    SO I conclude that things aren’t as bad as you say. Books will endure. people will read them. We are always on the brink of world war and economic disaster and it hasn’t happened yet. The US Government is corrupt and evil- and yets its the best in the world. Sufficient unto each day is the evil thereof.

    Jerry Kimbro

  51. Thanks for writing this. I ordered the book and have already read it and will be posting a link to your write up on facebook. What a great book. Thank you again

  52. We had the satellite dish disconnected in 2000 and unplugged or 12 inch TV when they started simultaneously broadcasting commercials on every satellite channel – before that we could watch 3 to 5 programs at the same time. Someone recently dumped a brand new 28 inch screen analog TV on the roadside, so we picked it up, connected it to some old rabbit ears antenna, saw all the trash on TV for about 30 minutes, then brought the TV in for recycling. TV is just pure psychological propaganda programming, no holds barred. The drug commercials are direct hypnotic suggestions. No wonder this is a TV nation of sheeple, their brains have been destroyed by the tube. Now, I just have to kick this $50.00 a month high speed internet habit and I am free!

  53. I haven’t read the book since high school but will put it on my list. I have studied and taught on the book of Ecclesiastes (“Qohelet”) extensively, and it struck me the irony of the statements in Qohelet in relation to the importance of Qohelet in 451: for instance–

    “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” (1:18)

    and, even more ironic,

    “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (12:12)

    The number of books published today is like the TV programs–way too many and most filled with trash!

  54. I find the books mentioned in the comments to be fascinating. I have 4 libraries that I regularly use, so one or the other has just about anything. One is a university library, and I have full access to scholarly journals.

    I’ll add to the book list. I have become fascinated with the kinds of repetitive climate cycles that drove primates to evolve as humans. My starting point is “A Brain for All Seasons” by William Calvin.

    This is the anthropological work exploring the consequences of a shift in geology shifting the climate to frequent global ice age cycles 6 million years ago. In Africa, an ice age means drought. All the game on the plains converged on the watering holes as they dried up. Humans evolved from the the resulting survival pressures for cooperation in hunting large game animals and distribution of meat to all while it was still fresh. Each ice age ratcheted up socialization and intelligence.

    I view the current anthropological global warming debate as a continuation of this 6 million year old climate cycling. In my worldview, the climate is changing because the last ice age ended 10 thousand years ago and the shifting climate is just part of the cold/hot pattern that drove evolution.

    (no kidding, the ice was two miles thick over Canada and the Great Lakes are the resulting meltwater.)

  55. “•Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges – 59%
    •Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court – 17%”

    Percentage of Americans who can name the Three Stooges on the Supreme Court: ????

  56. please include the FULL Complete quate that you put on the link please i cant find any website that has the captian betty quate were he talks about uncombustible facts, goverment being tax mad/ top heavy. make peaple beleave they are thinking and are in motion. this is the most inportant quate yet it is so hard to find why?

  57. The discussion misses much. The reason we as a nation are apparently stupid, lazy, mesmerized, incoherent slobs is that simply we don’t have much time to be educated. Taken in context, let’s look at the last 40 economic years in Amerika. It now takes two incomes just to keep up. Wages on an inflation adjusted basis have not grown since 1970 (my whole working life)!

    Americans are like gerbils on the hyper exercise wheel of life. There is little time for self improvement, self education, raising of children, or civil engagement.

    Instead of beating ourselves up, and disparaging our neighbors, perhaps we need to effect change no matter the cost.

    inflation and fiat money is the enemy. This hyper “growth” on steroids we’ve seen since ?1972 is killing us.

  58. Long time reader, 1st time poster here. I’ve shared articles from TBP on my FB page in the past without any issues, but this morning provided me with some irony.
    I remember reading F451 in 9th grade, and I’ll admit it was one of the few books I read cover to cover during my HS years. The message stayed with me long after I graduated and always will. This morning I thought I’d share this piece on Bradbury with my FB friends (95+% of whom would never bother to read it, but thats besides the point).
    So I copied/pasted the link and share it, and it was displayed on my page for about a half hour. I go back to my page and see that it is gone, wiped clean. I refreshed it repeatedly to see if it was a glitch, but still gone. So I tried to post it again, and this is what I got:

    Sorry, this post contains a blocked URL

    The content you’re trying to share includes a link that’s been blocked for being spammy or unsafe:

    For more information, visit the Help Center. If you think you’re seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

    I don’t know why this would be or if there’s anything Admin can do to remedy the situation, but after being pissed off I had to laugh a little at the irony of having a Bradbury piece of all subjects basically censored and blocked. Whats the temperature that the internet burns?

  59. That reminds me of High School, and they aren’t good memories. I had a rough home life. I found out that I couldn’t get my ass kicked if it wasn’t around to be kicked, so I would pack up a few torn up paper backs and walk the trails until I was a mile or so away and settle down to read my book. My excuses were typically “walking the fence line” or “goin’ fishing” (hint: if you don’t bait the line your reading doesn’t get interrupted).

    The sad nostalgia kicks in when I think back to how pitiful my classmates’ reading was. We were required to do a book summary each month every single month of high school (all 4 years). All but a few of us would do reports on the same book several months in a row because the only time they read was when they were forced to. One guy did his on the same book all 4 years. It had about 400 pages.

    A month or so ago I bumped into many of them at a bar, and was asked the following question “hey, you still read a shit ton?” Aside from my professional reading (substantial) the reading I do to try and keep up with this website (Jim, post less often man good lord) I still try to read at least one book a week. I can’t really afford to buy a new book that often, so often times I will reread previous books or even dig out a text book to read.

    None of them had touched a book since high school. Two of them have their associates degrees from the local community college and bragged about how they still hadn’t read a thing since high school.

    I love how their voting power is the same as mine.

    I love how if I go to trial a “jury of my peers” will consist of fucking morons….they are not my peers.


    For the record, I still embrace technology. My iPod is all loaded up and I use it to block out distractions when working on an important project, or when I’m alone in the lab and am sick of listening to the incubators hum.

    Its how tech is used that disgusts me. People use the internet as a playground not realizing that there is SO much to freakin’ learn out there. Of course, this has given rise to the WikiPhD, who’s intellectual powers are limited only by their google-fu. Despite this rather annoying side effect of the freedom of information, at least they are trying to learn SOMETHING aside from new Chuck Norris jokes.

    To me it all stems from shitty educational standards and ridiculously low expectations. Bring those up, and people will learn to appreciate literary works and real human interaction rather than American Idol and “dates” where all they do is text their friends about how it is going.

  60. 451

    That is ironic. I posted the link to this article on the Burning platform Facebook page. If you go to the bottom of this page, you can go there. I think you can then share the link.

  61. I look at tv as theater and a great diversion.I like PBS and enjoy foreign movies on CD.
    I read fast and notice a lot of americans dont read.I like to read on the net and TBP is a site i like to read every day,sometimes twice. I try to spread the idea of voting for Ron Paul(write him in if you value your freedom and love your country) by visiting sites where people have an obvious Obama complex.I also keep mentioning the need for term limits on congress.
    Yesterday i noticed a lot more people talking about our country following europe because of our debt,it was amazing,like some are awake.

  62. @ StuckinNJ:
    Sorry, but you got Q3 wrong! Easter celebrates the worship of the goddess Ishtar – hence the bunnies and the eggs (all symbols of fertility). Indeed, “Easter” is a corruption of “Ishtar”. We can thank the Roman Emperor Constantine for this, but then he had to get the pagans into the fold some how. That’s also why most “Christians” celebrate the sabbath on Sunday instead of Saturday (Constantine and most of his troops worshipped Sol Invictus on Sunday, of course). But then, most “Christians” don’t even know God’s name! (Hint: it isn’t “God”, “Jesus”, or “Lord”.)

  63. Q1: Name the first book in the Bible.

    Q2: Who delivered the Sermon on the Mount?

    Q3: What is celebrated on Easter?

    Q4: What was Moses’ wife name?

    Q5: Is the Book of Hezekiah in the Old Testament or New Testament?

    Q6: True or False? Jesus said that God helps those who help themselves.

    Q7: Name the 6th commandment.

    Q8: What is Sodom and Gomorrah?

    Q9: How many animals did Moses take on the ark before the Flood?

    Q10: True or False? Jesus sinned while he lived on earth.

    1. Chapter 1: The early years.

    2. UPS.

    3. Duh… The fucking bunny.

    4. Cindy..

    5. Sorry, My bible is only 4 years old- couldn’t find it.

    6. That is a FACT jack.

    7. One of the weakest commandments. Murder is usually a, he said, she said, thingy.,,

    8. buttfucking.

    9. One of each, and his bitch.

    10. This is a tough one. If you can, imagine Jesus with a morning woody. Somwhere I read (or was told by mormon ex-wife) that it is better to lose your seed in the belly of a whore that to plaster your own belly through a succesful wackin off. But fucking whores is a sin also. Back to Jesus…

    Does anyone think that he lived his whole life here on earth without ever getting a blowjob?

  64. I am proud that as a child my mother made me read instead of sticking me in front of a TV. In kindergarten, I would stay up during nap time to read alphabet books. I am going into high school and have already read Fahrenheit 451 3 times and a bunch of other great books.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.