CSotD: Looking to our future, and our past

The week begins at Candorville with Lemont facing the start of school for his son and making a decision.

It’s long been hard to time Back-to-School gags, because the start of school, once pretty much pinned as “just after Labor Day,” is now scattered all over the calendar.

That’s still true during the pandemic, so that, while some schools are just starting up, others are already shutting down because they’ve had their first outbreaks of Covid-19.

I know several teachers who are deeply disturbed over the mechanics of safe opening, and one teaching couple who have simply decided it’s too much of a threat to their own kids and so have resigned.

I don’t know what their plans are for food and mortgage and such things, but they’re just the kind of bright young teachers our schools need, meaning that (A) I suspect they’ll figure out something and (B) they represent a real loss for the district, and for its kids.


David Horsey offers this form of alternative education, and it comes along just as I saw something on line about how, back in the days before phones and screens, kids went outside and played.

It made me sad, because it raises the question of “Who’s stopping them?” and also because I kind of suspect a lot of kids — at least those who live where backyards are accessible — still go outside and shame on the parents who don’t limit screentime and kick their little ones outside for a time.

Then again, I grew up in a world of half a dozen TV channels that featured kids’ programming from about 3 to 6 pm, which was a pretty strong incentive to go do something else, and even my kids, now in their 40s, didn’t have cable until they were around 9 or 10 and had already built a habit of playing outside.

It was also a world in which personal economics were such that people could get by on a single income so the other parent could be home to say, “Shut that off now and go play.”

Anyone who thinks opening up the schools is about education has greatly underestimated universal education’s role in providing free daycare for the tireless cogs who make our system work.

We have long since sold out our birthright for a bowl of pottage.


Meanwhile, Nick Anderson reminds us that, whatever the merits of Trump’s theory that little kids can’t be harmed by the virus, there are still hazards in his theory that getting everything back to normal will get everything back to normal.


And Steve Sack commemorates this week’s Festival of Denial in Sturgis.

Having never been to the rally, I can only guess that a lot of people spend a lot of time roaring around town proving that loud pipes save lives, which might be true, because the real hazard will be in the bars once you get off your bike and start congregating.

It would sure be easier to contain the virus if catching it made you explode on the spot, because whatever happens in Sturgis, or on southern beaches or elsewhere doesn’t happen quickly enough to get through to people.

I’m thinking along the lines of an old film that used ping pong balls and mousetraps to demonstrate chain reaction: There was a roomful of mousetraps with ping pong balls balanced on them, and then someone tossed in another ping pong ball and they started flinging balls around setting each other off.

Oh, look! Someone made a new one!

Well, the Lord works in strange ways, but, unfortunately, he doesn’t often work in such obvious ones. If anything, he seems to delight in seeing how much we’re willing to deny.

Hence Eliot’s observation that the world ends not with a bang but a whimper, filtered through a breathing tube.

And hence, too, my observation that, if there is a god, he must have noticed that, of his first four people, one of them was gullible, another was so spineless that he went along with the obvious folly, and a third was righteous so the fourth bashed in his skull.

We’re just honoring our heritage.


Meanwhile, Steve Kelley swirls the clouds of mystery around his age, because he apparently grew up in an America where nobody took to the streets and certainly didn’t indulge in provocative acts like burning flags.

Nobody protested war. Nobody burned Newark or Detroit or Watts.

I don’t know what once-great America it is that MAGAts long for, but, having lived here nearly three-quarters of a century myself, it’s no place I recognize.

There is, of course, the myth that the Cleaver family had no problems, but that show dealt with things like alcoholism and poverty and how some people have nice things and other people don’t and how you should be grateful for your privilege.

Even Dobie Gillis — whose family was very blue-collar — had a beatnik friend to counteract Chatsworth Osborne, Jr. and an intellectual closeted lesbian gal-pal to warn him against falling for spoiled, air-headed Thalia Menninger.

Then again, there weren’t any knee-grows, and the only Latino was the McCoy’s farmhand, Pepino.

So I leave it up to you to decide what it was the MAGAts think made America so great, back in anybody’s lifetime.

But let’s not close without a smile, and it happens that just the other day I explained this 1963 clip from the Dick Van Dyke Show, which long held the record for longest live-audience laugh — and applause — in television, to an adult too young to understand the world in which it was revolutionary.

Thank god.

(Set up: After a series of mistaken flower and fruit deliveries to another family at the hospital, Rob becomes convinced that the Petrie and Peters babies were also switched.  Full episode in full color here.)



8 thoughts on “CSotD: Looking to our future, and our past

  1. My brother, a lonnnnnng time ago, went to Sturgis with his buddy on their ‘cycles.

    They turned around a few miles shy of the city, as they passed numerous people unloading their shiny Harleys off the backs of trailers, to ride the few miles into town, while my brother and his friend had driven from Wisconsin, with unshowered bodies and insects in their teeth.

  2. Word on the street (well, on Wikipedia) is that Greg Morris walked out of the Mission Impossible Tom Cruise movie, which I never walked into. Somebody was streaming the old show a few years ago and it still holds up pretty well.

    Oh, thank you, Mark — indeed that’s it! Made quite an impression on this seven-year-old or however old I was when they showed it on TV.

    And, Robb, I had a GF (still got her somewhere around here if the pandemic ever eases up) who, like a lot of my closer three-dimensional friends, led an Interesting Life. Her contempt for the old duffers who motored in for Lake George’s rally with their wives and their tricked-out bikes was palpable. The Harleys she’d sat on the back of didn’t have fancy fairings, much less any damn teddy bears.

  3. Here’s another great nuclear memory. A jeweler in my home town used to have a spot where there’d always be one of these animated Baranger displays advertising diamonds. Stagecoaches, circus wagons, moon rockets, model Ts… the subject of these small (a foot or so on the long side) displays was tied in with the suggestion that you should come in and buy a diamond or two.

    I searched a while back and found a number of them on YouTube, and (along with the moon rocket) here’s my favorite: the DIAMOND NUCLEAR REACTOR!


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