Re: Running Out Of Letters

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This explains a lot. Generation Xers are a bunch of negative nellies; no wonder they would choose to bring their kids into such a grim world.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:00 AM
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My 11-yr-old has such an insanely more informed (and jaded) world view than I did at that age, and I was very informed and jaded for my age cohort. He also has no memory of the internet not being omnipresent, which will probably be the single strongest shaping factor for his generation, barring a complete economic collapse during his adolescence.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:10 AM
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I read a theory once that the characteristics of generations tends to repeat every four generations, but for the life of me I can't remember much of it, except that we're due for a generation that concludes the world sucks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:14 AM
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OT: elephants could be extinct by 2020 due to poaching.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:23 AM
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This is will be a generation of Realists, of Pragmatists. Truth, Finite Limits, Conservation, Tradeoffs, Balance

Generational self-image is for chumps. It's a media construct and a marketing tool.
How will we get them to buy soft drinks?* Maybe bottled water? Or maybe water bottles? Solar-powered water purification bottles? (Actually, someone should get on this right away, if they haven't already.) Thanks, Harvard Business Publications!

*Serious, the Cola with no Frivolous Fizz! Fizz is carbon dioxide, you know! Buy a case, send away for a solar-powered water purification bottle! We might not have used up all the water!

Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:23 AM
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The free market is just working its magic free of governmental interference.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:24 AM
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I read a theory once that the characteristics of generations tends to repeat every four generations, but for the life of me I can't remember much of it, except that we're due for a generation that concludes the world sucks.

I think we're in for a bunch of generations that think the world sucks.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:29 AM
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Here's a slightly longer, more informative version of that elephant link.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:31 AM
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I read a theory once that the characteristics of generations tends to repeat every four generations, but for the life of me I can't remember much of it, except that we're due for a generation that concludes the world sucks.

Would that be reproductive generations of 25-30 years, or journalistic generations of 8-12 years?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:34 AM
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Reproductive ones. (These theories have me and my sisters in different generations. The other question I had was whether 'Gex X' is old enough to have 12-year-old kids.) I heard about this when I was fourteen or so, in school.

mcmc is surely right that most of 'this new generation' is based on what they are most likely to consume.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:38 AM
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Fly generations of 3-to-5 days, actually.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:39 AM
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I'm a proud member of Generation Fly.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:43 AM
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10. Well, this would mean we were in for a rerun of the generation that brought us Elvis, Dylan and the Beatles, so at least we might go out to a decent soundtrack.

Gen X is supposed to start in 1965, so they could have 14 year old sprogs easily enough.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:45 AM
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re: 10

As OFE says, easily old enough. Depending how you define it. I'm too young to fit inside Coupland's original [and modified] use of the term, and I could easily have a child in their late teens.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:56 AM
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Napi is all over that generational theory you're talking about, Cala -- he should be able to explain it. All I remember is that it says that Boomers despise Xers, and treasure Ys as their golden children.

And I'm a core Xer (born 1971), and I have a nine year old, and could easily have a fourteen-year-old. It'd be socially unlikely, but not really weird.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:57 AM
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I thought you were older than me. The tail end of Gen X is 1982, and while that's certainly old enough to have an eleven-year-old, it's not the average age.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 7:59 AM
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Here's some cheering news.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:00 AM
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And I'm a core Xer (born 1971), and I have a nine year old, and could easily have a fourteen-year-old. It'd be socially unlikely, but not really weird.

Unlikely in a particular demographic, I assume.

My younger sister was born in 74 and her son is 15. And that isn't especially unusual where I'm from.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:00 AM
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re: 16

I don't know which definition of X you are using?

Certainly, the original use of the term as Coupland and others perceived it referred to a much narrower age band. People born between the early/mid-60s and the early/mid-70s at the outside.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:02 AM
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18: I think the word "socially" implies that the "unlikely" applies to her particular demographic.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:02 AM
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In any given family a generation will range from 14 to 40 or more years, depending on birth control utilization. I could be a great-great-grandfather now, but I'm not even a grandfather. My family doesn't try very hard.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:03 AM
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16 to 14. But yeah, if Gen X goes back to 1965, a fourteen-year-old Gen Y makes sense. Still, I think the generational theory mostly holds for the 'greatest generation' and the Boomers, and even then, it doesn't hold all up all that well.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:03 AM
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Wiki says Gen X is 1965-1982 and Gen Y is 1980-1994. Wiki is weird.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:05 AM
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If we can't believe Wiki, who can we believe?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:06 AM
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re: 23

Wiki is clearly wrong.* I'm [half] kidding, but seriously, all of the iconic signifiers of the X-er generation just don't apply to people who didn't even reach the age of majority until the tail end of the Clinton years.

* actually, the full wiki article lists lots of start/end dates depending whose definition is being used ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:10 AM
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I'm technically Generation X (1968); my oldest kid is 11, and I didn't have him until I was 28.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:10 AM
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Still, I think the generational theory mostly holds for the 'greatest generation' and the Boomers, and even then, it doesn't hold all up all that well.

Well the boomers are actually the children of the "greatest generation", but the Xers are the younger sibs of the boomers, and the Yers are the younger sibs of the Xers. So no wonder it doesn't work.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:13 AM
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In every one of these conversations, I emphasize that generational differences are totally swamped by race and class. My students in northeast Ohio have several generations of awareness of layoffs and challenges to US manufacturing. OTOH, they aren't growing up in an environment where the internet is ubiquitous. On their side of the digital divide, only cell phones and texting shape life. They don't know, for instance, how to use word processors and spreadsheets. Or how to critically read information they do find on the web.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:13 AM
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I'm technically Generation X (1968)

You're the archetypal age for Generation X! Being a couple years out of college when the whole "disaffected youth/slacker/grunge" meme was used to name the generation in the first place.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:15 AM
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27 the boomer suck rolls downhill, is all


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:18 AM
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What's interesting is that a lot of those iconic signifiers don't take into account kids of more than one age in the same family, whether it's the little brother looking up to his big brother and picking up on the events, icons, etc., or the big sister staying connected with what the youngest sister finds cool.

A couple of my sister's friends, when she was in high school (graduated 2004), were obsessed with Kurt Cobain, like he was one of their idols and had died in 2003. "but it was so sad!" "but you were seven!"


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:19 AM
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Or how to critically read information they do find on the web.

You should invite them over here.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:21 AM
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How many of these blanket generational statements assume that the "generations" in question are middle-to-upper-middle-class and white?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:21 AM
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I reject the implication that this Generation Z or whatever will have a stronger claim than Generation Y on blaming the boomers for the destruction of the earth and the US system of government.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:21 AM
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Generational self-image is for chumps.

mcmc is dead right.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:22 AM
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33: As nattarGcM and rob have already noted, pretty much all of them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:22 AM
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33: all of them. Except for the "white" part.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:23 AM
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This: ...parented by X'ers - a generation renowned for self-reliance and self-sufficiency

...just about had me spitting coffee all over my monitor. I realize self-reliance and self-sufficiency are part of the gen X self image, but the reality is of people who wallow in unexamined privilege taken completely for granted. The fact that South Park conservatism is a Gen X phenomenon is no accident - the prototypical Gen Xer is someone who had a solid middle class family, who took it for granted they would be able to go to college, whose angst revolves around not having a sufficiently exciting career, and who is utterly convinced that they are just so goddamn unique and special, just like everybody else.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:23 AM
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How many of these blanket generational statements assume that the "generations" in question are middle-to-upper-middle-class and white?

Almost all of them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:23 AM
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re: 27

Actually, the boomer/x/y hierarchy pretty much perfectly fits the demographics in my own family. Depending on how you define the boundaries, of course.

But then the generations are pretty close together in my family. My mother is in her mid 50s and she has a 15 year old grandson. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there's another generation along within the next couple of years.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:23 AM
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My benchmark has always been that the divide between Gen X/Gen Y is whether you can remember Reagan, Bush 1, the Challenger, Gulf War 1, the USSR, AIDS pre-AZT, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:23 AM
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My benchmark has always been that the divide between Gen X/Gen Y is whether you can remember Reagan, Bush 1, the Challenger, Gulf War 1, the USSR, AIDS pre-AZT, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

No, yes, no, yes, no, ?, yes.

I hate not being part of a generation. But I guess us members of Generation ? can take pride in our individualism and self-sufficiency.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:25 AM
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43

alternatively, 33, 37, and 39


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:25 AM
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I'm technically Generation X (1968)

Me too. What's funny is seeing all the 1968 retrospective stuff in the media, e.g., NPR's Echoes of 1968 series. Or this. Or this. It's like the whole world is saying, "Hey! You're 40!"


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:26 AM
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re: gen x/y/z/bleh I'm sure this stuff makes sense from a marketing demographic point of view, but other than that it's pretty inane.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:26 AM
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You're the archetypal age for Generation X! Being a couple years out of college

Well, I would have been, had I not taken the slacker route and spent six years getting my BA. Hey, maybe this generational labeling thing isn't bullshit after all...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:28 AM
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Almost all of them.

And correctly so, since AFAIK the terms are only ever used any more (and pace Coupland) about this demographic, because the long term unemployed are not prime marketing targets (see mcmc at 5 above).


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:28 AM
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In every one of these conversations, I emphasize that generational differences are totally swamped by race and class

rob nails it.

(My favorite kind of commenting: show up a little late and hop on the smart coattails.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:29 AM
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45: I think by this point in late capitalism, dividing living beings up from how they've been marketed to is as pertinent to understanding them as whether they've got fins or feathers.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:29 AM
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AIDS pre-AZT = before there were any drugs to treat it and it was always a death sentence.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:30 AM
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25: ttaM is a contrarian and relativist with no respect for truth. He's dissing Wiki purely for the shock value. Pay his trolling no heed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:31 AM
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47 to 48.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:31 AM
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50: This is complicated by the issue of when AZT was available to all but the super-rich in one's society. Also that in our health classes in school, they would make damn sure not to send us any signals that AIDS was anything less than a death sentence.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:32 AM
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What's funny is seeing all the 1968 retrospective stuff

I remember fondly the summer 20 years ago that all the 1968 retrospective stuff came out saying "It was twenty years ago today." I was such a little hippie. I wrote a paper on the Beatles for eighth grade social studies.

Maybe it was 21 years ago.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:33 AM
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Herpes pre-AIDS, when people really worried about it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:34 AM
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re: 45

Yeah, generally that's right.

But I think it's also true that shared cultural references and political/economic events can 'bind' age cohorts into rough units [albeit with vague boundaries].

There's experiences very specific to people roughly my age, for example, that just don't/can't apply to anyone else. To pick on local example, I did a YTS, for example and only people who left school some time between 1983 and 1989-ish in the UK were forced to do that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:35 AM
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Woops, yeah.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:36 AM
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Help! The site is being overrun by Turkish sex shops! This thread is our only refuge!


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:36 AM
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I have a 13 year old, and no one would call me an X.

I like the nomenclature/boundary scheme from Strauss & Howe, in their books Generations and The Fourth Turning. Despite wide individual variation, there are broadly shared experiences. Current young teens and the internet. Oh yeah, you can find 13 year olds who have never heard of the internet. I'm sure you can. Have you proven anything about generalizations about the role of the internet in the lives of people of that age? No, you've proven that you are an uncomprehending literalist.

Now people can take this sort of thing too far the other way.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:36 AM
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Someone once defined generations by the family comedy they supposedly watched: Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, The Partridges, etc. As good a way as any.

I beloned to the Ozzie and Harriet group, I think, but never watched it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:40 AM
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60: Ah, the Urkel generation. Finally I have a label.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:41 AM
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60: I think that makes me Cosby. I'd love to claim to be the Night Court generation (he's a judge! and a magician!) but somehow Cos seems like the hegemon there.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:46 AM
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Virtually all in this new generation are parented by X'ers - a generation renowned for self-reliance and self-sufficiency - rather than Boomers. A generation that, like the Boomers, is devoted to its children, but one, I suspect, as parents, often provides a more structured child rearing experience than many Boomers did and are less inclined to compete through their children.

Aside from the "self-reliance" lulz, the second sentence sounds like it's becoming the conventional wisdom.

I agree, at least as it applies to the demographic that reads the Harvard Business Review blog.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:47 AM
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Does The Dukes of Hazzard count? They were a family.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:49 AM
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My son loved the Dukes of Hazzard. B. 1973.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:50 AM
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parented by X'ers - a generation renowned for self-reliance and self-sufficiency

I did a double-take at this, too, because as I recall, at the time, it was the alleged sloth, apathy, sullen resentment, and sloppy dress of the X'ers that had the etiquette pundits in such a tizzy.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:53 AM
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60: By this standard, my generation, the All In The Family generation, is objectively the Greatest Generation.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:56 AM
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Maybe "self-reliance and self-sufficiency" means "realization that they live in a world where pensions and job security no longer exist". Which could then easily lead to apathy and sullen resentment.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:57 AM
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Oh, they've moved that onto people in my age range and rough social class. We're lazy, living at home (never mind we cann't afford housing), allegedly not putting up with bullshit at work (the funny thing is, when the Boomers were doing it, it was the sign of a new generation's cool new attitudes), too this, too that. About the only thing the characterization has right is sullen resentment.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:57 AM
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There's very little in the Erickson list that isn't true about the world in which I (born 1968) grew up:

Environmental destruction. Check.
The sudden realization that we'd better do something about environmental destruction, and fast. Check.
Crappy economy. Check.
High gas prices. Check.
Belt tightening in ways big and small. Check.
Layoffs and downsizing. Check. (P.S. No one gives a shit that the Budweiser Clydesdales are owned by Belgians.)

Also, Erickson seems to assume that Gen Xers were raised by boomers. Some were, but many of us were raised by parents in between the boomers and the greatest gen. whatever they're called, parents who were born during or just after the Great Depression or WWII. (My parents were born in '35 and '36.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:57 AM
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My younger sister was born in 74 and her son is 15. And that isn't especially unusual where I'm from.

You mean your sister had a child at 19? As a teenager ? Before even reaching the standard age at which one obtains a bachelor's degree? Let alone the graduate degree necessary for real career success? Your sister is a social problem!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:58 AM
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One field of endeavor (aside from softdrinks) where generational segmentation makes a lot of sense is politics. And I for one am quite optimistic about the implications of the demographic maturity of Generations Y and Z.

Generation X, for all the cultural salience of the vaguely lefty Slacker/Grunge imagery, is statistically the most Republican cohort in the age pyramid. The armchair sociologist in me says: Gen X'ers were old enough to remember the late 70s as a time of chaos, disappointment, and worry; and to remember the Reagan era as a more hopeful time; but not old enough have positive associations with Dems (Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson) or viscerally negative associations with Nixon.

In other words, the formative impressions of the archetypical Gen X'er is "Democrats = Failures, Republicans = Success".

Generation Y has only vague memories of Reagan and Bush I, but remembers the Clinton years as a prosperous, peaceful time. Generations Y and Z will have had their formative impressions of a Republican presidency made during the GWB administration. I am hopeful that their brains are being imprinted in the same way that Gen X'ers were about Carter: failure, embarassing, disappointment, humiliating, fear, chaos, helplessness.

If the Dems have any political savvy at all (never a safe assumption), they will still be campaigning against GWB three cycles from now, because the youngest voters will be unconsciously primed to react with distaste to the mention of his name.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 8:59 AM
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67: So what you're saying is, those were the days?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:03 AM
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I read a theory once that the characteristics of generations tends to repeat every four generations, but for the life of me I can't remember much

Probably Strauss and Howe (and probably pwned).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:04 AM
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70: According to the article, though, the fact that the seventies sucked when you were five isn't nearly as important to your cohort as the fact that when you were fourteen, the economy was doing much better.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:04 AM
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74: Yes, that's it! The Turnings/Archetypes section, specifically. I learned about that on a chalkboard; retroactively making shit up, I'm guessing the teacher I learned it from had probably just read the book.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:08 AM
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76: Books? Chalk boards?? So old skool.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:12 AM
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The armchair sociologist in me says: Gen X'ers were old enough to remember the late 70s as a time of chaos, disappointment, and worry; and to remember the Reagan era as a more hopeful time

The only negative thing I remember about the '70s was disco; other than that, I enjoyed the '70s.

I was a teenager during the Reagan years, and being a teenager sucked. Not that Reagan personally made my teenage years suck, but "a more hopeful time" it was not.

I guess that partly explains why I'm not a Republican.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:14 AM
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It sounds like they're saying Gen X came of age pre Y2K, Gen Y after, no? Last year at faculty workshops we had a painful, painful presentation on The Millenial Students in our classroom and how we could Teach To The Times. See, they like to text message it turns out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:18 AM
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75: Yeah, but I think that, like so much else in the article, that's largely bullshit. Maybe there's empirical research that backs her up, but as a theory, it doesn't comport with my experience, observation, or common sense. But then I generally reject the idea that generation by itself is terribly meaningful.

What kids are aware of and what makes the deepest impressions depends not only on class but on a long list, including geography and interaction with people different from you and the individual luck of your family (if your dad got laid off, that's going to be a signal event whether you're 9 or 14) and whether you're from a small town and whether you're from a military family and . . . .


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:19 AM
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I remember in 7th grade me and my friends loudly cursing Hinckley's failure to close the deal.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:19 AM
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I remember in third grade, some kid won a can of coke as a prize, and so the teacher went to the vending machine to get it for him. She came back crying, "It blew up! It blew up!" and we all thought she meant the coke machine instead of the Challenger.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:21 AM
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81: Hee. I think I was in 4th or 5th grade, but with largely the same reaction. I do wonder where I got it from, though, since my parents probably voted for him. At least the second time.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:23 AM
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The armchair sociologist in me says: Gen X'ers were old enough to remember the late 70s as a time of chaos, disappointment, and worry; and to remember the Reagan era as a more hopeful time

The late '70s were also a time of incredible liberation movements in the U.S., and the '80s were a time of war and invasion in Central America, a massive increase in homelessness, international focus on South Africa, and real fear of nuclear war.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:25 AM
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Hey, maybe this generational labeling thing isn't bullshit after all...

Don't believe the hype.

Discussion like this are teh stupid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:26 AM
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Discussion like this are teh stupid.

Well, sure, if you're from a pathetic generation like Y.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:29 AM
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86: am I? Who can say! It's all so amorphous and ill-defined! Hooray!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:30 AM
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81: Me too. "It was a point blank shot! Fucking amateur."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:30 AM
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Kids can be nasty without any motivation. My 5th-grade son came home with NASA = "Need Another Seven Astronauts" after the Challenger. I think maybe Sunday morning cartoons corrupted them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:30 AM
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84: Plus Ronnie was just so plainly dumb, and I was at that stage common to adolescents who do very well in school but aren't as adept socially, where the unfairness of his success and popularity just burned.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:31 AM
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Memories can be false. Reagan increased unemployment more or less on purpose, but people remember him as having reduced unemployment. ("Inflation, unemployment, same thing, right?")


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:32 AM
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89: fuck yeah. The Challenger jokes flew thick and fast within about a day of that happening.

"What were Christa MacAuliffe's last words?"
"Say, what's this button do?"

Being a nerdy sci fi fan at the time, while I took part, I did feel "hey, too soon" for possibly the first time in my life.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:33 AM
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I remember getting in trouble in Gifted & Talented class (I may have actually gotten kicked out) for making Reagan jokes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:33 AM
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88: I also remember us getting a very serious and sober talking to by our teacher about respecting the office even if we didn't respect the person, the ballot over the bullet, etc.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:34 AM
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91: Hell, there is a long running campaign attempting to contstruct false Reagan memories.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:36 AM
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"What were Christa MacAuliffe's last words?"
"Say, what's this button do?"

I heard it as "No, I meant a Bud Light".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:36 AM
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96: yep, heard that one, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:37 AM
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The armchair sociologist in me says: Gen X'ers were old enough to remember the late 70s as a time of chaos, disappointment, and worry; and to remember the Reagan era as a more hopeful time

I remember hearing this sentiment expressed directly by a lot of my college classmates at the time. Jimmy Carter's penchant for sweaters traumatized a generation, apparently.

The Challenger jokes flew thick and fast within about a day of that happening.

My favorite non-Challenger joke: What does PLO stand for?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:38 AM
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The joke I remember (other than they'd be sending a substitute teacher up on the next flight) was that NASA had been looking for an official drink to replace Tang. Since they were unable to get 7-Up, they settled for Ocean Spray.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:42 AM
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98: Palestine Liberation Organization.

That's not a very funny joke though.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:42 AM
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#100. Push Leon Over.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:44 AM
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Hell, there is a long running campaign attempting to contstruct false Reagan memories.

Starting with Reagan's own memory of his WWII service, among other things.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:45 AM
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92, 101 & etc.: I would have hated all you sickos when you were adolescents. Oh wait, I hate you now, too.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:46 AM
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It turns out that Christina McCauliffe's last words to her husband were "You feed the dog, I'll feed the fish." And her eye color! One blue left, one blew right. Poor thing. Did you know I can draw the Metallica logo?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:46 AM
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102: Dude, that's no way to talk about a war hero. Show some respect.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:47 AM
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103: Or maybe we would have shaped you into our generational mold.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:47 AM
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101: I had to do some googling to figure out what that was referring to.

There was even an opera written about it, wasn't there?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:48 AM
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HEY WHAT DOES NAMBLA STAND FOR?

NEED ANOTHER MILLION BOW-LEGGED ASTRONAUTS!


Posted by: ON AN OPINIONATED HOT DOG | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:48 AM
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101: That reminds me, I knew a guy in highschool who came to a costume party dressed as Leon Klinghoffer.

103: I'm just reporting the jokes of the era. I would never laugh at such things, honey.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:49 AM
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106: Or maybe I would have shaped you into my generational mold. Didja think about that?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:50 AM
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The Millenial Students in our classroom and how we could Teach To The Times.

AWB and I were talking about this the other day. When she assigns Generation Awesome some Althusserian advertising analysis, they recognize how they're being categorized and defined ("interpolated"?) by the ads, but they're happy about it; Generation Awesome is lost to the Beast. AWB and I like making tipsy generational generalizations.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:50 AM
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your generation is a little young to be moldy yet.

maybe it's the humidity.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:51 AM
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Yes, Kraab, science would grind to a halt if everyone had your attitude.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:51 AM
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Am I the only human being who didn't perceive the Challenger disaster as traumatic? I do remember it (flashbulb memory and all that): we had a snow day from school that day, but the snow quickly melted, and my father had asked me to drive the truck to the feedstore to pick something up. I used the opportunity to stop by this one girl's house for a little hanky panky while her parents were at work. I heard the news of Challenger on the AM radio in the truck as I was headed to her house. I was like, "Wow, big engineering failure. Oh well, gotta tune out, there's nookie to be had."


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:51 AM
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"interpolated"?

Interpellated.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:52 AM
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103: I'm just reporting the jokes of the era. I would never laugh at such things, honey.

It's okay. You know I give you slack for your sadly Texan upbringing. (Ooh, them's fightin' words! Too bad I'm on my to somewhere with no Internet access. Just like in junior high!)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:52 AM
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Interpellated. From "fellated", but inter. The f --> p transformation is regular.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:53 AM
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#107. Yes. By John Adams. And what's odd is that I think of that joke whenever I hear The Death of Klinghoffer.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:53 AM
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101: That reminds me, I knew a guy in highschool who came to a costume party dressed as Leon Klinghoffer.

I knew a guy who came to a costume party dressed as Monica Seles, complete with knife sticking out of his back.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:53 AM
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115: Thanks. I figured there was some special theory-fu spelling.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:54 AM
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114: might coulda been different if you were in school; we were all slated to watch it in class, there had been a big buildup, so on and so forth.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:55 AM
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Am I the only human being who didn't perceive the Challenger disaster as traumatic?

Yes, you monster.

Yes, Kraab, science would grind to a halt if everyone had your attitude.

Scientific advancement relies on sick jokes? Huh. I guess that's why I sucked at chemistry.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:56 AM
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"It was a point blank shot! Fucking amateur."

It wasn't the aim (which was OK); it was the lack of bullet mass and muzzle velocity. It was a .22 pistol, for Chrissakes. You can't even reliably take out small game with one of those things. That shit's strictly for target practice and varmints.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:57 AM
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And anyway, I'm sure that Lawrence J. Cohen would say that jokes, like play, are just childrens' way of processing tragedy and confusion.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:58 AM
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I guess that's why I sucked at chemistry.

No, you sucked at chemistry because you're a girl, duh.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 9:58 AM
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114 -- I don't think it was anywhere near as big a deal for people who were already out of school. Or didn't have cable TV.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:00 AM
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I started to connect emotionally with current events around age 19 or 20 or so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:01 AM
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Yes, you monster.

Why would it be particularly traumatic? It was an accident much like any other. So of course it sucked... just like all the other. My memory of the coverage and other random blather about this was a nearly complete lack of perspective.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:01 AM
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Am I the only human being who didn't perceive the Challenger disaster as traumatic?

I woke up hungover that morning and learned about it the way to the shower. Hearing about it was kinda traumatic, yeah, but there was a lot of trauma in my life that month and I think the trauma just bled over (so to speak).


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:03 AM
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I started to connect emotionally with current events around age 19 or 20 or so.

Yeah, Hurricane Katrina really hit me deep down, too.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:04 AM
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130: no, I think she means that she connects emotionally with current events that happened 19 or 20 years ago. She's been all wound up about Iran-Contra lately.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:05 AM
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114: Don't worry, I've been similarly heartless about the supposedly defining moment of my generation (which also produced no funny sick jokes, an even more traumatic blow).


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:05 AM
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I could have used "current" a little differently in 131, if I wasn't stupid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:06 AM
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The very day of the Challenger I had told my colleagues -- small very close office -- about the impending arrival of my firstborn. My wife was teaching high school, but I really don't think they'd set up anything at all.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:06 AM
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which also produced no funny sick jokes

This can't possibly be true.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:07 AM
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A guy named Scott Martens put his great-grandfather's biography on the internet. He'd was shot nine times by Ukrainian anarchists (followers of Makhno) but lived for three days afterwards.

Makhno devised the tachanka, an effective way of using machine guns mounted on horse carts which was reminiscent both of Zizka's wagenburg and the Mongol tactic of feigned retreat.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:07 AM
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Kraab is my hero here today.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:08 AM
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My high school drug buddy and I had skipped school the day of the shuttle launch and were watching it on TV. We laughed hysterically when it exploded, but then we were laughing hysterically at pretty much everything by that point in the day.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:08 AM
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I have never heard of this "Leon Klinghoffer" person before in my life. The Challenger disaster is something I've heard a lot about, starting in elementary school.

(born 1982)


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:08 AM
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135: I haven't heard any yet. If anyone knows some, hey, I'm all ears. Seven years is surely not too soon anymore.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:09 AM
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114: Don't worry, I've been similarly heartless about the supposedly defining moment of my generation (which also produced no funny sick jokes, an even more traumatic blow).

I don't know if you mean the death of Kurt Cobain, the death of Princess Diana, the death of Nicole Brown Simpson, or the blowjob of President Clinton, but I've heard many jokes about each.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:10 AM
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140 (cont.): Well, unless you count Giuliani's brief primary run and catastrophic collapse as a sick joke that came out of September 11th, because that was funny as hell.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:11 AM
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I just want you all to know that this thread is simply rehashing arguments and discussions we were having on alt.society.generation-x FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.

... My god, I've become a boomer.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:11 AM
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140: Oh, come now. It produced many, many sick jokes. It's just that few people outside the office of the Vice President seemed to find them all that funny.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:13 AM
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There was an eBay listing on 9/12/01, offering to sell the World Trade Center ("some assembly required"), and offered to throw in two planes the seller no longer needed for free. It was funny, but it sure did disappear quickly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:13 AM
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re: 140

Q: When does a pentagon have four sides?
A: When it intersects a plane.

[from a Google for 9/11 jokes]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:13 AM
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136 -- I put my great-grandfather's memoir on the net too -- makes it easy for various cousins. He'd been in the Army, sent to Texas to watch out for Pancho Villa. Another trauma of another generation.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:14 AM
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141: Born 1985. I suppose hearing so much about blowjobs in middle school may have been a major influence, but it was hardly traumatic by any stretch of the imagination.

On preview, 145 is hilarious.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:15 AM
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140 -- The big sick joke is in the White House.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:15 AM
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78: I also remember the 70s very fondly, esp the music (even disco! don't laugh), but the 80s kind of sucked (although I did like the music too). I was born in 1966, the first of 4 kids to non-Boomer parents (b. 1937 and 1939). My older cousins were all Boomers, and I was the first "slacker" in the extended family, and was (and probably still am) held up as an example for everyone younger: How Not To Have A Successful Life/Don't Follow Laima's Example.

We were middle class, aspiring to upper middle class, but my parents refused utterly to pay for college for me and my sister, while sending my 2 brothers off to private school out of state. They got to live at home for free; after age 18, my sister and I had to work full-time, pay room and board *and* do household chores. No "free ride" for girls! You better believe I'm resourceful and self-sufficient.

I got a lot of pragmatic advice and assistance from my grandmother, who was part of the Silent Generation, iirc, born 1913. We grokked each other in a way I never related to anybody else in my family.

Now, my brother who's closest to me in age, b. 1968, is exactly that whiny, self-absorbed, clueless brat mentioned elsewhere. And hyper-competitive. Seems to have no idea that he didn't get as far as he did (upper middle class) simply because he "deserved" it, and "worked hard". I worked harder, and am working class, or lower middle class.


Posted by: Laima | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:16 AM
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137: So you were a member of the National Painfully Earnest League in high school too?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:17 AM
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The jokes have always been around. What's small and white and skims across the sea?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:19 AM
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111: I take AWB's periodic recountings of that fact more as evidence of her being prey to Jennifer 8. Lee Syndrome than as evidence of a generational truth.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:19 AM
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re: 136

Nestor Makhno! Now there's an interesting historical figure.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:20 AM
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Back to the anarchism thread!


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:22 AM
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146: Reminds me of an Onion headline they considered running in the immediate aftermath: "'Nation stronger than ever,' says quadragon spokesman."


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:23 AM
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151: I didn't really grow a conscience until sometime after college. But even in high school I had enough class not to say or do something that might genuinely hurt or distress someone around me (by telling, say, an AIDS joke), and I was already enough of a humor purist to not find sick jokes all that funny; the amount of effort that goes into them is typically in indirect proportion to the amount of offense they're intended to generate.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:24 AM
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Who would laugh at disco? Disco is awesome.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:24 AM
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152, 155: I don't get it.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:24 AM
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re: 155

Anarchy respects no boundaries!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:25 AM
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When she assigns Generation Awesome some Althusserian advertising analysis, they recognize how they're being categorized and defined ("interpolated"?) by the ads, but they're happy about it; Generation Awesome is lost to the Beast.

Concepts like artistic integrity and "selling out" are moldy old leftovers from the European cult of the artist that have properly been jettisoned by the Media Kidz. Celebrity is what's important.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:25 AM
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155 was to 154. The answer to 152 is Mountbatten's tennis shoe.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:26 AM
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Q: What's the last thing that went through the minds of the 9/11 jumpers?
A: Their ankles.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:26 AM
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Celebrity is what's important.

Is part of why `generation awesome' doesn't exist.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:27 AM
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163: I'm pretty sure that one was going around on the afternoon of the 11th.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:28 AM
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160. Nor should it. In Trotsky's autobiography he claims that he and Lenin seriously discussed letting Makhno have an anarchist experiment in Ukraine to see what happened. But that the German army and the whites supervened. Don't know if I believe it, but it's a nice thought.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:29 AM
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Once I saw a reporter describing the wreckage of a plane which had crashed into the ocean - it may have been that one off the coast of Nova Scotia in the late 90's? - and the reporter said, "We can see passenger luggage and parts of the plane in the water. And over there, a human shoe." I laughed for a long time about the human shoe. Much sadder than a dog shoe.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:30 AM
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Q: What's black, has thousands of arms, and moves on its stomach?

A: The Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of the Ukraine!


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:32 AM
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There's a comic strip in there: Hubert the Human Shoe.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:32 AM
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Horseshoes, heebie.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:32 AM
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Look, I was and am a total bleeding heart. Literally. Every time something bad happens, I have to go get a transfusion.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:32 AM
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Horseshoes

...are notoriously bad at floating.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:33 AM
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168 is funny.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:34 AM
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Who would laugh at disco?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:35 AM
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There are a lot of hilarious human shoes floating in the ocean over in BC, Heeb.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:36 AM
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re: 166

Compare:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestor_Makhno#A_White_and_Red_counter-strike

I have no knowledge of what really went on.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:36 AM
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156: Instead, the Onion ran that incredibly good front page piece about god weeping. Or maybe not instead, but it was one of the best responses that I remember.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:36 AM
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168: Also this.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:36 AM
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There's a comic strip in there: Hubert the Human Shoe.

Hubert Hubert, who chases after little nymphet shoes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:37 AM
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I laughed for a long time about the human shoe.

Smoking pot does have that effect on some people.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:37 AM
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158: Sifu is my hero in this thread.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:38 AM
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174: Finland is the world's tango-dancing capital. These people are diversifying at a rather advanced age.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:38 AM
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153: I recount it because it fits my own prejudices about the Awesomes as well. AWB is my personal Jennifer 8. Lee.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:40 AM
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Who would laugh at disco?


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:41 AM
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176. Nor me. I don't believe Michael Moorcock, that I know.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:41 AM
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177: "Hijackers Surprised to Find Selves in Hell." It was a very well received issue.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:41 AM
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176: -shchina is a useful suffix that should be taken over into English. It means something like "business" or "problem", like -gate in "Monicagate", etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:43 AM
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177: I liked the pictures of the people running from the collapsing Towers that were labeled, " Not a Jerry Bruckheimer movie."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:43 AM
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What. The fuck.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:48 AM
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do remember it (flashbulb memory and all that): we had a snow day from school that day

I remember being home from school with a cold and watching the space shuttle, but Weiner (also from Pitt.) reminded me that he was at home that day, too, with a snow day. I guess, WV got snowed on, too. Huh.

I wouldn't call it traumatic, but I was obsessed with space shuttles an' astronauts an' planets an' stars at that age, so I remember it being very sad.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:48 AM
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189: I could only watch 40 seconds of that.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:50 AM
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That's a darn creative costume in 189.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:51 AM
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The Onion's post-9/11 issue was an unbelievably inspired distillation of that moment. It brings me back to the mindset of those first few weeks more than anything else.

GYWO is also valuable as an emotional snapshot, especially the first 6-10 ("Something about this Enron thing makes me think I'm going to want to take off my flag pin."). It remained funny after that, but in a more standard lefty political cartoon way


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:51 AM
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How fucked up 9/11 was will always be linked in my mind with how fucked up my own life was at that exact moment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 10:53 AM
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I appreciate how essentially screwed the Onion, and pretty much any high-profile American news satire, was in terms of producing actual jokes at that particular moment, and I appreciate what they were able to do with the limited leeway they had, but the 9/11 issue of the Onion wasn't really that funny at all.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:00 AM
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How fucked up was your own life, Sifu?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:00 AM
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135, 140: I'm not sure how funny or sick this was, but within the first week after 9/11, my father (an architect), had commented that "Architectural criticism has gone too far!" But he'd always despised them as buildings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:04 AM
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195: I was talking about this issue, which it turns out was 2 weeks afterward.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:06 AM
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Pro-rated to a single human unit, Sifu's life was exactly as fucked up as 9/11.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:06 AM
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I guess, WV got snowed on, too.

It did, which I remember because friends & I had just gotten to Wheeling after a long, snowy weekend at Blackwater Falls.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:09 AM
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"America's enemy, be it Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, a multinational coalition of terrorist organizations, any of a rogue's gallery of violent Islamic fringe groups, or an entirely different, non-Islamic aggressor we've never even heard of... be warned," Bush said during an 11-minute speech from the Oval Office. "The United States is preparing to strike, directly and decisively, against you, whoever you are, just as soon as we have a rough idea of your identity and a reasonably decent estimate as to where your base is located."

Sept 26, 2001. Still relevant today.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:11 AM
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I'm sure everyone is dying to know what I thought was funny/unfunny about the Onion's 9/11 coverage.

I thought some of the stuff was on the cheap & obvious side, like the "God clarifies 'don't kill' rule" and "hijackers surprised to find selves in hell." On the other hand the "Holy Fucking Shit" special edition stuff and "Bush promises victory against whoever we're at war with" was a good way of drawing attention to our reaction as massive confusion + freakout without being really obnoxious or offensive. Would that more people took the lesson to heart.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:12 AM
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the 9/11 issue of the Onion wasn't really that funny at all.

True, though the tv listings had a few funny bits. "Carson Daly In Way Over His Head" pretty much did describe a lot of MTV's programming for a while.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:12 AM
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But even in high school I had enough class not to say or do something that might genuinely hurt or distress someone around me (by telling, say, an AIDS joke), and I was already enough of a humor purist to not find sick jokes all that funny; the amount of effort that goes into them is typically in indirect proportion to the amount of offense they're intended to generate.

I agree with you completely, but Terry McAuliffe wasn't around to hear the shuttle jokes making the rounds at my high school. And while I don't think they were particularly side-splitting, I also don't think they were intended to generate offense other than in a typically adolescent "break the rules/push the boundaries/freak out the squares" sort of way.

And I also don't think of the jokes as "sick", actually. They we're definitely a healthier response to this sad event than all the patriotic "they died for our country, we should all be willing to sacrifice ourselves for freedom like they did" bullshit we were encouraged to imbibe and that the media was wallowing in.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:29 AM
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Where the Onion got screwed is that the Onion, like all satire, is best when it's biting, and there was no way to be biting about 9/11 or America's reaction to it without opening yourself up to the criticism that you were belittling the tragedy, laughing at the dead, etc. There were plenty of legitimate and even desperately necessary targets for satire out there in the weeks after the attacks - the desperate and pathological flag-waving, the panicked and frenzied need to bomb something, anything, to "make them pay" regardless of who "they" were or whether they'd actually done anything to us - but nothing that anyone would've wanted to hear.

This obviously didn't apply to just the Onion; for the a good chunk of the early War On Everything the Daily Show kind of shut down whenever anything newly horrible happened, because they just couldn't figure out how to deal with it. It was only as the show's writers got bolder, and the audience got more jaded, that Jon Stewart could confidently crack jokes about torture or massive bombings in Iraq.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:34 AM
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the desperate and pathological flag-waving,

I don't actually have a problem with the explosion of flags in the weeks right after 9/11. It seemed like solidarity in a time of grieving, put away our differences, etc. I think the White House obviously abused that urge, but I don't have a problem with the flag urge itself.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:41 AM
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How would #201 have been better, Stras? It zeroed in on exactly the problem with Bush's response even today (no defined enemy), and made him look like he was talking out of his butt.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:41 AM
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204: where was Terry McAuliffe? Too busy helping the Clintons murder people in Arkansas?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:43 AM
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205: I'd agree with that. At the time, I didn't find them funny, mostly thinking, "Other's will find this a bit cathartic." I wonder how many people genuinely enjoyed them, and how many expressed enjoyment to signal group solidarity.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:43 AM
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You know what kind of humor I like? Unintentional humor: "I for one and tired of being called racist for ideas which help all races while there is a race that will vote 90% for a candidate whether he or she is qualified or a drooling moron".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:45 AM
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Remembering how hard it was to be funny at that moment in U.S. history, I thought the Onion parody was close to perfect, starting with the "Holy Fucking Shit" logo.

It took Tom Tomorrow about a month to get his legs back under him, but this one cracked me up.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:48 AM
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And I also don't think of the jokes as "sick", actually. They we're [sic, though not sick] definitely a healthier response to this sad event than all the patriotic "they died for our country, we should all be willing to sacrifice ourselves for freedom like they did" bullshit we were encouraged to imbibe and that the media was wallowing in.

Those aren't the only options. Why are sick jokes healthier than just feeling empathy & sadness? I'm not actually arguing that they can't be healthy; I can see how for some people they would be. Lord knows black humor was a staple when my mother was dying.

But I also think it's okay to be alienated and offended by those kind of jokes and shouldn't be painted as humorless or p.c. (That terms seems to have gone by the wayside, for which I am grateful.) Not that anyone here has said that explicitly and maybe no one thinks that, but some people do have that idea.

On preview, Eggplant-pwned.

I agree with you completely, but Terry McAuliffe wasn't around to hear the shuttle jokes making the rounds at my high school.

This is irrelevant. There weren't a lot of people with AIDS around (AFAIK) when I was busting my high school peers for making those jokes.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:48 AM
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Maybe not irrelevant, but not sufficient in my world.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:48 AM
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194 - ditto. The other thing it reminds me of the the best piss I ever had, bar none. I was 3 months out of Grad school, so my innate stress response was to drink coffee. I pounded down at least a pint, probably more, while watching all the shit on TV, then decided it was time to go home - spent six hours in a traffic jam on the Capitol beltway holding in all that pee. When I finally got a chance to piss it was an incredible relief, plus it lasted a looong time. Pretty close call, though - I came damn close to having my main memory of 9/11 be sitting in a puddle of piss while stuck in traffic.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:49 AM
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Kraab is humorless and p.c.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:50 AM
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And earnest. Don't forget earnest.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:52 AM
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Sometimes people explode in such situations, Togolosh. How lucky you were.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:53 AM
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204: It's well known that Terry McAuliffe has a terrible sense of humor.

Which is why we never let him sit at our lunch table.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:55 AM
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214: A good rule of disaster-preparedness is to keep gas in your tank and an empty water bottle in the glove compartment.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:57 AM
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If you're female, also bring a funnel.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 11:58 AM
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And after siphoning the gas into the bottle and pissing in the gas tank, then what?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:00 PM
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This is irrelevant. There weren't a lot of people with AIDS around (AFAIK) when I was busting my high school peers for making those jokes.

Did you bust them for telling Shuttle jokes because they encourage nautophobia?

Those aren't the only options. Why are sick jokes healthier than just feeling empathy & sadness?

Didn't say they were healthier. And anyway telling "sick" jokes and feeling empathy and sadness are not at all mutually exclusive.

But I also think it's okay to be alienated and offended by those kind of jokes and shouldn't be painted as humorless or p.c.

And people who enjoy these jokes shouldn't automatically be painted as "sickos" or as incapable of empathy.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:01 PM
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221: Profit!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:04 PM
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And anyway telling "sick" jokes and feeling empathy and sadness are not at all mutually exclusive.

Humor's often a way to deal with sadness.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:04 PM
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224: Exactly! Making fun of sad people often encourages them to shake it off and stop whining like a widdle biddy cwy baby.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:05 PM
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And laughter is the best medicine! Ha ha about your [disease not too horrible to be funny]!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:08 PM
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207: John, the excerpt in 201 implies that Bush was trying to figure out who, in fact, was behind the attacks, rather than planning to blow away the next available target. It implies that the problem was cluelessness and lack of information, not a monstrous and all-consuming need on the part of the Bush administration and the country at large to exact symbolic revenge at the nearest available opportunity. The atmosphere after September 11th wasn't a cautious "Let's find out who did this and then proceed," it was "Let's blow someone up." And it wasn't just Bush feeding that atmosphere, it was newscasters and people on the street.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:14 PM
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I sometimes wonder if, when humorless people get sick, they haven't in fact brought it on themselves.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:14 PM
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228: I'll bet you chuckle to yourself when you wonder that too.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:17 PM
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Stras, I think you miss something important in 227, which is the way the "whoever it is" article draws attention to (a) the absurdity of bellicose rhetoric followed by the admission that we don't know who we're talking about, and (b) the fact that bombing people could be a stupid response given the nature of the problem. E.g. this:

Bush is acting with the full support of Congress, which on Sept. 14 authorized him to use any necessary force against the undetermined attackers. According to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), the congressional move enables the president to declare war, "to the extent that war can realistically be declared on, like, maybe three or four Egyptian guys, an Algerian, and this other guy who kind of looks Lebanese but could be Syrian. Or whoever else it might have been. Because it might not have been them."

Not perfect, and not a nuanced bit of strategic reasoning, but pretty spot-on in a lot of ways.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:20 PM
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229: I chuckle preventatively.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:22 PM
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I will conclude my communication with Stras.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:23 PM
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I don't actually have a problem with the explosion of flags in the weeks right after 9/11. It seemed like solidarity in a time of grieving, put away our differences, etc.

All our differences except, of course, the difference between being born inside the borders of the United States and being born outside of them. The proliferation of flags, of "God Bless America," of seeing the terrorist attacks as attacks on America rather than as mass murder, all contributed towards our seeing the victims not as people, but specifically as Americans - Americans killed by Foreigners, and eventually as the opening shot in a now-permanent war. This isn't a trivial nitpick; nationalism is an ugly emotion, as ugly and as destructive as racism and sexism, and while the culture of jingoism in post-9/11 was entirely predictable, it was also completely lamentable, and contributed to the atrocities of the last seven years as much as anything the Bush administration said or did.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:31 PM
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230: FL, I think you and John are both projecting a bit of your 2008 post-Bush cynicism onto that piece. To me that one reads like a sort of "Hey, Americans don't know much about these guys! Oh man, what a pickle! *shrug*" more than any kind of coherently-articulated war skepticism.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:35 PM
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135, 140: I'm not sure how funny or sick this was, but within the first week after 9/11, my father (an architect), had commented that "Architectural criticism has gone too far!" But he'd always despised them as buildings.

As soon as I heard about the news (over the phone from AB, and there was no TV in our office), I turned to my buddy and said, "With our luck, the damn buildings won't even fall down."

Needless to say, I felt kind of bad about that later.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:40 PM
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234: I think Stras is right here.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:43 PM
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The proliferation of flags, of "God Bless America," of seeing the terrorist attacks as attacks on America rather than as mass murder, all contributed towards our seeing the victims not as people, but specifically as Americans - Americans killed by Foreigners, and eventually as the opening shot in a now-permanent war

I actually fundamentally agree with this critique - I was pretty creeped out by the flag thing right away, even though I felt devastated by the actual events - but it's not just solipsistic Americans who viewed it as an attack on America. "Nous sommes touts Americains" wasn't some fiendish bit of CIA propaganda.

That said, of course, the rest of the world was expressing that, while it was an attack on America, it was really an attack on everyone. Whereas Bush et al very consciously steered it towards, "No, really, it was just an attack on us, and any of you who are willing to prostrate yourselves to us." Rejecting the NATO offer to invoke mutual self-defense was the signal move of those first days.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:45 PM
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And people who enjoy these jokes shouldn't automatically be painted as "sickos" or as incapable of empathy.

I know! I didn't say that! See?

I'm not actually arguing that they can't be healthy; I can see how for some people they would be.
----------------
Humor's often a way to deal with sadness.

I know! I said that! See?

Lord knows black humor was a staple when my mother was dying.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:47 PM
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234: that might be. Probably my last point on this: I think there's a salutary side to even "what a pickle!" When I think about the post-9/11 mood, I wish that more people had a thought along these lines: ok, we're entitled to be a little freaked out right now, but let's try to keep in mind that a lot of our impulses are the result of freaking out and thus should be regarded with some suspicion. The "we don't know anything about what the hell is happening" device that's behind the onion article is a useful way of prompting that kind of response. At least that's the appeal for me.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:48 PM
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233: I totally agree that nationalism is an ugly emotion, as bad as racism and sexism. I just think that in the first few weeks, when most of the world still felt compassion for us, you saw American flags all over the world as well as here, and there's a part of it that was a nice expression of sympathy and solidarity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:50 PM
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any kind of coherently-articulated war skepticism.

It wasn't war skepticism as such, but it was pretty clear-eyed recognition that there was an impulse to do something mighty counterproductive.

And stras is certainly right that the impulse wasn't only top-down; the yinzer draftsman in my office was literally pacing around and asking when we were going to kick somebody's ass.

But you know what? It's a pretty natural and human impulse. The job of leaders - and of representative gov't, specifically - is to temper and redirect that impulse. I'm not going to criticize the person whose spouse is murdered from demanding ugly, vigilante justice; but I certainly will criticize anyone in a position of authority who indulges that demand.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:51 PM
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197, 235: I think I always recognized on some intellectual level that the buildings were ugly, but since they'd been around since before I was born I just couldn't recognize that. The WTC was like a big, fat friendly uncle who you never really notice is anything but ordinary until you come back from college for the family reunion one summer and then realize he's dangerously obese and has a serious drinking problem.

Oh, man. I should call my uncle.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:51 PM
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I did think that the rest of the world should not have been expressing so much sadness for us, because 3000 people die all the time, and where's their acknowledgement?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:53 PM
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241: The TV listings bit in the Onion was really the best for that .. 'A Nation Looks Around For Someone To Hit.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:56 PM
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You know what always struck me as really godawful about them? (Well, along with the barren deathmarch of a plaza around them, and just what they looked like.) You build a hundred and ten story building, and then you put the windows inset between these big steel pillars every two feet, so you can't even really see the view. That's just goofy.

I ate at Windows on the World a couple of times (my parents took us there for my sister's high school graduation, for a celebratory lunch, or maybe it was some other event, and my high school prom was there) and my primary memory was finding the view frustrating and annoying, because you couldn't see properly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:57 PM
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The ugliness of many patriotic displays leaves me with a second order discomfort at feeling contempt towards some sincere but clumsy expressions of emotions I myself share, but damn if I didn't preemptively cringe when I realized the twin towers standing side by side look a lot like the number 11. Now I see this everywhere I drive.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 12:59 PM
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I remember debating with my dad at the time whether the size of the tragedy was larger than the number of deaths. I felt that it was just the number of deaths and injuries that made it tragic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:01 PM
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243 sounds oddly like read's prose.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:02 PM
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I know! I didn't say that! See?

vs.

I would have hated all you sickos when you were adolescents. Oh wait, I hate you now, too.

Don't hate us because we're funny, Kraab!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:04 PM
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I remember debating with my dad at the time whether the size of the tragedy was larger than the number of deaths. I felt that it was just the number of deaths and injuries that made it tragic.

No, see, what you're missing, heebie, is that the size of the tragedy was actually slightly smaller than the number of deaths and injuries, since it got rid of those awful buildings (and plaza, indirectly). 3000 people dead and the Chrysler Building gone, too? Clearly a bigger tragedy.

Some architects have a reputation for misanthropy. I hate those guys.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:05 PM
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the size of the tragedy was actually slightly smaller than the number of deaths and injuries, since it got rid of those awful buildings (and plaza, indirectly).

Aren't they just putting up a different awful building in their place though?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:18 PM
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Aren't they just putting up a different awful building in their place though?

That's a separate tragedy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:25 PM
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• And they have not missed the messages regarding layoffs and challenges to U.S. corporations. The Clydesdales are now owned by the Belgians?

Apparently, tweens like to get their drink on.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:26 PM
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249: I didn't say it was the sick jokes that would have me hate you.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:27 PM
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I didn't say it was the sick jokes that would have me hate you.

Familiarity breeds contempt.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:34 PM
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252: JRoth, do you have links to other pictures of the proposed buildings? The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation page link on your blog just gave me a page with an SQL error.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:34 PM
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but let's try to keep in mind that a lot of our impulses are the result of freaking out and thus should be regarded with some suspicion.

For example, I eagerly logged onto Instapundit every day.

Like almost everyone else in my company, I posted a color printout of an American flag on my office door (image file conveniently provided by office services). We had a choice of a plain flag, or one emblazoned with "These colors don't run". The latter was just a little too reminiscent of hardhats beating up hippies for me, so I went with the plain flag. Then, in early 2002, my office was moved to another floor, so I was able to avoid awkward overthinking about when would be the appropriate time to take the flag down.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:41 PM
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I ran right out of my house to go beat on some hippies and queers, but thankfully realized how crazy I was being by the end of 2002.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:45 PM
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My cynicism as been pretty stable for the last 30 years or so. My leftism has declined, relatively speaking. Between Sept 10 and Sept 12 2001, the main thing that changed is that I developed a tremendous sense of helpless dread which has never gone away. From day one it was Bush I dreaded, and not the terrorists.

I study a lot of military history and go to no action movies at all. From a military point of view, the 2001 attack was insignificant, the kind of thing you shrug off. It also looked hard to repeat, and probably a one-time event. But I knew that Bush would get a blank check for a period of years, and that he would take maximum advantage of it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:47 PM
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Actually, things that were personally strange about that day: it was a tuesday, but everybody I knew was unemployed (SF, post dot com bust), so we were all just kind of hanging out doing drugs. I was essentially homeless. Most of my friends were no longer talking to me. I had just gotten back from Burning Man, at which event I had experienced one of the most profoundly overwhelming psychedelic experiences of my life, one which revolved primarily around wandering aimlessly through a dust storm, an activity with visuals nearly identical to footage of people escaping the dust of the collapsing towers. All in all, it made things seem rather seismic and loosed from the moorings of comprehensible reality.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:48 PM
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257: Earnestly, I went with a flag with a peace symbol on the blue field, though that must have been closer to the start of the invasion.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:50 PM
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260 continued: and, sure enough, things pretty much went to hell for several years thereafter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:53 PM
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Kraab, you've always been rethlessly insistent on looking for a candle to light, regardless of the cost to others, and have always been cruelly fair to the far superior cursing-the-darkness option. A veritable monster is what you are.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:54 PM
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260: I was in California on 9/11 and felt weirdly out of touch and really wanted to be on the East Coast. People I knew who were in Boston were afraid that SF was next, but I knew that nobody was going to bomb my two-story apartment building in a small town in the central valley.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:56 PM
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Not too long after 9/11 (this would have been during the Afghanistan campaign), I sharply reprimanded my sister-in-law at the dinner table for harshing on Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA, a song that had hithertofore caused me nothing but nausea.

In the sense that alcoholics and drug addicts can sometimes point to a moment that they consider a personal rock bottom, this would be my moment.

By way of partial mitigation, I should point out that I never for a single moment thought that George W. Bush was anything better than a dangerous fool.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 1:59 PM
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263: Help me, John. Teach me your ways.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:02 PM
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"Cruelly unfait", obvs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:02 PM
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"unfair"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:02 PM
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I was in California on 9/11 and felt weirdly out of touch and really wanted to be on the East Coast.

I totally identify with this. I'd been in Texas about a year, and classes weren't cancelled, and I felt like everyone was unconnected to the physical events, except me. (My connection was totally tenuous and narcissistic. I was in my early twenties so it's okay.)

(Actually, my connection wasn't totally tenuous, in that I had family in Manhattan and my brother had worked on the 104th floor of the WTC until 2000 or so. So he knew a lot of people who died and even got a "tell my wife and kids that I love them" phone call.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:05 PM
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Sit in a quiet, bare room with only a TV set and a chair. Start a six-pack of beer and watch Bill O'Reilly, then turn off the TV. Remain sitting in the same room while you finish the beer. Some subjects may require two sixpacks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:06 PM
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Just so you know I already feel pretty bad about the comment I'm about to write.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:09 PM
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So he knew a lot of people who died and even got a "tell my wife and kids that I love them" phone call.

So did he?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:09 PM
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271: Same for me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:10 PM
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My brother showed her the love. Brown chicken brown cow!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:11 PM
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A non-traditional reading of the relevant biblical passage, but like they say, everything changed that day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:12 PM
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It was something like my third day teaching, ever, and I had back-to-back morning classes, the first of which was super super early. So I blithely taught away the whole time and came back to the big TA office with no idea what was up. It took me a while to figure out what my dazed fellow grad students were talking about, since they naturally assumed that I knew. All very confusing!

I lived about three minutes outside DC at the time, which was good for being confused, also, about the degree to which we were in any sense (about to be) directly affected by events.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:13 PM
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I was in D.C. but not in my office, which is fairly close to the Capitol, because I was at the doctor's for some piddling virus. The news broke while I was in the exam room and they pretty much threw me out (quite reasonably) because GW is the hospital closest to the Pentagon.

I may have mentioned this before, but my best friend worked a block away from the WTC in a building that was somewhat damaged and ended up being used as a morgue.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:22 PM
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I did have one friend who was very lucky to be late to work that day. Also my dad took a PATH train right underneath the towers that morning. Neither is really relevant to anything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:24 PM
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I did have one friend who was very lucky to be late to work that day.

I had one friend who was very unlucky not to have been late to the airport that day.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:30 PM
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everybody I knew was unemployed (SF, post dot com bust)

Oh yeah, I remember that. For about 6 months, Magpie was the only person I knew who had a job (although that was actually after 9/11). I'd been contracting (and commuting from Oakland to Cupertino), but two weeks beforehand I got hit by a car on my motorcycle and I didn't have a way to get to work, so when 9/11 happened I was stuck at home wondering if I still had a job. Then I found a way to make it back to work and promptly got laid off.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:31 PM
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280: I remember riding the bus to work before I laid off and talking to this dude who had just been riding around all morning (yeah, I rolled into work around 11, what of it?) aimlessly. We kind of laughed at him, but he didn't seem to think it was a joking matter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:33 PM
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everybody I knew was unemployed (SF, post dot com bust)

That was a weird time, I left in '98 and not long after started to hear from people losing jobs/companies, first a few, then everyone, it seemed.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:39 PM
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y best friend worked a block away from the WTC in a building that was somewhat damaged and ended up being used as a morgue.

I hate being used as a morgue.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:41 PM
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281: yeah, I rolled into work around 11, what of it?

You think you have to proactively deter challenges for saying that you were once less than diligent about your job on a blog thread that has accumulated 280+ comments on a Monday?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:41 PM
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for saying that you were once less than diligent about your job

while 284 is true ... for some jobs rolling in at 11am is perfectly diligent.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:42 PM
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I was eating dinner after work with some neighbors of mine that day (or night, in my case), at a restaurant near my apartment. The Vietnamese owner was channel-surfing, and I stopped him when I saw the tower smoking. The sound was off, but we eventually realized we were looking at the NYC skyline. We saw the second plane enter the other tower. Since it obviously wasn't an accident at that point, we were pretty sure who was responsible. My Irish neighbor sounded kind of satisfied. I went to bed before the towers fell, which sounds kind of bizarre now that I remember it, but I was tired and had spent the last few months thinking I was going to die of AIDS, so I wasn't really in a normal frame of mind. Next day I got an email from my mom telling me that a kid I had grown up with had been working in an office on the 91st floor or so.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:44 PM
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I was working for a different company (in the same field) in 2001, and most of the company's management was in Ireland for a big three-day meeting with a client from 9/9-9/11. Supposed to fly home the morning of the 12th. Airlines were experiencing some delays, you might recall.

Four days later, they managed to get home going from Ireland to [I can't recall which non-UK EU country ] to Nova Scotia to Chicago to Raleigh.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:46 PM
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had spent the last few months thinking I was going to die of AIDS,

Really? What's the story surrounding this interesting detail?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:51 PM
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288: Some regrettable business with an insane prostitute. It didn't help that I was so, um, inexperienced at the time. I've probably mentioned it here before.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:56 PM
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Michael Vanderwheel slept with the Joker!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 2:59 PM
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Some Regrettable Business with an Insane Prostitute is my favorite Wodehouse novel!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 3:02 PM
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Not that it can compete with insane business with a regrettable prostitute, but an extended family member who lived in the very shadow of the WTC had the most SWPL reason possible for missing the impacts; he was somewhere up in the Village at his Pilates session. A pretty early session, which reminds me that I have always assumed that the relatively early hour (especially by Manahattan office hour standards) of the attacks reduced the death toll compared to a midday attack. Intentionally so? (Although of course an off hours attack would have killed far fewer.) My assumption is that they really just timed it so they were boarding during the early morning airport rush.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 3:28 PM
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A pretty early session, which reminds me that I have always assumed that the relatively early hour (especially by Manahattan office hour standards) of the attacks reduced the death toll compared to a midday attack.

This was back during more hysterical times, but IIRC 50k people worked in the towers, maybe 20k of which had showed up by the time of the first impact. So easy to estimate 2.5X the toll, but who knows which way the intangibles would've run? I suppose the most likely change from higher occupancy would be more chaotic evacuation, so probably a significantly higher number (IIRC, the second tower to fall had virtually no casualties from below the impact zone, cos everyone had time to leave in an orderly fashion).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 4:13 PM
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256: Sorry so late, folks.

New design images.

Note the contrast between tower and base in the latter link especially. The bottom of this building will make the WTC towers seem humane by comparison.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 4:18 PM
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i was then in Japan, came home after work, was having late supper as usually, talking to my sister and watching tv
and then suddenly saw live TV of the WTC burning and the second jet hit and not long after that the first tower was crumbling down, horror
the TV announcer said like 11 other jets are missing and all other jets currently in the air are requested to land or go to Canada, something to that meaning, when i ask people about it, people say they never heard such announcements
my younger sister was then in Provindence, RI
we called her and told her to not go to NYC for some time and avoid crowded places


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 4:25 PM
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were


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 4:35 PM
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Hm, a what did you do on Sept. 11th thread. A John Lennon's death one later?

My brother called me from Mass. in the morning on 9/11 and told me not to go downtown (in Baltimore). What, why? "Terrorist attacks," he said. I hadn't heard anything.

Watched the news for a bit, and then went sailing with my then-boyfriend, listening to the shortwave radio on board off and on. Somehow the tinny voice and otherwise utter peace and quiet always sought and welcomed when sailing was ideal.

That evening we had dinner at a restaurant on the water. The place was packed, as I remember, and we listened to people striding about indignantly calling for the bombing of .. I think it was Pakistan they wanted. So I begins, I felt.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08- 4-08 5:52 PM
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