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Column: What became of ham salad and the evening news?

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WORTHINGTON -- The subject last week was Writing Newspaper Columns. This is Lecture 2. I will offer introductions for three columns. You write the column which will follow:

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1. We walk through the front entrance of the soaring architectural majesty of Westminster Abbey where lately the handsome Prince William took the lovely Kate Middleton to be his bride. As we move slow step by slow step along that historic central aisle we can hear the sound system. Someone is playing an altered tape of Gene Autry strumming his guitar and singing:

"I'm back in the saddle again, out where the Lord is my friend, where the longhorn cattle feed on the lonely jimson weed, I'm back with my Savior again..."

We settle into a booth at the Green Lantern, our little hometown cafe. I was thinking of a tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat with a leaf of crisp lettuce. Chips on the side.

We open the menu. Burrito. Burrito bowl. Crispy tacos with braised carnitas or abdobo-braised chicken. Salsa.

For many and many a year we have been taught to respect, to honor, to find what is precious in cultures of other people. I accept this. But I am ready to shout: "Hey! I had a culture, too! What did you do with my culture? What became of ham salad and, 'Holy, Holy, Holy'?"

2. WAE. I sometimes LOL at MNDot. You got an RSS feed? You think LHB will request LGA? I see POTUS tells USDA CCC cannot fund CRP.

The first three letters above - WAE -- stand for We Abbreviate Everything. You are on your own from there. We write in abbreviations these days, maybe because we cannot spell. I scarcely can read my newspaper any longer.

Out here in WGTN, MN, USA they report WHS and MW and ALC make indirect contributions to the GDP because the BEA says the CPI is based on PCEs. Ask the DFL or the GOP.

In that famous line by Strother Martin from, "Cool Hand Luke," what we've got here is a failure to communicate.

Poking out letters on a computer keyboard is tedious. One finger must push the "A" key to get an A, another finger must push the "S" key to get an S.

Difficult though all this is, I believe we are going to have to accept these challenges or cease to be able to read our mother tongue.

3. It hurts me indeed and it hurts me deeply to think sometimes that we -- oh, we folks age 50 and above, whatever -- we became a generation of quitters. Every day someone is heard saying, "These kids are so smart. They work those computers; they tweet and text, or whatever they call that; they play those video games; they thumb those cell phones and take pictures and read the internet and call people everywhere."

A generation of dummy parents rears a world of geniuses. Old Stupid sires Young Smart. This would be a huge chapter in human history if it were true.

Well -- it is not so. There is nothing those kids do that most among us could not do. It is just that we quit. We could have told our schools to open Tech-above-50 classes. We could show those kids a thing or two. Instead, we quit. We let the kids seem smart. (I am a founding father of this group; I believe I have made two calls on a cell phone.)

I remember when television came to our houses. 1954. 1955. 1956. We used to sit down at 5 p.m., or 5:30 p.m, to watch the news. People said there soon would be no newspapers.

Funny thing about this. You don't see kids settling in front of TVs at 5 or 5:30. Old folks gather at 5 or 5:30 to watch the parades of commercials, for this is what they see. Commercials. Commercials. Commercials.

The kids are off to learn something new on their computers. They call a spade a spade -- TV news is a string of news snippets squeezed between people complaining of stomach acids and people looking out at twin bathtubs on a beach.

We could have been better than we are. We just quit.

Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column runs each Saturday.

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