It’s Lileks, so you’re going to read it anyway. Still. . .
“Twixters” are the new worry of the usual worrywarts:
Everybody knows a few of them—full-grown men and women who still live with their parents, who dress and talk and party as they did in their teens, hopping from job to job and date to date, having fun but seemingly going nowhere. Ten years ago, we might have called them Generation X, or slackers [or "Steve" –Ed.], but those labels don’t quite fit anymore.
Apparently, there are millions of these grown-ups kids now: Putting off marriage (women now marry on average at 25 and have their first baby at the same age; ten years ago, the average ages were 21 and 22 respectively); putting off real careers; putting off wearing regular-size pants that don’t hang down below their ass cracks, etc.
The story continues:
The twixters aren’t lazy, the argument goes, they’re reaping the fruit of decades of American affluence and social liberation. This new period is a chance for young people to savor the pleasures of irresponsibility, search their souls and choose their life paths. But more historically and economically minded scholars see it differently. They are worried that twixters aren’t growing up because they can’t. Those researchers fear that whatever cultural machinery used to turn kids into grownups has broken down, that society no longer provides young people with the moral backbone and the financial wherewithal to take their rightful places in the adult world. Could growing up be harder than it used to be?
Learning to pay the rent on small-market radio wages supplied me with more “moral backbone” than all the homework (not to mention marching and rifle drills) assigned to me at Missouri Military Academy. It’s not like the twixters aren’t working or paying the rent, as snipped bits of the story make plain. Really, it’s hard to argue there’s anything inherently wrong with enjoying your twenties – Whomever knows, I certainly did. And yet. . . I can’t help thinking that this time, the worrywarts have a point.
So bear with me while I go into Premature Old Fogey Mode.
The problem with young people these days… is old people. Specifically, their parents. Why, back in my day (really, I’m suffering a bad case of POF tonight) growing up was A Good Thing. By that I mean: being a kid was fine and all, but the really cool stuff was either reserved for adults or considered a special treat.
A few examples.
If I wanted to go on a ride, I not only had to be a good boy, but I had to wait for Memorial Day weekend when Six Flags finally opened. Today, The Home Depot has race car shopping carts. And don’t tell me you haven’t seen some infantile parent pushing their kid around in one at 50 miles an hour. Thirty years ago, I got waffle prints on my ass from the wire mesh shopping cart seat – if I wanted to ride like a child rather than walk like an adult. Today, the choices are between walking endless miles of plumbing supplies, or riding around in a daddy-powered racer.
Then there are clothes. Oh, I don’t mean to bitch about Big Pants and the return of Hippy Chic – youth fashion is nearly always stupid and embarrassing, if only in retrospect. But I do mean to bitch about children dressed like grownups. The little girls I knew wore sexless Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls, not today’s Wee Tramp outfits. [ED. NOTE: Ask any male between the ages of 30 and 50 about the 14-year-old girls these days, and each honest one will say, "Where were those girls when I was that age?"] Now, when a twixter gets married (at age 37 or whatever), there are usually half a dozen tots present in tuxedos, all turned out sharper than the groom. I wasn’t allowed my first tux until I was 15, and then only because there was a formal dance requiring I wear one. We were once expected to be old enough to at least act grown up before we were allowed to dress the part.
Then there are my two pet peeves: Restaurants and movie theaters. Time was, a child screaming during the opening credits meant a quick visit from a politely-perturbed usher – if, that is, the parents didn’t deal with their child first. Either way, problem solved and quickly. Just last year, I had people (not the parents!) in the theater hiss at me for daring to suggest to the parents of a screaming five-year-old that they ought to remove him from the show until he calmed down. Meanwhile, the 15-year-olds spent most of the movie text messaging one another, the glow of their cell phones dragging my eyes away from the flick. And don’t even get me started on restaurants. If I don’t go to Olive Garden anymore, it’s not because of certain Eurocritics; it’s because most chain restaurants have become indoor playgrounds where Mom can get a nice Chardonnay. Back in the day, I’d have gotten a stern look threatening the worst if I so much as squirmed in my high chair.
And we wonder why some kids today don’t want to grow up? We’ve taken all the incentives out of the process. We’re subsidizing childhood, then scratching our heads at why it lasts so much longer.
The other half of the problem might seem at first glance to contradict the first half – but that doesn’t make it any less true. And that is: kids today aren’t treated enough like, well, kids.
When I first heard the term “playdate,” I thought it was a joke. Me and Kevin Kahlmeyer didn’t make dates; we’d ask Mom if the other could come over and play. “Spending the night” was a bigger deal, requiring permission from both Moms. But everything still had an ad hoc spirit to it. Poor kids today need to carry PDAs to figure out where they’re supposed to be and when.
Then there’s the safety issue. I’m completely convinced that I’m a good driver today because, as a kid, I wasn’t required to wear my weight in safety equipment when riding my bike. Kids today aren’t learning those lessons – so it’s really no wonder that they’re spending their money suping up their Honda Civics (or Honda Piper Cubs, as I like to call the ones with those massive, wing-like rear spoilers) instead of putting their cash away to make the down payment on a house. I suffered enough skinned knees (and just once, a skinned face) to teach me that getting there safely is at least half the thrill. To support my point, I remember reading in Reason a few years back that people who drive safer cars tend to cause more accidents than people driving non-Volvos.
In other words: We do our kids a disservice by keeping them in cocoons. Of course, I say all this as someone who hasn’t yet had to raise any kids. Perhaps, I’m just a childless crank bitching about those more fortunate.
But I still can’t help feeling that we’re not raising kids to become twixters – we’re creating twixters from about the age of two. We don’t treat kids like kids while they’re kids, and we’ve taken away most of their inducements to blossom into adults. The result is as odd and off-putting as the word coined to describe them.
On the other hand… who knows? Maybe they’ll grow out of it.
UPDATE: Ed Driscoll concurs, and with better examples.
Yeah, I’m blogging tonight. But a story grabbed my attention, and the resulting essay is long-winded, even by my standards.
Back in about 45 minutes, half a martini, and an additional 450 words from now.
NOTE: “Now” is 10:42pm Mountain.
Just a friendly Vodkasphere public service announcement here.
I mentioned a day or two ago that the new “Battlestar Galactica” series was my favorite TV show of 2004. That might have sounded a little odd for many reasons, but especially so considering the show doesn’t premiere in the US until tonight (January 14). But thanks to an oddball contractural agreement, it’s been playing in the UK since last fall, and the episodes aren’t terribly hard to find online (no, I’m not going to give you directions, so don’t ask).
Frankly, I didn’t expect to like this show at all. I’d watched the 1978 original avidly, and loved it–but what the hell, I was in the fourth grade back then. As one of Pixar’s execs noted recently, kids have no taste, and will watch pretty much anything (
no link and no name, sorry; I think I read it in an airline magazine). The Sci-Fi Channel, which is responsible for the “BG” remake, runs the original shows all the time, and at 36, I can barely stand to watch them. Take away the neat-looking spaceships, and it’s just standard-issue 70′s television. In other words, crap (although I still think Lorne Greene was great as Adama–sue me).
Listen, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one, because I was thinking the same thing you were a few months ago: “‘Battlestar Galactica?’ C’mon, that’s a punch line. It’s the definition of suckage. What, are you going to tell me to watch ‘Buck Rodgers’ next?” Full disclosure: I have neither a Tron costume nor (ahem) a Lego Star Destroyer in my house. I’m not saying any of this out of loyalty to nerd-dom.
When the “miniseries” version of the new “BG” came out in late 2003, I tuned in mostly out of sick curiosity, i.e., “Let’s see how much this sucks.” I was pleasantly surprised to get adequate entertainment instead. It wasn’t great. At four hours minus many, many, many commercials, the thing dragged a lot. Some of the acting was good (Edward James Olmos as Adama, Mary McDonnell as a Secretary of Education suddenly elevated to the presidency), and some not so good (the new Apollo was almost as wooden as the original). But it wasn’t bad.
So I, ah, arranged to view the first couple of episodes when they showed up online in the fall… and I was astonished by how good they were. At forty-odd minutes a show, they had a speed and vitality that was missing from the miniseries, and the writing was so much better than the original show, there wasn’t any point in quibbling about Starbuck being a girl and Colonel Tigh becoming a bald white dude (okay, I’m still a little torqued about that one, but let it pass).
Anyway, I’ve gone on way too long here, but the bottom line is: Check it out. The premiere two episodes run back-to-back tonight on Sci-Fi, and they’re terrific, especially the first one, titled simply “33.”
I’ll guarantee you this much: it’s a hell of a lot better–and more grown-up–than any ‘reality’ crap you’ll find on the tube tonight…
UPDATE: As a reader points out, I completely goofed up the Pixar thing above; his name is Craig Good, and the interview was on NRO. I mixed it up with a Brad Bird interview I read on an airplane.
Also, Ain’t It Cool News collects a whole bunch of positive mainstream press reviews of the show here. Pretty strong endorsements, especially considering every non-geek critic over 30 had to have been pre-wired to hate this one.
Late night tonight and a busy day Friday. Odds of blogging: Slim.
What’s the real deal behind the Apple Mini Mac? E-Week’s Tom Steinert-Threlkeld explains:
What I saw was the future of Apple Computer: A device that fits anywhere in the home and hooks up to any screen that can handle digital input.
Lots of Windows-side executives are making big noise about producing machines for the living room. They call them “media centers.” A few are on the market. Some get good reviews.
But Jobs is the first executive, in the view from here, to really give a carrot that will pull along the move to convert the living room to digits.
A 40 gig machine with 256meg of memory probably isn’t enough to replace my Gateway desktop – but at $500, it could replace my TiVo and CD and DVD players.
Only question is, can I get one with a remote control?
Peggy Noonan (who was once a producer for Dan Rather, incidentally) in today’s WSJ:
Mr. Fineman asserts that the MSM came into existence after World War II, which is essentially true, but goes on to claim that it came into existence as the result of the fact that “a temporary moderate consensus came to govern the country.” Please. America was a political battleground in those days, fighting over everything from McCarthyism to the true nature of communism to the proper role of government to Vietnam. The MSM didn’t come into existence because of a brief period of political comity. The MSM rose because it had a monopoly. And it fell because it lost that monopoly.
All this has been said before but this can’t be said enough: The biggest improvement in the flow of information in America in our lifetimes is that no single group controls the news anymore.
Only 20 years ago, when you were enraged at what you felt was the unfairness of a story, or a bias on the part of the storyteller, you could do this about it: nothing. You could write a letter.
When I worked at CBS a generation ago I used to receive those letters. Sometimes we read them, and sometimes we answered them, but not always. Now if you see such a report and are enraged you can do something about it: You can argue in public on a blog or on TV, you can put forth information that counters the information in the report. You can have a voice. You can change the story. You can bring down a news division. Is this improvement? Oh yes it is.
Some media organs–Newsweek, Time, the New York Times–will likely use the changing environment as license to be what they are: liberal, only more so. Interestingly they have begun to use Fox News Channel as their rationale. We used to be unbiased but then Fox came along with its conservative propaganda so now just to be fair and compete we’re going liberal.
I don’t see why anyone should mind this. A world where National Review is defined as conservative and Newsweek defined as liberal would be a better world, for it would be a more truthful one. Everyone gets labeled, tagged and defined, no one hides an agenda, the audience gets to listen, consider, weigh and allow for biases. A journalistic world where people declare where they stand is a better one.
Being a staunch conservative, George Will has never seemed like a big fan of Republicans when they actually wield power. Today’s column explains why:
Just 10 years ago Washington trembled because many Republicans who had won in the cymbal-crash elections of 1994 had vowed to abolish the Education Department. Education, they said, is a quintessentially state and local responsibility. But soon Republicans in Congress and a Republican president were deepening Washington’s reach into education. In 1996 Republican appropriators gave the department a 15.7 percent increase in discretionary spending. And No Child Left Behind increased federal education spending more than any increase requested by President Bill Clinton, who was the teachers unions’ poodle. Some of that money went to Williams.
When conservatives break with their principles, they seem to become casual about breaking the law, too. Last year the then-General Accounting Office accused the Department of Health and Human Services of illegal spending when it distributed fake “news” videos that were used by 40 local stations around the country. In them the many benefits of the new Medicare prescription drug entitlement were “reported” by a fake reporter whose actual status — an employee of an HHS subcontractor — was not revealed. The English version of these “video news releases” concluded, “In Washington, I’m Karen Ryan reporting.”
This scofflaw enterprise was an appropriate coda to the lawless making of this law.
Read the whole thing.
As you’ve probably read in the last few days, The New York Times is leaning towards making their online operation subscription-only. It works for the Wall Street Journal, so there’s probably no reason it can’t work for the NYT, too. Problem is, how to get people like myself to pay for what we’re used to getting for free?
In an article about a completely-unrelated subject, Slate’s Bryan Curtis might just have the answer:
Here’s an idea: As soon as William Safire shuffles off to the Old Columnists’ Home, put [retired humor columnist Dave] Barry smack dab in the middle of the Times editorial page. Barry confessed a few years ago that he’s a raving libertarianComments Off
The launch went off without a hitch yesterday, but what does “Deep Impact” do?
The idea behind Deep Impact is as simple as it is surprising: to find out the inner structure and make-up of a comet, what could be more natural than punching a hole in it? That is precisely what Deep Impact will do, by sending an impactor crashing into comet Tempel 1 at a speed of 10 kilometers (6 miles) per second – about ten times the speed of a rifle bullet.
It’s due to hit on July 4. I can’t wait.
We really are living in a new Golden Age of auto design. I can’t remember the last time so many cars got me so hot’n'bothered just on their looks. There’s the Mercedes CLS “four-door coupe.” The new BMW 6-series. The Chrysler 300C and its HEMI-powered Dodge Magnum and Charger cousins. And have you seen the ’06 Corvette Z06? GM hasn’t made anything that good-looking in 30 years. Hell, I’m even a fan of the chiseled Cadi CTS and XLR.
(Of course, even a Golden Age still has a little lead. The less said about the new Ford Five Hundred, the better. I think they named it “Five Hundred” because they needed something starting with F and “fleet vehicle” was already taken.)
OpinionJournal’s Dale Buss explains the modern car renaissance:
With quality and functional differences among products largely having narrowed over the past decade or so, eye-catching design can be decisive. “Both consumers and the car companies are ready to see more chances taken out there,” says Chris Chapman, director of automotive design for DesignWorks USA, a unit of BMW. “People are kind of sick of the same old thing, and they’re looking for something new.”
I’ve drooled so much, in fact, that I’ve decided to retire the Sebring convertible later this year, while it’s still young. (Four years old in May, just over 30k miles – if you’re interested in buying it, say, next July.) Got my choices narrowed down to either a 300C SRT-8, or a new-model (and not overly-Bangled) BMW 330i. What to choose, what to choose? Raw American power and in-your face looks? Or precision German engineering and understated finesse?
And to think, those are those are just two of several fine choices in the mid-range of the near-luxury market.
This really is a Golden Age.
Here’s a great Boston Globe article about the “Car Talk” guys, Tom and Ray Magliozzi (hat tip to Los Bros Judd). Way too many great quotes to pull anywhere near a representative sample, but here’s a good one:
Ray: “One of the big chains approached us, but we didn’t want to stand in front of their store and tell people to get their cars fixed there. We couldn’t. Because they [expletive] everybody.”
Berman: “Even though they offered them [a lot] of money.”
Tom: “Offered who?”
Ray: “You didn’t get that memo?”
Tom, puzzled: “No.”
Berman: “These guys are not greedy. And the best negotiations happen when you truly don’t give a . . . ”
Tom: “Wait, back up. Offered who?”
Read the whole thing. And don’t drive like my sister.
10. Stories must be corroborated by at least two really strong hunches.
9. “Evening News” pre-show staff cocktail hour is cancelled until further notice.
8. Reduce “60 Minutes” to more manageable 15-20 minutes.
7. Change division name from “CBS News” to “CBS News-ish”
6. If anchor says anything inaccurate, earpiece delivers an electric shock.
5. Conclude each story with comical “Boing” sound effect.
4. Instead of boring Middle East reports, more powerball drawings.
3. To play it safe, every “exclusive” story will be about how tasty pecan pie is.
2. Not sure how, but make CBS News more like “C.S.I.”
1. Use beer, cash and hookers to lure Tom Brokaw out of retirement.
Martini Boy emailed me asking what I thought about the mini-Mac that was announced yesterday. Full disclosure: I’ve been a Mac owner since 1989, and I worked in Apple support for a few months in 1993 (in the Apple food chain, I was somewhere below plankton, but I enjoyed my time there). I use Windows and UNIX variants at work (and at home; I have a cheap PC, too), but I definitely prefer the Mac OS over both.
Anyway, as a public service, here’s what I told Steve:
Personally, I wouldn’t buy a “mini,” but that’s because I’m an engineer and a gadget freak. I’m always wanting to rip the cover off and tinker. Jobs hates that; if he could get away with it, every Mac would be a sealed box.
There are basically three reasons to not buy a mini-Mac: 1. If you think you’ll ever want to add a PCI card (it doesn’t have any slots), 2. If you want to run two monitors (I do, but if you aren’t used to that, you probably won’t miss it), or 3. It’s underpowered by current standards.
The G4 chip in there is perfectly zippy for most tasks (I’m currently using a G4 tower with about half its clock speed, for instance). It’ll do fairly advanced video editing and compression, not as quick as a G5, but it’ll probably do everything you’ll want, with the exception of very advanced games (not an issue for me; get beyond Galaga and I lose interest).
It’s very hard to upgrade RAM–you have to take it in to an authorized repair shop–and for a bigger hard drive (a necessity–40 to 80GB? Who are you kidding, Jobs?), forget upgrading the internal, just buy an external Firewire case. Less arse-pain and money.
So, IMO, it’s not really a $500 box, it’s more like a $650-700 box once you get the bigger hard drive and at least 512MB RAM. I’d bite the bullet and buy the RAM installed ($75) up front. It’s overpriced, but the hassle factor is low. Get the smaller hard drive model (an extra 40GB is not worth $100) and plan on getting a large-capacity (200GB minimum) Firewire external from Day One. Just use the internal drive for applications and the OS, and store everything else on the external drive.
If you can handle all that…
Attorney General John Ashcroft had made clear that he wanted to charge terror suspects for “spitting on the sidewalk” if needed, just as Robert F. Kennedy had done with organized crime figures in the 1960′s. For nearly two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Chertoff was the Bush administration’s point man in that campaign.
Mr. Chertoff now takes on a new and equally daunting challenge as President Bush’s selection to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a federal behemoth operating 22 agencies and 180,000 employees. If confirmed by the Senate, he will give up a lifetime appointment as a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which he joined in 2003 after leaving the Justice Department.
In naming Mr. Chertoff to replace Tom Ridge as secretary of homeland security, Mr. Bush called him “a key leader in the war on terror” and said that after the Sept. 11 attacks, “he understood immediately that the strategy in the war on terror is to prevent attacks before they occur.”
I am and always will be an agnostic on the usefulness of terror-attack prevention. Sure, the right man at the top might make some difference, and the creation of the DoHS probably didn’t hurt. But what we need most is a streamlined bureaucracy (cough), smart agents in the field overseas (cough, cough, and thank you Bill Clinton), and luck. The first two items, even perfected, mean little when luck runs out.
And we’ve had a string of good luck running more than three years now. Yikes.
Unless and until we find out Chertoff has been spending his weekends date raping passed out debutantes, he looks like he’s probably the right man for the job. At least until our luck runs out.
It’s a sad state of affairs when 1/6th of the choir leaves while you’re preaching:
Surprising many observers who expected it to shine during election season, all-liberal upstart WLIB (1190 AM) — base station for Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo — actually headed south, shedding 15% of its summer audience to finish fall at 24th place in just-released ARBITRONS…
Actually, my snide remark might have been a bit unfair. After all, summer was when the election cycle was picking up – so you could expect ratings to spike, and then slide after November 2.
Or the story could be worse for Air America. Since I don’t have the raw Arbitron numbers, I don’t know when in the Fall WLIB’s numbers fell. Did they suffer their entire drop in the seven-plus weeks after the election? If so, that means the ratings crunch is even worse than it looks on the surface — because the spike should have lasted through November 2 at the very least; mid-November is more likely. From where I sit, I’d guess that WLIB’s summer numbers held through the first half of the Q4 book, meaning their day-to-day ratings could be off by as much as 30%.
Again, there’s no way to confirm my theory without looking at Arbitron’s book. But in about three months, the winter numbers should be available.
“Developing. . .”
I’m a PC guy, and have been for 11 years. When I decided it was time to trade in the old stand-alone word processor (remember those? with the built-in daisy-wheel printers?) for a computer, I was leaning towards Macintosh. But you couldn’t fly an X-Wing on Mac in ’94, so I got myself a PC.
Today I read that there’s a new, tiny Mac for $500. I mean, tiny. Looks like it’s smaller than a hardbound book. And with a little adapter/switcher doohickey, it’s easy to set it up as a second computer, sharing the same mouse monitor and keyboard I have hooked up to the Gateway machine.
For fewer inflation-adjusted dollars than I spent on my Commodore 64 twenty years ago, I could have the Mac for music and pictures, and yet still keep the PC for my virus and spyware needs.
Then again, there’s a $50 rebate on these babies right now. . .
Actually, they’re just fine – but dilated after my annual exam. More once I can see the screen.
NOTE: Polarized sunglasses and LCD monitors don’t mix.
Joe Gandelman thinks Dan Rather got off easy.
Stripping Stewardess update:
Ellen Simonetti threatens “blogophobic” companies with being blacklisted by Webloggers if they don’t warm up to the online diarists.
Simonetti left Delta Airlines after eight years because, she claims, her online “Diary of a Flight Attendant” offended management.
Also known as the “Queen of Sky,” she has continued to blog and now has posted “The International Bloggers’ Bill of Rights.” It provides that Webloggers have the “freedom to blog, freedom from persecution and retaliation because of our blogs.” About 30 Webloggers have signed on, supporting the call for employers to “establish clear-cut blogging policies.” The Rights Blog is at rights.journalspace.com.
Simonetti’s site also lists 28 companies that she claims are “blogophobic,” and have “fired, threatened, disciplined, fined or not hired people because of their blogs.”
Simonetti is probably engaging in more than a little wishful thinking, if she thinks companies can be shamed into never retaliating against employees who blog in ways that might hurt the corporation. But that doesn’t mean other methods won’t work in response. She adds that employers could be “blacklisted by bloggers everywhere.”
Yeah, that might work.
So, when is CNN’s Johnathan Klein going to apologize and admit that the guys in pajamas were right, and CBS News was in the wrong? More to the point, does anybody at CNN have the guts to ask him that question?
No, of course not.
Some more dogs that won’t bark:
1. Neither Peter Jennings, nor Tom Brokaw, nor even Brian Williams will utter a peep of criticism in Rather’s direction. Ditto for Bill O’Reilly, who’ll blame the whole thing on Mary Mapes and dismiss anybody with a modem but not a TV show as being ‘nuts’ for questioning the credibility of a news anchor.
2. The Columbia Journalism Review (“America’s Premier Media Monitor”) will not issue a retraction of Corey Pein’s ridiculous attempt to acquit Rather, Mapes, CBS News, et al.
3. No major “news” publication or program (with the possible exception of Fox News) will ask the question, “Why were three women in lower level positions cut loose at CBS, but the network news president–Andrew Hayward–and Dan Rather allowed to skate?”
4. The word “blog” will not be uttered on CBS News tonight, or anytime this week, particularly not in context of this disgrace.
UPDATE: Looks like I was wrong on #4. John Hinderaker of Powerline was interviewed by CBS today. I didn’t see the CBS Evening News, but Brit Hume also had a long interview with “Hindrocket” on Fox News’ Special Report tonight. If CBS even mentioned Hinderaker and/or Powerline (if Hinderaker was interviewed today, I imagine they did), they deserve ample credit for doing so.
UPDATE UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds just absolutely eviscerated Rather and CBS on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. I won’t even try to paraphrase it; hopefully Glenn will write up the same thing at one outlet or another of his online empire. Grab the Hewitt playback if you get the chance. Hinderaker is up next.
RatherBiased has the complete CBS “Oops We Screwed Up” report available for download in PDF format.
Way back in 1981, Dad decided what every twelve-year-old boy needed for Christmas was a Nikon camera. OK, maybe not every boy