on time becomes an obsession for onerncharacter in “The World at War.”rnLi ing with my parents in Superior,rnWisconsin, I begin to collect timepieces.rnIn my room are a Sessionsrnwall clock, a Westclox Baby Benrnwith hvo alarms, a Sunbeam with arnlighted dial to shine the way—rnthese and a few other watches andrnclocks, all of them wound and running.rn”Why you don’t study timernfor a liing?” [his father] asks.rnThis is exacri}- vhat Bukoski and Weaverrnha e done as artists, .study Hme for a li ing.rnBukoski’s work is dense with allusionsrnand direct references to time, but I shallrnsingle out only two more representativernstories, hi “Tango of the Bearers of thernDead,” the principal character is a Polishrnimmigrant, a woman, who has committedrnadultery and whose memory of thisrnand her 50 ‘ears of marriage is blackenedrnb’ what she has done. Her husband, nowrndving in a hospital bed in Superior, hadrnsuffered great travail when he desertedrnfrom die Russian army and worked hisrnwav to join her in Wisconsin, and herrnadultery always stood between them,rnthough he remained a faithful husbandrnand provider. A watch given by her father,rnto be given to her husband, hadrnbeen gi’eii to her lover who sold it in arnpawn shop; now the watch symbolizesrnthat time long ago and the 50 years sincernher betraal. She says to her grandsonrnwho is insistent on hearing about hisrngrandfather: “I want von to forget . . . allrnthe things that embarrass a faniilv andrnmake it small. Bear your dead some otherrnwa’. I am done remembering.” Shernconsiders silently, “Where do things gornwhen they’re no longer remembered?”rnThe title story, “Children ofrnStrangers,” is built around a church part)-rnhonoring a nun who has spent her lifernteaching the Polish students of St. Adalbert’srnSchool. The neighborhood of St.rnAdalbert’s, like many Catholic neighboriioodsrnill America, has declined and beenrntaken over by strangers. One of the oldrnparents wonders to herself. Where dornthese children of strangers come from —rnBrule? Iron River? The part)’ is held inrnthe giii, and during it two ruffians enter,rnignore the old people, begin to shoot baskets,rnthen help themselves to the food onrnthe tables. For one character in particular,rnit is a traumatic, vision-changing experiencern—the two young thugs lookrnright through him.rnHis thinking about the future . . .rnchanges now. More and more inrnthe coming days, he sees in tliis visionrnof a world without depth, riotsrnwill be tearing cities apart, andrnpresidents and dignitaries w ill bernseized and put upon. . . . Now he’srnsuddenly becoming frightened ofrnlooking ahead.rnI did not catch any big fish in Wisconsinrn(all would have lived comfortably in arngoldfish bowl), but I enjoyed canoeingrnthe Brule and listening to its rushing waterrnwhile ni’ guide abandoned me lookingrnfor dragonflies for his collection.rnHowever, I fished two big literar talentsrnand li.stened to them. Wliat we hear inrnboth artists are the clarion sounds ofrnapocalypse. Both wield fine satiricrnweapons and possess a rollicking comicrnhumor, including ethnic humor, in spiternof the speech police. (Recently, an Ea.strnCoast editor rejected a friend’s story becausernshe used Southern black speech forrnsome of the characters—he scolded herrnb- explaining that his magazine does notrndo that anymore.) Some ma- find thernsatire and the action in Wea’er andrnBukoski dark, a bit much for their genteelrntastes, but where shall they turn? TornEastern European hi.story of the last hundredrnyears, or the transcript of the impeachmentrnof our current President?rnEach of these arhsts has tracked the spoorrnof those in his neck of the woods, andrnfrom the detritus of erudit)’ and cruelh’,rnhate and love, each has fashioned tablesrnthat may lead to our redemption.rnWilliam Mills, a novelist and poet, is therneditor of Images of Kansas Cih. His latestrnwork of fiction is Properhes of Blood.rnEDUCATIONrnComputer Cultrnby Marian Kester CoombsrnForget Back to Basics, language immersion.rnNew (and newer and newerrnj Math, the seven t’pes of intelligence.rnLearn by Doing, die Great Books, discoveryrnlearning, arts-based educahon. CorernValues, self-esteem, and even phonics.rnAmerican parents have found a new sa-rnior for their children’s imperiled education;rnthe computer.rnAll across the country, parent-teacherrnassociations and ad Iioc parent groups arernfeverishly raising money and/or jawboningrneducation budgets to install banks ofrncomputers in the public schools, wanglingrnspace away from other school usesrnto accommodate such installahons, systematicallyrnhooking up every classroomrnto at least one computer, and divertingrntextbook and other monies to purchasernsoftware. PTA meetings resound withrnthe clamor for “computer literacy,” “21stcenhiryrninformation skills,” and the like.rnWirii a spirit not unlike that of their stoicrnpioneer ancestors, these parents have acceptedrnwhat appears to be the inargnable,rnlowered their heads, and pressed theirrnshoulders resolutely to the new wheel.rnWhether this craze for getting schoolsrn”on line” will pay off in better educatedrnstudents is almost never debated. Parentsrnhave been instilled with a raw terror ofrntheir children being left behind by therneconomy of technological imperialismrn—which, after all, is not a futurisHcrnscenario but a palpably brutal ongoingrnprocess. Anything promising to lessenrnthis terror is embraced with hot reliefrnParents nationwide are pouring millionsrnof their own mone’ into schoolrncomputerization. The federal government’srnresponse has been to cry, “Nornftiir!” and point fingers trembling with indignationrnat school districts where lowerrnincomes (and lower parental commitment)rnmean less outside money to fundrnthe new cult. And the feds’ solution, ofrncourse, has been to create a tpical boondogglernwith ho billion dollars (so far) inrntaxpayers’ mone, called “e-rates,” to subsidizernpoorer districts.rnThe two major problems with therncomputer cult arc, first, die notion thatrncomputers can teach somediing that traditionalrnteaching cannot; and second,rnthe notion that the hiternet is an informationrnresource above and beyond anythingrnhuman society has cer possessedrnbefore. Both notions are risibly false.rnThe uses to which computers are putrnat the grade-school level are particularlyrnself-defeafing. Large amounts of moneyrnare spent for software like interactivernbooks, KidPix, Kid Works, Oregon Trail,rnand Storybook Weaver. KidPix and KidrnWorks are used to get the students torn”read,” “draw,” “write,” and “do math.”rnAfter all the “high-tech” folderol is dispensedrnwith, each of these activitiesrnwould have been more profitably conductedrnwith paper and pencil and a goodrnNOVEMBER 1999/45rnrnrn