‘Crossword Puzzles Go Toxic’ (2012)

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So this is “adult,” is it? Really?

Things haven’t gotten better, culturally, since I wrote this in 2012.


The thing I don’t see at all is, what are we supposed to be getting out of all this sexual anarchy and moral meltdown–when even the crossword puzzles aren’t safe from corruption? What’s this supposed to do for us?

And we hadn’t even thought of any “Drag Queen Story Hour” yet.

‘Proof That America is Getting Dumber’ (2015)

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Three years ago, all crossword puzzles except for real easy ones stopped being published in crossword magazine, thus slamming the door shut on a peaceful, pleasant pastime. Sorry, but there’s just no satisfaction in answering “four-letter word for this thing with roots and branches and bark.”


Update: I am happy to report that a crossword puzzle magazine for literate adults is now being published again–“Solver’s Choice,” by Dell–and we’ve got one! Like, it’s so satisfying to solve a really hard puzzle that makes you work at it!

Thank you, Dell, for coming to realize that there are still some people in America who like to earn their satisfaction.

‘Crossword Puzzles Go Toxic’ (2012)

A Newswithviews column from back in the day–before they stopped publishing all but the simplest crossword puzzles: it seems our incredibly costly education system has produced millions of people totally unable to do an adult crossword puzzle.

See how the enemy gets into just about everything, to corrupt it…


Dumb Culture, Dumb Schools, Dumb People


If you can’t keep up the culture, you can’t keep anything. You can’t have a republic of dummies. Know-nothings are not able to maintain a modern economy.

But Scholastic Books seems intent on applying the art of bonsai to the human mind. The bonsai artist creates little tiny trees. The cultural bonsai artist creates little tiny minds.

You know you’re getting there when adult crossword puzzles have to be taken off the market because nobody out there is able to do them.

I’ve been reading the first two books in Scholastic’s Wings of Fire series. These fantasy novels, pitched to Young Readers, are all about dragons. Dragons are, we would think, very different from human beings. But the dragons in these books say things like:

“Ew, that’s gross!” “Awwwwww, how cute!” “You guys.” A sadistic monster character is described as “mean.” And here’s an immortal line of dialogue from Book #2, The Lost Heir: “Would you like me to spell out ‘DRAGONETS WUZ HERE’ in giant rocks?”

WUZ? In all caps? Say it ain’t so. Any moment now, I’m going to wake up and find out none of this has happened, it was just a bad dream… Nope, the book’s still there in front of me. Still packed to the brim with stupid, cliche-choked dialogue guaranteed to keep a child’s mind perpetually locked into its 11th year, unable to grow, unable to develop. A mind subjected to the art of cultural bonsai.

And it goes on for as long as its victims live. The dumbing-down of this generation never stops. Whether it’s high schools handing out diplomas to students who can barely sign their own names, or colleges sucking up five or six years’ worth of tuition to give poor, debt-saddled “graduates” degrees in thumb-sucking, Star Wars Studies, Women’s Studies, or Licking Chalk off the Blackboard, our pop culture and our schools never stop binding the roots, pruning back the branches, stunting the trunk–to produce adults who think like 11-year-olds, support Obama, and can’t do crossword puzzles because they’re just too hard.

People who watch the Kardashians.

God help us. Deliver us. Save us.

Proof That America is Getting Dumber

One of the things we like to do around here, by way of relaxation, is crossword puzzles. We have subscribed to a certain crossword magazine, from a publisher whose various puzzle magazines we’ve been regularly buying for almost 40 years. The next issue seemed inordinately delayed, so today I phoned the publisher to ask about it.

Well, guess what? They’re wiping out practically their whole line of magazines, saving only those devoted to Sudoku and really easy crossword puzzles. Self-esteem crossword puzzles: “Three-letter word for domestic animal that goes ‘Meow’ and is not a dog or a goldfish.”

“We had to do it,” said the customer service rep. “No one is buying anything but easy puzzles and Sudoku. They just can’t do the harder puzzles.”

So that little avenue of pleasure is being sealed off. Neither of us is the least bit interested in Sudoku, and who wants to do a crossword puzzle that a five-year-old can do? And no more cryptograms for Patty.

This in the country that spends more on public education than anyone has dared to calculate.

The great thinkers who created and shaped public education in the 19th and early 20th centuries were not bashful about stating their long-range goal to train up an American populace that was tractable, ignorant, easily herded by their glorious leaders… and incapable of doing adult crossword puzzles.

Looks like they’ve succeeded.