Raising The Boom

I come neither to praise boomers nor to bury them.  My intent is to both explain what I love and what I hate about the generation’s effect on American society, and also the one thing I DO hate about almost all boomers (it’s a tic, I swear) and which, IM(NS)HO is what causes most of the boomer hatred from the reasonable members of my generation – the unreasonable ones are like everyone else – and the generations after.

I’ll start with a clarification – I’m not sure when in heck the media started defining boomers as going from 46 to 64, but they can stop it already.  I was born in 62 and until the nineties no one ever referred to me as a boomer.  This was when boomer was a proud designation, all the good people in movies and sitcoms were boomers.  We were… something else.  We never joined communes, the ones of our generation who smoked A LOT of pot were usually troubled (not just part of what everyone was doing.)  We – as PJ O’Rourke says at one point and I wish I could remember where – were dragged to the sit ins and didn’t sit down.  We were lectured about the age of aquarium and kind of nodded.  Then we cut our hair, put on our suits (in girls’ case skirt suits.  Remember the shoulder pads?  Yeah, I never needed them.  I have shoulders like a line backer, which was pretty funny when I was young and dainty.  Thank G-d the fashion hid it) and went to work.

To be honest, my brother, born in fifty four, was in the very last, straggling end of the boomers.  Technically two years before it should be called so.  Think about it.  The boomers are defined as being the post war generation, conceived in the great effervescence of relief after the end of the European long war.  (The latest European long war, I should say.  Europe is good at those.)  The generation was marked by one of the greatest waves of prosperity to hit worldwide and trickle down to the common people.  (Because their parents had benefitted from the GI bill?) They were the most educated generation – en masse – the world had ever seen.  (There are things that went wrong just because of that.  Anytime an industry is booming, you get con artists, and in the boomers’ case the con artists often went into education.)  They came of age in the sixties, in a great mass, straining the seams of every institution and focusing the attention of every marketer.  Everything was directed at them.  When they were very young, all the focus was on baby stuff, then toys, then…  You get the point, right.

More, except in families like mine, they normally came from very different family structures.  Most boomers I know have more than one sibling.  In my generation more than one is rare, and if you go over more than two, that’s really rare.

(In my family we had two only – mom didn’t want kids.  For reason.)

My generation – those born, say 57 on to 67 – had no name.  We still don’t.  The ones the media has tried to put on us, when not claiming we’re boomers, are repulsive.  “Jones generation” because they said we had a “jones” for what the boomers had is just silly.

I don’t remember envying the boomers.  Oh, yeah, okay, when I was young I tried to ape them – till about 17 or so – but that’s just what kids do, and besides my brother was my hero, as much older brothers are to little girls.  But envy?  No.  They were just diferent.

They came of age in the sixties prosperity and got stuff thrown at them.  We came of age with disco and the idea that we were running out of oil.  By my birth year, in my area – I don’t know here – they were starting to close schools and consolidate, aware, as it were, that the boom wouldn’t last forever.  There is a different perspective there.

If you go back and read Heinlein’s juveniles, you’ll catch the certainty that each generation will be bigger than the last and that each one of them will therefore have more power in societal activities.  My generation was safely ignored.  The marketers were marketing to boomers.  We were left to do our thing.  And that was difficult, let me tell you, because the boomers had this idea of themselves as being a different generation (we’ll go on about this, later) and therefore they had ‘generation consciousness’ (there is a story relating to science fiction, which I’ll tell later) and believed that people before – and by the time I came along – after were somehow different and inferior.  If I had a dime for every interview where I was asked about my “social consciousness” or various other boomer-generation markers, (as defined by the media) I wouldn’t have needed a job.

There was a series of comic books – Mafalda – from an Argentine, which talked about my generation.  The title of one of them was “We came afterward.”  I think if we had a title it should be “the Worriers.”  We came of age being told there just wasn’t enough for us.  We came of age to worries about overpopulation and the horrors it would bring, we came of age afterwards, forgotten, as an afterthought.

Which is why most of us resent NOW being lumped in to the boomers.  My standard answer is “Sure I remember sixty eight.  I entered elementary then.”

Many in my generation developed a knee jerk reaction “If the boomers do it/believe it, I’m for the opposite.”  This is the reaction to being lectured to from a very early age, and from having every societal signal blare at you that the people ten years older than you are all that, and you just rained on the parade.  Frankly, I’m surprised we’re not more p*ssy than that.

Trying to swallow us up just p*ssed us off more.  Go and look at the magazines of the seventies.  We weren’t considered fellow boomers.  No, the marketing industry just kept creeping that forward, partly, I think to cater to this idea they’d created of the boomers as “forever young.”

Of course the generation that came of age in the late sixties is not uniform.  It is not so anymore than any other generation is.  And it is a mistake to think of it as defined by age. The president, mind you, is one year older than I, but he is an echo -boom baby, born of a (very young) boomer mother.  His generation markers are closer to those of my older son’s (born in the last year of the echo boom): Robert’s classmates tend to be “more boomers than boomers” and talk about their parents with near worship.

However, the boomers were hit by some of the same influences, the same marking experiences: First it had to do with being the first generation born after the long war.  I’m sure at some point, even the more detached, had at the back of their heads the certainty they were the next batch of cannon fodder being reared and the war would continue.  Can you blame them for their (public, media fueled.  I’m aware a lot of boomers served with valor) reaction to Vietnam?

Second, they were a prosperous generation.  Larger numbers than ever were educated. This created a disconnect between a lot of them and their parents, particularly since (I told you I’d pick it up later) a lot of the colleges hired teachers/professors in a hurry to meet the boom, and a lot of crazy theories and marginal academics of the past generation got given credence and became mainstream.

Third, they were “homogenized” and propagandized by the media like no other generation before.  Part of this was that the USSR (don’t bitch, we have papers) spent untold amounts of money to do so, to create a sixth column in our midst (they succeeded, but not with the ones they’d expect) and part of it was simply the ENORMOUS marketing wedge to be gained from catering to these young, relatively wealthy and NUMEROUS people who all were hitting the same stages at roughly the same time.  (Bitter joke from someone my age around the eighties “Have you noticed how it’s never been cool to have babies, till the boomers are doing it?  I wonder if fifty years from now, it will be cool to die?”)

It’s impossible to be on the receiving end of that sort of thing and not buy some of the ethos.  A lot of the people from that time still think there was something… unifying about the generation, aside from the sort of influences I named.  I think that’s where the odd defensiveness “Hey, you can’t trash talk about my generation” – even when someone isn’t! – comes from.  It, of course, reinforces the stereotypes.

Fourth: a generation that large can’t HELP being a lobbying group.  As I said, boomers focused the attention of marketeers.  Now, I don’t know if they still do (I rarely watch commercial tv) but they do focus the attention of politicians.  Stuff like Obamacare was with the idea of attracting them “Hey, get someone else to pay your last-years’ health bills.  Because you can.”  Of course it’s going to hurt them most of all, but that’s only reality, not what was marketed.

Now these influences hit people differently.  I’m going to admit right here I have and have always had a massive weakness for brainy boomer guys.  The sort who are so smart they’ve never made it at anything.  The sort that took everything thrown at them and retained only one thing: new stuff is opening up, do/learn/try new stuff.  Yeah, they often went to peace demonstrations (though they probably did it for the hippie chicks) and they probably did drugs.  A surprising number of them kept the hair and the ‘tude but turned right when they aged.  O’Rourke is sort of kind of one of those, Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati is the same type halfway through maturing.

I liked guys like that so much, when I was young, that I was shocked I married someone not at all like them.  I still like them and have several friends who are like that – though they’re usually from the younger trail of the boom, born 53 to 57.  There is something incredibly charming about the way they face the world: the willingness to try stuff and the refusal to condemn those who take different paths (but aren’t doing anything wrong.)

I even like the variety of them who were too “square” to do drugs or be promiscuous but who display towards the intellectual life that same curiosity.  I’ve come across guys and girls (eh, they’re only ten years older than I) who have not only read more than I have, but more than I could read, and who have thought deeply about things I couldn’t begin to even be interested in.  Those of them that went in academia are a blessing and usually a “burdensome stone” in the midst of their unthinking colleagues (and a lot of them turned away from Academia because they hated the group think.)

Their influence in general has been good for society.  It’s hard for people to remember this – the schools (argh) have worked hard at fostering the idea that the thirties-through-fifties were normal “before the boom” times, but they weren’t.  Increased industrial production and marketing made society a lot more uniform than it had ever been.  Let’s put it this way, in the fifties, 1984 was credible.  By the seventies, not so much.  (I don’t mean the future had changed.  1984 is an exaggerated fable and was never possible.  People are not that uniform.  BUT in the fifties it was possible to imagine them becoming so.)

But other people were hit very seriously: they took the idea that they were supposed to transform the world to heart.  They took the very bad economics and redistributionist bull hockey to heart.  They took the idea that all capitalism was corrupt to heart (remember, millions spent by the USSR.)  They thought Castro was doing a good thing.  They had Che posters.

Weirdly, these are the ones who early eighties cut their hair and went into corporations.  They were by and large “daddy’s sons and mommy’s daughters,” i.e. fairly affluent and had connections.  What they’ve done to our economic life doesn’t bear examining.  Part of this was that they believed what they were taught.  (If you think of our president as an exaggerated, cartoonish version of this, you’ll see what I mean.)  The USSR was the way of the future.  Oh, without the prison camps and icky stuff, but you just couldn’t deny communism was more efficient and besides they had no unemployment and no hunger.  (Ah!)  They were bringing these wonders to America, under the third-way.

What they’ve actually done is create an unprecedented level of crony capitalism.  (which, yes, always existed.  It’s part of how humans function.) They also – or at least a substantial number of them – took cold when the USSR fell, and since then have been intent on one thing only: feathering their nest.

Then there’s what I call the Rancid Hippies.  They annoy me because at first glance you might confuse them for my favorite type of boomers.  They’re not.  They might have been hippies when they were young, they might have believed in trying new things and letting others try their own path.  But somewhere along the line they hardened into twin convictions: other people are too stupid to do what they think is RIGHT, and they KNOW what is right.

Rancid Hippies mostly inhabit the education establishment, but also the media, the arts, and oh, yeah, publishing.  This explains how well all these institutions are doing.  These people are best exemplified by “Question Authority – except mine!  You WILL obey me.”

Then come the vast number of boomers: they kind of heard the propaganda, and often have an untoward pride in “my generation” but they bought neither the snake oil of the USSR nor the “do your own thing” openness of the early hippies.  They might have a bit of both, but they were just people, trying to do the best they could.

Of course, they aped the “ooh, having babies is cool” and all that, because it was shoved down their throats by the media.

But they don’t usually go around saying “Yeah, I’m a boomer” even if they come out and defend boomers when they suspect they’re under attack – even if they’re not.  I suspect a lot of this is because anger has been directed at them because of their birth year, and they don’t realize to people my age and younger what they’re “defending”, what we identify on sight as “boomer” is the media image of boomers, not the people who were born those years.

Some of it stuck, of course, stuff like “build community” and “give back to the community” and “make a difference” were slogans thrown at them so uniformly that it would be amazing if most of them had ever examined them.  Only the smarter and more conflicted have.  The others just seem to think this is like some sort of memorized response.  It drives people like me nuts, but my generation does it too, and my older kid’s even more so.  (Your older kids? You say.  But your kids are not that far apart.  Uh, no.  But there you can see the generational waves by year.  Yes, there’s people like us, who had kids too late or too early – I always thought it was late – but Robert’s year most of the parents were ten to fifteen years older than us.  Four years later, Marshall’s classmates all had parents ten years younger than us, and we were the “old” parents.  Consider one was born when I was 28 and the other when I was 32.  It makes no sense, unless you take in account Robert about hit the last year of boomer fertility without extraordinary aid, like Hollywood stars get.)

Things that affect almost all boomers and which I find completely understandable: their refusal to have kids in the number their parents did.  If you grew up thinking you were the next wave of cannon fodder, wouldn’t you?  Also, you were being told so much was expected of you.  You were going to change the world.  Left d*mn little time for kids;  the mass demonstrations against the war (yes, I know most of you never did, but the ones who did were still a higher percentage than at any other time) – well, between the propaganda over the air waves and the suspicion the battlefields of Europe were waiting for you your whole life… what do you expect?); their unwillingness to grow up till late in life – when you’re told you’ll be forever young, why bother?  The way they treated older and newer generations, too, had to do with gaps in education and with mass propaganda.  (Let’s be glad the days of mass anything are passing.  No generation should have done to them what was done to boomers.)

That part, though, is also part of the resentment, particularly for those of us in the media, in the arts, in education.  My generation was DELIBERATELY kept away because we weren’t “idealist’ enough (i.e. didn’t agree with leftist boomers) and then we were told we were too old, and the way was opened for the echo boomers.

Don’t tell me I’m imagining things.  I would bet you if you do a head count, my generation accounts for most of the midlisters and the shattered writers.  It hit me in the face as more than a suspicion when I read an interview in Locus with one of the major magazine editors – one I admired – who said that no one under 45 had enough life experience to write.  This was around 98, I think.  I was in my mid-thirties.  Ten years later, it was breathtaking to hear the same editor talk about how there was no market for writers in their forties, because the future and the interest was in the twenty somethings, whom they were buying in droves.  Because those were their sons and daughters and aping their opinions.

I realize that’s mostly in art and writing, but I’ve heard similar stories from corporate life.  People being treated as the “bratty kid” well into their thirties and then within a few years being agglutinated to the boomers, who were ten years older, and being told there was no future for them, and they would never make it far.

Why this is important – it’s important for those born in the boomer years to realize they were sold a bill of goods and that institutions they trust are still selling them a bill of goods.  That is the only way they’re going to realize the health-care-law backed by AARP will not in fact pay for all their needs in their late years.  No, they mortgaged MY kids, and instead they’re going to get killed.  Most of them don’t know the number of slots in medschools were cut by Obamacare, even as supposed universal access was granted (and don’t get me started on how we’ll all pay the penalty and  no one can have insurance, because we can’t afford it, and how the penalty will go into the general fund, of course) and therefore what they’re going to get is “death panels.”

It’s important for them to realize they have less in common with the conmen of their generation and with the rancid hippies than with people like me who are trying to save the nation.

Those people are not your friends; the image they sold you was beautiful, but it was a fairy glamor.  It never existed.  Behind that image are the con men who take advantage of the image and the rancid hippies that are destroying art and entertainment and making education an authoritarian nightmare (yes, I know, on the framework that was there, but the command to “Question authority” bellowed from above is a special refinement.)  The free spirits never subscribed to the image – or much of anything else – and the normal people shouldn’t be defending it.  Nor should they buy the sappy adds and propaganda aimed at them.

I know it’s hard to change your mind after forty five, but I’ve seen some of you do it.  Do try. The “third way” was a lie, your generation was not particularly blessed, just large (everything else came by accretion) and you don’t have to defend the crazed rancid hippy beardo the weirdos in education.  You also don’t have to die for the Hillary Clintons of the world, corrupting the polity from within.  You can trust people under fifty five.  (Over fifty five, it’s mostly you guys and some of mine, now.)

The circumstances of your birth are not your fault, the time at which it was, and the fact the USSR propagandized you is not your fault.  My circumstances are not my fault either, and truly we’re trying very hard to forgive what the boomer gatekeepers did to us, and to remember they’re not representative of all boomers.  Most of us try to do more good than harm.  None of us are cartoon characters.  It’s time to reexamine assumptions, and it’s time to help those who came after slog our way out of a mess that started years before any of us were born, in the trenches of WWI.

We didn’t start the fire.  But we have firehoses.

The other reason it’s important is that the more you push that image at us, the more you create people who will throw the baby out with the bath water.  The more you insist on the authoritarian-non authoritarian model, the more you tell us “Resist authority except ours” and the more you talk about fighting against the man when you ARE the man, the more people younger than I will go “Everything the boomers ever thought was a lie. I’ll do the opposite.”  And the pendulum swings towards 1984.

 

245 responses to “Raising The Boom

  1. Wonderful piece. Growing up(I was born in 1960) I always had the feeling that I was getting the leftovers and second hand stuff. sometimes that’s good like a better quality education from teachers of the greatest generation that were not overworked anymore and second hand toys( I got all my best toys form church sales, cheap). sometimes it was bad, for instance trying to find a job when the markets are filled up with people just ahead of me and all that progressive crap has killed growth.

  2. I was born in 1965, and for years was either cast as the last of the Boomers, or the first of Generation X. I don’t think either was accurate. (I never heard of Jones Generation. Wouldn’t have know what that meant, anyway).

    My mom was not a boomer, but her younger brother (6 years later) was. She was recently telling me how it took her years to realize how much resentment she had for his era, and how much easier they had everything.

    • I don’t think that’s even true, you know? It’s a media-fostered image. But yes, the resentment is there. And no, you’re not a boomer. In 68 which is the pivotal year in most of their minds, you were what? About potty trained?

      • LOL. Apparently I was potty-trained really early. 😉

        I’m going to guess you know this, but there were two (at least) versions of the Sixties, the one that everyone thinks of, with wild parties and drugs and all the rest, and the one which most people lived, where they were just trying to get along with their lives, and ignored the other one as best they could.

      • It was pretty pivotal to me. I was gestating.

  3. Kevin H. Evans

    Grin, I kind of resemble that remark… However I grew up in the Intermountain West, and the propaganda skipped us in flyover country. I spent my time as a youth building houses and helping to fire steam locomotives… It is hard to do group think when two hundred tons of machine will kill you if you ignore reality.

    Regards,
    Kevin

    • I have a feeling we’d get along.

    • rawlenyanzi

      I do wonder how the sociocultural revolutions of the 60s and 70s changed the Midwest.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        We’re still catching up. Socially, the Midwest is 20-30 years behind.

        • rawlenyanzi

          How did that happen? Surely they had TV and radio — and now the Internet.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            When it’s just on TV, or talked about on Radio, the reaction generally is that that’s just the weirdos acting that way. It takes a large enough cadre of people actually acting like the things seen on TV or the Internet before it stars changing the general culture.

            • rawlenyanzi

              I see. Thanks for the explanation.

            • William O. B'Livion

              At my 20 year HS reunion (college town in Missouri) “The” gay guy my graduating class (well, the only *clearly* gay guy) said about San Francisco “Those fags are *scary*”. No, really. Exact qoute. I was living in SF at the time (which is what engendered (heh!) that comment) and I about fell out of my chair.

    • William O. B'Livion

      You clearly didn’t get enough of a postmodern education.

      Lots of Boo!mers, progressives, leftist and other delusional twits do moderately to highly dangerous stuff, or even really, really critical life and death stuff on the job, hit the time clock and lose their f*ing minds.

  4. I call our generation the “lost ones” and you have codified it exactly. In the eighties were excoriated for wanting to make enough money to have a decent life. I have felt like the little kid in the back who is supposed to run as fast as the teen agers in the room. One of the things that happened is that our generation began to find ways to do things that were not usual (computers comes to mind). 😉

    • I remember this. I also remember Carter, you know, gas lines and unemployment being double digits when I was in high school (1980-83) before it got better. Trying to decide what path to follow to make enough money to have a decent life and being told that it was hopeless and we’d probably never own a house. And we went to college and our teachers, only a few years older than us, wondered why we weren’t all about nostalgia for the Glory Days of war protests, free love, and Woodstock.

      Of course what actually happened is that we had it pretty good with the technological explosion of the middle to late 80’s and 90’s before the tech bubble burst, but I think we probably *felt* like we felt after Carter.

      And these days the economy feels a bit like the acid-dream flashbacks that we are too young for, except for economic hopelessness instead.

      • I remember the Carter years. Carter’s election was the first political event I remember. . . when gas stations brought back cash vs. credit prices, I remembered we had them then. . ..

      • in 2008 during the run up to election I (born 66) and our then head chemist (war years born, so just a bit pre-boomer) looked at each other when asked about who was running and any comparisons by the two lab techs (both in the twenties and one not able to vote … resident alien) and both I and the Doc looked at each other and said the same thing, in stereo, about what we knew of 0bama … “Carter” and possibly worse.
        I mentioned that in high school we held a mock election, (I voted RR, and Carter won) so that was the first time I really paid any attention to politics other than being mad the Prez would be on all the stations I could tune in (well, we had CBS, NBC, and PBS except on a good day, when we got ABC on UHF) and the Doc of course trying to raise a growing family at the time. We both thought more and decided likely worse, and Carter at the time he ran didn’t come across as hating the USA. We warned of poor laws clogging the works, inflation due to printing money (well, that was already starting to happen but knew he’d do more of it), double digit unemployment (and forewarned that the system counts it different now so it would look lower, but would be as bad as Carter in reality), horrid foreign policy, and just general not good goings on.

        I think we may have been too optimistic

        • need a beerless prereader….that doesn’t scan well

        • It’s the hatred that terrifies me. I don’t think we’ve ever had a pres. who openly hates the US. My view of Obama — mine and the friend I referenced who ALSO has a degree in literature — was “It’s one of our ex-professors”. Which is why we fought like H*ll to avoid it.

          • Like I told my Long Islander former neighbor, I really didn’t like his stance on the Constitution. he: “But I thought he was a Constitutional scholar and taught Con Law?” me: “Well, see, the issue is that yes, he has supposedly studied the Constitution, but he really hates what it stands for … That explains that ‘Negative Rights’ silliness he mentions.”

  5. I suspect the word “boomer” is now a code word for any uncool older person who should just like, retire, and stop voting. And *try* to learn all the features on your smartphone, which I notice isn’t the same brand as mine. Which is the cool one. Not yours.

    And, ‘fifty-eighter here, who never did feel like she was a boomer.

    • Nah. You’re one of mine. Welcome to the club. Here’s your accordion… 😛

      Eh. My kids thought I was sixty eight. I wish I were joking. I don’t mean born in sixty eight. I mean sixty eight years old. Humbling.

  6. FWIW, the reason is that a generation is 20 years. Which exposes the risible nature of dividing the population into age cohorts in the first place, and the castigating individuals for behaviors they may or may not endorse, may or may not engage in SOLELY on the basis of their age.

    How ’bout we treat EVERYbody as individuals, worthy of respect as such until they demonstrate otherwise?

    1954, BTW.

    M

    • Not for marketing purposes, it’s not twenty years. You’re going with the anthropological definition (when I was going through it was 25 — has it changed? Might have.) For marketing, it’s usually ten years. We should just be glad that they no longer consider it JUST a decade. I mean “the eighties” started with Disco and ended with… I’m not sure… but it’s “the eighties.” Again, let’s be glad the time of “mass anything” is passing.

      • scott2harrison

        Disco was dead by the eighties, at least in North America. I remember learning the dances in the late seventies just as it died.

        • I turned eighteen in 1980. Portugal was still discoing, but not for long. I tell everyone I came of age in 1980, not because I was a late bloomer but because I hated the seventies so much.

          • Heh. Funkytown seems to be usually get the honor of being the last real disco hit, and it came out 1980. It now gets played here on one oldies station, during the night usually (and I only listen to radio during the night at work, the car I drive has a good sound system). (And I do have that song on an LP. Discount sale buy, I did a lot of those so I still have way too many disco albums somewhere in the closet.)

            The last time I was in a disco was probably a couple of years earlier, in Majorca. No discos in the small town where I then lived so I only saw them on holiday trips.

            I hated, and still do, the 70’s too. That was an ugly decade.

            • pohjalainen | June 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
              > Funkytown seems to be usually get the honor of being the last real disco hit, and it came out 1980.

              And Pseudo Echo’s revamp was *far* superior…. 😉

      • I suspect it’s flexible. I always heard 20. But, then, some of the same people cut the boom generation off at ’64, which is *18* years. Go figure. It’s just another thing to me that makes the whole concept ridiculous and arbitrary.

        I mean, you’re sort-of right about disco. Americans probably think of it as a ’70s phenomenon, but the movie that started it — Saturday Night Fever — came out in ’77. OK,, there was disco going on in ’72 (well, the mid-60s, but they were dancing ot Beatles records) and the first mention of it in the media was around ’74 or ’75. And I don’t suppose the fad was over until… when? Flashdance? (’83) Dirty Dancing? (’87) One of those movies made the whole thing SO over-the-over-the-top that it made people want to blow chunks and move on. So… when? And who should be tainted with THAT social disaster? Which, after all, was just dressing up and going out to dance to loud 4/4 music and what’s wrong with that? (Even though I wore “Death to Disco” tee shirts at the time.)

        And the ’60s… Yeah, there was the Berkeley Free Speech thing that Vanderleun is so proud of/not-proud of… but mostly it started in the so-called “Summer of Love” when George Harrison fled in horror from all the dirty street kids in San Francisco who weren’t groovy at all. And the ur grandmother of the generation, Woodstock, happened in ’69, when the calendar decade was nearly over. And a year later, Kent State, which kind of put paid to any notion of peaceful protest. (Or was that Chicago in ’68?)

        The wrong part of it is the arbitrariness and the tying of the assessment of people to externalities rather than (pace MLK) the content of their character. And the REALLY wrong part of it is the fact that the whole thing is a media creation that got it all wrong and can’t we remember the media is NOT our friend?

        Even if we’re part of it?

        M

        • Pretty sure the 20 years to a generation thing is for birth calculation, not cohort groups– a group that shares some basic characteristics. Best definition I’ve heard is “came of age during X.”

          Mildly annoying, because folks keep grouping me– 9/11 generation, I was 18 and in boot camp– with kids who were in diapers then.
          Which is still slightly better than grouping me with everyone younger than the boomers….

        • Saturday Night Live is a great album for preschoolers. They love it. Of course, they usually “dance” just by running around in a circle, possibly while holding hands, but that kind of strong beat is exactly what toddlers like. Same thing with classical music.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            I assume you meant Saturday Night Fever, rather than Saturday Night Live, right? I don’t really see children dancing to a rollicking round of middle school humor that they hopefully don’t understand yet. 🙂

    • William O. B'Livion

      Because then it’s impossible to organize people, to order society and to properly plan a large economy.

      Duh.

  7. I was born in ’46, but like Kevin above, most of the schtupidity missed me. Many of my teachers were in their 50’s or early 60’s, and taught real information. The one young teacher I had, as a senior, was in over her head teaching advanced math, and couldn’t handle working with teenagers. Ours was the first class she taught, and she quit two years later. Almost all of my teachers were either veterans, married to veterans, or had children that were veterans (in that era, mostly male). I grew up neck-deep in “community”, with my paternal grandparents, three uncles/aunts, and more than a dozen cousins either next door or within easy walking distance. I knew everyone on my street (which stretched about a mile and a half, with houses tucked back here and there on odd “lanes”, often one-lane gravel roads). I went to school with the same 125+ people for 12 years, mostly in the same school buildings. I can assess the idea of a population “boom”, simply by studying the class behind mine (born in ’45) and mine, from my high school. Graduating class went from 67 in 1963 to 133 in 1964 to 147 in 1965, and by the time my brother graduated in 1969, was 232. Ours was more or less a “suburban/rural” school district, with the heavy emphasis on “rural”.

    Neither of my parents had a college degree, although Mom did become a nurse when I was 12/13. My brother has a degree, used it in his chosen field for four years, and learned it was killing him. Hasn’t used it since. Both of us hate what the majority of our generation have made of the world, and try our best to see it doesn’t continue. There are far too many of our generation that are, as my dad used to refer to such people, “overeducated idiots” — people so lacking in any foundation of reality that they have to have labels on their shoes to know which one to put on what foot.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see anything changing without bloodshed. The parasites are too deeply ingrained for minor corrective surgery. It’s going to take major surgery and lots of antibiotics afterwards, and even then the host may not recover, or may be severely disabled if it does. It doesn’t matter — when the shooting starts, I’ll be there, on the side of common sense and the Constitution.

    • rawlenyanzi

      The worst part about it is that people younger than you reflexively bash that era as some kind of awful dictatorship-like experience. I don’t reflexively bash the past, since society is not like a computer or car, where the latest model is necessarily “better.”

      • Thank you for that. I wish more people would get that. Take the not-ladies of SFWA, ultimately screaming about “Why do old white men get to talk” — do they realize that, if they live long enough (which of course means no one throttles them — maybe they think this is sure) they will one day be “old white women” (most of them) and just as irrelevant? And that the new generation will almost for sure consider their habits of thought offensive?

        • rawlenyanzi

          Indeed. However, they believe that anything that they disagree with or makes them feel bad must be banned. The wrong demographic group must be silenced. Speech not expressly permitted is forbidden. It doesn’t matter how many compliments you lavish; if you use “lady,” you are a reprobate in their minds.

          That kind of attitude — this perpetually-offended moral crusader shtick — makes me shake my head. When it comes to free expression, they are the Jerry Falwells of the information age, hollering about immoral book covers and naughty words.*

          * Funny how the more things change, the more things stay the same.

        • William O. B'Livion

          They’re irrelevant now.

          Seriously, statistically speaking (and I do realize how rude I’m being when I say this here) no one gives a flying ahem at a rolling doughnut what the SFWA has to say on a *good* day.

          I’ve been a SF reader for 35 years or more, and I’ve read *tonnes* of the stuff (English lingo there). Never been to a “Con”. Never really wanted to. No one other than really *hard core* fans give a flying flip about “The State of SF”. If it gets too boring they’ll think *their* tastes have changed and either go on to something else or just stop reading.

          Hell, I like you (at least the you here) and *I* don’t much care about what this silly little biddys have to say.

          No, in the medium run they only matter to their little in group. In the long run they’re dust.

          • William — I’m HOPING so. See, in the old system, what they thought of you materially affected your print run, and having con people promote you and being guest of honor was vital. I don’t know if this was because of the appearance of success OR because it made for QUICK sales on your books. If it’s the last, they can still affect my traditional career, only I think I reach more Baenites THIS way.

  8. Born in 1951 in a small Midwestern town, pop 4500, and raised by my maternal grandparents who were successful business people through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Gramps was a baker by trade and folks got to eat. So I grew up with stories about things like war rationing, and the great gold grab of the thirties. Grandma never quite forgave grandpa for surrendering their stash of gold coins at all, let alone for the official price of somewhere around $20 an ounce if I recall correctly.
    I never did relate to my fellow boomers. And too, long about eleven I stumbled across a little book by the name of Rocket Ship Galileo and the rest is history as they say. Always knew how I felt about politics, but never had the words until Heinlein’s TMIAHM and his eloquent description of a rational anarchist. Seems to me that’s just another name for a small L libertarian on steroids, and suits me just fine. At least until something better comes along.

  9. “And the pendulum swings towards 1984.”

    That pendulum has already swung, and the rancid boomers swung it precisely because they actually wanted the authority part of what they saw as “the Man”. What they are going to get is a pendulum swing back to “abandoning oldsters on ice floes” because the young are starting to realize “what can’t go on won’t.”

    The problem is that our Generation Lumped is going to get caught in the suction when SS Boomer goes down. 1961, here.

    • Yes, that worries me too, but no more than all the boomers who are decent people (and I have many friends who are boomers) who will get caught in it too.

      • scott2harrison

        Yes, there are many decent boomers (’56 myself), but if you believe in government by the consent of the governed, they, and I, have earned what is coming, no matter how decent we are, because we did not stop it as was our duty as citizens..

        • You were too young, Scott. This debacle started in the years between the wars. And I’ve been fighting since I could think — though not always openly (fighting or thinking) and it will come for me too. Because Justice is not a natural law.

          • The current mess began with William Jennings Bryant and the “Progressives” of the 1880’s. Theodore Roosevelt was the first Progressive president, but there have been a host after him: Wilson, FDR, Truman, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and now Obumble. The first real mess began with the 16th, 17th, and 18th Amendments, and has continued unabated. Both the 16th and 17th amendments (income tax, direct election of senators) should be repealed (the 18th already has been). One thing I noted when I was checking my copy of the Constitution before posting this is that every Constitutional Amendment passed by Congress and adopted by the States has been done under a Democratic President since 1869.

            • William O. B'Livion

              Nixon and Bush were also progressives, just with slightly different moral beliefs. Well, Bush was. I don’t think Nixon new “moral” from “fiber”.

        • @Scott: here’s the rub. How do you withdraw your consent? I’ve not consented to much of anything that government has done in my lifetime, let alone what was fait accompli before I was born.

          M

          • Exactly. Armed revolution is not an individual past time, and short of that, how do you stop the train?

            • You get as far away from the locomotive as possible and pull the brake cord. Let those who just had to ride in the front take the impact.

              And while armed revolution may not be an individual pastime, it can be crowdsourced. Doesn’t matter what the King decrees if his minions who live down the street are afraid their neighbors might individually take action against those who choose to carry them out.

            • William O. B'Livion

              You can’t stop the train. It’s *going* to wreck.

              All you can do is diversify income streams, develop as much self-reliance as possible and hope that piece can be picked up afterwards. Or that you can hold out long enough to die comfortably and your kids can adjust to the “new normal”.

              EVERYONE lost the cold war.

              • I’m coming to the conclusion it’s going to crash. Which is actually the theme of this post, once I get caffeinated. The thing is, crashes don’t happen to everyone, and certainly not at the same time, and some people do very well in crashes without being at all immoral but because they’re needed in crashes. (People who have real skills — like the rest of my family. Me only if people need carpentry — and storytellers, because they give you a chance to escape.)

          • I mean, I can say “we should have talked earlier” but even that… we were young and barely surviving and there were no blogs. What good would it have done/

            • If the country does not change course and plunges off the cliff, it will ease my mind a bit to know that at least I spoke up.

              Cold comfort, true, but better than no comfort at all.

    • For us it just has the added irony that we ALSO never got any of the benefits. We were that dangerous “materialistic” generation that must be kept out of all arts, etc, on the basis of AGE alone…

      • 1961– yes, materialistic– yea It was definitely a backlash against the generation that sang and danced naked in the fields. The group that brought us perverted sexual practices and a large amount of STDs. imho

        • William O. B'Livion

          Naw, those perverted sexual practices are *ancient*. They just insist they be allowed to do them on the sidewalk instead of in basement of some dingy club.

          And as to the large amount of STDs, check European Royalty.

          • In the 1950s, there were five STDs. Now there are over fifty. Believe you me, at least part of that is an expanded ecological niche.

            • William O. B'Livion

              When I were a kid they were called “venereal diseases”. Changing the term to STD allows the bucket to get bigger.

              Some of those 50 were there all along we just couldn’t/didn’t see them, and some of them were in different classifications.

              HPV, for example (of which there are many strains), isn’t new, it’s just that it’s primary symptom (cancer) is a disease in it’s own right and hits different sexes in different places. Some are STDs if you get them from sex, but not if you get them from gym mats (Molluscum contagiosum for example).

              • It took a lot of digging for me to find the bleeping data, but the forms of HPV that make warts aren’t associated with higher rates of cancer. (Most sources don’t do any kind of breakdown on specific strains; it’s been a while, but I believe I found most of it on the gov’t health websites.) The infamous vaccine that so many mommy gov’t types wanted to use on teenage girls before they’d be allowed in school blocks a couple (I believe one only blocks a single strain, though it’s found with something like 75% of the HPV associated cancers) of the cancer-associated ones.

                Doesn’t hurt your point any, but I thought it worth mentioning.

                • I think he means canker — however it’s spelled.

                  • Pretty sure he means cancer, just because he did call it “HPV”; the justification for the attempted forced vaccinations with a very new vaccine were on the theme of “you don’t WANT your daughter to die of cancer, do you?!?!”

                    The slight-of-hand is that genital warts (caused by some strains of it) are related to cancer (associated with other strains). Note: not his slight of hand, most sources of reporting have it.

                    There’s actually a lot of argument about if HPV actually does cause cancer, since the same form shows up without HPV, and there’s some evidence that there could be something else since the main commonality is a large number of sex partners (something else that gets lost in the noise if you group all the cancers into one glob), and it could be that the cancer just makes you more vulnerable to infection by those strains of HPV.
                    But I didn’t feel like re-doing the bleeping research, so I wasn’t going to mention it, especially since I found the junk researching Rick Perry’s background/suitability and THAT is another can of worms…. ^.^

          • Well yes– but more and more into perverted sexual practices and still on sidewalks (I had to step over one or two) Ugh… And yes, I have at least three lines of European Royalty in the family gene pool and STDs were not the only reason they were nuts. (It’s the family business.)

  10. In some ways I’m a boomer; my Father served in WWII, and my Mother’s family has long generations. OTOH, I was born in 1961, my Father was an 18th Century Liberal (a Rationalist) by preference, and wee didn’t have a TV until I was 13 years old, so I missed out on a LOT of mass programming.

    Even going to Public Schools until I hit High School, I quickly recognized that Marxism was bushwa, that ‘alternative energy’ backers had little to no conception of what they were talking about, that gun control could not work, and that much of the hoopla surrounding the ’60’s was absolute imbecility. I grew up reading Tom Wolfe, and branched out into the likes of Mencken and Twain before I hit my majority. I quickly recognized that the moral difference between the preening boomer moralists of the late 20th century and the Victorian Moralists of the 19th was not visible to the naked eye, and might well be invisible under an electron microscope.

    I commend to your attention a book called BALSAMIC DREAMS by Joe Queenan; a baby boomer’s sour take on the baby boom. I don’t agree with the man on every point, but he does make a number of them very well indeed.

    “No, you aren’t a teenager anymore. No, the Rolling Stones puffy lips t-shirt does not help. And the ponytail is actually frightening…”

    • The frightening — the rancid hippies — are those in Jagger — or Che — t shirts, ponytails and oxygen tanks. Most of our local anti-war demonstrations up to 08 — stopped now, of course! — were THOSE people.

      • What makes the rancid hippies even more revolting is that they were mentored by rancid ’30’s lefties, and picked up a lot of mannerisms and neurosis from them. The ’30’s lefty academic types learned absolutely NOTHING from the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, or any other revelation of Soviet barbarism. Those that still live (with rare, honorable exceptions) still hold on to the delusion that Communism is somehow more morally defensible than the behavior of the Mongol Hoard. As a consequence of their training at the hands of these swine, the rancid hippie academics are precisely the sort of people who justify the existence of the guillotine.

        • A lot of the Finnish of that generation did visit Soviet Union and other communist countries on a regular basis and they still could not see. They only saw and heard what they wanted. And while many publicly denounced their faith at least to some extent after those regimes fell they still keep apologizing for their stand at the time, and even for the whole ideology, saying that the communists meant well, and fundamentally it’s still an admirable way to think even if it failed in real life, and we should still take at least some parts and try to implement them.

          Most of them will never learn.

          • The three biggest mass murderers in history were two Communists and a Socialist. Nobody who thinks this was a coincidence should be trusted with anything more important than a bed of tulips.

  11. While I agree marketing might be 10 years – the reason historians, anthropologists and sociologists(ptui!) used the 18 year generation mark was to differentiate the “Lost Generation” -usually noted as 1929-1945 – from the Baby Boom generation. Excellent book by A.Y Landon – Great Expectations – looks at we who were born between 1960 – 1970 (1963 for me) as a 2nd Lost Generation because we were on the cooat tails of our older siblings. We got the left overs and we got the hand me downs – but at no point did we get the advantages of the pre-60’s kids.

    • Older siblings and in some cases parents — but the kids with boomer parents tend to be echo boomers.
      BTW, my parents were 1941 and 1944.

      • My parents were born in 1911 and 1923, respectively, and both went through the Depression. Both had a rabid hatred of FDR, and transferred it to LBJ when he became president (this in the DEEP South). I wasn’t around enough to know how they felt about Carter, but I’m sure it wasn’t terribly nice. Both died at age 80, before Obumble.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Mine were born in 1923 and 1927, while I was born in 1964 (can you say “OOPS!”?). They were never very political, though they weren’t happy with Carter, and I think were relieved when Reagan was elected. Unfortunately, my father tends to believe what he hears on TV, so he’s kind of in between on a lot of issues.

          As far as education goes, like I said elsewhere on the thread: socially, this area is behind the times, so I grew up with an education that was more like the ’50s than the ’70s. Thank goodness.

          • 1922 and 1923, they got married about three years before I was born in 1960. They were never all that political, but they did hate communism and Soviet Union. One thing I remember is that we joined the Finland-America society in the mid-70’s for a few years just because mother wanted to protest the fact that so many people we knew were members of the Finland-Soviet Union society. 😀

            School back then was pushing socialism as the ideal very strongly, the fact that I did manage to keep up resistance to the idea is probably due mostly to my mother and my reading habits, I read a lot of older books and with the newer it was often men’s adventure in which the heroes were often military veterans and the bad guys members of KGB or some other such organization, or at least had been trained by them (the meaningful literature which was recommended to us, that stuff which took a stance and examined the faults of modern society and so on was just so damn _boring_). And the fact that what I saw of the communist wonderland on those times we visited always seemed so… I think dismal would be the right word to it.

  12. Meredith Dixon

    I was born in 1962. My agemates and I were stuck with using the boomers’ worn-out school buildings, worn-out playground equipment, and worn-out programs. It happened over and over. The school got a lovely new playground for the third and fourth graders — when I was in sixth grade and not allowed to play in it. The school started exciting enrichment programs — for the classes two and three years behind mine.

    We certainly weren’t considered boomers in college. “Grades and jobs,” our professors told us scornfully. “That’s all you kids ever think about, grades and jobs.”

    And we did have reason; we graduated into the worst recession our country saw between the end of WWII and the present, a recession that seems to have been completely forgotten. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard young people say that “my” generation can’t possibly understand the economic situation of people in their 20’s now, because jobs fell into our laps as soon as we graduated, I could pay the difference between what my health insurance premium is now and what it’s going to be when Obamacare fully kicks in with those nickels.

    For the record, I was only able to land a half-time minimum wage job as my first real job after college graduation, and that was after nearly a year of searching, and I thought I was lucky to get that. Then I went to grad school, and by the time I graduated from that Reagan’s policies had worked and the economy had improved.

    Anyhow, for a little while, they called us Generation X. If you read the original book by that name, we’re the age group the author was talking about. Then the media took over that label and moved it to the youngsters born just after us, the ones who got the lovely new playground and the great enrichment programs.

    “Star Wars” is supposed to be a defining moment in the Xers’ childhood. I once read a column about how everyone in that generation fought with light sabers on the playground in elementary school. Well, I loved Star Wars too, and I even had a light saber, but I was 15 in 1977, and definitely not in elementary school.

    And then, as you say, they started calling us “boomers.” I first saw that term applied to my own age group in the Washington Post, in a large, splashy article that gave the “1946 to 1964” definition. It was 1986. I was 23. I was still in grad school. I’d still never held a full-time job, and not for lack of searching. And the headline of the article was “The Boomers Turn 40!” — all about “my” generation’s mid-life crises, and how “we” were all terribly bored with steady 9-to-5 work and seeking fulfillment outside the workplace.

    That foolishness was still going on 25 years later, when, at the age of 47, I read all about how “my” generation had now turned 65 and retired safely ahead of the Social Security crisis. Um, no. Afraid not.

    • Oh yeah. And in the arts, they hit us with “you’re old,” in our forties, when we finally broke in. “Your generation is retiring” — in fact, when I was told this, I was 41. My kids were eight and eleven — I’d JUST got to the point I had time to read again, and all the books were by and for twenty something, all about expensive shoes and sleeping around. I had no more interest in them than I did in the ones about protesting the Vietnam war…

      • As one of the first “boomers”, I look at the generations between then and now, and I don’t see too much difference. Where I DO see a major difference is between those that grew up with moral values and those that didn’t. That pretty much breaks along sociological lines between urban/suburban and rural living, with the suburbs breaking about 65/35 in favor of the urban experience. Those of us who still believe in God and guns are set apart from those that believe in neither. That crosses generational lines and even income levels. I much prefer the former, who still have a bit of common sense (although not always).

        • Add into that mix the divide between … oh, I don’t know … those who value labor and those who don’t. (?) Everybody in the ’60s seemed to be focused on college. But sometimes I’m amazed at how many classically-educated peers of mine chose to go into mechanical trades, almost as a vocation, as though making something with their hands has become akin to holy orders.

          In my day job, I’m supposed to be a salesman — according to the “up the organization,” company-man culture, the elite of business operatives. Scratch a multi-national CEO and you’ll find a salesman. But that’s not the part of my job from which I derive my own self-image. Nor is it the facet of my skill set for which my customers seek me out.

          I have put on my LinkedIn profile that I am more comfortable making things than selling them, although I can derive joy from selling things I made. It’s an attitude I find widespread in my age cohort.

          There is very definitely a divide between those who seek to make as opposed to those who seek to rule. And I can see it having a moral component. So many makers who could be rulers assert they just can’t bring themselves to do those things necessary to succeed in that arena.

          Which runs pretty far afield from the point. But, hey, it’s a riff.

          M

          • I was talking to my son about this — how sometimes after long “mind work” you just need to DO or MAKE with your hands, something solid. Something you can hold. Hence my various crafts and furniture fixing/refinishing. If we had more land I’d have a mini-farm too. I LOVE planting, but for some reason I can only make comestibles grow. I used to have a plot, beside my parents, and my veggies were always better and more than theirs (which was about ten times mine.) But the only flowers I can make grow are roses. Don’t know why

            • Because they recognize and respect things that are enjoyable if approached with respect but have thorns to punish the unwary?

            • Born 1961, I maintain (not repair, just maintain) computers for a living. The one thing that has given me the most satisfaction in the last 10 years happened this spring, when my first potato crop sprouted and the fruit trees I planted a couple of years ago bloomed for the first time.

    • Oh yeah – The worn out portable classrooms, the run down infrastructure, the equally run down curriculum, and the ever more worried looking teachers turning to the teachers union to make sure they didn’t get laid off (funny how it was OK to have 40 kid class sizes when I was in 1st or second grade, but later on anything above 25 students was equated to child abuse). I remember all that, especially growing up out here in CA, which had the native boomers plus a huge influx of immigrant boomers that my (I was born in 1962) cohort followed along behind. By the time my younger brothers went through the school system the portable classrooms were all gone and public school districts were closing down schools and selling off the land to try and keep the districts funded.

      One more thing that no one mentions nowadays that we lived through was the huge effect of runaway inflation in the US across the late 70s to early 80s, which anyone who was old enough very much internalized. When the actual purchasing power of any money put away gets inflated away to nothing, but at the same time any payments magically become lots more affordable as long as your income somewhat keeps up with the inflation rate, that colors large purchase decisions you make in your life going forward. I’ve always thought the serial housing bubbles out here (culminating in the big nationwide housing bubble in 2008) were caused at least in part by that experience by the boomer and following cohorts – basically, if they kept the money in the bank it could vanish, but if they sunk it into real estate and had a payment that same inflationary effect would leave you better off.

      Well, inflation and disco. scarred for life, we wuz.

      • You forgot Elephant Bells. As for 62 — best year evah 😉 (The husband and I are of that vintage.)

      • Birthday girl

        Interest rates! DH and I got a car loan during our first year out of college — at 19%. Yes that is 10 plus 9 percent. I think it’s now illegal for even a credit card to charge that. But it was the going rate in 1982. Just another brick in the load keeping us down.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Well, Credit Cards can still charge rates like that. Typical Credit Card rates for someone who doesn’t have the best credit is 23-29%.

          That said, even home loans during that period were up in the 12-16% range, and possibly higher in some circumstances.

          • I remember a political article from about then stating that there were people in jail for loansharking at rates below what the banks were charging for homeloans.
            Of course, me being me, my first thought was ‘wow’. My second was, “do the banks break legs if you miss a payment?”

        • Prior to the Peagan/Rostenkowski tax reform, interest on credit cards (car loans — any consumer purchase debt) was deductible if you itemized your taxes. This represented a significant incentive to run up your card balance, especially when inflation was rampant — if inflation is running 10% a 19% interest rate is effectively 9%, and less if you’re getting to deduct that full 19% interest on your taxes.

          A smart operator could convince hisself that he was actually making money on that card balance — and might have managed to do so had he exercised self-discipline and timed things right.

          • Peagan?????? Seriously, old thing. Learn to flippin’ type.

            That would be Resident Ponald Peagan.

          • One of the several effects of the Tax “Reform” Act of 1986… Removing this deduction effectively drove up the purchase price of durable goods – most notably motor vehicles.

            Then, when GHW Bush’s administration allowed credit card rates to go high to avoid the collapse of banks / savings & loans who were exposed due to a real estate bubble bursting ~1988, the consumers took a major hit in purchasing power – also not good for the purchase of durable goods…

      • Yes, on the inflation. I am to young to remember, but I constantly hear about the ‘gas shortage’ from parents. How gas was under a quarter a gallon, but then there was a ‘gas shortage’ (about when Carter came into office) as my dad always says, “It was funny, as soon as gas got up to a dollar a gallon the shortage disappeared, there was all the gas you wanted to buy.” He had bought a brand new V8 3/4 ton Ford just before the gas prices skyrocketed, and ended up trading it in a year later, because he couldn’t afford to drive it.
        Of course they bought a house and seven acres for less than you would need for a downpayment today. While they payed cash, many of their counterparts learned (and continued to teach their kids, helping cause the burst of the housing bubble) that it was better to get as big a loan as you could get now, and buy as expensive a house as you could afford, than to save up your money to buy one a few years down the road. Inflation taught them that money was a ‘use it or lose it’ proposition.

    • “Anyhow, for a little while, they called us Generation X. If you read the original book by that name, we’re the age group the author was talking about. Then the media took over that label and moved it to the youngsters born just after us, the ones who got the lovely new playground and the great enrichment programs.”
      This!
      I’m 1961. We felt that my husband had blown a great opportunity. He was calling us the “Stealth Generation,” which was a) a really good name, ’cause no one noticed us, b) cool, and c) much better than Gen X. Then that book came out about us, as Meredith notes, and we got a name and lost it all at the same time as it went to those younger than us. Sigh. If only my husband had written a book.
      I would like to nominate calling us the Stealth Generation for the reasons listed above.

    • I was born in late ’63, and so was in school when the legacy of the Johnson administrations deficit spending – which pretty much forced Nixon to take us off of the gold standard – hit hardest. Watergate may have made me a bit liberal, but Carter’s bumbling disaster cured me of that…

      What I have observed in engineering is that when you were born does affect your opportunities – just like my parents’ generation, I’ve been “too young” for the authority positions and better pay, and now, when those same folks who blocked me retire in 5 years, at ~55 I’ll be “too old” for the manager’s positions and perks…

      If I were a lawyer, I’d be stuck as Of Counsel…

      And, the damned thing is, I can see where the leftist and greed merchants hit critical mass – it was the Tax “Reform” Act of 1986, which has so screwed our manufacturing industry here in the States… It’s so draconian that it makes offshoring look like a good idea, and it killed off commercial R&D…

      We’ve got a Fed which is dedicated to propping up the Dow – Jones Index at all costs as well from that piece of bad legislation…

      So, I look for career opportunities, and try to piece together money for retirement – after being wiped out 3 times due to economic downturns – and, in my off time, I try to spread the word about the biggest nail in or coffin – with Owebamacare being the second biggest…

      • Heh. My personal disaster was the collapse of Soviet Union. Finland at that time depended to great extent from the export to Soviet Union, and we had pretty good economy during the 80’s and into early 90’s. Until the collapse, and suddenly there were no jobs. Now some years earlier I had been forced to drop out of university due to seasonal affective disorder (well, I got the official diagnosis nearly a decade later) and was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, considering I didn’t think I had any chances of finishing any studies since I was not able to concentrate on anything well enough to be able to learn it during the winter. But I could do stuff I already knew how to do, even if I was less efficient then. And I did have one degree, from a small business college, as a secretary. So I started looking for those jobs, not easy since I didn’t have any actual work experience, but for a while it still looked kind of promising. And then Soviet Union disappeared, local jobs disappeared, and the only things I could get was working as a cleaner and as a paper carrier (and with some people who had rather impressive resumes – there just were no jobs for a while). By the time things started to improve I was nearly a decade older, and still with no work experience and with a really seriously out of date schooling, and markets were flooded with a decade or two younger graduates also desperately fighting for those new jobs (and by then I had hell of a lot worse problems with that SAD too, with that it took until a few years into this century before I started to figure out what worked and what didn’t with that). So bye bye better jobs. Funny, in a way. I enjoyed seeing the collapse of Soviet Union, but that did make my life quite a bit harder than it might otherwise have been.

        • Oh, yes… the collapse of the Soviet Union did disrupt quite a few houses of cards at the time… I do wish that we had cut back on the deficit spending, rather than reallocating the deficit to vote buying schemes disguised as social programs though…

          Still, when your manufacturers are being penalized with effectively higher taxes for running a factory, unable to fully depreciate their capital improvements, and unable to sell on credit with a real interest rate, while the stock speculators get a break on their capital gains tax, and the banks got a sweetheart deal on credit card interest rates, it’s rather difficult to actually grow an economy…

    • “We certainly weren’t considered boomers in college. “Grades and jobs,” our professors told us scornfully. “That’s all you kids ever think about, grades and jobs.””

      Yes, this. My first time to college was at an Ag and Engineering school so it’s sort of understandable, but if you were at all prone to notice nuances, the pain the professors felt at our mercenary natures was fairly ubiquitous.

  13. It’s funny that we’re talking generations, because I’ve never felt like I’ve fit into mine. Being born in 86 meant that rather than being at the tail end of Generation X, I’m at the head of the Millennial generation. But there must have been some bleed over, because I’ve never shared my generation’s unbridled optimism, youthful arrogance, or reckless naivete. (all of which lead to a curious event happening in 2008 when most of them had come of voting age) I’ve never felt like a “child of the future”, but I’ve always been a cynical, obstinate cuss that views my peers as preening magpies, always fascinated by the next shiny thing to come along.

    I guess it’s typical Odd behavior to feel like an alien within your generational cohort. It’s just that when I hit those rebellious teenage years, I found my generation more oppressive than my parents, and directed my ire accordingly. I started listening to my parent’s music, watching their movies, that now I’m more comfortable with those 10-20 years my senior than others my age.

    • rawlenyanzi

      I guess it’s typical Odd behavior to feel like an alien within your generational cohort.

      Another Millennial here. I know the feeling.

    • @LGM30G
      “It’s funny that we’re talking generations, because I’ve never felt like I’ve fit into mine.”

      I was born in ’61 and never felt like a Boomer.

      • Well, it is a tendency. In Generations, pointing out the difference between the Boomers and Generation X, the authors talked about how the aims in life shifted — Boomers were something like 60 odd percentage into something philosophic, and Generation X, by the same amount were into making a good living. Which is a significant change but not total.

        In particular, it means those who would have be normal a generation earlier are now abnormal, which has effects of its own.

        • My philosophic view is that making a good living greatly aids the appreciation of philosophy. Boomers entered the workforce at a time when getting a job and keeping it were relatively easy. Large companies recruited and developed talent and promised regular advancement in pay and benefits (see: Blue Model.)

          They also never anticipated that the US dominated market would never be challenged by (for example) the Japanese, manufacturing steel, automobiles and electronics at a price and of a quality that US manufacturers, with their antiquated plants, restrictive workplace rules and unrealistic benefits burden couldn’t begin to match.

          Turns out we were enjoying a temporary advantage of having the only first-rate economy following WWII and instead of building on our lead we sat on it. William Edwards Deming only sold his strategies to the Japanese because American businesses disdained them as unnecessary.

          • Oh, yes. The Boomers were, in fact, deeply materialistic. They were just so narcissistic that they assumed they could always have enough to satiate them.

            The one that really gets me is the woman who wrote that while the sexual revolution didn’t work out so well, at least all of future history will know better. Right. You listened to history not at all, yet your awe-inspiring examples will resound down the ages.

    • I don’t think the generational labeling thing makes much bloody sense, to be quite honest. Yeah, it’s a factor, but I think there is a lot more influence that stems from where your primary cultural input came from.

      In my case, I was born in the early 1960s. However, comma, the vast majority of my cultural input came from my grandparents, who were born in the 1890s. My mom was born very late in their lives, in the late 1930s, which basically meant that when I entered school, I was waaaay out of step with the values and mores of my peers.

      The generational thing has some relevance; however, I think that there are other factors that play into this, factors that stem from who and where we got our initial “programming”, as it were. The way I see it, I probably should have been born sometime in the 1940s or late 1930s, myself–In which case, I might have fit in with my generational cohort far better than I did.

    • ’78 here, and I don’t really fit in with either X or Millenials/Y/whatever. Too cynical in the wrong ways, too idealistic in other equally wrong ways to pin to either cohort. Raised by the God and (later) guns group, so if I have a particular complaint, it’s that the Boomer teachers in High School wouldn’t shut up about “the good they did in the 60s…”

      Funny, a lot of things happened around that curious event in 2008. Let’s just say that when I came home from a tour in Germany, I felt like I didn’t recognize my country socially…

      • Born one year later (’79), but that’s pretty much me. Being raised overseas (my parents are missionaries), I never got much exposure to American culture until college anyway, and by that time I was decidedly Odd from my teenage-years diet of fantasy and science fiction reading. And I also have that mixture of cynicism and idealism that you describe, though since I don’t know you personally I can’t tell if it’s the same mix as yours. But I’ve never really fit into any of the generation categories either. Back when I was a teen I used to worry about it, now I want to smack my younger self in the head for being so clueless. 🙂

        • 79 here also, but I spent a LOT of my time growing up around people older than my parents. By birthdates they were Boomers, but as Wayne pointed out, some areas are a little behind the times, and a lot of those people that influenced me growing up came from West Virginia or rural North Carolina. Going to a dance at the schoolhouse on Saturday night, and passing a jug of moonshine they had made around in the parking lot, along with a fistfight or two was their idea of a party, not Woodstock.

  14. Born in 58, parents were born in 39 and 41. I am glad to meet your definition of not boomer but, with a caveat. I grew up in rural Ohio. Most of what is called the 60s was actually early 70s. I see people I went to school with and at least half of us were boomers in mental attitude. Not in what they got but in what they believed. I think they are idiots but, what do I know? I never swam with the other fish so my reports on the saltiness of the ocean don’t match theirs

    • Birthday girl

      We are a close match in what you describe. I went to college and was brainwashed into boomer mentality to a certain extent … with a co-existent “silent generation” culture that I got from my parents, who were tail-enders of their generation, mixing around in there as well. I got married (in a church, even!) right out of college and I was job-hunting during the Carter recession … I remember sitting on my sofa one evening wishing my husband was female so I could be politically correct … then it hit me … I was an idiot! I think that was part of a turning point for me … putting me on the path to traditional American thought and culture. It wasn’t really a long path; I had had the power to return home all along … I was just dazzled for awhile. Now the people I get along best with are elderly silent-generation folks.

      And I agree with Mr. Weatherford that a HUGE part of the cultural divide is urban-vs-rural. I was raised rural, lived urban for 12 years, am suburban now, dreaming of becoming small-town before I die. All the best people I know are rural or small-town folk. I married into a family of urbanites, and I do regret that, though it provided me with exposure that helped me understand some of that culture better. But it makes me feel dirty.

      • @Birthday Girl
        ” All the best people I know are rural or small-town folk.”

        I resemble your remark. I was born in New York City and lived in Montgomery, AL, with a high tech redneck husband, for some years before moving to a suburb of Dallas. Some of us big city/suburban folk are believers in “traditional American thought and culture.” In a city of 8 million people (when I was growing up) some of us are conservative.

  15. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    There are things that went wrong just because of that. Anytime an industry is booming, you get con artists, and in the boomers’ case the con artists often went into education.

    I knew a lot of Boomer con artists. Most of them didn’t go into education, they became Boiler Room operators. You’ll still see them, selling over-priced vacations, watered down pesticides, worthless stocks, etc.

    Or sending Viagra spam.

    The Money for Nothing con artists have always existed, there just was more of them in the Boomer Generation, just like there were more engineers.

    Wayne

    • A lot of them were in education particularly higher education. what I mean by con artists is stuff like “We’ll teach that every interpretation is alike because we don’t know nearly as much about x as our predecessors.” The student strikes further watered the curriculum as well as, after the moonshot an obsession with “science” — which at the time included some very odd ideas.
      The problem is most of those academics are still there. They moved on to victimology and… well.

      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

        A lot of them were in education particularly higher education. what I mean by con artists is stuff like “We’ll teach that every interpretation is alike because we don’t know nearly as much about x as our predecessors.”

        We didn’t see the same thing in Canada. Of course lead poisoning can have interesting side effects, including paranoia, megalomania, etc. Since your cities were more heavily populated with a higher number of vehicles burning gasoline with Tetra-Ethyl Lead, you got it worse than we did.

        Remember the riots? There were a lot of them in England and the United States. Canada missed out on most of them.

        The student strikes further watered the curriculum as well as, after the moonshot an obsession with “science” — which at the time included some very odd ideas.

        Didn’t get student strikes up here either, except in Quebec, and Quebec always has been odd.

        The problem is most of those academics are still there. They moved on to victimology and… well.

        I’ve heard a lot of victimology recently. I’m not sure what’s worse, the Conservative victimology, or the Liberal victimology. Both sides seem to be more interested in blaming someone else for their faults, then getting off their asses and doing something.

        Compare Glenn Beck and Naomi Wolfe, and really, if you take out the side specific points, they sound almost exactly the same.

        Of course we all know how cynical I am.

        Wayne

        • I can’t speak for the UK, but I’ve been told that the “riots” were greatly overblown– if you take one small mob, and show it every night for a week, it seems a lot bigger than it is; add in that they were mostly in colleges, and that there was resistance to doing anything until they got really violent, and folks here should see how it’d become a bigger problem.

          Total side comment: why do folks always try to compare the UK to the US, apples to apples? We’re, like, what; 40 times bigger and five times more populous?

          • The riots in Cincinnati were actually worse than implied on the news. I remember being surprised that the actual death toll was higher than reported. I don’t remember much, too young and living out in the country, but I do remember that

          • The late-60s protests were manufactured for the camera. You can still see their heritage in today’s coverage of abortion protests (pro & con) and TEA party rallies.

            When the media is sympathetic and the crowd small, the cameras are brought in close and the framing and lens selection make the picture seem crammed with protesters. When the MSM doesn’t approve of the protests the camera is kept back and framing of the picture will emphasize the space between participants.

            They will also slant their “estimates” of turn out, declaring “thousands” showed up (2500 is “thousands, and even if 1200 of them were counter protesters they did turn up. 2500 is also “hundreds” when the protesters are not considered legitimate by those who count, and all coverage will be sure to include the dozen or so motley counter-protesters, usually with as much attention as the larger crowd.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              … and all coverage will be sure to include the dozen or so motley counter-protesters, usually with as much attention as the larger crowd.

              Or MORE attention than to the main crowd, like one of the early TEA Party rallies in Cincinnati, where there were at least a couple thousand in attendance, and the news crew focused on the ONE counter-protester walking back and forth with a sign, shouting “O-Ba-Ma, O-Ba-Ma”. Then claimed that they “felt threatened” when bunch of people started shouting at them to turn around and report on the rally itself.

            • RES,
              I knew this technique from protests in Portugal growing up, so I suspect it’s USSR “technology”

      • What I see as I look back is a lot of people who should NEVER have been allowed into a classroom who spent years teaching kids stupid stuff. There were some (many!) who went into education not because they wanted to teach, but to avoid the draft. Some of my best friends in high school became teachers, and were very good at it. They will admit, when we’re alone and no one’s listening, that the classrooms of the ’70s and ’80s, especially, were filled with pot-smoking, hippie-thinking radicals that went into teaching to avoid going to Vietnam. They also agree that most of them are terrible teachers. Thank God the next generation won’t experience them, since most have reached retirement age, or will get there soon, but we’ve lost two generations of children who were either not taught, or were poorly taught.

        • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

          Um, yes, but how do you determine who should and shouldn’t be allowed into classrooms?

          Some of it is easy. You don’t send a sex offender with a preference for six year old girls to teach a Grade One class at an all-girls school. Having the same person teaching a University level course with no students in the sex offenders target group might work, as long as you warn the students not to bring their kids to class.

          As far as opinion issues, like Left and Right wing politics, that’s a different issue, and probably doesn’t matter all that much. Let’s face it, there are always popular trends, some of which are pretty stupid after the fact.

          Think Disco and Pet Rocks…

          Hey, a lot of people made lots of cash selling Disco and Pet Rocks, so they were successful in the short term, but long term they died, while Ball Room dancing and Barbie are still doing fine.

          Got a huge laugh this morning. The University of Windsor is closing their Social Justice Department. Stupid things like that tend to be self correcting. If there’s no value in something, it dies off. Just like eBusiness courses are dying, by being folded back into straight Business courses. Which is where they should have been all along, if it wasn’t for the bandwagon jumpers…

          Or consider AOL/Time Warner, one of the stupidest corporate mergers of all time…

          Wayne

    • What happened to education was in fact a crime… and the motive was not money but brainwashing.

    • Oh how we loved “Money for Nothing”… play the guitar on the MTV…

      For those of us in the moment in 1985 it was a wistful fantasy, like making believe you won the lottery.

  16. I’ve always suspected that although technically I am a late Boomer (born 1954, to parents both born in 1930), it was the people ten years older than me who had all the wild and crazy mind-blowing fun. By the time I got out of high school, the party was over and there was just a big mess to clean up.

    At least I did have the advantage of the old-style public education before it was totally wrecked by the popular educational heresies of the late 1960s. And my parents did not have a television in the house until 1968, and then we were only allowed to watch it on weekends, and the radio was always tuned to the local classical station.

    But I still feel like I’ve been stuck with the pan and broom, cleaning up and patching all the damage.

    • I feel the same–

    • I know that I missed out on all the “perverted sexual practices ” Cyn was describing up-thread … ** grumble **

    • It is not for nothing that the iconic Boomer song is Alice’s Restaurant — a song about a guy who made a big mess and left it for other people to pick up.

      • Clark E Myers

        “It is not for nothing that the iconic Boomer song is Alice’s Restaurant — a song about a guy who made a big mess and left it for other people to pick up.”

        I suppose. Bearing in mind that despite his part in the garbage disposal efforts with the dump closed for the holiday, Arlo Guthrie did not in fact himself tend to leave others to clean up his messes – either there

        The Troubadour series helps to support the church’s free community lunch program which is held at the church every Wednesday at Noon. On Thanksgiving, the church hosts a “Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat” for the local community. The annual “Garbage Trail Walk”, retracing the steps of Arlo and folksinger Rick Robbins (as told in the song), raises money for Huntington’s Disease research.

        or now with his favorable words for Rand Paul. My baby boomer brother has played guitar on the song at the restaurant and other such so I guess it really is iconic.

        Some say the theme is as much the follies of youth matched by the follies of age.

        • Considering that the thing took place in a town that made its bread by being picturesque for artists and tourists, and considering that Alice’s Restaurant was a business that would need the goodwill of the town and the existence of the tourism in order to survive, it’s a story about people without any understanding of basic survival skills.

          It’s also a story about the careless habits of the Sixties and early Seventies being confronted with the careful expectations of the Fifties.

  17. I posted this back in prehistoric early June:

    Some articles from prestigious institutions were published in prestigious psychology journals. Then those very same articles were resubmitted to the very same journals, except with fictitious authors at fictitious (nonprestigious) institutions. A cynic’s guess about what happened would be correct. (HT: Instapundit.)

    Comments on that post are closed, so I’ll confess my mea culpa here: the paper linked by Instapundit was published in 1982, which he did not point out and I at the time did not notice. Apparently, significant blogospheric activity happened under the misapprehension that the research is contemporary. (It certainly sounds contemporary, in which there is more than one lesson.)

    • William O. B'Livion

      What reason do you have to believe that it would be any different today?

      The only *possible* reason would be that there are more journals today, and some might be hurting for material.

      • It would probably be different today because of computerized text monitoring. Such systems have been developed because of cheating and plagiarism in the academy, by undergraduates, faculty, and those in between.

  18. Clark E Myers

    Pre boomer myself with all the men and some of the women in my parent’s circles in uniform – the dad’s army types did things like man guns on the Murmansk run – so that no doubt colored my own framing of events. That said I do believe that to refer the boomer demonstrations as anti-war is grave mistake. I do have a sib who is definitely boomer by any definition born in 1947 and at the risk of outing him had the long hair and beard (and even a salon style hair dryer at home, nothing dirty about this hippy) enjoyed marijuana and the effects of the pill on his age cohort.

    There was the occasional honorable exception, e.g. Joan Baez who kept demonstrating no matter who was winning.

    [vastly over simplifying and to forestall any further on the merits discussion in which I don’t plan to participate my own view is that when Kennedy found it necessary to kill Diem that good might come of it the U.S. should have washed its hands of the matter – don’t do evil that good may come of it – but in fact draining the evil empire was a good thing though too costly to too many]

    My own observation was that most demonstrations were victory rallies for the Soviet backed forces. (much as Fred Pohl described the Party Line for the Fall of France to Socialism) Certainly the 1975 invasion and the fall of Saigon were celebrated as victories not lamented as war crimes at say the University of Chicago. As John Kerry said in advocating for a US defeat only a few (4000?) people would suffer from a Communist victory and those few would deserve their suffering. My preferred example of the mind set is Jane Fonda who said of her own thoughts that she was in effect a typical postwar French girl – pro communist (pseudo? absorbing her ideas from those around her see e.g. Dr. Pournelle on Fonda’s intellectual regard for Tom Hayden) intellectual who simultaneously favored a communist victory and found it intolerable that the U.S. might try (surely to fail surely) where France had failed.

  19. Born in late ’61, might as well have been ’62. I was the last child of parents who were born in the ’20’s. My older siblings were born in the ’50’s. I always called myself a late boomer and therefore different. Being the daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi, I was always socially quite conservative. My problem growing up was that my schoolmates didn’t consider my father Orthodox enough. My father’s congregation only had an aisle separating the men and women, not a wall. The horror of it all! I went to small yeshivas so we didn’t have nice anythings.

    The ’80’s were my favorite decade. My paternal grandfather was one of a delegation of NY rabbis who pleaded with FDR for one strike on a concentration camp and were horribly disappointed. The Depression was the major influence on my father, he was born in 1920.

    • Do you realize there were entire villages in Portugal that converted and remained betwixt? So our local churches had men and women on different rooms OR floors? I thought this was normal.

      • I should say at the time — that I know. I mean, I can’t swear for the good reputations of my female ancestors — that though I had ancestors nearby I had none in the village proper, so I have no idea if they converted from Judaism or Islam. Though for various reasons, such as the fact that one of the great families in the area were known as “of the Moor” (female) that it was not from Islam. (It wouldn’t be a distinguishing characteristic.) Also, frankly, though the North was undoubtedly as occupied as the South, it seemed to be less willingly occupied, and most of the “real” practitioners of Islam seemed to be imports — Berber and Arab “occupiers.” Now it, was four hundred years, so… what level of mingling occurred is up to you, but I didn’t even know there were crypto muslims until we visited the extreme South of Portugal (where I swear it hits close to 100% of the population.) In the North there is an overlarge Jewish-descended population, though how many started out Jewish and how many converted after the Punic war, who knows? Apparently it was something that Phoenicians did en-masse to avoid Roman hatred, and the North of Portugal was full of Phoenician colonies. (Of course, there too it, applies, thousands of years of conversion and inter-mixing with Jewish populations… — shrug — authentic enough.)
        Of course, this sort of word and tradition archeology can be tricky. Growing up I thought a local area was known as Brazolero because someone mispelled Brazileiro — Brazilian — until I found, in an old book, the original name of the area Braz (a male name) Oleiro. Oleiro is potter. So at some point — probably Middle ages — there was such a great potter there that everyone knew it as the area where you went to buy from Braz, the potter. I was thinking about that yesterday — supermoon approaching, it was like having a spot light shine on me through the window. I must have caffeine before I write a blog post — and it occurred to me I might be doing wrong or at least dubious word archeology when I assume Alfena was Al-Fena. It’s not unusual for Elf to become Alf and of course, as I said, the North was considered part of the Celtic commonwealth (how the Phoenicians got in. Hannibal married a Celtic girl, though from further South, but he commanded the allegiance of most Celtic tribes.) The idea that the village started out as Elf-Fena (whatever Fena was, I’m not versed) makes the fact it is known for hereditary madness (mostly. I mean to the point of if someone is doing something very odd you say “Are you from Alfena?”) extremely interesting.

        • Aelf/elf would usually be Visigoths, but yes, that’s a perfectly cromulent Gothic name.

          • The Visigoths are more Spain-ward, but they’re in the list we learned for our area too: Vandalos, Suevos, Alanos, Visigodos are all I can call to mind right now, but there were another ten or so… Welcome mat of Europe. “Come on in, wipe off your DNA” 😛

            • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

              Yep, that’s Europe all right. We of European descent are all muts.

              Wayne

              • I read that as we of European descent are all nuts…. and agreed with it.

                • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

                  Um, I did mean muts. Cross breeds.

                  My dad was born in Italy. Guess what the Romans did with all the African slaves? Never mind all the Jews that migrated to Italy after the Bar Kochba revolt? Oh, and then the Roman Empire got conquered.

                  Yes, most Italians have the Kohanim Gene. And guess why we have curly, black hair, and tan like maniacs? Yep, black ancestry too. Probably Huns, Visigoths, and who knows what else is mixed in.

                  His mother was born in Argentina. She was so dark skinned, that a lot of people thought she was East Indian. I tan like her, in fact if I stay outside I turn a really deep shade of brown. For all I know her mother was fooling around with some of the gauchos, most of whom have Spanish and Native American blood. Of course most of Spain was conquered by the Moors, so Spaniards tend to have some North African blood…

                  On my mother’s side, we have England, Ireland, Scotland, and France that we know of. There’s probably other stuff in there too, because as Sarah said, you had tribes marching all over Europe, in just about every direction possible. Read Snorris Sturlson’s work on the Norse Gods, he has them down as emigrating to Europe from Asia.

                  So yes, muts is what I mean. Heinz 57 people.

                  Wayne

      • Actually, most early Christian churches, and well into the post-medieval period, had different seating (or rather, standing) areas for men and women, following the example of the synagogues. (And to be fair, Muslim mosques follow this also.) Generally it was either men up front, women (and kids) in back; men on one side, women on the other; or men on the floor, women in the gallery. (There were also different areas usually set up for catechumens, penitents, religious, vowed widows and virgins supported by the community’s alms, deaconesses, etc.) And of course only the clergy went into the altar sanctuary area.

        Some of this is very practical, as women (and kids) generally had a lot more ability to go in and out, bring blankets or cushions to sit/kneel on, etc. Some of it wasn’t. But yeah, it was a thing pretty much everywhere; and you also see it in a fair number of early American churches copying the Spanish or UK models.

        • And Byzantine women seem often to have used their gallery seats as an opportunity to mouth off audibly during the homily/sermon, or to peoplewatch, based on the historical anecdotes and bitching. (Although the guys also did a lot of rubbernecking and mouthing off, not to mention the non-church activities which preachers occasionally have to admonish right in the middle of a sermon/homily.)

          • That was older than that. There’s the famous Pauline epistle where he declares that the women are not to chatter at church.

            And medieval records have a lot of people who treated it all as a social occasion to see and be seen.

        • IIRC there were some earlier US churches with two “front doors”. One for the women & children and the other for the men.

        • In our local chapel, the men were upstairs and the women downstairs.

  20. Before I pick on anyone, Sarah, I think, from your quoted dates, that the baby boom and bust came faster and sooner in Portugal than the American equivalents. So I’m going to use slightly different names for the “similar experiences cohorts that aren’t really generations”

    (1) The term Boomer is applied to the Baby _boom_, the years with the highest population. Go look at a chart. In the US, the numbers started climbing in 1945, but 1955 to 1964 is the peak. To keep the groups separate, I’ll call them “Post War” and “Lost.”

    (2) The Post War generation had parents that mostly fought in WWII or worked in the war economy.

    (3) The Lost generations parents tended to have been too young for the war. They were the other original lost generation, the generation of privation. Depression, Dust Bowl, WWII shortages, rationing. Raised without, they did their damnedest to give their kids everything they hadn’t had as children.

    (4) This is also true of a lot of the PW’s parents. This is why so many of _both_ generations were spoiled. It wasn’t prosperity, per se, it was our parents over compensating.

    I’m a “Classic Boomer”, a post war baby of a Vet who’d gone through college on the GI Bill. Our upbringing was . . . very uneven.
    _Here_ we didn’t fear another European war. We had nuclear bomb drills in elementary school. I don’t think another land war in Europe was _popularly_ believed to be possible in the Cold War era. The government might have considered it possible.

    As teenagers, we didn’t have the vote, but we did have the draft. We all tried to get into colleges, not because we were so privileged, but because we didn’t want to become one of those numbers we heard every night on the news. We marched because we didn’t want to die—or for us female types, see our brothers, neighbors, boyfriends die—we wanted to at least be able to vote if “they” expected us to die to fix their French Appeasing post WWII mistakes.

    Yeah, a whole lot of us fell for Soviet propaganda. Hard not to. The stupidity of our own leaders primed us for it. And yeah, our protests were more useful for them than us.

    You “Lost” generation? Let’s see, the oldest of you would have been about twelve when the draft ended. Well, depending on when you split the “generations.” The oldest of you probably spent your senior year in high school with a bad case of anxiety. I’m glad you missed the war. Truly.

    The joys of stagflation. Yeah, just great for your—and my—parents. You know, the home owners. Those of us saving up for the first down payment? Between general inflation and rent hikes? Ciao, baby. But you blame it on us anyway. I’m sorry you graduated into that mess. But Jimmy Carter was a “Greatest” generation baby. Only Clinton and Bush II have been Post War generation.

    And teachers. “Losters”, when you started elementary, the oldest of the Post War babies were twenty-two. Some of them might have been out of college and teaching. But most of your teachers were the “Privation” or “Greatest” generation. By the time you were in high school, the roll over to “Post War” teachers would have been under way, but far from complete. Do the math.

    Let’s see, what else do we get blamed for. Ah. Social Security and Medi/Obamacare. Why do you think we’re saying “Gimme?” What I hear is “doubt SS will be there for us” and “Oh great, now we get to pay for “Suddenly legal” immigrants’ medical care, along with the career welfare recipients’ medical care we’ve been paying for all our working lives.” And we’re still paying. And we’re saving for retirement—ignore those whispers about the governemnt grabbing IRAs, they wouldn’t take the savings of hard workers and give them to the poor. Right?

    Oh, we’re _starting_ to retire. Some of us are getting some payback. How horrible—except I keep hearing that we ought to hurry up and retire (or better yet, just die) so OWSers can find jobs. Guess that would be a ripple effect, you Losters can fill our shoes and so forth . . .

    Every generation has challenges. Every sub-generation has different challenges. I don’t know why you Losters (keep typing Lobsters, it’s more melodious, sorry) think “the Boomers” however you define them, coasted through of clouds of ease.

    We didn’t.

  21. “… My generation – those born, say 57 on to 67…”

    That’s problem one: A generation is approximately twenty years, not ten, unless the median age for girls having babies is ten.

    Problem two: Generation labeling is absurd. What are the cutoffs? How were they chosen? Can there be overlaps or gaps between labeled generations?

    It’s more sensible to use less specific terms such as era, and, when significant, describe the similarities among and unique attributes of those born in the era. Examples: Great Depression era (1931-1941), WWII era, post-WWII era, Cold War era, post-birth control pill era, Vietnam war era, post-AIDS era, etc. This system allows flexibility in the number of years, overlap of time periods, and sensible names (instead of horrid ones such as “generation X”).

  22. PJ O’Rourke and WKRP in Cincinnati references in the same sentence for the win!

  23. Wow, the second Mafalda reference I’ve run across in two days. I used to try to read the books when I was learning Spanish. There was always a sense of worry and lostness to the strip. There was always a level of disconnect in understanding behind a lot of the conflicts, a large part of it was as a child not understanding the things adults take for granted.
    The one I think of most was where Mafalda’s little brother, Guille, drew a large square on the floor, plunked the phone and a phonebook in it, drew a mustache on his upper lip, sat down and declared, “This is my office!”. There are times when I plomped myself down in my cubicle with the phone and computer and stacks of files, I wanted to glare around and announce that too ( Herman Miller cubes always make me think of play-forts).

  24. Last week when Dan came by with your younger son we had one of those conversations with our kids where they didn’t think we could understand the unemployment problems of the recently graduated. We laughed and told stories about things like our first mortgage in 1985 which was 11.5%, and we were happy to get it since it was coming down from 13%. And how we danced when we refinanced it down to 9%. LOL Dan had a few stories of his own. The kids laughed so I’m not sure they believed us.

    Oh, and 1962 here.

    • oh yeah, our first mortgage 88 was 10.5. I got a retail job (not much in translation around Charlotte, NC that I could find, though later on I DID) that paid 1.50 — I THINK — an hour. I remember if I missed a day it cost me $20. I know this because my late BIL was in town and wanted to talk (he was a D & D gamer and read SF) and hang out and he offered to make up my money loss, if I took the day off. I don’t think I did. Anyway, that helped pay for our mortgage.

      • William O. B'Livion

        By 1988 minimum wage was at least 3.35 an hour for non-tipped employees.

        Of course, at that time I was in the Marines, and it worked out to ~2.50 an hour IIRC (we weren’t working 40 hour weeks).

    • A bit older than you, Dan and Sarah, so I’ve the same stories. But I am a bit sympathetic to the problems young people have finding work currently. When I was a kid, I could always find work (while in high school and the first year or so of college, I worked doing mechanical inspection which I could get because I could read blueprints and use micrometers and calipers competently). And back then young people could always find some work, not necessarily well paid.

      But our society has so over-regulated youth employment, so burdened employers with regulatory overhead and extra costs, that employers can’t afford to hire unskilled people any longer. And so its very difficult for young people to find work, both to supplement while in school and in starting a career.

      There seems to be no interest in really addressing this issue in our political class – largely because their children get work through cronies.

    • William O. B'Livion

      I worked with a lazy, whiny ass bitch in sillycon valley who was INDIGENT that the banks were allowed to charge *6%* interest. This would have been in 2006, right as the housing crash was starting, at least in part because idiots like him bought ~300k homes with 0 down loans and 80 mile round trip commutes working start-up jobs. (to be fair there were other reasons–like idiot boomers who put in the Mark To Market rules that locked up the capital markets and con artists in the mortgage industry “helping” the lower middle class and upper lower class folks “properly” fill out their loan applications so they’ll get approved AND Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac buying anything that vaguely looked like a conforming loan.

      Sorry, tangent.

  25. Incidentally, kind of funny to see so many “normal” people here are the age of my husband’s parents. 😉 Even on line, I end up hanging around the “grown ups.”

  26. Don’t know what “generation” I’m supposed to be in — don’t care, as I don’t fit in, anyway. (I notice that of the people here who have posted birth-years, the nearest to mine — *very* end of 1972 — is a full six years out.)

    I go by “what did the people I associated with do for the planet?” In my case: My people put human beings on the Moon, and spacecraft on Mars. Top that trump, mo-fos. 🙂

    A distant second is “what events most influenced you?” — in my case: If I ever meet Steven Spielberg, I am going to beat the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed shit out of him. And since I have yet to meet anyone else who shares this particular problem (despite The SO telling me “it’s commonplace” among folk my age), I am going to operate on the assumption that even in this crowd, I Do Not Fit In.

    • For Star Wars? I’ll join in. I’ve spent my entire life with people assuming I like Star Wars. I was reading “real” SF when it came out, and I detested its getting agglutinated as “Star Wars” which is a fairy tale in space. Eh. Dan likes it, heaven knows why. He took me to see it again when it was re-released. Only time I fell asleep in a movie theater.
      Sorry — I’m weird that way. I can make the references and the jokes, but the movies did nothing for me.

      • Sarah, the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977. I drove 50 miles to the nearest large city just to see what everyone was talking about. Entered the theater half way through the flick and stood for the remaining time until it ended then sat down and watched the full thing again.
        You have to understand, I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s on a steady diet of the lamest of “B” movies imaginable. The best of them the equivalent of early Doctor Who episodes. With Star Wars it wasn’t the story at all, it was the production values. Someone was finally taking the genre seriously enough to invest real money in the production.
        Of course we later learned what excellent production values, a fine story, and an incompetent (some would say evil) director could produce, that foul piece of scheiss “Starship Troopers.”

        • Wayne Blackburn

          I’m glad you explained that, because I was getting nowhere trying to figure out how to say it.

        • Well
          My brother loved Star Wars, and he was older than I. (It got to Portugal in 79, btw.) Call it my not being particularly visual, if you will, but I thought that the values needed a story behind them. It was a fairytale in space and some awfully rotten 70s nonsense woven in. (In space, we all wear homespun!) As someone who read Heinlein, and even Simak and Anderson, and yeah, even Asimov, I found the whole thing lacking.
          BUT again, I’m not visual, and as such I like very few movies. I forgive a lot to movies I like, though, like the sheer setup insanity of Independence Day.

          • It is a fairytale in space– he directly copied pretty much formulatically from the Cycle of A Hero by I can’t remember the first name Campbell.

            It’s not hard scifi, it’s fantasy-science fiction; if you really like hard scifi, it won’t be for you.

            The three movies that are all we have will have to do. 😉 (Prequels? What prequels, you mean the books that are all checked out so they’re canon?)

            • I’m not a hard scifi person. I’m a hard speculative SF person — meaning, I like to see some “and this is how we got here, and these are the relevant societal trends.” — I’m an history geek, is all.

            • Eh, it’s SF. The problem with defining genres by the spirit not the trappings is that it lets the politically minded exclude their opponents. Which is why we have subgenres like hard SF and space opera.

              If there’s a zeppelin, it’s alternate history. If there’s a rocketship, it’s science fiction. If there are swords and/or horses, it’s fantasy. A book with swords and horses in it can be turned into science fiction by adding a rocketship to the mix. If a book has a rocketship in it, the only thing that can turn it back into fantasy is the Holy Grail.
              — Debra Doyle

              • If asked, I’d class it as scifi– but when folks are poking at what precise sort of scifi it is, it is a fairytale in space.

                I gotta disagree with that quote on one thing– the Grail doesn’t make something fantasy when there’s spaceships involved!

          • To the first point above, while slugging Stephen Spielberg may in itself be a worthy goal (Crystal Skulls? Really?), it’s nowhere near the penultimate drubbing George Lucas deserves for a whole raft of offences, to include Star Wars Eps 1-3 as well as the Ewoks.

            As to Star Wars Ep. 4 as originally presented – I remember sitting in the theater when I first saw it, thinking “Wow, normal people going to space! Ships that have been used and abused to the extent they are worn looking and a bit dingy! A story (and I grant there’s not much Science in the supposedly SF original Star Wars) where the filmmakers did not feel the need to insert long boring explanations of how this or that gizmo works, instead just steamroller ahead and tell a story!”

            Recall, the only other big budget move before the 1977 premiere of Star Wars was 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is a great watch if you are a stoned hippie, but otherwise is a damn dull movie about the IT tribulations of a couple high caste government employees.

            I actually think The Empire Strikes Back is a better movie than Star Wars, but the original still ranks right up there for me as a storytelling experience.

            He’s done many bad things since, and the underlying story may in fact be fantasy and magic with the trappings of science, but I think George Lucas got that first movie right.

            • Would you believe I COnflated the two of them? NOT ENOUGH COFFEE. Also they’re both “people who annoy me.” Now mention Kevin Costner and I’ll start foaming at the mouth.

              George Lucas and Spielberg are the same person. Little known fact. The appearance of being two men is just a ruse. 😉

              • Little known fact – Steven Spielberg had Kevin Costner shot through the eye in Saving Ryan’s Privates (Kevin Costner played the uncredited role of the German sniper in the church belltower who is removed from the plot by the American sniper).

            • You are far from alone in thinking Empire better.

              • Dear Husband and I just sort of merge all three trilogies into one story– there’s “Star Wars” and then there’s the bad fan fiction written by someone who heard about the universe a few times….

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Criminy, yes, actual Science Fiction was woefully lacking in that movie. But Action! Adventure! Swashbuckling in Space!

            • see, part of what got under my skin WAS that it billed as SF and “wasn’t.” This means forever then — remember SF in Portugal… okay, it would be like you here reading, I don’t know, exclusively hello kitty fanfic. It was that niche in Portugal in the seventies and eighties — when I said “No, I’m not reading romance, this is science fiction” people nodded knowingly and said, “Ah, Star Wars.” NOW you know why I hated the d*mn thing.

    • I didn’t state my birth year, because I’m not even close to anybody– ’83.

      I like Star Wars, though I’m more of a trekkie; I find the guy to be greatly, greatly overblown. Like, makes the Beatles look just a tiny bit over-rated type overblown.

      • Oh, yeah — I like Star Trek better, even though it’s more lefty. But it has fewer pretensions, I guess. Or it did when it started out. I confess New generation started on the psi stuff and I exited pursued by a bear.

      • Arwen Riddle

        I’m end of ’82 so you aren’t completely alone here. 🙂

        • BABIES. You guys could be my kids, if Dan and I had got our act together at the end of High School, instead of deciding to be at cross purposes for four years. (Well, and if I weren’t as infertile as a small rock in the Sahara desert.)

          • My brother’s daughter is almost a teen; it’s blowing my mind….

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Heh. One of my college friends, who is my age, has a daughter (I think) 5 years older than you. Yeah, she had the baby when she was 14…

              • I horrified my first Navy supervisor when we figured out my folks are older than his grandma– she and his mom both had teen pregnancies, although of the legal sort IIRC.

    • I’m two years earlier than you.

      • 1980, but my parents were born in ’38 and ’44 (both grandfathers worked in what were considered critical fields-one built tanks, the other built antibiotics). I always had the oldest parents of anyone my age, and as a kid I preferred to socialize with adults.
        I lately noticed something that seems odd to me, in my mom’s family: my mom and my uncle are war babies, my two aunts are boomers. Mom and uncle are between fairly and off-the-deep-end conservative, my aunts are off-the-deep-end-liberal. My uncle’s kids and I have decent, functional relationships with our parents. My aunts’ kids barely exchange cards with their parents. But uncle’s kids are a good decade-and-a-half older than I am, while aunts’ kids are spaced through the middle, with youngest aunt’s kid being only a year older than I.

    • 1979 here, so I can join CF, Foxfier and suburbanbanshee at the kids’ table in the “younger crowd”.

    • 48. The year, not my age.

  27. I confess to being a Boomer and to participating in mass demonstrations in college and to having been tear-gassed in a riot.

    The first moment of doubt about it all came in 1976 when a professional soccer team came to town. Soccer being such a new sport to us Americans, I expected that the only people open-minded enough to show up would be liberal or leftist Boomers like me. But a funny thing happened on the way to the stadium. The people who were there were ten years younger than me and were to the right of me politically. There were frat boys and sorority girls and people in the military. Yes, there were some Boomers, but they were there with their little children and didn’t look a bit political. What I thought of as my cohort wasn’t there at all.

    My gripe with the next generation is that you aren’t talking about this. You need to puncture my generation’s belief in its moral superiority. You need to say to them, “You had a chance back in the 1970s to prove you were open-minded, and you failed. In fact, you are still failing (multiculturalism in this country is really multiculturalism-except-for-sports). Can’t you please just shut up and go away?”

    I would appreciate it if you were to say that as often as possible.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Can’t puncture it mate. That’s solid scrith. Have to get an asteroid moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light to punch through.

  28. BTW, my parents were born in 31 and 34. This is why I’m not an engineer. I do the most spectacular stuff to numbers in my head. Making them ten years younger would make my brother (born EARLY 54, as in at the beginning of January) a miracle (and vaguely creepy) baby. An anthropological note. Even my brother was kind of late (by two years or so) for my parents’ generation in Portugal. As for me, even though my parents didn’t age fast, people didn’t know what to make of me (I was born late 62. I tend to say my brother and I are 10 years apart. In some ways it’s more than that since he was entering Highschool the year I was born — my parents were offered the chance to advance me, also, in elementary, but I was too sickly for them to risk it. I don’t grudge it. Between that and the fact that high school meant traveling to the city alone on public bus, they did the right thing. Of course, if I’d advanced, I’d have missed all the post modernism.) Shopkeepers routinely said something like “Ask daddy er… grandaddy… er… uncle?”

  29. Part of the problem in defining “Boomers” is what we have already discussed: the arbitrariness of chronological dating of generations, the rural/urban divide and the prevailing influences (certain texts and ideas propagated first in California and the NE.)

    A better term than Boomer Generation might be Boomer Culture. This recognizes the Boomer problem as not being a matter of age, location or formative experience so much as it represents a set of attitudes and beliefs. Like Surfer Culture or Jock Culture, Boomer Culture is identifiable by a set of predispositions, shared premises and philosophies. Not all in the generation during which Boomerism arose are Boomers, and not all Boomers grew up in that environment.

    Another element of “defining” generations would utilize significant common experiences. The shooting of JFK, the moon landing, Easy Rider, Watergate — all these were shared experiences of a generation, just as the Carter malAdministration, Star Wars (aka: the development of decent SFX in Science Fiction movies), Reagan’s shooting and the CHallenger explosion define a different generation. And, of course, Monica Lewinsky and 9/11 mark another generation.