What do you mean ‘we’, Paleface?


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Meh, standard boilerplate “durned kids aren’t doin things the way they should be done!” (the cited article, not your post obviously).Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

      “When I was a kid, I had the phone numbers of everybody in my class memorized! Kids these days can’t memorize anything! They just point their iPhones at each other!”Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to North says:

      But it’s not even kids though. I do know what they’re talking about and that’s pretty much how my mother does things now. But not me. What drives me nuts is making the behavior of certain people out to be the status quo.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I mean, I read whole books. I listen to whole albums. I watch whole movies. I read full articles. Sure, there are people who are too impatient to do those things, but that’s sort of their issue in my opinion, and not the zeitgeist.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Rufus F. says:

          What he also overlooks is that the people who are currently snatching only fragments of articles; who’re sending only small fragments of text messages; who’re following only small amounts of written media online are NOT people who would otherwise be scholarly and thoughtfully reading lengthy treatises in the absence of these media. They are people who, before, likely didn’t read (or wouldn’t have read) anything at all.Report

  2. Avatar Jonathan says:

    I have heard that joke about a thousand times over the last 35 years. It was (and is) a favourite of my father.

    I found it amusing that he cited a dude from Purdue who – for his job – couldn’t read novels, but had to read agriculture-related trials and research papers. What the hell was he supposed to read?Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Okay, not to ramble, but you know what it reminded me of? Those articles about nutrition in which the writer will say, “These days, we Americans don’t eat very well or take good care of our bodies. Instead, we eat too many meals on the run, too much junk food, and pay too little attention to nutrition.” I always think, hey, speak for yourself there, Buddy!Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Could you try to write shorter posts, Rufus? I had a hard time making it all the way through — Ooh, shiny!Report

  5. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Linton Weeks lost two sons in a car crash. If he wanders through the ruins of a Border’s bookstore and sees the detritus of a culture which destroyed the mom-n-pop bookstore in its turn, there’s nothing like losing children to give a man perspective on life.

    If Linton Weeks bemoans the sacrifice of context and quality for quickness and quantity, it’s a point worth making. NYTimes retreats behind its paywall again. NPR’s subsidies are under assault. We should not be surprised to see the Summarization and Relentless Twitterization of the world: else we should be drinking from the fire hose of information.

    Shelley sorta summed this up in Prometheus Unbound.

    The good want power, but to weep barren tears.
    The powerful goodness want: worse need for them.
    The wise want love, and those who love want wisdom;
    And all best things are thus confused to ill.

    I will always love real books. I can’t carry many of them around in my truck, but I can’t bear to part with maybe fifty kilos worth. I’ve been reading books in bars since I was old enough to drink. I put on my glasses and wrap the place around me like a well-worn overcoat and pretty women serve me drinks, it’s my personal vision of paradise, gentlemen. Books are the best of friends: raconteurs who sit patiently in my leather bag, ready to continue the conversation at a moment’s notice, at any hour. I suppose I should get an electronic reader but I look at a screen all day long.

    Time is the one thing money won’t buy. I’m not entirely convinced the Browser is the window into the future. If we seem superficial, looking for summaries, the heart won’t settle for abbreviated emotions. There will always be a place for the storyteller at the fireside.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to BlaiseP says:

      “If Linton Weeks bemoans the sacrifice of context and quality for quickness and quantity, it’s a point worth making.”

      I think it’s a point worth making. I thought I agreed with him. I just wish he’d made it a bit more strongly, as opposed to couching it in “the way we are these days”. If you want to say that a certain behavior is a sort of mild vice, it cushions the blow to say that it’s a general characteristic of those of us who live in this time period. I mean, one still has the choice in these matters, regardless of whether or not that puts them at odds with their contemporaries. Not to mention the fact that today’s norms are tomorrow’s “what were they thinking?”Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Well, yes, I agree with both you and Weeks. His day job is at Digital News for NPR. If he bemoans the Here and Now, it was always a weak line of rhetoric which I call O Tempura O Morels and very ancient.

        There’s a brand new talk
        And it’s not very clear
        That people from good homes
        Are talking this year
        It’s loud and it’s tasteless
        And I’ve heard it before
        You shout it while dancing
        On the ol’ dance floor.

        We do have more choices “these days” and the endless repetition of the news cycle and the shitflies of drosophila talkingheadensis endlessly consume and regurgitate the few facts at our disposal. But that’s not the whole picture. It’s also a world of self-service identity, of otaku-jin and hyper-specialization. The Web was invented as a footnoting system. Thoughtful people such as some I have found here are not satisfied with Pat Answers. For those of you, and for me, who demand more from life than the mix tape and resent the trivialization, the HREF tag has given us a great gift: the ability to summarize and to expand at will, to back up our arguments with such facts as we can summon up.Report