Baby Boomer HeadQuarters (BBHQ)

This Week with The Chicowitz — May 22, 2017

Commencement Speeches

Coinciding with commencement exercises across the country this spring, I offer the following graduation speeches. Two of them are video presentations. But the first one, you’ll have to read. Relax; it’s worth it.

Wear Sunscreen — Kurt Vonnegut *

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’15:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen.

* Attributed to Kurt Vonnegut; actually penned by Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune

What Every Graduate Should Know — Dennis Prager

Knowledge is considerably less important than wisdom.
The greatest struggle in your life is not with society; it is with yourself.
Use your common sense.
Race is Unimportant.
Beware of Good Intentions.
Judeo Christian Values are the Real Counterculture Today.

You can read the transcript here

My dear college graduates. You have hopefully acquired a great deal of knowledge here over these past years. But in life, knowledge is considerably less important than wisdom.

Here then are five ideas for your life.

1. The greatest struggle in your life should not be — and, in fact, is not — with society. It is with yourself. This idea — taught by every great religion — is not taught today. Instead we are taught that we have to battle society — its sexism, racism, prejudices and it’s other flaws. The overwhelming temptation is therefore to see whatever problems you have as coming from society, not from within yourself. But in a free and decent society such as ours, it is our own flawed human nature — not a flawed society — that is our biggest problem.

2. Use your common sense. For example, when you hear the words “studies show” — outside of the natural sciences — and you find that these studies show the opposite of what common sense suggests, be very skeptical. I don’t recall ever coming across a valid study that contravened common sense. For example, I was told when I was in college that “studies show” that boys and girls are not inherently different; that they differ only because parents raise them in a sexist manner. This was nonsense then, and it is even more nonsensical now since we have brain scans showing how different the male and females brains are.

3. Race is unimportant. You’ve been taught that it is very important, but it isn’t. The color of people’s skin is as trivial as the color of their hair. Be guided by the idea of Viktor Frankl, the Jewish psychiatrist who suffered the horrors of a Nazi death camp and whose family was gassed. After the Holocaust, he was asked, “Do you hate the German race?” “No” he replied “I don’t, there are only two races, the decent and the indecent.” Remember that truism, and you can never be a racist.

4. Beware of good intentions. The 20th century was the bloodiest and cruelest century on record. Why? Not because so many more people were bad, but because so many people believed in bad ideas. Most Nazis and Communists in their time and Islamic terrorists in our time were not/are not necessarily sadists; they were normal people who believed in bad ideas. So here is a quick way to measure if an idea is good. Do not — I repeat, do NOT — ask if it feels good or if it has good intentions. Ask will it DO good? Will it make people kinder and more ethical? Will it encourage responsible behavior? Has it been tried before and if so, what were the results? What matters is how you act. If you do something bad, it is not important that you “meant well.” And if you do something good, it doesn’t matter if you did it for “selfish” reasons. So spend much less time monitoring your motives and far more time monitoring your actions.

5. Judeo-Christian values are the real counterculture today. Many people think that dressing weird or having their body tattooed or pierced is a statement of individuality or strength or rebellion against the dominant culture. Not true. The ultimate statement of counterculture and individual strength in America today is to take the God of Judaism and Christianity seriously. If you want to be an individual and to be strong, affirm a higher value system that enables you to say no to the prevailing culture. When you know to whom you are accountable and when you march to the beat of that Higher Drummer, you will lead a more peaceful, happy and good life. Good luck to all of you.

I’m Dennis Prager.

Class of 2015 — Bill Whittle

Commentator Bill Whittle speaks our forcefully about those college administrators and their subjects who vilify and will not tolerate those with whom they disagree.

Sorry... I cannot summarize this one. It is 14 minutes long. But it is both fascinating and frightfully thought-provoking. Here’s a sample: “When the class of 2015 demands to be protected from ideas they do not want to hear, they are simply book-burners who are afraid of matches.”

Another one? OK: “Your insistence on being weak and isolated and protected and safe is a guarantee that what we are going to being needing large numbers of in the near future are not graphic designers or game coders or app developers or medieval poetry majors; were gonna’ need warriors.”

A BBHQ Pop Quiz: From our Lyrics You Know You Know collection, fill in the blank Well, I got me a fine wife, I got me old fiddle. When the sun’s comin’ up I got __________________.

Your final answer is....

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