Can a modern-day nation survive this decline?

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2019

The New York Times ponders The Karens:
We'll postpone our review of Professor Silverman's Turkey Day takedown until Monday next.

On Tuesday, we'll turn to the most recent data from the PISA—more specifically, to the various things you weren't told about those international test scores.

For today, we'll direct your attention to a lengthy piece which appeared today, on line, at the New York Times. The piece appears under this dispiriting heading:
Editors' Picks
In fairness, the essay in question comes from the paper's Style desk, arguably the dumbest part of this sprawling exercise in modern-day, upper-end dumbness. More specifically, the essay hails from a subsection of Style which is packaged like this:
STYLE
Rites of Passage
Essays that explore notable life transitions and events, big, small and absurd.
This particular "essay" may be destined for inclusion in tomorrow's hard-copy editions, where it will get fullest Sunday exposure. That said, the "Editors' Pick" starts like this, on-line headlines included:
My So-Karen Life
I know Karens are hard. As a member of Gen X, I grew up surrounded by them.

While everyone is complaining about boomers, Gen Z doesn’t want you to forget to complain about Generation X, the other generation that’s significantly older than them that also sucks. This sucking is embodied by the name Karen, the young people have noticed—middle-aged white moms who are always asking for the manager and calling the police on perfectly fine pool parties and wondering why kids are so obsessed with their identities.

I am a Gen Xer, but I can only say to the Gen Zs, I feel you on the Karen thing so hard. Having a Karen as a mom must suck, but also, just imagine having thousands of Karens as your constant nemeses, for your whole life.

Here is my story.

I was born in 1969 and grew up in a small town in western Massachusetts.
I went to local public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, and spent 1,600 hours a year with the same 65 to 70 kids. Roughly half of those people were girls. Seventy-five percent of those girls were Karens.
"Seventy-five percent of those girls were Karens," this Gen X survivor writes, referring to the highly objectionable collection of girls among whom she was consigned to live when she herself was a mere child.

The dumbness only continues from there, increasing and spreading out as it goes. Did we mention the fact that this "essay" is currently featured, on the Times' web site, as an "Editors' Pick?"

Regarding this exercise in dumbness, we'll only tell you this:

When upper-end culture becomes this dumb, the society which spawned and nurtured the dumbness is unlikely to survive.

Putting that a different way, you simply can't run a modern-day nation on this sort of fuel. You'll end up with a Trump every time.

That said, the Times has been running on this type of fuel for a very long time now. And as we've noted again and again, career "journalists" will never tell you this. The Times is simply too powerful.

We can think of three who tried: Katherine Boo, Gene Lyons, Clark Hoyt. The discussions their efforts might have started were strangled in their cribs.

Simply put, mainstream journalists will not discuss the intellectual disorder of the modern-day Times. But we will once again tell you this:

A modern society cannot survive with intellectual horizons like those which obtain at the Times. You'll end up with a version of Donald J. Trump every time.

Despondent future anthropologists have glumly told us, several times, that the mental age of the modern-day Times was something like 8 or 9. That mental age was on display in Charles Blow's recent Thanksgiving Day column. Long go, that mental age was on display when Maureen Dowd gave the world this:
DOWD (11/5/00): I Feel Pretty

I feel stunning
And entrancing,
Feel like running and dancing for joy . . .


O.K., enough gloating. Behave, Albert. Just look in the mirror now and put on your serious I only-care-about-the-issues face.

If I rub in a tad more of this mahogany-colored industrial mousse, the Spot will disappear under my Reagan pompadour...
Two days before Election Day, in November 2000, Dowd pictured Candidate Gore singing "I Feel Pretty" as he looked in a mirror pondering his bald spot.

It was something like the seventh column Dowd had chosen to build around the problematics of Candidate Gore's problematic bald spot. The dead of Iraq look up from their graves at the mental age of the Hamptons-based editors who kept putting those brain-dead columns in print—and at our sprawling, self-impressed liberal world, which wasn't bright enough to notice that something was wrong with this ridiculous work.

(Dowd's gender-based trashings of Candidate Hillary Clinton were still seven years off. Eventually, Hoyt spoke up, in a column which gave rise to crickets.)

Today, the editors want us to ponder The Karens. A modern nation can't expect to survive when its reigning elites are this dumb.

How did our reigning upper-end elites ever get this dumb? Once again, we'll recommend Kevin Drum's work on lead exposure in the years when we modern-day adults were children. But whatever the explanation may be, the gauntlet is thrown down to you:

Are you able to see this state of affairs for what it actually is? Or are we going to diddle ourselves, as always, with the latest thing Donald Trump said?

After reading part of the essay about The Karens, we decided to check the writer's background. The Google whisked us away to her Twitter account, where she had just tweeted this:
"A friend just told me she goes #2 in front of her husband. Pls send help (to me)"
Can a modern nation survive this regime? In our own nation's case, the answer is already in. We already have our Trump!

That column by Blow was equally dumb. So was the more aggressive companion piece penned by Professor Silverman. We pity the teenage students he postures before. More on that topic on Monday.

The Times has been dumbing us down since forever. Can a modern society survive this regime? In our own nation's case, is it possible that the answer's already in charge?

30 comments:

  1. All that Karen stuff is supposed to be light-hearted humor.

    Maureen Dowd's stuff was a takedown of a presidental candidate.

    See the difference? Somerby apparently can't.

    They label this as a style section because it isn't going to be about substance. You don't expect a horse to be a cow and vice versa. Labels matter. Next, Somerby will complain again because a fashion editor writes about fashion.

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    1. I understand confusing parts of the media, because the corporate-owned media "reports" on politics like it's sports. Republicans "won"the Iraq War because they got the votes to make it happen.. Be damned the trillions of dollars wasted, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and millions of refugees it caused.

      Delete
  2. All this whining about how everyone everywhere is being dumbed down makes me think that Somerby is preoccupied with his own aging, the deterioration that accompanies it and his own loss of mental acuity. He is being dumbed down and so he projects that onto the world and then criticizes it, railing at how dumb others are, in order to feel better about himself. It isn't him becoming less sharp but the entire world that is getting dumber.

    Yes, this is mindreading, but Somerby is so darned transparent. I would feel sorry for Somerby but you don't get to kick the world (and a whole bunch of specific others, mostly young women from Ivy league colleges) just because you are scared about getting old.

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    1. No, I think between the two of you genius anonymices, you’ve managed to get it.

      The style section is no different from the political opinion section that offered up the fatuous “take down of a presidential candidate”.

      If Gore was running against Trump now, who would be the target of their self-adoring perfidy?

      The mandarin class effects us all, anonymices. Get a clue.

      Delete
    2. All this whining about how this blogger might be having cognitive problems makes me think that Anonymous Ignoramus @1:25P is preoccupied with his or her own mental problems. It’s called projection, taking one’s own anxieties about oneself (whether grounded in reality or not) and imputing them to others. Showing that the blogger is wrong about the dumbing down of the world requires the mental acuity to marshal evidence and reason logically. The commenter finds that impossible, worries that this might indicate cognitive deficit, and so instead points to the blogger’s supposedly declining mental state. It isn’t the commenter becoming less sharp but the blogger with whom the commenter disagrees.

      Yes, this is mindreading but the Anonymous Ignoramus is so darned transparent. I would feel sorry for this commenter, but you don’t get to display your incompetence just because you can’t face your own mental deficits.

      ~~~~~~~

      See how this works, Anonymous Ignoramus @1:25P?

      You say that the blog entry make you think, but that’s as likely as a triple-A battery starting a truck engine.

      Delete
    3. Deadrat, you are such a better person than me. You see the anonymices as trying to work out their own fears and frailties (and Somerby would likely agree with you) and I see them as goddamn sociopaths.

      That may be a from guarded Venus or from expansive Mars thing.

      Delete
    4. Cecelia,

      Deadrat, you are such a better person than me.

      Well, you’ve certainly embarked on the road less traveled. Thanks for the sentiment, though.

      My stance here isn’t grounded in virtuous forbearance. I think that TDH makes interesting claims that can be evaluated by examining evidence and thinking critically about his logic. Sometimes I think he’s got a good point, and sometimes I think he’s wandered off into the weeds. But whatever my conclusion, I don’t need to speculate on what he “really” thinks or whether he’s “really” a liberal or how much he’s “really” paid by the organs of Russian intelligence.

      If I’m willing to treat TDH that way, then I have to extend that posture to his commentariat.

      This isn’t to exclude the possibility that the Anonymices are sociopaths. They might be, but remember that people’s online personae needn’t align with their real personalities.

      I, for one, am much worse in person than I am as deadrat. Others may be better than their nyms.

      Delete
    5. "... I see them as goddamn sociopaths."

      You say that like it's a bad thing. Aren't you a Conservative?

      Delete
    6. The answer is very simple. Somerby is a Trumptard, whose sole goal is to serve as a useful idiot for Trump.

      Delete
  3. "Can a modern nation survive this regime? In our own nation's case, the answer is already in. We already have our Trump!"

    So, Trump is our punishment for being too dumb (or tolerating dumbness). Maybe we are supposed to demand that Blow be fired from the NY Times, but isn't that "cancel culture" and one of the things Somerby has complained about?

    I like Blow. He provides a look at a different perspective than my own and he comes from a different background and experience. Even when I don't agree with him, I want to read what he says and what a variety of others say. I like the people I encounter in daily life too, for the same reasons. I wouldn't think of calling them dumb because I disagree with them, because they didn't fact check some nitpick about a long dead Indian, or because their website is peculiar. That kind of thing leads to division and discord.

    Somerby used to quote Malala (who forgave her tormentors). Now he tells us to think of his particular Others as dumb, dumb, dumb. And he says dumbness gave us Trump -- not greed, corporate manipulation, Russian aggression, Republican mendacity, and a confused and undereducated voting population. It was dumbness. Does anyone consider this astute political analysis? I sure don't.

    Liberals aren't the problem. We are struggling mightily against invasion of our popular culture by an enemy nation that has co-opted the Republican party. We don't need to be told that dumbness is the cause, deflecting our efforts from where they belong -- spreading information to counteract the disinformation, registering people and getting out the vote on the left. Somerby is trying to distract liberals and that serves the interests only of conservatives and reelecting Trump. And I do believe he is doing this on purpose.

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    1. Maybe we are supposed to demand that Blow be fired from the NY Times, but isn't that "cancel culture" and one of the things Somerby has complained about?

      The google doesn’t find the phrase “cancel culture” in this blog. Do you have a cite? In any case, demanding the firing of incompetents isn’t cancel culture, which is the attempt to insulate oneself from opinions that you disagree with and that upset you.

      Even when I don't agree with [Charles Blow] him, I want to read what he says and what a variety of others say.

      I’ll assume you don’t agree with flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers. Do you want to read what they say?

      I like the people I encounter in daily life too, for the same reasons. I wouldn't think of calling them dumb because I disagree with them,….

      Most people are ignoramuses. Seems odd that you wouldn’t have picked that up with all your reading of Charles Blow and all your encountering in daily life. It speaks well of you that you don’t call them dumb simply because you disagree with them. That you wouldn’t call them dumb because they are, not so much.

      because they didn't fact check some nitpick about a long dead Indian,

      Yeah, fuck those dead Indians. They’re long dead. No sense getting the facts straight about their lives and deaths.

      or because their website is peculiar.

      This was a challenge you failed. I checked the website to see why TDH calls it peculiar, and because GIYF, I checked out the Manataka American Indian Council. Now maybe there’s no imperative for you to do as I did, but there sure is for your hero Blow.

      Somerby used to quote Malala (who forgave her tormentors).

      Perhaps TDH forgives Charles Blow for being an incompetent. That doesn’t mean he must thereby overlook his shortcomings.

      Liberals aren’t the problem.

      True, but liberals might be a problem. Even that’s a bridge too far for you. And for all your posturing about wanting to hear from those you disagree with, you’re sure quick to condemn this blogger as the enemy out to re-elect Trump.

      And that’s part of the cancel culture you claim to contemn.

      Delete
    2. I think you meant "condemn" and not "contemn".

      Delete
    3. Webster,

      While condemn would make sense as well, I deliberately chose the word contemn, which means to hold in contempt or disregard.

      Delete
    4. 'omerby is trying to distract liberals and that serves the interests only of conservatives and reelecting Trump. And I do believe he is doing this on purpose'

      Of course. Somerby is a Trumptard, who spends his life defending Trump, Roy Moore, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and Ron Johnson. he wants Trump to win, and he acts as a useless idiot for Trump.

      Delete
  4. Elite intelligence belongs to a small minority. The Times is in an enviable position. They print crap that ordinary people like to read. But, they maintain their reputation a an elite organ, because of their past accomplishments. Their reputation is also helped by the fact that no other news organ has stepped forward to replace the old, good NYT.

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    1. I think the past elites at the NYT had good reason to trust in the intellectualism and morality of their cohort.

      That’s not true of our elites anymore. So many of them have abandoned the intellectual clarify and rationality of the Enlightenment.

      Delete
    2. I think you meant "clarity" and not "clarify".

      Delete
  5. "When upper-end culture becomes this dumb, the society which spawned and nurtured the dumbness is unlikely to survive."

    What an arrogant thing to say, dear Bob.

    Your "upper-end" (only in your dream it's "upper-end") liberal zombie cult is a dumbness and sickness alright, but thankfully this sickness is affecting only a minority.

    Despite all the goebbelsian efforts of your zombie cult, there's still plenty of healthy, traditional culture (think of "the deplorables", dear Bob), and, as a reaction, the rejection of your rapidly decaying zombie culture, it's getting stronger.

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    1. There's a plethora of Karens out there, Mao. You have Brian Stelter, Oliver Darcy, Jake Tapper, and Max Boot wanting "fake news" people, including POTUS banned from Twitter. These guys are directly summoning Jack Dorsey nearly every day for differences in opinion.

      If Somerby tweeted every anonymice would be doing the same.

      Karens never sleep.



      They never sleep.

      They never sleep.

      Delete
    2. I AM NOT ANONYMOUSDecember 7, 2019 at 8:01 PM

      Cecelia, no commenter here has ever suggested that Somerby be silenced. Your equating of criticism with a demand for silencing is extremely tiresome.

      It reminds me of the other indignant Somerby defenders who demand that critics ought to quit Somerby and go to some “safe space” without realizing the irony of that suggestion: they want Somerby’s comment to be a safe space for themselves!

      Lighten up. Somerby’s a big boy. He can take it. And he surely must expect some pushback from liberals when he calls them lazy, dumb, and immoral. And aren’t they the ones he wants reading his blog, so he can reach them with his wise insights?

      Delete
    3. I've seen the level of Karen here and I'm very suspicious as to what the K-pods here would be about in another forum.

      I'd love to be wrong, but haven't seen it yet with your lot stipulating what people can and can't say in order to be authentic.

      Delete
    4. First of all, I AM NOT ANONYMOUS, thanks for using a unique nym.

      I often wonder why the whiners don’t go to other blogs. I don’t understand the point of trying to read someone’s mind while ignoring what he actually says. But that’s just me, and I never make “demands” of ignoramuses. After all, they’re ignoramuses, so they’re not likely to pay attention to anything I say. And, anyway, I don’t have any authority to tell them what to do.

      TDH is a big boy, but I doubt he gets the “pushback” from his commentariat because I doubt he reads it. Why would he, given the quality of the commentary? I expect he leaves it (spam ads included) as verification of his claims about tribalism. But that’s just a guess.

      Without access to the blog’s metrics, I can’t say for sure how many people read the blog, but there are online tools to check for references to the blog. Last time I checked, these were negligible. Do you suppose that hordes of people visit and lurk without external links to the place?

      Delete
    5. "There's a plethora of Karens out there"

      Meh. Those are mere bots, jamming communication lines, to atomize, confuse, and frustrate the humans. But human societies are resilient, and this too shall pass, I'm sure.

      Although, yes, I see that many do appear as concerned and pessimistic as you are. See this for example: Suppressing Dissent Guarantees Disorder And Collapse

      Delete
    6. Mao, you’re right that it is hard to broach such concerns without drifting into exaggeration.

      I hear you.

      Delete
  6. still waiting for the old fart angry white male to talk about his favorite (semi) white male - George Zimmerman's lawsuit against the parents of the boy he killed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't it be more pertinent to hear from the six angry white females who didn't convict him?

      Delete
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