Morning Ed: Society {2016.12.14.W}

I’m holding on to this article in part to inform the name of our next child, should we be fortunate enough to have one.

Soccer continues to promote itself as the anti-sport, just in case casual sports fans start to take an interest.

Killjoy.

Snowstorms build community!

Well, sure, but this is a pretty low bar.

Does voice technology in cars mean the end of radio? Wait, radio is still around?

Joe Mathews makes the case for “delightfully dangerous” playgrounds. Steel slides in the summer heat are sadistic, but room to fall isn’t such a bad thing.

Pearl Jam is terrible. Also, Bob Dylan.

Whatever happened to Bobby Gentry?


Editor-in-Chief
Home Page Twitter Google+ Pinterest 

Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

80 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2016.12.14.W}

  1. The Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan links go to the same article. I’m surprised how little staying power the bands of my teen years had compared to the bands of my parent teen years. The hip-hop and pop artists of the 1990s are still big but the rock bands seem to be stuck doing small releases and reunion tours.

    James Bond: I believe that real life spying involves going through a lot of paper work more than sexy hijinks.

    I thought that chess was the anti-sport.

    The debate on safe play grounds is about the debate on security in general. There are some people who believe in security and safety as an important aspect of freedom and others see them as contrary towards freedom. Most people are in-between.

    Report

      • The fragmentation has costs and benefits. – big cost is that it’s a lot more difficult to maintain civil society with a fragmented culture rather than mass culture. I think there was something special about shared experiences.

        Report

        • I don’t entirely disagree. However I also think about the banal pop, pop punk, post grunge, and decadent hip hop that ruled the airwaves when I was in high school. I’m glad not to be doomed to a culture that’ll still be celebrating it in 40 years.

          Report

      • I don’t think what is exactly true. There are lots of one-hit wonders from all eras including the 1960s but we remember the giants like the Beatles and the Stones because they had amazingly long careers.

        Pearl Jam is still touring and successful as far as I can tell. There are also a lot of indie bands that might have never made it super-big but had long careers and are largely still around like Wilco, The Magnetic Fields, Superchunk, etc.

        Report

        • I noted that many of the bands from our teenage years are still around but they aren’t in the spotlight the same way that the big bands from the 1960s were during the 1980s or 90s were to an extent.

          Report

  2. Hot steel slides

    I grew up in a hot and sunny place. The slides were my favorite thing in regular playgrounds. The steel slides got hot at midday. I touched them. They were hot. I played with other things until mid afternoon. They got cool quite fast once the sun started going down. I slided to my heart’s contentment.

    Little kids are not stupid. They know a hot slide. They know it won’t be hot for long.

    I’m amazed of all the things we did growing up (and unsupervised, to boot) that are imposible (and illegal) to do now. This can’t be good for children’s development.

    Report

    • J_A,
      to be fair, it’s probably not good to let the fat kid piss on the live wire during the walk home in the middle of a hurricane. (That story ends with “he was never the same after that…”).
      [Not my story. Never lived in Jersey]

      Report

    • Funny story: One of the classes my wife took was about the development of the playground.

      Metal slides were removed for two reasons — the first being the heat problems, but the second being that metal tends to rust and break, especially in playgrounds that are poorly maintained (which is a lot of them). Plastic at least won’t give you tetanus.

      Changes in height, and replacing concrete with either mulch or rubbery surfaces?

      That has to do with the way kids are, for lack of a better word, weighted. Especially the younger ones (under 8 or 9). Old-style playgrounds seemed designed so that if a 6 year old fell off, their huge noggin (relative to their body) would practically ensure they landed head first.

      Often on concrete.

      So the big revolution in playgrounds, complete with removing metal slides and getting rid of concrete flooring, was mostly adjusting heights (complete with the realization that neither little kids nor parents would make sure the things would be used as designed) to make sure that when uncoordinated kids between the age of 3 and 10 fell, they wouldn’t land head first on concrete.

      Which is why, when my kid was seven, he fell off the monkey bars and only cracked his wrist. As opposed to breaking it much more badly (if he’d landed on the concrete that had been replaced), or landing on his freaking head.

      In the end, the “revolution” in playground design was based on the same principles that has my company insist on fall protection rigs over a certain height. (A height that, at first glance, seems quite low. As in “I could jump down from there” or “how badly could it hurt?”. It’s actually the point at which a dead fall — no attempts at landing properly, like you were unconscious or panicked — means you won’t land flat, but head first).

      And came out about the same time.

      Report

  3. I think most discussions about child rearing tend to be by and about the parents idea of themselves more than anything.
    The “Back in my day kids were tougher” type of comment is one of those imagined heroic images we carry about ourselves, with a corresponding sneer at other people’s parenting.

    Notice how no one ever goes onto Facebook to post about how their own kids are coddled little snowflakes- its always some other people’s kids, some other parents who are overprotective.

    Yet in my time as a T-ball coach and Scout leader no parent ever complained to me about their kid wearing a helmet, no one ever cheerfully insisted we go on a hike without an emergency kit.

    Report

    • Chip,
      Yeah, kids were tougher way back when.
      You ask anyone, though, and they don’t want THEIR kid having to bash a pervert’s fucking face in with a brick, at the tender age of 13. (Again, listening to someone from Jersey).

      Kids were also way more creative way back when, and I think that’s more something to be concerned about than whether they go out at the age of 8 to hunt squirrels.

      Report

    • I think you’re right about the cultural aspect of it (i.e. griping on social media). That said there does seem to be a trend of involving the authorities in child rearing matters that were once left to families even when there is no abuse or actual danger. These stories of parents getting visits from the police or CPS for letting their kids walk to the park aren’t made up.

      Report

    • The critique I mostly see is not about how modern safe playgrounds produce a generation of wusses. Yes, these articles pop up every now and then, but they are overtly stupid: “Yes, we ended up with the occasional paraplegic, but we were toughened by the experience!” The putting of serious thought into safe playground design is an unalloyed Good Thing.

      The critique is the sense that our kids must be hovered over, producing a generation of young adults who have never had to function on their own. And I get that a lot. The schools in my area don’t have bike racks, because the kid riding her bike to school is unthinkable. The elementary school my kids go too is legitimately a bit too far away for them to walk, but the middle school they will be going to in a few years is only a mile away, with sidewalks the whole way. Yet when I suggest that a middle schooler can walk a mile, people stare at me in horror. And by “people” I include my wife. My older kid is tentatively enthusiastic about the idea. (The public library is on the way home: bonus!) So we will have this fight in a couple of years.

      Report

        • Having playground equipment that doesn’t guarantee your 6 year old will land head first on concrete if he falls also means less of a need for omnipresent parenting.

          Then again, people are weird about safety in general. “We didn’t have these new-fangled HAND GUARDS on our power saws when I started working here!”. You also had more people cut their thumbs off.

          A relative of mine works in safety for a company that puts together NG pipelines (among other things). About half his job is random inspections to keep people from taking off their PPE, removing safety features from tools, or ignoring procedure because “it’s faster this way”.

          Two days before Christmas about four years ago, he had to leave to deal with a guy that cut off three fingers with a power tool. He had, it turned out, both ignored procedure AND removed a safety guard. (“It takes longer, and the guard gets in my way”).

          The human race are idiots when it comes to risk.

          HR, however, often has detailed metrics on how stupid the human race is — and that those boring, stupid, “no one would do this” training sessions actually save them a lot of money because people might stop being quite so stupid for six months.

          Report

          • I teach a lab class (soil science) that is populated mainly by our Conservation majors and also by Industrial Hygiene majors. We use acids and other borderline-dangerous chemicals in there.

            Guess which group of majors I have to constantly hound about wearing eye protection? It’s gotten so bad I now have a sheet they have to sign off on so if someone DOES take off eye protection, I don’t get to them in time, and they get stuff in their eye, I MIGHT have at least a little legal protection of the “but I warned them” variety.

            That said: I often tend to be a little cavalier about it in my own research, but I wear regular eyeglasses, so….

            Report

        • I really wonder how much of this over-parenting is due to the fact that car-oriented living really doesn’t give kids many areas to walk or cycle to and how much of it is because of moral panic. When I travel to the South for work, many of the places do not look that friendly for letting your kids walk or bike around. A lot of it seems to be cul-de-sacs connected to highways and far from interesting places to walk or bike to.

          When people speak out against letting kids roam about, they don’t bring up ex-urban design though. Months ago, Citylabs had an article on why Japanese parents allow their kids to go about Japanese cities with a lot more freedom than American parents. It turns out that Japanese parents do not think that their elementary school kids are more mature than American or British elementary school kids. Its that they believe the average Japanese adult is much more trust-worthy and that their kid will be easily able to find help if they get in over their heads. This leads into Jaybird’s observations about a high trust society.

          Report

          • I think part of it is really simple numbers: Children are less common than they once were and they die much much less frequently. Those two things feed into each other. Since kids don’t die so much you don’t need so many. But since kids don’t die so much you can’t be numb to their welfare like society once was and since you have only a couple kids the eggs are all in one basket so to speak. Thus the hyper protective nonsense.

            Report

            • That seems plausible but the graves left for young children indicate that society wasn’t as blasé at deaths of children as we thought they are in the past. The Bible gets despondent when it talks about the death of young people in Psalms. I think that the death of a child was just a big of a tragedy in the past as it is today.

              Report

      • My understanding is that some of the safety design changes in playgrounds are safety improvements, but some aren’t due to unintendedn consequences.

        In particular, I’ve gotten the impression that the dense foam rubber mats are not always as safe as gravel they sometimes replaced. Partly this is because gravel shifts in a way that helps prevent broken bones more effectively, where the rubber mats can bottom out too quickly. Partly it’s because a small fall on gravel hurts more, so kids are less willing to push their limits over gravel, so they just don’t fall on the stuff as much.

        Report

  4. Names: Please tell me you’re contemplating an “old” name for that hoped-for additional child. Part of it is the fact that I delight in names like Martha or Donald, part of it is selfish: I teach college classes and it’s frustrating to have, say, four “Brittanies” in a class of 40 people. (Even more so when they sign their papers “Brittany P.”, “Brittany T.”, and “Brittany S.” like they are in second grade. I alphabetize by surname, people! If you’re gonna initial something, go with the FIRST name)

    Report

      • Then again, I suppose they’d get teased for their name. But if you’re a little kid who is destined to be teased, probably better for your name than for your appearance or something.

        I got teased because my given name was, at that time, the name of a witchy soap-opera character. I complained to my mom and her reaction was “What business do eight year old girls have watching soap operas?”

        Since then, I have found a number of Hispanic women who share my first name, despite it having essentially German/Scandinavian roots.

        Report

        • I got teased because my given name was, at that time, the name of a witchy soap-opera character.

          My niece Monica was not thrilled about certain news developments during Bill Clinton’s second term.

          Since then, I have found a number of Hispanic women who share my first name, despite it having essentially German/Scandinavian roots.

          A surprising number of standard Spanish given names have Germanic origins. The Goths who ran post-Roman Spain left virtually no mark on the language, with the notable exception of adding to the name pool.

          Report

    • IIRC parents are generally “trendier” with naming daughters over sons.

      This might be changing now though.

      I like my real name because it is not too common especially among Northerners. Certainly among Jews but it is not out there either.

      Report

    • When I was born, my name (J) was very rare. It’s not a name anyone had in both my families (*). My mother dreamed (while pregnant) that I would be a boy and in her dream I already was named the way I am. There were only two of us in a 100 kids high school graduation class, and only one more that I got to know in college.

      About 15 years later it became one of the most popular names in Spanish. Now I can’t take a stroll without turning around ten times after hearing “J” called over and over again.

      I liked the exclusivity better hehe. It was easier on my neck.

      (*) My middle name, the A, is my dad’s first name, who was the older child, but surprisingly, did not carry the traditional family name of Ceferino, one of the ugliest in the Spanish language. fate fell on the second boy. My dad’s second kid (I’m the younger) carries that tradition. Being born in Britain, my brother was baptized Ceferino Charles (sic). It surely made for fun times in the playground (for the other kids). He tried to go by Charles with little success, and finally settled on Ceri as an adult, which is what most people call him nowadays.

      Report

    • I see that Destiny is a popular name for 7-to-15-year olds, so the next twenty years are sure to have strippers. As for the kids in the Aidan/Aiden/Jayden cluster, I wish them as much luck in life as the Brennans/Brendans/Brandons.

      Report

    • In my intro to economics class in college, we had 25 students. Of those, 12 were male. Of those, a total of 5 had the same first name (including me). Bartholomew would have worked, but I was also also about the same age as Bart Simpson when it came into mainstream pop culture, so maybe it wouldn’t have been such a great idea.

      Report

  5. Re Childhood playgrounds.

    Count me as someone who hated hot metal slides when I was a kid. I think a lot of the playground equipment I see out now is cooler and more interesting than the stuff playgrounds had when I was a kid.

    My favorite playground when I was a kid was indoors and had all sorts of doors and things to climb through.

    Report

  6. Snow and social capital: The linked piece completely overlooked the biggest way snow builds social capital: shoveling it. Everyone comes out at roughly the same time, as conditions warrant, and starts shoveling. They mostly do their own driveways, but for the more communal areas they work together. And for the really heavy snows, the one guy with a snow blower (only occasionally necessary around here) glories in being the block hero. This all happens spontaneously, as we collectively respond to the situation. I know some of my neighbors, and few of them pretty well, but there also are people I speak with only when shoveling snow. This all has to do with air conditioning and the demise of porch culture. We don’t talk with our neighbors because we drive up, park the car, and go inside. In Ye Olden Days it was too damned hot inside, so they sat on their front porches and socialized. Snow shoveling has an similar result, driving people outdoors at the same time.

    Report

    • I have it on good authority that snow blowers are “fun” and some of the people who operate them do their neighbor’s drives partly because they are “fun.”

      My parents, who are in their 80s, have two neighbors who enjoy snowblowing, so usually their drive is taken care of. If I’m up there when it snows I will shovel if the neighbor hasn’t got there yet – shoveling is good exercise provided you’re in decent physical shape to begin with (I know of one person who died of a heart attack while shoveling)

      Report

      • We used to live on a corner lot, so had a largish shoveling job – between the garage and the fence, then the sidewalk on the long side of the lot, then the sidewalk along the front. At that point, it seemed silly to put away the shovel when next door just had a lot-front width, so I’d do one or two extra walks if I wasn’t in a hurry for work.

        Report

  7. Art criticism can be so frustrating. I like Pearl Jam’s music and Bob Dylan’s lyrics, but my problem isn’t that I disagree with these articles. It’s that neither of them try to build an argument. The first one doesn’t so much complain that Pearl Jam isn’t good, but that Pearl Jam isn’t grunge. Nonsense. The second one tries to mount an argument that Dylan’s poetry is too abstract to be good, but decides it’s not worth the effort. I know, they’re both short pieces, but without a framework to criticize the artist, they’re just sticking their tongues out at them.

    Report

  8. Bobby Gentry — Damn what a voice. I want to slink up to that voice and put my mouth around it. I haven’t heard that song in decades.

    I love the use of subtext in that song. It tells a story without telling you the story. There is a magic there. I think we’ve lost much of that these days.

    Snowstorms — It sure gives us something to commiserate about, ‘specially tromping through 18″, along a not-quite-shoveled sidewalk to a train that may or may not arrive.

    It’s a magical place.

    Report

Comments are closed.