Short cuts we should rethink

As Americans, we love taking short cuts, doing things the easy way when possible. Our collective motto might be, “Work smarter, not harder.” Lately I have been considering some possible historical mistakes that we have made in our haste to “git ’er done.”

People often resist having giant wind turbines placed on their property, claiming they ruin the scenery, interrupt the vast Kansas horizons. But, I find something beautifully poetic in their slow, silent spinning. I would ask those persons who claim they are a distraction to consider the lowly power line, which is as pervasive as anything on the plains.

Would it not make much more sense to bury the lines? They would be impervious to the weather, for one thing. That would be a big bonus during ice storms of the winter and the inland hurricanes that the summer months often bring. Buried cables are also resistant to attacks by kamikaze squirrels.

Another possible error made by our forebears is their planting of Siberian elm trees throughout central Kansas. I love trees, and I applaud the pioneers for their efforts to plant fast-growing timber around their farms, but the choice of the brittle, scraggly, disease-ridden, sap-dripping elms was dubious at best. Imagine if they would have placed their forestry faith in oaks or maples or birches.

I believe we made a huge mistake in the 1970s by not embracing the metric system. Our president at the time, Jimmy Carter, tried. But, a base-10 system just wasn’t American enough, apparently. Traditionalists cried foul. They said we could never learn such a socialist system, yet today we fully understand the concept of 10K races and two-liter bottles.

We should have just dumped the English system wholesale and replaced it with the metric system in one fell swoop. Life would now be much less complicated when it comes to weights and measures.

Another historical misstep, albeit more controversial, is the electoral college. Maybe it made sense to the founding fathers, but this is a system that has become archaic.

Some will argue that this keeps the most populated states and cities from dominating the voting. But, I contend the opposite is true. The winner-take-all contest we have in Kansas, for example, gives the blues to those who are not red as casting a ballot for any candidate but a Republican is essentially a wasted vote. I think everyone’s choice should count.

The world of fashion is a fickle one, and I see two recent mistakes that could be easily rectified. Yoga pants should be reserved for, well, yoga. Sweat pants should not be worn in public, unless the person sporting them is heading to or from the gym or the hospital.

Another pervasive error is people’s using Facebook to obtain their news. In fact, I am not so sure the platform itself is not an error of historical proportions. Would we be better off if the social network had never been born?

For exhibit A, consider the recent “news” that the waters of Glen Elder Reser­voir in Kansas had produced a shark. Some people apparently take all posts at face value. Officials at the lake are still fielding questions about whether the water is safe for swimming and boating.

And, I refuse to provide public validation of my love for my son, daughter, parents, spouse, future grandchildren or anyone else by sharing, chain-letter style, a post.

Finally, in some circles, this may be the most controversial. While I consider myself a baseball fan of many years, I am not a traditionalist when it comes to the designated hitter. I do not enjoy seeing a rally killed when a pitcher is up to bat with two outs in an inning.

Yes, I know a few hurlers know how to use a bat, and I understand the strategy involved in a manager’s chess match in terms of using pitchers wisely. But, I think more offense trumps less offense every time. If I am going to spend three hours or more watching a game, I want the most return on my investment.

Bob Woelk teaches English and journalism at Hillsboro Middle/High School. He can be reached at woelk@embarqmail.

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