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On “Kids! What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

One of the challenges with culture critiques is that "culture," as Greginak suggests above, has so many cross-currents. Even the same "text," can be read differently. For example, I believe that Kristin and Veronica are both right in their discussion above.

But because those challenges are evergreen, I really appreciate the fact that the OP takes on a meme--the "you just gotta express yourself" idea--and critiques it. I agree mostly with her critique. My main reservations are the one Veronica brings up (and I didn't even think of that until I read her comment) and my own view that that meme, for better and for worse, comes and goes. I don't think it's necessarily stronger now than at other times in the past. Or maybe it is stronger. Maybe it's coming particularly bad now and hasn't til now shown many signs of going.

Regrettably, I can say that whatever culture I consumed growing up (I was born in the early 1970s, if that places me) does let me see the "humor" in the ice-cream-licking antics. I say "regrettably" because I know it's wrong, and wrong for all the reasons people here will acknowledge it's wrong. But I can see the humor, the ironic caddishness that I think I tried to critique way back when I wrote my post about Family Guy several years ago.

In other words, I don't think the behavior Kristin calls out is necessarily unique to the current crop of youth culture. (To be clear, I don't think she's saying it's unique, though perhaps she's saying it's stronger now than in prior times. To be even clearer, I don't think she's saying all millennials are like that.)

This isn't a criticism of Kristin's post. Any attempt to write about and critique culture will create the types of comments that Veronica, Greginak, and I are offering. We couldn't offer those comments if Kristin hadn't ventured the post in the first place. That's why enjoyed reading it and kept nodding along while doing so.

Thanks for writing this post!

On “Andrew Yang, Bringer of Pestilence

Another, related, way that school works, at least in my experience, is that intelligence is often equated with virtue, or being good. Not only was I (mostly) an A student, but I was therefore considered a "better" person than those who struggled a bit.

In some ways, that can be at least a little true. Doing good at schoolwork requires discipline, or at least it did for me because I wasn't a prodigy. And I suppose the willingness to buckle down and work indicates something like virtue.

But in other ways, either it's irrelevant or encourages something quite the opposite of virtue. It's irrelevant inasmuch as the "smart" person is "smart" because of some natural aptitude or inclination to do well at schoolwork.* I worked hard in school, but I also enjoyed a lot of advantages (resources, household stability, a strong intelligence, no learning disabilities, good health, an inclination to wait for the marshmallow) that others simply didn't, or had in lesser amounts.

The focus on intelligence also encourages something quite the opposite of "virtue," bordering on a "might makes right" mentality. I happened to do well at school. I even enjoyed it. That's a strength--a form of "might"--that can be wielded against others. True, bullying and philistinism real, but the intelligent can bully and the educated can engage in their own philistinism (snobbery). And the notion that the smart, or intelligent, are somehow more deserving than others bears a direct relationship to the notion that the strong should rule because they are strong.

I'm not, by the way, knocking intelligence or smarts or education. Those are things to be valued and perhaps it's inevitable that by valuing them, we also value the bad things I mention. But I suggest we should at least be aware of what we're doing and try to account for it.

*I know there's a school of thought that says aptitudes are mostly cultivated and not natural. My only comment is that on a day to day and short-term level, it seems something either "natural" or beyond one person's immediate control.

On “Hammers and Hangnails

I agree that the end of WWI probably complicates matters. But it's quite possible the flu pandemic really did, of its own accord, create complicated social and political consequences that haven't been documented. (Or maybe they have been documented. I'm not familiar with the historiography.) Again, I get your point that it's difficult to suss out the effects of that pandemic.

I do agree with what I take to be the gist of the rest of your comment, that a lot of us are making predictions that may or may not turn out. (If I read you right, you're not necessarily saying the predictions are correct, but you're not saying they're incorrect. Apologies if I've got it wrong.)


I see an interesting* dynamic here. People, like Saul, who generally write on this site about the need for policies to protect others (e.g., higher minimum wages), even if that means some inconvenience for still others (e.g., a lower number of jobs), change course in this situation.

On the other hand, people, like me, who suggest we remember the "still others" who don't benefit from the ostensibly beneficent policies that are proposed, now support something like shelter in place, at least for the time being.**

It's a reversal. A libertarian-leaning person (me) endorses some facially libertarian-unfriendly policy, while a liberal-leaning person (Saul) asks us to remember the loss of liberty. It's true that both Saul's and my views are much more complicated than is often claimed, but when we're dealing with blog comments, it's easier to bait one side as saying "hardcore introverts who love shelter in place" and to bait the other side as saying "dear Mollie's."

So.....I guess it's an opportunity for each of us to reconsider how we treat each other and to reconsider that each of us has complicated takes on things. It's usually not a simplistic, "I'm good and on the side of the righteous" and "that other person is bad and on the side of evil."

Maybe it's also an opportunity to laugh a little at ourselves and at our own contradictions, even in this trying time.

*By "interesting," I guess I mean, "something that conveniently has come about to let me make a point."
**I object to characterizing people, like me, who support shelter in place as "enthusiasts." While I'm sure there are some "shelter in place enthusiasts" out there, I suspect there aren't a lot of them. I suspect that most, by far, are people who think it's a necessary, but regrettable, thing we ought to do. None of that is to accuse you of not seeing the logic behind it. I understand your concerns are that people are simply going to stop complying after a few weeks unless there are some more authoritarian measures--and those measures likely as not won't be forthcoming. You might be right about that.


(I should add: "a big deal in ways we hadn't realized." I know you're not saying the flu pandemic wasn't a big deal.)


The 1918 flu pandemic (the closest thing we have in comparison) did not lead to a permanent change in way of life.

I'm not so sure that's true. I'm not saying it's not true, but we (or at least I) would need to do some more study before affirmatively stating that. Sometimes history surprises us and things that we've forgotten turn out to have been a big deal.

On “Seven Slices of DQ Life

I'm really glad to hear things seem to be going better.

On “Hammers and Hangnails

Great post, Kristin!

On “Seven Slices of DQ Life

Is everything okay now? I assume you've gotten the all-clear? (If so, I'm glad to hear it.)

On “Ten Things I Think I Think About COVID As of April 3

Yes, I think we're agreeing. At any rate, I agree with your comment here.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

Thanks, Jaybird. I still don't remember that passage, but it's evidence for what you said above.

On “Ten Things I Think I Think About COVID As of April 3

I guess my original question, though, was, was Michael really saying there are too many false positives, or did he mean there are too many false negatives.

Either way, it seems like we'd want to be really sure that the result "has antibodies" means "has antibodies" instead of "oops, doesn't have antibodies."


As a follow up: I think the "once we have a vaccine" idea is one of those things won't happen, even if it does happen. Things might not go back to whatever was normal on Dec. 1, 2019.

On “Carnage: 6.6 Million in Initial Jobless Claims, 10 Million Two Week Total

I actually didn't (and don't) remember that, even though I read the book twice. In fact, as I recall, the novel was fairly pro-New Deal (and pro-social Darwinist, with the "the Okies are now stronger, therefore they deserve to rule" subtext.)

On “Ten Things I Think I Think About COVID As of April 3

I think I agree. I also think Oscar's point is much more valid when we're taking about number of beds, number of ICU beds, and number of ventilators taken up.


#5 [vaccines, etc.]: I agree. Many of us think (myself included) that a vaccine will just come along and things will go back to normal. Maybe there will be a vaccine (I hope), but there will be other viruses....we haven't seen the end of this.

As for going back to normal: No, things will change. How they'll change, I don't know.

#2 [testing blood for antibodies]: the OP suggests that there are too many false positivies. Do you mean false negatives? In the short term, it seems like I'd prefer a false negative for antibodies a la better safe than sorry, so that the positives are much more likely to be positives (for antibodies). (Standard "I am not a doctor or scientist or statistician, etc., etc." disclosure)


Erm.....someone I know (not necessarily me, but not necessarily not me) may have bought some on Amazon.


On “Weekend Plans: There’s No Place Like Home

Thanks for the offer. I might take you up on that.

On “In Case You Missed It, It Isn’t 2009: Pandemics Then and Now

Well, on January , 2009, I had a first date with a beautiful lady. She's n ow my wife. So I have pretty fond memories of 2009.

On “President Trump Speaks on Coronavirus

Fortunately (for me, not for anyone else, necessarily), I'm not an instructor and don't have to worry about that aspect of it.


I'm glad he's on his way home (if that's what he wants).

The place I work at is also switching over to online education. I do wonder whether the online infrastructure is strong enough to handle the greater influx of usage. I'm too ignorant to know the in's and out's, but I imagine it just might hard to accommodate everyone who needs to use the internet.

On “Weekend Plans: There’s No Place Like Home

I hope I do not cry in front of the class. Yes, I am that scared by the situation, even though I live in a fairly isolated and rural area.

I have the same feeling (except that I don't teach) often. It comes and goes. Sometimes I'm almost glib, and sometimes I'm fearful. I'd like to say that I'm mostly concerned about the more vulnerable people, but I'm also concerned for my own safety and for the general disorder that seems to be spreading. I realize I'm relatively lucky because I am (knock on wood) relatively healthy, if no longer "young."


Knock on wood it should be a peaceful weekend. We're mostly stocked on everything we need, but I'm still on the lookout for fresher foods.

I'm getting worried about the two student workers who report to me. It's unclear what I'm allowed to let them do from home (or if our mutual employer will allow it), but I'd hate to have them choose between coming in to work next week and put themselves at risk or forgoing money/income they probably really need. So this weekend, I might try to make plans for things they can do. (Unfortunately, my/their specific job is very on-site focused, and it's hard for them to work from home.)

We had a trip planned to visit my spouse's mother in a couple weeks, but we're canceling it. One reason is that the flight wouldn't be advisable (for the obvious reasons). The other is that the assisted living facility her mother is in, is in lockdown mode and we wouldn't be allowed to see her. (Last I checked, her state has a lot fewer covid19 cases than Sangamon, so maybe they're doing something right.)

I just hope everybody stays safe and well.

On “President Trump Speaks on Coronavirus

Sorry to hear that. I hope everything is okay.