Orange is the New Smart

Posted on October 28, 2019


It’s no secret to anyone except Trump supporters that the educational system of the United States is failing the vast majority of its students. Although literacy rates have increased, reading levels have been falling since the 1970s. The US is now ranked 125th in world literacy, behind, among many others, Latvia, Armenia, Barbados, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Mongolia, and Botswana. “Fake countries!” yell Trump supporters. “Hillary and Obama made those countries up to make us feel bad! Start a criminal investigation now!”

LBL will now take a deep breath and continue. More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level.

In the population at large, general knowledge is rapidly being reduced to “I read it on Facebook.” Most people have no idea where the nearest ocean is (The closest they can guess in some parts of the country is “Far.” Others merely ask “Ocean?”)

And, then, there is Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, multi-million dollar Republican doner, whose combination financial largesse and firm belief in private education made her uniquely qualified to become the guiding force of 50 million public school students in the US.

There is, however one bright spot on this uninformed, clueless, and generally not caring horizon: prison.

Last month, inmates from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility defeated the Harvard debate team (ENYCF). Before Trump supporters charge “Fake News!” or attribute this to the general Deep State (not to be confused with Florida’s future moniker, thanks to climate change) that is swallowing us whole, let Life in the Boomer Lane explain.

The ENYCF debate team has a track record. They have already vanquished some mighty fine universities in past years. Supported by Bard College, this program rocks. Loyal Readers may still be skeptical. To address your concerns, LBL has interviewed the head of the ENYCF team. She hereby shares the following nuggets with you:

So hey, what’s up with you guys, bro and all that? How come the big win? (LBL can communicate with all types)

ENYCF: Our posture is that students in traditional university settings have been largely raised by well-intentioned but basically over-indulgent parents whose child-rearing practices are mostly a combination of benign neglect, coupled with an inordinate fear of their children being harmed in some way by any number of external factors that can’t be avoided by throwing money at them. In other words, they are confronted by forces beyond their control. This has resulted in avoiding, at all cost, instilling in their fragile but highly gifted offspring the basic values that create independence, personal responsibility and a resilience to deal with failure.


ENCYF: They have been over-protected.

LBL: Oh, OK. Anything else, homey?

ENYCF: Unless you are from E 34th St and Sutherland Ave in Indianapolis, I doubt that you and I are homeys. Yes, there is another reason. The university environment affords students easy access to any number of situations that serve to distract them from the very reasons they are in college in the first place. These situations preclude the necessary attention it takes to devote oneself to an atmosphere of learning and contemplation, which must go hand-in-hand for any true mastery to occur.


ENYCF: Women. Alcohol. Various mind-altering substances. Parties. Money. Other diversions. These are all distractions to intellectual development and the expression of one’s innate intellectual potential. We, on the other hand, have been affored the unique opportunity to be able to focus on our studies without such frivolities and distractions.

Oh, right. Well, Ok. So there. So what’s next for you guys? A visit to the White House? Disney World?

ENYCF: Neither. Our incarceration precludes visiting areas beyond those mandated by the state of New York. And we would all agree that visits to either the White House or Disney World would, most likely, do nothing to further our intellectual development.

This has been an amazing interview. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me.

ENYCF: Ah, time. Yes, time is what we have in abundance, here. Then again, quantum physics has finally proven that all time is occurring at all times. So, in effect, we all have time.

Uh, right. And you, personally?

ENYCF: Ah, me. Personally, I’m buyin’ the building of every door that ever closed on me.