Patt Morrison

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Not Funny in Farsi, 140 Characters at a Time

Hearing from so many Iranians and Iranian-Americans today gave a real sense of connection to the goings-on half a day and half the world away. From the PhD student at USC to the woman who just returned from a visit to her family to an engineer due to go back next month to be married, we got vivid stories of fleeting phone calls and online videos and ''tweets'' that are keeping Iranians connected to the world in the face of censorship.

It all helped to paint a picture of a frustrated and determined people. Tomorrow's big demonstration, intended to show support for those who have been killed, may be one of those make-or-break moments for this movement.

Judging from the calls and blog comments, you were as smitten as I was by the subject of the ''manual arts,'' and how Americans have been losing touch with the vital crafts practiced by carpenters, electricians, plumbers, cabinetmakers and such. The Information Society has nudged shop class out of the curriculum in many high schools, but how can we live without those skills? As a Princeton economist said, you can't hammer a nail over the Internet. Matthew Crawford, who's written ''Shop Class as Soulcraft,'' argues that we've done a disservice to some very skilled Americans by equating ''dirty'' jobs with ''stupid.'' As immigrant labor has arrived to take up that work, their status has slid down the social ladder.

Do you agree with Crawford that, as we've lost our regard and taste for this kind of skilled work, that we as a nation have lost something of ourselves in the process? Typing isn't exactly manual labor, but try a little of it and have your say on the Patt Morrison blog.

Tomorrow, Sandra Tsing Loh inveighs against the institution of marriage after the end of her own. Could marriage really be unfit for human habitation? And the LAPD lays down the law to retired cops who have found a second career working security at movie shoots: no police uniforms and no badges. Fightin' words?

-- Patt Morrison

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