Skip to comments.Breaking Our Terrible Addiction to TV
Posted on 06/18/2009 10:49:38 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
One of the more thought-provoking columns I make sure I read every week is called Spiritual Wealth. It's written by my good friend Alex Green, who is Investment Director of the Oxford Club. Alex gave me permission to share one of his columns with you, with the request that I also tell you about his new book. I'm delighted to do both. See the end of today's column for details on how you can receive his column every week and learn about The Secret of Shelter Island, his inspiring and informative new book.
According to A.C. Nielson Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day. That's two months of nonstop television per year.
In a 65-year life, that person will have spent nine years glued to the tube.
The same study found that the amount of time per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is 3.5 minutes. The average time children spend watching TV each week? 1,680 minutes.
Parents often wonder how they can better relate to their kids, how they can combat the coarsening effects of modern culture.
May I suggest the off button?
Surrounded by cable television, DVDs, CD players, cell phones, PDAs, iPods, satellite radio, video games, and the Internet, a young person might reasonably ask what adults did before the age of electronic media.
In truth, we spent more time visiting friends and neighbors, took long walks, learned musical instruments, gave dinner parties and dances, went fishing, played chess or checkers.
And we read.
We read to become informed. We read to be entertained. We read as a noble intellectual exercise.
And because reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body, we thought better, expressed ourselves more clearly, wrote with greater style and refinement.
This kind of literacy can turn everyday communication into a kind of poetry. (Compare the Lincoln/Douglas debates, for example, to the current quality of political discourse.)
We also engaged in the lost art of conversation. In language filled with wit and intelligence, we spent time talking about our interests, argued the pressing issues of the day, wondered aloud about great mysteries, told each other our dreams, and let those around us know how we felt about them.
As an example of both the higher sentiments and greater literacy of an earlier age, here is a letter from Sullivan Ballou, a 32-year-old soldier in the Union Army, to his 24-year-old wife:
July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days-perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more...
Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness...
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights... always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again...
Ballou was killed in the first battle of Bull Run a week later.
If you'd like to receive Alex Green's inspiring and thought-provoking column, Spiritual Wealth, in your in-box every week, sign up at www.spiritualwealth.com/about-us/. To learn more about Alex's powerful new book, The Secret of Shelter Island, just click here.
* Please let us pay you back. So say 10 of the country's largest financial institutions, which very much want to return the $68 billion they received in TARP funds. Seems they are beginning to chaff a bit at all the "oversight" that came with taking all those taxpayer funds. Not everyone wants to see the money repaid, however. The New York Times says, "allowing bailout money to be repaid now is premature. Without reforms in place, the Obama Administration is weakening its hand in reining in the banks."
* A fitting memorial in D.C. I was touched by the ceremony in Washington last week, when Nancy Reagan unveiled a statue of her husband in the Capitol Rotunda. The last time Mrs. Reagan visited Washington was in 2004, for the memorial service for Ronald Reagan. With a tear in her eye this time, she said, "It's nice to be back under happier circumstances." She declared that the seven-foot statue, which contains pieces of the Berlin Wall, was a "wonderful likeness" of her late husband. I look forward to seeing it in person next time I'm in D.C.
* How do you say "Hummer" in Chinese? In one of the strangest deals in an era of very strange arrangements, an obscure Chinese industrial company has purchased the Hummer truck line from General Motors. In theory, the Hummer plant in Shreveport, Louisiana will continue to churn out those ego-stroking gas guzzlers for at least a year, while its Chinese owners try to develop manufacturing and distribution facilities on the mainland. Time will tell if the deal succeeds; I suspect it may not even close.
* How about some respect for our Holy Book? ABC News has confirmed that Bibles sent to U.S. troops in Afghanistan for distribution to locals there (the Bibles had been translated into the most popular Afghan languages) were confiscated and destroyed by military officials. The Pentagon justified the actions by saying the Bibles were a violation of military regulations prohibiting proselytizing and could have risked the lives of our servicemen by offending the Muslim majority. How is it that when a Koran is mishandled, there is rioting all over the world? But when Bibles are burned or otherwise destroyed, there is hardly a peep of protest?
This Week in History
The Continental Congress was struggling to find funds and provisions for Revolutionary forces when it decided to issue its own currency. On June 22, 1776, it issued $2 million in paper money. The currency featured the likeness of Revolutionary soldiers and carried the inscription, "The United Colonies."
The "Continentals," as the bills were known, were not backed by gold or any other assets. Merchants distrusted their value and demanded more and more of them for the same amount of goods. General George Washington complained that, "A wagonload of currency will hardly purchase a wagonload of provisions."
By the end of the war, the new currency was virtually worthless. The bills were ultimately redeemed by the new U.S. government at one/one hundredth of their face value. Because of this experience, the phrase "not worth a Continental" became a way to describe something that had no value.
The lesson also convinced our Founding Fathers to insist that any currency issued by the U.S. government be fully redeemable in gold or silver a requirement that became part of our Constitution and was honored for the next 100 years. Today, of course, our currency is only backed by "the full faith and credit of the United States," which some cynics (this writer included) say explains why the value of the dollar continues to fall.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.
Straight Talk is a weekly commentary written by Chip Wood. For many years Chip was the host of an award-winning radio talk show in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder of Soundview Publications and serves as an MC at several investment conferences. His weekly rants and raves are free for the asking at www.straighttalkletter.com.
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“Breaking Our Terrible Addiction to TV”
I broke my addiction to TV (not that I had a big addiction anyway... LOL).
But, now, I’m trying to figure out how to break my addiction from Free Republic...., but do I really want to do that? :-)
We got rid of ours over a year ago,
Haven’t missed it once.
Unplug it. Cancel the service. Get Netflix.
I did 3 years ago. One of the best things I ever did.
Last I knew, [being born in 1957], televisions had an “off” button.
I’m having cable disconnected until January.
Gotta have NCAA Basketball, you know.
I read regularly and watch tv as well. The two pastimes are not mutually exclusive.
I stopped watching tv years ago, what complete garbage. Occasionally I see it when a friend has it on at their house and that just re-affirms that it is complete garbage. Especially the fellatojournalism that passes as news these days.....ugh! God help us.
Except during football season - and then the dang games are on so late at night. ;-)
I don't believe I have ever seen any of the popular shows that have premiered since I've been away. And when I'm home on visits, there are always so many much better things to do than watch TV.
Not that Hard these days with the Terrible Programming. Obama 24 hours a day on a News Channel - Give me a break. ABC White House Infomercial - Barf. American Idol - needs a Rod of Iron (to smash the Idols). Freinds - None of Mine. Cheers - A serious lack thereof.
Just bought "Love Boat - Season One" - Laughed my head off. Before that "Fantasy Island - Season One" - glued to the Screen. Where has good acting and writing gone?
I have a hunch it’s the libs who watch too much tv. It’s probably why they have such a warped sense of reality.
The only tv I watch is the news. I don’t even have cable.
There are plenty of other things I’d rather be doing than watching the idiot box.....like spending time with my family!
My daughter and son in law have hooked up a parking meter to the TV and the kids have to pay to watch.
They are little so its one penny per minute.
The only exception is if mom and dad turn the TV on for them to watch.
You know, I just a moment.
I’ve long thought that if the MA TV gambling game in bars, KENO, was available on cableTV, they could raise a ton of money.
My eureka moment......they should tax watching TV.....
I actually still watch “programs”, but not in the style of some (or a lot) of people and/or relatives I know.
Usually, the way to watch TV is to sit there and just stare at it, and whatever comes on and whatever channel you surf through. And after a few hours of that, you may get tired and quit or do something else.
As for me, I may be interested in a particular program (a series, let’s say) and I’ll basically not see it for several weeks or a month or more. And then, I’ll download a bunch of those programs, at one time, sit through them all at one or two “sittings” and then be done with it for another month or two... LOL...
“Last I knew, [being born in 1957], televisions had an off button.”
And we needed the “off” allot less back then.
WHEN TV WAS COOL
If you consider that a DVD set of a particular series is probably $90 to $150,
and that cable is about $40 to $50 per month.
It’s cheaper to buy and resell the DVD set and watch them at your leisure without commercials.
Depends on the household. A lot of people crank their TV way up to super loud, which pretty much excludes all other activity including thinking. The rule in my household is the TV must be low enough to be able to be talked over at normal conversational levels, that way I can still read, we can have meaningful conversations, all that great multi-tasking type stuff.
The Brits already thought of that. ;-)
By choice I don’t have a TV or computer in my home. After working all day with various technologies I like to go to 1946. I turn off the cell phone, crank up the victrola ( yes, I do have one) or turn on my big old Stromberg Carlson radio and concentrate on fixing a nice dinner. TV sucks.
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