Because I know you like it, let me lay some demographics on you. We are looking at two groups of Americans: one has lost 13% of its net worth since 2005; the other lost 37% over the same period. Since 1984, the median household worth of one has increased by 42%, while the worth of the other has declined by 68%. One has seen its share of the workforce increase since 2008. The other suffers unemployment at a rate 50% higher than the national average. And one of these groups claims to have invented rock and roll—no, not white people. We are talking about the differences between people over 65 and people under 35. All these fun statistics come from this article by Joel Kotkin, cheerfully titled “Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?”
There is something wrong with Matt Pearce’s brain. I know because I read his article in the Los Angeles Times about hipster racism, which is apparently now a real thing. By real thing, I mean imagined thing reported extensively as an epiphenomenon of our own awareness of it. If that sounds maybe kind of abstract, it’s because it totally is. Educated young people are still racist, but hipster racism is an abstract noun modified by a made-up adjective. It’s like when you try to read a clock in a dream: the closer you look at it, the blurrier it gets. Consider the lead paragraph of Pearce’s article:
The Trayvon Martin case, the”Kony 2012″ phenomenon, the L.A. riots anniversary…The conversation about race in America never went away. Now a new discussion about so-called hipster racism has brought the talk to the millennials, and it’s gotten a little awkward.
I’m so angry right now.
The New York Times once again stretches its credulity to stretch ours with this article about student plagiarism, whose central thesis seems to be that kids today don’t understand the concept of authorship. Props to Mike Sebba for the link. The article contains the usual professorial stories about hilariously obvious student copying, including this classic font-shift tell:
The tip-off to one student’s copying was the purple shade of several paragraphs he had lifted from the Web; when confronted by a writing tutor his professor had sent him to, he was not defensive — he just wanted to know how to change purple text to black.
First of all, way to hand the problem off to the writing tutor, professor who does not want to have to go to academic court. Second, the article considers this and other anecdotal instances of egregious ripoff—plus the omnipresent recent surveys, in which the number of respondents who say that copying from websites constitutes “serious cheating” declined from 34% to 29%—and concludes that modern college students don’t understand the concept of plagiarism. Guess why? If you said “the Internet,” then congratulations—you’re ready to write trend pieces for the New York Times. Here’s your Zune.
The New York Times managed to make me feel both sad and angry—my two basic emotions!—with this article about the career prospects of recent college graduates as compared to their counterparts in previous generations. That’s the sad part. The angry part comes with Louis Uchitelle’s framing device, which wisely presents the article’s many surprising/dry economic statistics in the context of one particular Millennial, Scott Nicholson. If he still hasn’t found work, I suggest Nicholson hire himself out as the world’s least sympathetic protagonist. He graduated from Colgate in 2008 and has lived with his parents since, unable to find work. He also just turned down a job with Hanover Insurance Group that would have paid him $40,000 a year.
It’s Friday, when the week that is becomes the week that was and the work that waits is the week that ends. Or something like that. In addition to hiring Rudyard Kipling’s incompetent great-grandson, Rupert Kipling, to write our lead sentences, Combat! blog has been inundated this week with stories of various fins de siecle. Reporting on the aftermath of the end of things is a journalistic pursuit second in popularity only to predicting the end of things, which pretty much take care of all points on the spectrum. It’s a scam, but everybody loves a good postmortem. A widow is the chattiest person you’ll ever meet, and in that spirit today’s link roundup is a collection of stuff about other stuff being over. Lord knows, it’s less ominous news than hearing a bunch of stuff is beginning.