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« 42nd Street | Main | New York Goes Progressive, Outlook Poor »

August 05, 2003


Friedrich --

* The Freudians just won't let it go. Have you followed their latest ploy to keep Freud in the legit spotlight? OK, so as a scientist he may have been flat-out wrong, over and over again. It doesn't matter -- because we never should have been evaluating him as a scientist in the first place. It's our fault, our mistake. We were missing the point. Which is ....? That his work shouldn't be taken as science, it should be taken as imaginative literature. He wasn't an out-of-control, ambitious nutcase who made destructive and misleading (and sometimes dishonest) overgeneralizations based on tiny Viennese samples. No, he was a great literary writer. So now we've got Freud the artiste to contend with. I don't know whether to be amused or appalled. Adam Kirsch does a fine job of examining the new case for Freud in Slate here. Link found via Arts and Letters Daily, here.

* Buddhist wildman and take-no-guff GenX entrepreneur David Mercer is whipping up a blogging storm here.

* Cristina Hoff Sommers bemoans the efforts of educationists to make boys get in touch with their feelings here.

* Are there readers who haven't yet enjoyed Luke Ford's long q&a with the very impressive Heather MacDonald (here)? Go. Read. Learn. Caution: megabrain at work.

* Given that (depending on the poll) 70-80% of Americans have serious reservations about current immigration policy, it's amazing how little press coverage the issue gets. PC time, anyone? So it's nice to see that the web seems to be breaking this taboo down. Anthony Browne reviews the state of the immigration debate in England for the Spectator here. It turns out that even some lefties are alarmed about current policies.

* Yet another way to escape BlogSpot: TypePad, the EZ and cheap (or so they claim) hosted service put together by the creators of Movable Type, is now open for business here.

* I get accused of all kinds of Boomer treachery whenever I try to formulate an observation or two about Xers and Yers. Which leaves me wondering: when exactly did I become Mr. Representative Boomer? Heck, I remember you and me bitching about the Boomers 25 years ago. Anyway, I was pleased to see that I'm not the only person foolhardy enough to try to make a little sense of today's young people. Frank Furedi in Spiked Online marvels at them too, here. I wonder if offended Xers and Yers will let him have it the way they do me. They don't seem to like being observed, do they? Hmmm. Kinda fits with the picture ...

* Hard-drive rage alert: a message left for the customer-service rep, here. Link thanks to Yahmdallah (here), whose posting is full of many other goodies.

* As attention-grabbing as the low-riding hip-hugger style can be, it can also get to be a bit much. As a friend of mine, generally an enthusiastic girlwatcher, recently said, "I don't even know these people. Why am I supposed to be looking at their buttcracks?" Michelle Malkin is funny and informative on the topic here. Get ready: the next thing is low-riding hiphuggers for men -- yikes. Hey, do you know the slang for "not wearing underpants"? It's "going commando."



posted by Michael at August 5, 2003


"Great literary writer" my arse.

Posted by: James Russell on August 5, 2003 10:23 PM

Christina Hoff:

"The awesome display of masculine courage shown by the firefighters and policemen at Ground Zero, the heroic soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the focused determination and exemplary leadership of President Bush,Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and General Tommy Franks, have rekindled in Americans an appreciation for masculine virtues. Many courageous and even heroic women took part in all these endeavors. But fighting enemies and protecting the nation are overwhelmingly male projects."

Boy, there's a political agenda. Not that I don't agree that the firefighters and soldiers are heroic. But I hope to God Dick Cheney---who didn't "pick up a weapon and stand a post" EVER as Jack Nicholson said in 'A Few Good Men'-- is no example of what we're cultivating anew. See "Dr. Strangelove."

However, I do think the sensitivity trainers who took kids into the dessert and told them to write about their feelings is just a dumbshit. I would have been prouder of the girls if they had acted like the boys---blown the stupid assignment off, found their friends, had some fun. Girls are already good at the "emotion" thing, they don't need any more of that.

Why are these always the only two choices??? Make everybody act like a wimpy idiot, or make everybody act like Saddam-in-training.

I don't think just Freud is a writer of fantasies---I think the whole damn psychology/sensitivity traning/assertivenes training industry is just an immoral group of frauds, bilking the temporarily lost.

Posted by: annette on August 5, 2003 11:13 PM

And...Yahmadallah's posting is maybe the funniest thing I've ever read/heard....bless 'im.

Posted by: annette on August 6, 2003 1:29 AM

Thanks for the nod...I suppose that compared to my month-plus hiatus from blogging (blogger/blogspot related depression :-), I HAVE been blogging up a storm at the new site. Lord what a difference good software makes!

But of course our new kittens also now fight for my attention. They emit massive amounts of "sleepy rays" and want to nap with me (what we refer to at our house as a "kitty party").

And there's massive amounts of 2blowhards content I haven't read yet for the week, let along stuff elsewhere (HOW long does it take to settle in after moving?)

Posted by: David Mercer on August 6, 2003 3:17 AM

I read Mr. Furedi's discussion of...of...what should you call it, the "Peter Pan-ization" of today's 20- and 30-somethings? And I thought,(as I increasingly do with age) "These trends must have arisen from something in the past; they must have been implicit in society somehow." Mr. Furedi describes a widespread nostalgia for the childhood of the 1980s. The parents of 1980s children were, what, the early boomers? Who were in turn raised by children of the Depression? In short, I suspect the roots of this lie in the determination of the Depression-era children to protect (i.e., indulge) their own children during the 1950s from the unpleasantness of life, which those children took as the essence of parenting when they raised their own children in the 1980s and 1990s. Although I was more a middle Boomer, coming along in 1954, I would say that its my sense that a lot of the Sixties grew out of outrage at the notion of the U.S. government expecting you to leave the womb for a tour in Vietnam. My memory, to the extent that it can still be trusted, tells me that feeling entitled to a life of youthful privilege was very strong at the time. And for the children of the boomers being raised in the 1980s, it's possible that being "exposed" (even if second-hand) to this 1950s-60s dream of privilege and the rather more messy reality of 1980s and 1990s life would intensify both their longings and their fears. Isn't it an odd world we live in? I often think that my grandfather, who fought in the First World War and went through the Depression as an adult, was somehow innoculated by his own 1890s childhood against such adversity. Emotionally, he remained quite a cheerful optimist, astonishingly confident, in his low-key way, that life's problems would work out if attacked diligently. What a contrast he seems to today's kids, no?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on August 6, 2003 3:38 AM

"Commando style?" I thought it was called freeballing.

Posted by: Dixon on August 6, 2003 10:12 AM

The Blowhards have confused me. I thought you guys were the Evo-bio brothers. But now the Peter Pan-ization of 20-somethings has its roots in society, and upbringing---"nurture" instead of "nature"?? My head hurts. I want a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting and Captain Kangaroo.

Posted by: annette on August 6, 2003 11:53 AM


If you're confused, think how we feel, having to be both lunatics AND be in charge of the asylum. (Actually, that pretty much sums up my situation at work, too, now that I think about it.)

But seriously...I think one can only expect evo-bio to discuss the "constants" of the human experience, not every little societal wrinkle (like at what age people leave home). I'm not aware of any evo-bio thinker who maintains that everything in life is "nature"--unlike Freudians, Marxists and social scientists generally, who appear to have adopted as an article of faith the notion that all human behavior is socially constructed, and thus 100% Pure-D Nurture.

Granted, it's possible that my grandfather was simply biologically an optimist, and apparently (by genetic endowment) was able to ignore greater social stresses than those that have driven the twenty-somethings back home.

But because there's no way to construct an identical twin study across different eras in time, and thus evaluate how much social change is nature and how much is nurture, I'll just fall back on whatever theory is at hand that allows me to vent my prejudices. Hey, why should I be more intellectually scrupulous than a university professor?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on August 6, 2003 12:20 PM

"Given that (depending on the poll) 70-80% of Americans have serious reservations about current immigration policy, it's amazing how little press coverage the issue gets. PC time, anyone?"

In the United States -- and, it appears, in Britain too -- we have unlimited theoretical freedom of speech and the press but all kinds of taboo subjects; no overt censorship, but a level of self-censorship that would have astounded previous generations. This is seen foremost in the lack of serious discussion of the quantity of immigration, legal and illegal, that we allow or tolerate; and the blackout of any rational consideration of whether it makes sense to invite millions of the poorest, least educated people, who have high birth rates, from non-English-speaking countries.

It seems to me these are serious issues. But few are those who are willing to publicly question present policies of de facto open borders, because they are terrified of being called racists, xenophobes, etc. The political correctniks understand that they have "nukes" -- the language of the civil rights era, illegitimately transposed to a completely different set of circumstances -- and the mere threat of using these language bombs is, usually, enough to keep dissenters (especially those holding or coveting public office) cowering and silent.

The immigration question has been turned into a "religious" issue in which one side is allowed to portray the other as heretics. We urgently need a national multi-logue on mass immigration and its effect on what kind of society we are and will be.

Don't be intimidated.

Political correctness must die.

Posted by: Rick Darby on August 6, 2003 2:22 PM

James -- Don't be so indirect. Tell us what you really think.

Annette -- That bit of ass-kissing on Sommers' part was surprisingly blatant, wasn't it? Still, I think she makes some good points, do you? The younger guys and gals showing up in the mediabiz seem to show the effects of this strange anti-boy education kids are apparently getting. Most noticeable in the young guys, who seem to have no idea whatsoever how to be a guy. They're terrified of being guys, yet seem to crave it -- not a comfortable position for them to be in, or for us to deal with. (They're touchy about it.) It's as though masculinity has become a big joke -- yet there the kids go and love their rap music and Simpson-Bruckeheimer films. "Masculinity karaoke," as The Wife calls it. Do you see much of this around in your neck of the woods?

David -- We're trying to shame you into pushing on the blogging accelerator a bit harder. Go go go go go.

FvB -- I think it's safe to blame it on the Boomers. But then I think it's safe to blame just about everything on the Boomers. Still, it's fun to think about. The Boomers created teenagehood and adolescence as the ideal state -- still a dewy, innocent child, but with all those great new adult toys to play with. But they did so in opposition to a broadly-based adult culture. The Xers and especially Yers have grown up in a country with virtually no traditional adult values anywhere to be seen. They don't even seem to have heard of adulthood, or to have considered the possibility that there might be something to it, other than getting older and falling apart (which admittedly is a big part of it). So where the Boomers had some perspective on it (and endured, tediously, a lot of angst about it) the younger generations seem almost complex-free. And with computers, mood drugs, a political correctness providing a support structure for them, they've got no reason at all to question anything. Which leaves me wondering: how are they going to deal with it when the sap of youth recedes and the frustrations of middle-age start to accumulate? One of the virtues of traditional art and traditional society was that it helped prepare you for the rest of life. Living in a digital, electronic, all-pop-all-the-time, adolescence-is-great eternal present is super, I guess, so long as you're 16-25 and in good shape. But it doesn't develop any depth in you, or give your deeper emotions and imaginings any kind of workout. Such is my theory, anyway.

Dixon -- "Freeballing"? That's hilarious, thanks. I wonder if "going commando" is just for the gals. First time I heard it used was in an interview with Nicole Kidman, who seems to get a giggle out of being naughty.

Rick -- Hear, hear to that. Bizarre, isn't it? I mean, attending to the borders seems like one of the half dozen things a government absolutely positively has to do -- which should mean that there's an ongoing, open discussion about how it's being done. Yet, barely a word. Everyone seems paralyzed and terrified. You're either pro-immigration or anti-immigration, a moronic way of seeing these things. How about, for starters, being pro an ongoing and open discussion about the topic? Like I say, for starters.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 6, 2003 3:41 PM

Thanks for the post, excellent links.

Regarding the Furedi article (and passing over the ever-so-precious tone for now), I wonder whether there might not be some link between the behaviors he observes and the popularity of delaying the start of families.

When families "just happened" soon after marriage, young parents soon found themselves with no free time and lots of children's toys, books, etc. Then, the parents weren't playing with children's toys, they were playing with children. Just ask them. 8-)

Of course, the toys chosen for children by their parents have always been the subject of jokes by others.

To return to that "tone" thing, though. 8-) I'm afraid that I don't see the moral advantage of traditionally adult occupations such as carpentry, yard work, or car repairs to "childish" pastimes such as video games. I've done all of them, and somehow I prefer Master of Orion 3 to dropping a torque converter on my finger. Torque converters hurt, I'm an adult, I'll pay someone with a higher pain tolerance.

And another thing (since I seem to be in full curmudge), in what substantial way is today's youth different from that of previous decades? Furedi decries a survey that indicates "that 20 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds spend an average of £3000 per year on travel." I'm sure that this is a higher percentage of young people with this freedom than in the generations that gave us Bertie Wooster and the Grand Tour, but how is it otherwise different? Did earlier generations not play games obsessively (Chess, Bridge, Whist, Parcheesi, Charades, etc.)?

Furedi could have just written, "The kids these days...."

Doug Sundseth

ps. Teletubbies!?? The kids these days!

pps. By the way, I'm no longer even in my 30s, lest this screed be seen as special pleading.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on August 6, 2003 4:05 PM

FvB---Ok,Ok, and I actually agree more with your first theory than the second---that it's more "nurture" than "nature" with regard to dressing up in a girl's school uniform at the age of 27. I public :).

MB---interesting that you use the phrase "anti-boy" education. About 10-15 years ago a study was done on TV commercials which showed that 100% of the time, in commercials, where a man and a woman disagreed, the woman always 'won' the argument. I honestly think that was all backlash to the all-men-all-the-time world we had lived in before----like the old Geritol ad: "My wife...I think I'll keep her!"

But it had to have consequences, didn't it? Maybe nobody thought about the young boys growing up and coming of age. Especially since I've noticed that, gratingly, TV ads have continued to the point where they pretend a woman knows how and where to buy a car more efficiently than a man. Which, in my experience, is almost never the case. It's so dumb---women got tired of being marginalized, and objectified, and patronized (I always wanted the woman in the Geritol ad to turn and throw up on her smug spouse)and the only thing advertisers and self-helpers could think of to do is to do the same to men, like to get even. But I think that's gone far enough---why not just take what's best about both genders, and teach them BOTH that it's OK to be different and how to listen to each other. Men could stand to be more sensitive; women could stand to be braver. Wonder if we'll get there? Making boys write about their feelings in the dessert seems an unproductive path.

Posted by: annette on August 6, 2003 7:16 PM

"Feeling"? What's a "feeling"?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 7, 2003 6:06 PM

Hmmm. Perhaps I - who once had a lovely conversation with Hoff-Sommers - have an agenda. In any case, I thought her positive comments on Bush and his buddies was describing their attitude in speaking, not suggesting that they got in the trenches.

Be brave as a woman is probably a bad idea. At least it is if you let is show. We live in a world were it's cute when freaking men are sissies about bugs and snakes and doing what a bear does in the woods, when in the woods.

M. Blowhard - Funny you should talk about guys who have no idea now to be a guy. I mostly meet girls who have no idea how to be a girl. They've rejected the idea of being feminine so don't wear girl clothes or "play games" - as though that's where it begins and ends. The end up wearing jeans and sweatshirts all the time, being used by boys they chase, and coming to me for advice when the finally get their job (a feat which required "playing games" through six to eight years of school and dozens of interships and interviews) and have no idea what to wear to the law firm's prom. It wouldn't be so bad if they had dumped bad girly things like whining and being babies and tattletales, and picked up some good snips and snails like being upfront and less interested in attention.

In odd contrast, most of the Spanish and African-American ladies I have known, who dress like borderline hoochies and would never for a minute do anything unladylike, have no problem whatsoever growing a big brass set when they have to get a job done.

Posted by: j.c. on August 10, 2003 6:23 PM

"...and picked up some good snips and snails like being upfront and less interested in attention."

I think being upfront as a woman takes a lot of bravery. I wasn't talking about who killed the bugs.

"...have no problem whatsoever growing a big brass set when they have to get a job done."

An unfortunate metaphor for women getting the job done. Could it be that girls don't know how to be women, and boys don't know how to be men, because of the examples being set?

Posted by: annette on August 12, 2003 10:59 PM

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