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Education Matters: Remind us what's improved

July 23, 2010|Dan Kimber

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

I see my brother Dave once a year when he packs up his family from Michigan and returns to his California roots. We invariably spend many an hour reminiscing, much like my father and uncle did sitting in the same patio 50 years ago, dredging up old memories and recalling "how it used to be."

I suppose there is a natural tendency toward the latter half of one's life span to compare the present with the past with the latter generally receiving more favorable ratings. But conversations about "the good old days" very often segue into "What's this world coming to?" and that can get pretty depressing, especially for people who are so stuck in the past that they regularly, and predictably, discount the future.

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And so, just for the sake of balance, we tried to come up with a list of things that are better nowadays than they were when we were growing up. It broke down into two categories: things that are unqualifiedly better, and things that come with a mixed blessing.

Heading up the first list was an improvement in L.A. Basin smog. Those of you who have lived here for a while remember the brown air and aching lungs that were very much a part of our lives, especially in the summer.

T.V.'s are better. Reception is clearer, screens are wider, programming is vastly expanded — all for the better. Some might argue that the content has deteriorated, but that's a subject for another day.

Audio and visual technology has taken quantum leaps, delivering both in smaller components and superior reproduction. Likewise with photography, replacing bulky cameras and a costly developing process with home systems and cell phones that capture more moments at a greatly reduced price.

This mini-list obviously only scratches a surface that deserves a little more scratching, and I'll be asking for your input at the end of this piece, so stay with me.

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