Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Friday
Aug022013

now reading: Empire of Illusion

I don't know how I stumbled across this excellent book, but Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle has been an enlightening read, although a bit sad.

I've heard of "celebrity culture" before, but I had never really understood the impact of it. Think of the hundreds of millions of people who are functionally illiterate, who've never read a book after high school (or college), who watch endless reality television shows and know more about the manufactured world of celebrities than the real one. 

The vocabulary and grammar of US Presidential elections have steadily decreased over the ages. In Lincoln's time, only someone with the education of a high school senior would be able to fully understand the discussion. Obama caused a small bump, but in the Kerry-Bush debates it had sunk to a 6th grade level.

The steady dumbing-down of society is not limited to the United States, but it is the general focus of the book. 

Rather than living in the real world, more and more people live in the manufactured make-believe world.

Only 20% of American families buy one or more books every year, and half of Americans can't read something beyond an 8th grade level.

On a very practical and personal note it makes me quite happy to know that a huge benefit to raising kids outside of the specter of American society is that the firehose of celebrity and consumer culture is reduced to a dripping faucet. 

Reading material like this makes me think of best-intentioned parents questioning our decision to distance our children from the typical American upbringing. More and more I find myself turning the raised eyebrow back at them, wondering about their rationale in staying in it.

Reader Comments (6)

Hey Eric, I will swap you when you are finished - I have got a hard copy of "American Theocracy" which makes great reading.

It seems that Socrates was wrong when he said "fame is the fragrance of great deeds". Now it seems that it is simply fame.

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRick Page

The only time I buy books is when I don't have access to a library! And I check out half-a-dozen at a time--and finish them all before they're due. A better statistic is the proportion of Americans who READ one or more books a year.

Nonetheless, I certainly can't fault you for withdrawing your family from exposure to celebrity culture!

August 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Grace

I decided to take a look at your blog, since you mentioned squarespace in your CF post. Interesting blog, you have here...

Yes, the celeb culture has lifted entire large sections of the populace up and out of reality - to some other place where "somebody else" takes care of the business issues, so as to allow full-time devotion to be applied to the most recent fav celebs...

Check out the study done, in the Netherlands, on intelligence quotient. The paper asserts that IQ has dropped 14 points since 1814 as a result of steadily increaing idleness of brains and certain demographic-based population growth aberations.

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSailor_Hutch

That last sub-sentence sounded racist, so let me clarify:

Professional people have fewer kids (too busy professionalizing)

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSailor_Hutch

@Rick: I'm rocking the Kindle version so I can't share any copies, unfortunately. I read an article on how I can decrypt them ( http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade/know/2979 ). Do you have a Kindle?

@Sheila: As a library goer you have to admit that the demographics of library goers isn't getting any younger. I think ebooks outpaced physical book sales a few years ago and shows no signs of stopping. I think with so many more books available and the reduced funding for public libraries, the realities of them being book repositories is getting smaller and smaller.

@Hutch: No worries on the could-be-racist statement, I know what you mean. It's a bit akin to that movie Idiocracy where the people who "should" have kids are just getting older being childless and the people who have less resources and less education multiply. Whether this is different than normal history I have no idea.

Interesting link though, basically families making less than $10,000 a year have twice as many kids as people making more.

http://www.statista.com/statistics/241530/birth-rate-by-family-income-in-the-us/

August 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterEric

Although lies, damn lies, and statistics applies.

Even though poor women are more likely to have children, wealthy families have more children.

http://www.statista.com/statistics/195978/number-of-births-by-family-income-in-the-united-states-2008/

August 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterEric

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