October 30th, 2020

The world used to be about hands-on practicality

By Letter to the Editor on December 24, 2019.

I feel sorry for kids these days. Decisions are so much harder. When my buddy Duncan and I were 16 he told his father he wanted a car. His dad said: “That west field needs to be rock picked.”

I grew up around farmers. There are things you do because you want to, and things you do because you have to. I was driving years before 16. Sometimes driving one or two horses can be harder than 200 under the hood.

We heard that Square M was hiring to build the Waterton Dam. The HR guy asked me what I “could run.” I said: “I can run anything you got out here.” (He didn’t ask if I had a licence.) “Your hired.”

Some people say you need at least a BA and a really good resume for a job today. I always felt you had to want to do something – to go to the Arctic, or sail on the ocean. You learned by doing. Today the world is an intellectual exercise; an academic will tell you all about it.

My dad was an engineer. He told me that you got a piece of metal and a file, and were told to make a part within 100-millimetre tolerance. He took an old motorcycle and made it into an airplane.

Most of the salties I met on the water were of that breed. If you had a problem 100 miles offshore you couldn’t call the AMA. The ocean didn’t care if you were on top or under it. In the days of schooners, half the sailors never made it back – 50 per cent; pretty stiff odds. Maybe that’s why it took so long to find America. And then there was someone there ahead of them. Someone who couldn’t wait for a map.

Don Ryane


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“The intellectuals were listening to the voices of a rising proletariat, and were valuable in direct proportion to their alignment with the working-class women and men anxiously fighting against bureaucrats, billionaires, and bosses. As much as anti-intellectualism hurts, its chief impact is on those whose boots in the streets bring about radical social change, not the wounded feelings of those within the ivory tower who wish to do their work without exposure to the unsavory aroma of disrespect.”

Excerpt from, The Real Victims of Anti-Intellectualism, by Aaron S. Lecklider, associate professor of American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.