I First Attended University in 1971. It was a Terrible School: UCSB

University Library — No Shit! How Intelligent! . . . Image by Michael Kopp from Pixabay . . . Effing Architects. Assholes… They forgot to attach the legs. And even skateboarders can’t negotiate those ‘stairs.’

My university education became very intense and productive as we approached the year 2000. I did have to stop attending university in approximately 1998 — my construction career needed my full attention for a couple of years.

When I returned to school, and as we approached my graduation in 2003, I was astounded to find that suddenly the students at Portland State had reading, writing, and math and science skills roughly equivalent to what used to be 8th-grade level. I couldn’t believe it then and even now I’m completely dumbfounded. University students were 8th-grade-level; 8th graders devolved to second-grade-levels. I guess.

The whole U.S. was devolving.

Well okay, I’m not completely dumbfounded. I see the workings of misinformation and disinformation and social media and my god, algorithms. Just the fact that people say, “I Googled that question” is a very bad sign, because for any two people asking the same question you’ll get two different results in many cases. Google=Spyware.

Side by side with Swisscows’ search engine you can see the difference. Swisscows hides your identity from themselves. That’s correct. They don’t know who you are and they don’t track you in any way. Since they don’t have the information I have to carefully document my accounts or have Firefox store the logins and passwords.

When I do deep research on a topic I sometimes open 4 instances of Swisscows. That way I can search a hypothesis, the antithesis, and one other set of variables, like which countries or date ranges. It’s the art of splitting hairs, and at times you can find real gems of wisdom.

Here’s the one subject where I used that method:

One Swisscows window: There is no god.
The next search window: There is a god.
Next: God and the Bible say you should go into a closet when you pray.
Then: God and the Bible say you should openly pray in public.

Here’s what the end result is — or suggests:

  1. There is no god.
  2. God and the Bible say you should go into a closet when you pray.
  3. Do not pray in public. That is hypocritical.

I left the U.S. for several reasons, and many of the reasons stemmed from the religiosity of Americans. Their god cleared the way to slavery and racism and more recently to authoritarianism. The evangelicals are the worst, but they’re all bad.

Strangely enough, here in Panamá there are a lot of Catholics and a fair number of evangelicals. But neither seem offended by my atheism. And I’m not only *not* bothered by their beliefs — I admire them. You know, it’s kind of the Panamanian motto: Tranquilo. Society is so healthy here that it’s flexible. I can settle in-between Catholics and evangelicals and everything scooches to the side a little bit to let me in.

Everybody gets their way in Panamá. There’s god’s miracle right there.

I’d never have talked this way in the U.S.A. Oh, my hatred of Christians was so intense. They were so *evil.*

So why did university students suddenly devolve at the turn of the millennium? Well, what environmental changes happened about then?

I don’t mean climate. I mean what created a powerful move toward stupid? And this might well be my personal bias, but I need to ask, “What about smartphones and social media?”

Just the fact that people call those clunky glass bricks smart is a sign. They are shitty telephones, where your cheek can end a call without you knowing it, or where a butt-cheek can make a call without warning. Oh, but they have cameras! If you like to see the world as a fish would.

Well, at least they have viewfinders. Oh, okay, maybe they don’t have viewfinders. You have to look at the screen. In other words you’ll end up taking pictures of yourself stupidly looking down at your really smart portable telephone/camera. Uh huh.

Maybe telephones have nothing to do with the growing ignorance that infests the populace. Maybe it’s the beginning of social and economic collapse of the United States. Well actually I can pretty well guarantee that that is occurring. It’s the biggest reason why I split the country two years ago. I didn’t want to get sucked down the drain, and that was what I was seeing at the time.

Think about Trump’s power grab on January 6th. I was fortunate enough to be long gone from the U.S. when that happened. Lucky me, lucky Trump. There are times when a citizen has to do the right thing. In fact I kept waiting for news that a patriotic senator or somebody from the Pentagon or some American hero would arrest or kill Trump. And . . . nada. Nada! Not one hero.

The United States is well and truly fucked.

You know, with a population of 333,920,052 you’d think there might be one or ten Americans willing to give their lives revolting against the government. You know, 1% of 1% of 334 million people, which would still be 33,400 people. And if only *1%* of 33,400 people had the courage to take serious actions, that would still be 334 possible patriots. Nada. Nadie. Nothing. Nobody. Not one.

You’d wonder whether Biden had taken Kamala Harris aside and asked her sketch out a method that might get Trump behind bars. But no, I bet he didn’t. He wants the U.S. to return to the greatness it once had. Which he thought it had had. Whatever. This is why I live in Panama.

I have a U.S. passport. Nobody in Panama even looks at it, except for the electric and wi-fi companies. The police refuse to look at it or touch it. They just don’t care.

God, I’m glad I got out. Let all them Americans compost themselves. Dystopian muck. Bitcoin. Where to vacation this summer. Start a business. Stay at home and self-isolate.


Fred Ermlich




Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages. Gargoylplex@protonmail.com

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Fred Ermlich

Fred Ermlich

Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages. Gargoylplex@protonmail.com

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