Dean Clough

May 28, 2021

Portico Darwin: A Modest Proposal for Uniting America

First, a few housekeeping items.  These would normally go in the "From the Unwashed Masses" section, but they seem important enough to lead with.

The networking gear journeyman Byron Browne IV asked if I could provide a link to my voluminous if not precise rating system.  He had understandably forgotten whether Killer is better than Diamond Certified (for the record, no, it is not). 

Here it is and a reminder that I try to hyperlink to this same page in every blog, the first time a rating appears.   As in, "the service from the barmaid at the otherwise Textbook Lakeview Lanes sports bar here in Tupper Lake on Tuesday night was Bogus." 

The Voluminous if not Precise Portico Darwin Rating System

And Byron as well as the increasingly undercover Dr. Downs have asked if they could forward my blog to others; By has a brother visiting the Cape and thought my travel guide might be useful.  Others have asked similar questions.

First, I am sincerely flattered whenever anyone indicates this blog is of any interest at all!  Seriously!

But of course - please do forward my blog to anyone.  You can just forward it like any other email.  And for the truly bored out there, anyone can subscribe easily here or at my Portico Darwin website.

Next up, Cyd Pepfog Darwin.  He's got a banging new website showcasing his fine art, and he raised a concern about how my blog renders on certain email clients and/or browsers.  Again, putting this here in case you yourself have the same issue.  So . . . if you want the best experience, I suggest you always click the "View this post online" link that appears at the end of each and every blog post.

And lastly, before I actually get to the point of today's blog:  be sure to check out Sam Harris's new podcast with Ricky Gervais.   Huh?  Yep - one of the world's top intellectuals yuks it up for 30 minutes or so each week with one of the world's best comedians.  It is excellent, very funny, but also insightful and provocative.  Highly recommended, and my apologies that it's not free. 

OK - on with the show.  Yeah, I know, like finally.

News flash:  America is as polarized and divided as we have ever been, certainly at least since The Civil War.   There have been countless post-mortems regarding the cause (hint:  social media), and also just as many prescriptions for fixing what ails us.  Here's my idea for at least one angle from which we can attack the problem.

13th Grade.

Mandatory.  Obligatory.  No getting out.  Rich and poor.  Every gender.  Every race.  Every religion (including no religion at all).   Every 18 year old in America participates.  No college or university can accept a new student under the age of 25 without the applicant supplying proof they participated.

I'm talking a supercharged AmeriCorps or a domestic Peace Corps-like thing, where each and every kid in America does a year of public service.   They would work on projects together, reside together in dorms set up for the purpose, eat together, learn together, and in general, begin to take down the fake barriers that have been put up among us all.   (Remember, I fully subscribe to Paul Haughey's Divide and Conquered philosophy on all of this.)

What projects?  Jeez, I don't know, what part of America doesn't need attention right now?  How about landscaping our public school grounds, such that each one is something to be proud of?  Maybe getting every single public swimming pool spruced up and open for business.  Give kids not destined for college the option to be trained in something we need as a country - like how to install fiber optic cabling or fixed wireless systems such that we can bring broadband Internet access to every home in the USA.

I think you get the idea.   I know it's not a particularly new one - in fact, my own wife has been an advocate of a 13th Grade for years.  She's in good company, as my hero Scott Galloway also is a big proponent, as are others.   

I'd fund the program with a financial transaction tax, which would have the added benefit of starting to address wealth inequality (another item on our laundry list of national ailments), yet with no regressive elements.  Kids going to college get their first year or two paid for, and those not going to college get vocational training of the kind I mention above and perhaps a certificate or license.

Controversial?  Oh, hell yes.  I can just hear the insane utterances now:  "This is AOC and Bernie's way of indoctrinating your children into their socialist regime!"   

Uh, no.  But we do need something - anything - to begin to heal the mostly self-inflicted wounds we've inflicted as a nation since the Reagan administration.

Would you like some additional context?  I've attached an excellent article from the current issue of The Atlantic that reviews the depths of our polarization in very vivid terms.

Then She Asked Me About Benghazi.pdf
Then She Asked Me About Benghazi.pdf 3.07 MB

My standard reminder:  I'll publish, without comment or smarm, any thoughtful and rational response to my proposal (or The Atlantic article, which I hope you'll read).

I clearly struck a sentimental chord with Chicago kingpin Steven Simon - he reminded me that it was a contraption like this that came to our rescue, and winched his parents' station wagon out of the ditch - no joke.

And for the record, this is a reasonable facsimile of the Simon family cruiser that Steven dumped into the ditch (in an ill-fated attempt to display his high-speed driving prowess on ice to the legendary high school driver Joe Fowler):


In fact, this round of old war stories is motivating me to scan some photos of this very trip.  The incriminating photos may destroy whatever political aspirations that remain of the participants, but I'll take that chance.  It won't be until I'm back in SF in early June, but it will be worth the wait - at least for those of you that crave seeing fuzzy old snapshots of mischievous and boozy high school boys . . .

Next, kudos to Dr. Downs for observing the "conspicuous passion" (her cool words) I have for The Adirondacks.  We're just getting started here, but we've already had some wonderful moments.  As I've said before, I flat-out love it here (even with today's high temp only reaching the upper 40's - it was 80 when we got here Tuesday).  And Doreen, you're very welcome for the Woodstock Travel Guide - I am glad you enjoyed it, and I know a visit there would be consistent with your Five Star lifestyle.

And lastly, he's so cool (although his text messages can be a tad coarse) he gets two mentions in today's blog.  That's Byron Browne IV and I want to thank him for liking the travel aspect of this blog enough to suggest I try to monetize my writings.  But I fear By is not getting enough oxygen at his outer (way, way outer) SF suburban home?

Thank you to anyone that is reading this blog - even these long, dragged-out ones!

Talk about the passion, indeed.  Here is R.E.M. and an album many consider their debut (it's not - this is, and yes, that's two high-res albums for your enjoyment today), the ground-breaking "Murmur".  It's amazing how well this album holds up.  

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