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by Rob Horning

2 Dec 2008

Many someone should ask financial analyst James Quinn what he really thinks of Baby Boomers:

Of course, not all Baby Boomers are shallow, greedy, and corrupt. Mostly Boomers with power and wealth fall into this category. There were 76 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1963. They now make up 28% of the U.S. population. Their impact on America is undeniable. The defining events of their generation have been the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, Kent State, Woodstock, the 1st man on the moon, and now the collapse of our Ponzi scheme financial system. They rebelled against their parents, protested the Vietnam War, and settled down in 2,300 square foot cookie cutter McMansions with perfectly manicured lawns, in mall infested suburbia. They have raised overscheduled spoiled children, moved up the corporate ladder by pushing paper rather than making things, lived above their means in order to keep up with their neighbors, bought whatever they wanted using debt, and never worried about the future. Over optimism, unrealistic assumptions, selfishness and conspicuous consumption have been their defining characteristics.

It’s hard to disagree with any of the analysis, though the tone is occasionally scarily combative. I wonder whether as the recession worsens or drags on, if such sentiment will spread from the disgruntled-analyst sector to the younger generations at large, whether it will shape policy toward the social safety net for the elderly: Will we say, the Boomers blew their chance and lived beyond their means; if they don’t get the Social Security benefits they expected, then tough shit. It’s natural to want to hold irresponsible borrowers responsible for our overleveraged economy, especially since, as Rebecca Wilder points out here, household debt has yet to drop: “lax lending standards on credit cards allowed consumers to become overly indebted to credit card creditors. Interestingly enough, revolving consumer credit was still 43% of overall credit on November 12, 2008. When will it fall?”

But in many ways, the forces that have driven us into debt are systemic, institutional—the interlocking forces of assets replacing savings for many families, of status hinging on consumption levels, of the service economy supplanting heavier industry, of more aggressive omnipresent marketing, etc. But I wonder whether there is cyclical generational component to attitudes toward consumerism. As part of the generational warfare, the practices of frugality have been co-opted by hipsterism as a kind of ironic, oppositional stance to the boomer generation. In the 1960s, boomers allegedly rejected their parents’ prudent austerity for hedonism, reconceived as the essence of freedom. Perhaps those of us born in the 1960s and 1970s will now war against that hedonism (which turned into financial imprudence) out of necessity, but we will feel all righteous about it as if it were our generation-defining choice.

by Chris Barsanti

2 Dec 2008

This is the kind of book that every film critic wants to write, and every film buff needs to have. Compiled with start-and-stop care over many years by David Thomson, the astoundingly prolific and smartly opinionated (what laypeople would call “idiosyncratic”) whose Biographical Dictionary of Film is another must-own, it’s little more than a massive and massively inviting introduction to a thousand films worth seeing. Starting with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (described as “a kind of going-out-of-business sale at what was then Universal Studios”) and finishing up with Zabriskie Point (“It would have been so much more coherent if Antonioni had been free of script or actors”), the tome gives one plenty of reasons to keep the Netflix queue piled high with hundreds films you always meant to see, and excuses to avoid those you had been avoiding.

AMAZON

by Jason Cook

2 Dec 2008

What do you buy for the sports gamers on your list? They already snagged Madden on launch day. They have already chosen between the latest MVP Baseball or MLB 2K8. They have already logged hours on NBA 2K9. Despite cries of the sport it’s based on being “boring,” FIFA Soccer 2009 may be the answer. Once the bridesmaid to the Winning Eleven series, FIFA has steadily improved over the past few years—culminating in this year’s superb installment that makes it the soccer simulation to own this year. With a deeply complex control scheme, over 500 teams (41 national teams), online play and an innovative feature that updates player stats to reflect their real-life performance, this is a must-own title for any true soccer fan. The inclusion of MLS teams (Beckham!), spectacular player animations, controls that are easy enough to get into, but take time to master, and fluid, satisfying game play and a host of over improvements then turn FIFA into a title that has a good chance to convert even the most green of futbol fans.

AMAZON

by J.M. Suarez

2 Dec 2008

The Lemonheads released It’s a Shame About Ray in 1992 and 16 years later it’s gotten the Collector’s Edition treatment. For an album that clocks in at just under 30 minutes, its raucous energy and catchy melodies makes it sound fuller than one might expect -– this album has held up very well. The Collector’s Edition contains demos of almost all the tracks and a second disc DVD that includes videos from this album, as well as from Lovey and Come On Feel the Lemonheads. The 1993 documentary, Two Weeks in Australia, is also included.  This re-release is an opportunity for old fans to rediscover a great album and for new fans to discover an underrated gem.

AMAZON

by Karen Zarker

2 Dec 2008

The third and equally worthy installment in The Intellectual Devotional series, this is the book that will give your trivia-loving know-it-all an edge. That’s obvious. But anybody post-BA with an active mind will benefit from a revisit to the concepts (neoconservativism), movements (busing), trends (Beatlemania) and individuals (Rupert Murdoch), to name but a few highlights of modern culture. Equal parts reminder, rediscovery and ‘I never new that’ illuminating, these 365 daily readings will prompt ‘Did you know that ...?’  conversation for, well, at least the year to come.

AMAZON

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

READ the article