Re: Christopher Orlet’s The Look-at-Me Generation:
I think Mr. Orlet has unintentionally made a case for the undesirability of late-stage social developments in globalized free-market economies. In my limited experience with the under-thirty crowd, I find them to be polished with respect to career-advancing characteristics, but shallow and ignorant with respect to broader cultural and intellectual issues. You can’t have a decent conversation with most of them because they don’t know or think anything interesting. It isn’t their fault — they’ve just been herded along by advertising since birth. For example, the American Dream = owning a house; freedom = driving a gigantic gas-guzzler; a great vacation = a Disney theme park. I’m thankful that I’m not a part of their generation.
— Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York
I just had a birthday that brings me another year closer to retirement and gives me a little clearer idea of what ails the GrabbyBaby Generation. Everyone seems to think they’ve all got some Syndrome that makes them incapable of functioning above the level of robot toddlers. I am convinced that, rather than the rate of Aspberger Syndrome/ADD/Autism rising, what’s really rising is the World Of One. That is, a person with an iPod jammed in each ear, fingers busy text messaging during High Mass or behind the wheel of the car Daddy bought her as a guilt gift after he ran off with her Nanny, and shouting to her friends in the movie theatre simply has no idea that anyone exists save Her. Because of all the gadgets that make it unnecessary for Her to face actual human beings or accede to their wishes vis-a-vis which television or radio channel to listen to, and because she has never in her life been told to Shut Up (and in fact does not know there is such a control as “OFF”), for all intents and purposes the world has disappeared.
The Kids aren’t Autistic. They’re mere robotic extensions of their Gadgets.
For a clear picture of where this is all leading, I advise anyone who still reads books to check out a little spine-chiller by Ray Bradbury, “The Veldt.”
Meanwhile, don’t hire anybody under 50. And if you hear any bawling about how when we who do the work retire, we’re going to take the candy and leave them an empty candy store, just turn up your Personal Noise Generating Device to 11.
— Kate Shaw
Behind the Lines in Kanukistan
I would like to suggest a bit of heresy amidst Mr. Orlet’s just awakening conventional wisdom. I would place the “blame” for the conditions described on the “Greatest Generation.” They were truly great folks themselves, but the men went off to war all around the globe and the women left home for the industrial workplace, etc. When the twin menace of Germany and Japan had been defeated, the men came home and many of the women returned to the home front to take care of their new families. They were changed forever by their experiences — good and bad.
They had been raised with a belief in hard work and family, and a belief in America and the citizen’s responsibility to defend same. Now they were determined to see that their children would never have to go through the upbringing and trials that they endured. Their children were the first generation, virtually en masse to be spoiled. I was born just before the war, I went through the process. I know the differences between what I, and my peers experienced and what my parents experienced.
With each succeeding generation, the children have been more indulged, less parentally regulated, less educationally challenged in grades K through 12. It became virtually mandatory that every child was special, and thus deserving of special treatment, special exemptions from rules of conduct and civility. It went from “get in trouble in school, get in trouble again at home” to “get in trouble in school, sue the school system and get the teacher fired.”
Now, of course, there are exceptions to this. There are parents that are real parents, not their child’s best friend. There are parents that set real standards and enforce them through consistent and real discipline. They, however, are increasingly the exception, not the rule. I would suggest, however, that children need and want limits, and that their rude, aggressive, obnoxious behavior is really only an ongoing search to find those limits. You cannot obey the rules if there are no rules, or if the guidelines are in a continual state of flux.
A funny thing has happened on the way to where we are now. A significant number of people are beginning to realize that, if every child is special, then no child is truly special. Do you remember the time when, as a child, someone said something mean to you, and your parents simply told you to get over it? I do. Do you remember when not every child was expected to be a college graduate, many could go to trade schools or into apprentice programs to be plumbers, electricians, carpenters, construction workers, and they weren’t considered lower class or deprived? I do. I also remember when colleges taught real courses and there was just history, not black history, women’s history, Hispanic history, etc., and when literature classes did not include the script of “The Vagina Monologues.” I know many college football players didn’t go to classes back then, but they really were special, if they were 1st string on the team.
Many of us are concerned by the invasion of our country from Mexico. Bush, and his side of the argument, insists that they are just taking jobs Americans won’t do. Why won’t they do them? Because a university degree is thought to be inconsistent with harvesting food crops, or maintaining urban sewers like Ed Norton on “The Honeymooners” or driving a bus like Ralph Cramden on the same show. Remember when you didn’t think about giving a bunch of smart aleck lip to a policeman, ’cause you knew you would suffer for it? I do. Now the cop is the one to suffer for it.
We truly are headed for a day of reckoning in America. We are becoming like France, too concerned with our own convenience and pleasures and recreation to put in a day’s work 5 or 6 days per week, 8 or more hours per day. This is also why our warriors in our military are increasingly estranged from the general population of their peers. Our warriors believe in and hold to an earlier, and yes, higher standard of responsibility, accountability, and citizenship for themselves. That is why they are truly the best this nation has to offer.
We didn’t use to need illegal foreign “guest workers” to get American jobs done. There was a time when we would be insulted by the suggestion that we could not do any job without assistance from illegal non-citizens that don’t speak English and refuse to assimilate.
Times have indeed changed, and not universally for the better.
— Ken Shreve
Re: Eric Peters’s Mandatory Back-Up Cameras?:
Having grown up in a semi-rural area of the country, I mowed my parents’ lawn with a lawn tractor — there was about an acre of lawn to mow. A couple of years ago, I purchased my own lawn tractor with an interesting feature. It requires the user to push a button if you decide to go in reverse (in addition to engaging the transmission into reverse) with the mowing blades in motion — I guess the idea is that you first think about what you are about to do. I don’t know if this is required on all lawn tractors by government fiat or if the manufacturer had been intimidated by fear of civil suit, but I do know it is really annoying to have to go through the acrobatics that I do to make trim cuts around trees and other such obstacles — the button is an awkward reach through the steering wheel. I certainly would not have chosen this feature if I had a choice. Once in a while I do think about what a grisly and horrific accident must of occurred to generate such an idiotic feature on a machine — then I think of what a horrific parent that would allow a child small enough not to get out of harms way out and about with a lawn tractor in action.
Peters is right. The more we resort to using technology to idiot-proof life, the more idiots we get. When drivers get used to technology taking care of safety responsibilities, enough of the driving population adjusts by getting lazier or assuming riskier behavior in other areas so that the net effect is a wash. You may dent one problem, but the long-term effect is lazier, dumber, more dangerous drivers. Not all drivers, of course, but enough to end up with yet another problem unsolved by government.
— Gary Cape
With all due respect to Sens. Clinton and Sununu, I am disappointed in their half-hearted approach to this terrible problem. Rather than a camera on the rear bumper, there should be an enclosed, rear facing cockpit (air-conditioned and equipped with a brake pedal) for a federally licensed attendant, whose presence will be REQUIRED any time the vehicle is operated on a public street.
— Bill Ducker
Mr. Peters, please do not try to confuse people with facts and common sense, you see, their minds (such as they are) are made up. Now let them get back on their cell phones and pretend to be important.
— Ken Shreve
Re: Lawrence Henry’s The Ultimate Elsewhere:
The Ultimate Elsewhere conjured fond memories of hopping on a plane in the midst of a Boston winter (and, therefore, an Australian summer) back in ’84, “Oz” being my own Ultimate destination (and this was even before the emergence on the American scene of Paul Hogan, of Crocodile Dundee fame!)
Five of my six plus months away were spent hostelling and hitchhiking throughout that vast, magical continent. My greatest lasting impressions are a) the Aussies’ seemingly invariable fondness for the “Yank,” which time and again I gratefully benefited by, and b) their even greater fondness, at least in Victoria and New South Wales, for Australian Rules Football. Just think NFL in our own land!
Happy days, those were; On you (Collingwood) Magpies!!
— Francis M. Hannon, Jr.
Re: Philip Klein’s The AP vs. Romney:
A few days ago I came across your blog entry about the “disgraceful AP hit piece against Mitt Romney.” Specifically, you said:
When I saw this outrageous story, my first thought was that it read like an Onion parody of how absurdly overboard the media goes in digging up dirt on presidential candidates. It’s hard to know whether to chalk this up to liberal bias or religious bigotry that for some reason is tolerated when Mormons are involved.
This morning I came across this MSNBC article about Hillary Clinton’s 1969 senior thesis, which she wrote while at Wellesley College. The article acknowledges that
it was the Clintons who asked Wellesley in 1993 to hide Hillary Rodham’s senior thesis from the first generation of Clinton biographers, according to her thesis adviser and friend, professor Alan H. Schechter, who describes taking the call from the White House.
Wellesley’s president, Nannerl Overholser Keohane, approved a broad rule with a specific application: The senior thesis of every Wellesley alumna is available in the college archives for anyone to read — except for those written by either a “president or first lady of the United States.” So far, that action has sealed precisely one document: Hillary Rodham’s senior honors thesis in political science, entitled ” ‘There Is Only the Fight…’: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model.”
However, the article also editorializes a bit:
But can an academic paper from nearly 40 years ago really unlock the politics and character of any former student, much less the early Democratic front-runner for the White House?
Apparently the MSM thinks that the marriage practices of Mitt Romney’s ancestors from 150 years ago are relevant to Mitt Romney’s run for the White House, but Hillary Clinton’s own senior thesis is not.
— Spencer Macdonald
I heard Fred Thompson speak to the Richmond Forum right before the Iraq War began. He was likable and entertaining. In response to a question from someone in the audience about news reports that there might actually be no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Mr. Thompson responded that if there were not WMD’s there he would “eat his hat.”
I have always wondered whether Mr. Thompson remembers he said that, and whether he ever did eat that hat.
— April Cain
Explain to me one thing the impeachment/conviction of Clinton accomplished. To me, it was the beginning of the really deep divide began between the two parties. At the time everyone knew the Clinton’s would likely stay in the White House. The whole impeachment process was one of the biggest wastes of time. I don’t know what Thompson’s reason for voting the way he did, but as a conservative and a fan of Thompson, I’d say he was right in the long run.
— WV Conservative
We would like to know how to get in touch with former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson.
My wife and I are retired school teachers and very community active. We would like to support Fred Thompson for president. I myself am a former chairman of the City of Salem Republican Committee and in 1978 was the sixth district chairman for John Warner’s first run for the U.S. Senate.
We believe Mr. Thompson is both our party’s and nation’s best hope to run for president in 2008. A new Ronald Reagan.
— Fred R. Eichelman, Ed.D.
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