Oldsters, it turns out, matter. They matter a lot. And not just in human families. I've been reading a new book called The Once and Future World, by J. B. MacKinnon, which points out that when we humans hunt game, when we fish the sea, we often prize the biggest animals because they have the biggest tusks, or the most protein, so they're the ones we kill first. But in many species, the biggest animals are also the oldest, and if we eliminate too many grandpas and grandmas, pulling them out of the mix can unravel the social order around them — often with totally surprising consequences. But — restore those elders to their proper place, and things can get better. Here's an example. It's an elephant story. (Tomorrow, I'll talk about fish, but today is Elephant Day.)
When you picture a housing development in the suburbs, you might imagine golf courses, swimming pools, rows of identical houses.
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Here's an excerpt from my Rick Steves' European Christmas book, explaining how our tradition of decorating Christmas trees came to be:
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The American work force has some of weakest mathematical and problem-solving skills in the developed world. In a recent survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a global policy organization, adults in the United States scored far below average and better than only two of 12 other developed comparison countries, Italy and Spain. Worse still, the United States is losing ground in worker training to countries in Europe and Asia whose schools are not just superior to ours but getting steadily better.