Pharos-Tribune

Columns

January 12, 2014

CEPEDA: The joy of making things

(Continued)

In a recent Wall Street Journal profile, the feminist provocateur Camille Paglia suggested that our society is suffering from a decline in the standing of men and suggested that traditional male trades need to be “revalorized.”

“Michelle Obama’s going on: ‘Everybody must have college,’” Paglia said. “Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum [and] people end up saddled with huge debts?”

In Paglia’s opinion, the push for universal college is “social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window.” She’s right, and I’ll add that it’s shared by public schools systems whose sole measure of success has become the percentage of students who enroll in college.

This is buoyed by the simple reality that society doesn’t value makers and laborers as much as they do thinkers — though the doers are essential for making things happen.

I get to think for a living but in 2013 I spent most of my money on plumbers, electricians, carpenters and heating/air conditioning repairmen. Despite their sky-high hourly rates, everyone in my home was unspeakably grateful for them each time something flooded, broke down or needed to be built from scratch.

According to Kevin Kelly — the editor of a 472-page wish book of neat stuff called “Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities” and an Internet community pioneer — a “third industrial revolution is stirring.”

He insists that small groups of self-educateds and do-it-yourselfers are springing up, building things in wood and metal and propelling a shift toward what Kelly’s interviewer at The New York Times, David Carr, referred to as the “so-called maker culture, a movement toward building real, actual things with our own two hands.”

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