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These kids these days…

A long time ago, when I was a wee nip of a lad, my parents would keep me quiet by turning on the television and having me watch such classics as Sesame Street. Little did they know that what I was watching was not suitable for children! I know that now, because the early seasons of Sesame Street have come out on DVD and they have been given a parental advisory, no less.

The first few seasons have just been released and come with, of all things, a warning.

“These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grownups and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child,” the warning reads.

“Sesame was created in the ’60s, and it was a bit edgier, if you will,” said Sherrie Rollins Westin, executive vice president of Sesame Workshop.

What parent today would want their child to see kids running through a construction site or jumping on an old box spring? Scenes like the ones included on the new DVD would probably not make it into today’s program now.

“We wouldn’t have children on the set riding without a bicycle helmet,” Rollins Westin says.

And what’s that little girl doing with that man?

“In the very first episode, Gordon takes a little girl’s hand who he’s just met on the street, befriends her and takes her into his home to give her ice cream,” Rollins Westin said. “That’s something we wouldn’t do on the show today.”

And rightly so. You wouldn’t want your kids to turn out like us dreadful Generation X old fogeys, after all!

42 comments to These kids these days…

  • Things like this make me sick.

  • Nick M

    Where are the Wright Brothers or the Stephensons or the Curies of this Century going to come from if kids are brought up to be so risk averse?

  • There will be no Wright Brothers or Stephensons, or Curies. All of the progress will be made in virtual reality only. Conversely, today’s kids will venture into the physical world without much knowledge of the its real dangers, and so the accidents will be more numerous/severe. As always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It still makes me sick, but then I am old.

  • Sunfish

    Sick and wrong.

    I’m about to leave to go skiing for a few days. It’s a little risky as activities go: there’s that whole fresh air and physical activity thing, and we just can’t have that. And different slopes require different degrees of skill for safety or maximum enjoyment, which is not egalitarian at all. Not to mention, falling is a virtual certainty, especially at my skill level, and so one has to know how to get back up.

    It would be absolutely unacceptable to expose a child to any of this. And when that child becomes a teenager comes the incessant flirting with other teenagers and…what’s the nanny party line this week? Is teenage flirting and related contact sports considered to be a health risk and threat to delicate self-esteem, or is it an expression of sexual independence (especially from good judgment) to be celebrated? I can never remember what the nanny state party line is this week.

    And then come summer, we can’t allow them to go camping either. If we expect them to use maps and compasses or terrain-association, they might get lost. And building fires and catching fish is absolutely unacceptable: what if they’re allergic to bluegills and the smoke sets off previously-undetected asthma? And when they tie the knots to set up their tents, the paracord might cause rope burn. I mean, having them hugging trees and fluffy little bunnies is all well and good, but they’ll be better off doing so from a distance. Otherwise, they might not respect Mother Gaia in the morning.

    And now, I can quit my job. I’ll market a chemistry set with no Bunsen burners and no chemicals, for our new safety-conscious age. I’ll be rich!

    Christ, how did I make it to thirty-something without all of this protection?

    Anyway, see all y’alls in a few days.

  • Andrew Duffin

    A friend has two teenage daughters (13 & 15) who are about to go on a school trip to – I think – Barcelona.

    They’ve been told that they are not allowed to use the hotel swimming pool, or to go into the sea for any reason – “due to Health and Safety”.

    Why do we put up with it?

  • In the US it is the fear of law suits that motivates the schools in such cases, and it is the parents’ fault – I don’t know if it is the same in the UK.

  • Nick M

    Pretty much Alisa but there’s I suspect a fair bit of natural nannying in UK governmental circles too and that goes a long way back… It’s also of course about control as much as ‘elfnsafety. It’s about keeping the kids on a tight leash. Our schools are dramatically upping “directed time”. Some have removed breaks where the kids can just hang-out or have a kick-about with directed, supervised activities. Weird isn’t it. I bet no-one who reads this blog ever, as a kid, even if they were in the scouts or whatever didn’t ever do anything off their own bat.

  • Nick: that’s the way it is in the US for the most part. When my son was in the elementary school there, most of his friends were unavailable for play dates (if you are even familiar with the term), because their entire off-school time was scheduled around organized activities. And, when he returned home from his first day in school in Israel, he was ecstatic about the discovery that during breaks he could roam freely through the entire school premises without supervision. That was one of the major reasons I wanted to move back.

  • Nick M

    Play Dates?

    Play Dates!

    Do they arrange them via Blackberry?

    “Sorry Bobby, I’d love to but I’m running late for my 2:15…”

    Call me awfully low-tech but In my day we’d just go round each other’s houses and ask if Bobby was allowed out.

    Freedom is vital for kids otherwise, apart from anything else how will they ever learn to take their own initiative on any enterprise. Or is that the hidden agenda?

  • Scott Ganz

    “These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grownups…”

    Words fail me… that might be the stupidest thing I’ve read all month.

  • Bluebirds Over

    I will have a t-shirt made, announcing “I survived Sesame Street!”

    I also survived doing all sorts of lunatic activities and pranks when little… and I always thought I was one of the shy, quiet kids. I can of course see from our modern, enlightened times I was nothing more than a potential disaster zone on foot, bike, water and sporting field, so thank goodness no one noticed at the time.

  • Kolohe

    “created in the 60’s”

    Technically correct (1st episode premiered Nov 10, 1969), but really Sesame street is a creature of the 70’s. That’s what makes it a Gen X show and not a Boomer show.

  • Midwesterner

    Nick, I regret to say that from my observation at least, your 5:36 pegged it exactly. And spontaneous, undirected play will be listed as ‘2:15 – spontaneous undirected play at Pat’s. Pick up Kim and Sam, bring games A, B & C for spontaneous game playing activities.’

    Is it any wonder so many presume that somebody should be telling them what to do all of the time?

  • permanentexpat

    As a wrinkly I get the feeling I have been transferred, while sleeping, to another planet. Then I notice, with horror, that I haven’t.
    Scott Ganz writes: “These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grownups…”
    Words fail me… that might be the stupidest thing I’ve read all month.

    All this is getting much, much worse but it’s nothing new. “Tom & Jerry” was sanitized years ago.

  • Millie Woods

    Kolohe, are you sure about that?
    I was a grad student at the University of Michigan 1966-8 and I seem to remember NPR studios in Ann Arbor where Sesame Street episodes were filmed.
    I could be wrong about this but one of the buses that carried students between campuses passed the production venues and for one reason or another I always thought Sesame Street originated in Ann Arbor way back when.

  • Ian B

    Freedom is vital for kids otherwise, apart from anything else how will they ever learn to take their own initiative on any enterprise. Or is that the hidden agenda?

    It’s part of the agenda, and it’s not hidden. It’s also been very easy to impose- “You let your children play alone?! What if they’re ABDUCTED by PAEDOPHILES?!”

    The other great thing for the Progressives is the more social chaos they induce, the more it works in their favour, since it makes the outside world a scarier place. The more harm they do, the better they do. Sort of, Progressive Rot.

  • Kolohe

    Millie Woods-
    Got the date from Wikipedia FWIW.

    IIRC Henson had some of his early stuff in Canada because the American networks wouldn’t pick it up. There may have been a Canuk prototype that Michiganders may have seen because you could pick up Windsor stations in Detroit, right?

  • Well, I am sorry, but I fail to see any premeditated conspiracy in all of this. All I see here is parents who are:

    1. Overprotective, granted, in part due to the media pedophile scaremongering (believe me, I fell for it too at some point), and in part simply out of genuine concern for their children’s health and safety taken to extremes.

    2. Are unwilling/unable to spend time with their children, and so are using planned/organized activities as a “quality” baby-sitter. Those that cannot afford those activities, or are simply not high-minded enough about their children’s’ upbringing, just stick the kids in front of TV all day long. Also, as our own lives become more planned and organized due to us not having enough time to accomplish everything we have set out to accomplish, this attitude naturally spills over to our children.

    3. Parents who are part of the ever pervasive litigation culture – no surprise there.

  • Oh, and forgot 4: we are set to produce super children – a regular kid just kicking ball with the neighbors’ kids won’t do any more, as the kid will have to compete in an environment growing ever more competitive – or something.

  • Nick M

    I deleted the start of an earlier post. I was saying that Mid had cheered me by confirming a suspicion. Ian B has chimed in and now done the same. I’m feeling great now.

    I didn’t post because I could write an essay on this.

    It’s tragic beyond belief. A coupla weeks back I saw (on the BBC) admittedly a vox pops from Scotland about fat kids. Some woman was interviewed saying she’d appreciate help from the government in “combating childhood obesity”. I nearly fell off the chair. The woman wanted governmental back-up in what her kids ate… (Clearly her kids hadn’t even been corrupted by the early X-rated Sesame Street either). The utter lack of anything resembling personal or familial responsibility was stunning. It’s often touted that “with freedom comes responsibility”. I think it’s the other way round.

    Ian B is right about the social chaos angle. When I was a kid I was kept in line partly by adult neighbours and the like… Not anymore. Kids, very frequently don’t have the slightest respect for other adults in the community. And they know their “rights” like screaming about peadophilia the minute you even remonstrate with them. Obviously everything must be done through the authorities. Yeah, let’s get the social workers in… It is a total dismantling of civil society.

    I absolutely hate them. I normally merely despise them but I’m in active hate mode because I heard today that the UK is now out of the Gemini telescope project (which we helped build) because of a mere GBP80m due to a funding re-adjustment. A government study has recently announced that the “National Literacy Strategy” has been a failure at the cost of GBP500m…

    Guess why the NLS failed? It was so didactic that by the end of primary school it had put loads of kids off reading for their own pleasure or enlightenment.

    Education is obviously a good thing as long as it’s done “properly” by the “appropriate” authorities.

    Don’t learn anything kids unless it’s kitemarked because you might learn something you shouldn’t and you might even hurt yourself!

    NeuArbeit ought to be tortured on pay per view in the most humiliating manner possible and left broken and destroyed, left only capable of masturbating in back alleys. Figures more to be laughed at than pitied.

    I’d best stop now before I say something I untoward.

    PS. I’m not supporting in principle state funding for pure science but within anything like our our current position this is selling out British astronomers for a mess of diversity training. GROLIES ought to be crucified and whilst hanging on the cross no one would offend their “feminist” tendancies by taking the chance of a quick up-skirt. Because they ar pigs and they honketh.

    PPS. That GBP80m is perhaps better compared against the GBP70m that UKGov pledged to madrassahs etc for Islamic education to combat “radicalisation”. Yeah, right, let’s tell the Muzzies how to kill infidels and beat the shit out of their daughters properly and fuck astronomy up the kyhber into the boot. Two birds one stone. It is now time to raise the bloack flag.

  • Nick M

    That’s a black flag obviously. I was hitting the board pretty hard.

  • Ian B

    Not so much a conspiracy, perhaps, as a viral worldview. I think people need to wake up more to the fact that progressive/leftist/whatever ideas have permeated our society and people are now blindly accepting them without any awareness of Gramsci or Althusser or Marx or Freud. The received wisdoms of our society have been profoundly changed, distorted beyond all recognition from a few generations ago. Assumptions about what is good and right and normal are profoundly different.

    There is so much I could write here (*Samizdatistas groan*) but I’m trying to be concise. One thing we can look at is that the Proggies [I think I will now use this term generally to describe the nebulously defined enemy] are generally Behaviourists (this is pretty much essential to a left wing worldview since you can only get a “natural” equality of outcome if the bodies going into the progressive sausage machine start off inherently equal). This leads them to a belief that if there are people who are bad, who are failing, or who are some other undesirable thing, they must have been miseducated. So therefore the Proggies, and by manipulation our society, has become education obsessed.

    But here we must see the paradox; educational standards are falling. The Proggies are actively wrecking education! So what gives? Well, IMV (all of this is IMV of course, should I continue to qualify every now and again?) this is because the word “education” as used by the Proggies is newspeak. They speak with forked tongue. They don’t mean education as “knowing how to do sums” or how to spell. These things are trivial to them. They mean education as, back with behaviourism, the moulding of ideal persons. And so they seek to trap everyone, especially children, in an endless educational prison.

    So, for instance, there’s no such thing as a good children’s book unless it’s “educational”. It must indoctrinate with the right personality moulding messages. Political correctness as we call it. Likewise, children must be constantly supervised in case they may spontaneously do something off-message. These are ideas that have permeated our society now. Parents feel obligated to be constantly educating their children for fear of being cast as negligent. If they don’t, their children may go wrong. They might turn out to be non-conformist, or something awful like that.

    Of course, there’s another strong incentive which controls parental behaviour here. In the Proggie society, social mobility is strictly controlled. You are allowed to rise into the oligarchy, but only if you’re the right kind of person, and you’ve picked up an impressive paper trail of diplomas bulging in sheaves from your pockets. Again, we note that these diplomas don’t really say anything useful in terms of old-fashioned education (whether you’re good at maths or engineering or historical research or something). They’re staging posts on your way through the sausage machine. This is why increasing numbers of jobs specify a degree. Any degree. Doesn’t matter if it’s in gardening or quantum chromodynamics. It’s your Willy Wonka Golden Ticket that says you’re fit to be among decent folks.

    Obviously that puts immense pressure on parents to shove their kids through the sausage machine, because if the kid fails at any point and doesn’t come out the correct hole, their life is effectively ruined. The pressure is constantly on parents to mould their children into something that’s acceptable to the people running the show. It makes such pressure on their children their duty. Hothousing has become a requirement of “good parenting”. There’s no room in that dismal worldview for “be back for tea, and don’t do anything naughty, and look after your little brother”. How can you let them do that, when they could be at ballet classes, or with a private tutor learning the math they can’t seem to quite grasp at school, because it’s been dumbed down in favour of Global Warming and Good Citizenship classes?

    Of course there is much else to this; the use of fear as a weapon, the belief that independent thinking is seen as a personality disorder, the Proggies own head-under-the-bedcovers terror of being overwhelmed by the filthy rising tide of the untermesnchen and so on, but I’ve already waffled too much, haven’t I?

  • Ian, I agree (and not about waffling too much). My only point was not to take all of the responsibility for this sorry state of affairs off the parents’ shoulders. And in fact I know parents who resist this as much as they can – I am one of them. It is not easy, but it is possible. We are not living in the SU (yet) after all (and even there we did get a lot of real education – there is a paradox for you).

  • Alice

    Ian B — thank you for sharing.

    A follow-up question — Do you see any way to reverse these societal trends that does not involve violence at some level?

  • Ian B

    Some woman was interviewed saying she’d appreciate help from the government in “combating childhood obesity”. I nearly fell off the chair. The woman wanted governmental back-up in what her kids ate…

    I think here I’d say that part of the Proggie methodology is to promote support for their dastardly plans by confronting people with crises which are beyond their own ability to deal with. Obesity is a classic example here. It’s another campaign they’ve waged rapidly and decisively and won before their opponents were even out of the starting blocks.

    People are different shapes and sizes. Some people are skinny as rakes, some as plump as plump things. This has always been so. Everyone wants to be thin. It’s enormously popular in society to be thin. There’s a massive industry, billions of groats in size, which sells quack fatness cures.

    And it doesn’t work.

    So people are confronted by this campaign that fat people are destroying the ozone layer, and something must be done, and they’re fat, or their children are fat, and there’s nothing they can really do about it. They try this diet and that diet and in all but a minority of cases they end up fatter than when they started. The human body is homeostatic. It decides what weight it wants to be and regulates itself to achieve that. Naturally thin people don’t stay thin by eating less food. They stay thin because their body thinks it wants to be thin. And it seems pretty clear that that’s primarily genetic, just as it’s genetic that west africans have big bottoms and equatorial africans are tall and slender.

    But the Proggies have made it a moral crusade. Fat people cause global warming and they mercilessly portray those unfortunate to be fat as gluttons who must be treated with contempt. They act as if fat people suddenly appeared in about 1985, ignoring the considerable evidence from history that fat people have always existed, even among the poor living on cabbage water.

    And so the fatties, or parents of fatties, faced with denunciation and demands that they achieve a nigh impossible task, turn as supplicants to the people pointing the fingers at them, like fatarse Gordon Brown, and plead for help to save their unworthy lardy souls.

    And the power of the state grows a little more.

  • Ian B

    Alisa, if I had an answer to that I wouldn’t be here writing this, I’d be out there doing it!

    I see the whole thing as a, er, whole. I don’t think libertarians/small gov. conservatives can win on single issues (e.g. education, parenting, in this example) because the whole thing is interlocking. Each effect is also a cause of some other bad effect, and they all reinforce each other.

    In one sense perhaps the issue is just one of getting our message out but we’re simply starting the race from so far back. Add to that that the young are the ones being indoctrinated while libertarians/conservatives whatever are the ageing old guard and it makes me pessimistic. But I think we have to see our task as the left saw their task; to actively organise to overthrow the incumbent hegemony and replace it with their own. Well, they’re the incumbents now and it’s time for their overthrow 🙂

    Countingcats was right in another thread in saying that the education system is an important point to concentrate on. But the key thing we need is boots on the ground… how to get them… meh, I’ve no idea 🙁

  • Nick M

    Ian B,
    They look down upon QCD because they are fundamentally anti-science. They’re Greens and such and believe Reiki is more important than building Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Scanners. They’d much rather you did something nice and huggy-feely like Applied Toynbeeism.

    I don’t see a conspiracy. I see a convergence of interests by a whole bunch of mental masturbators. They may differ in whacking off techniques or their reasons for desiring continual handy shandies but the ultimate goal is the same.

    They give me the right hump.

    I apologise for my typos earlier. I was hitting the KB apassionata because I am fuck’ed off to the n-th degree with them.

    I still think they ought to be boiled alive in pig-slurry though. Slowly.

  • Midwesterner

    The comment posted by Ian B at January 28, 2008 12:28 AM makes me wonder, is there a category called ‘Samizdata essay of the day’?


    I still think they ought to be boiled alive in pig-slurry though. Slowly.

    I have actually smelled cold pig-slurry. I can’t imagine what warm pig-slurry would smell like. The thought of boiling pig-slurry horrifies me. I am enough of an environmentalist to demand that you hermetically seal that project and if that causes you problems with the laws of thermodynamics, tough. You’re a physics type. Solve them.

  • Millie Woods

    As a recovering academic who happens to be married to a retired aero space engineer and has seen her own grown children draw back from the abyss of social science gobbledegook to reconnect with the real world I would advise all the gloomsters not to despair.
    Yes indeed there is too much nannyism out there but in fairly recent times skateboarding and snowboarding and a myriad of similar activities have burst upon the young folk offering new and greater opportunities for daring do. Furthermore the readership of books like the Harry Potter series with real vocabularies instead of the controlled nonsense of school readers is proof positive that a man’s reach is still exceeding his grasp. Children love and need challenges and will continue to seek them out and find them in spite of the efforts of the control freaks of the left to discourage such tendencies.

  • Millie: I think that Harry Potter books have in a few years undone decades of lefty indoctrination. JKR deserves every million in her bank account just for that.

    Ian: if tomorrow the gvmnt outlaws the consumption of cyanide in the privacy of one’s home, would you then argue that cyanide does not pose a real health problem? If you really think that obesity is not a problem, you are entitled to your opinion, but I would strongly disagree. I am not talking about fat people as known throughout history, I am talking about people who need two chairs to sit on in a restaurant, and two large plates to contain their lunch, not including desert.

    Guys, there is Alice, and there is Alisa (hint: the latter is not half as articulate as the former). To Alice’s question: of course there will be blood in gutters, only not over freedom, but over chickens in pots, or whatever you might call it.


    I don’t see a conspiracy. I see a convergence of interests by a whole bunch of mental masturbators. They may differ in whacking off techniques or their reasons for desiring continual handy shandies but the ultimate goal is the same.

    Sounds about right.

  • Ian B

    And right on cue here’s that “diploma society” thinking gone mad.

    Alisa, regarding obesity. Yes, some people are seriously obese, which is a matter for themselves and if they choose so their doctors. But the Proggie obesity panic draws in everyone who is higher than the approved BMI. Anyone a bit plump, or with a bit of middle aged spread. Half the population are now classed as medically overweight and requiring of intervention by the state. People who would once have just been described as well upholstered, voluptuous, or chubby. Women who would in more rational times have been admired as curvaceous pinups. These people, the vast majority included in the obesity hysteria, do not have a medical problem. They simply aren’t an approved shape.

  • Ian: that link is…well..words fail.

    As to obesity: the plump, the voluptuous and the chubby are by no means labeled as ‘obese’ by the medical establishment, AFAIK – maybe it is different in the UK, or maybe I should go out more.

    Half the population are now classed as medically overweight

    Really? Well, maybe I should go back to reading papers after all…nah. People who let the media guide them through life are obviously morons, and there is nothing anyone can do about some people being morons.

    Ian, I don’t think that you and I disagree on anything important, it’s only that the way that you pose you arguments often gives the impression of a tendency to throw out the baby along with the tab water, that’s all:-)

  • Ian B

    Alisa and Alice, apologies for the name confusion. It was late 🙁

  • Nick M

    BMI is a crude tool. A male international class sprinter is almost certainly clinically obese on the basis of BMI. Anyway, the obesity scare is completely wrong-headed in approach. It’s quite insane for the government to tell people what to eat. What’s even worse is that quite a few people want them to and are not prepared to learn anything about nutrition off their own bat! Sad isn’t it?

  • Midwesterner

    People who let the media guide them through life are obviously morons,

    Alisa, are you calling our esteemed lawmakers “morons“?

    Millie’s comment is somewhat reassuring, but it sounds like her kids had parents that could be a counter force to what was in the indoctrination and habituation.

  • Lee Kelly

    This is why increasing numbers of jobs specify a degree. Any degree. Doesn’t matter if it’s in gardening or quantum chromodynamics. It’s your Willy Wonka Golden Ticket that says you’re fit to be among decent folks.

    Yeah, I have this problem. I left school at 16 with little in the way of qualifications, after spending almost every moment of school resisting the indoctrination, fighting the bereaucracy, resenting the incarceration and despising their agenda. This was 5-6 years ago. I am 22. That agenda is hardly concealed, either. There were PSE lessons (Personal and Social Education), RE classses (Religious Education) and our Assemblies. I think these stand out as the worst offenders, transparent attempts to indoctrinate. However, the entire system is designed the same. The situation is bad and getting worse, many of the teachers disliked it, and resisted teaching it.

    I have since found it very difficult to get along in life and into jobs. The qualifications say nothing about my ability, but reflect an unwillingness to play the system. I should add, my teachers frequently told me to “play the system”, they too understood that it was a farce, and implicitly agreed with my complaints, but encouraged me to “play the system” just like everyone else.

  • RAB

    Three quarters of the English Rugby team are considered clinically obese under the guidlines.
    Fat can be thought a cultural good too.
    In places like Fiji Samoa and Tonga, the fatter you are the more you are respected.
    Noel Coward did some of the radio commentary for the Queens Coronation in 1953. He and his fellow commentator were watching the Landours bring Foreign Heads of State to the Cermony.
    His fellow commentator remarked as to who the little man was in the coach with the Queen of Tonga.
    That’s her lunch dear boy! The divine Noel exclaimed.

  • Nick M

    Well some of them are utter morons but most of them at least have that cunning found in the lower animals. They also have another odd thing. A complete belief in both the system and themselves as being absolutely necessary. I suspect an awful lot of them genuinely think they are serving us and we should be greatful for all the whiz-bang ways they’ve spent our cash.

    And this grand delusion works on too many proper people.

    I saw a documentary recently, “Undercover in North Korea” and amongst other things it featured a (South Korean, I think – didn’t see it from the start) surgeon operating for a charity doing cataract surgery in the North. You might think of cataracts as a disease of old age – not in the malnourished* DPRK it ain’t – they get ’em in their 20s. Anyway most of these people had been blind for years despite the cheapness and simplicity of the procedure. So this guy does 1000 operations in his allotted 10 days and it’s all paid for and all his equipment comes abroad, as does his theatre staff and when the bandages come off who d’ya reckon they thank?

    They get into a skirling devotion to the pictures of the Great and Dear Leaders. I know there were minders there and everything but this was truly heartfelt. Weird. One elderly chap’s first wish was to get a rifle now he could see and kill Americans. Wow!

    Is there a point to this? Oh yeah. There is a continuum of governments making their people believe everything comes from them and nothing would get done without them. DPRK just happens to be at the surreal far end is all. Our nanny states are nowhere near that but they’re heading that way…

    Interesting comment I heard from a German doctor. “In DPRK everything is free but nothing is available”. Comrade Kim at the time was the single best customer Hennesy Cognac had at the time. Fancy getting the heat going on the slurry tank, Mid?

    *Chronic child malnutrition in DPRK is 40%. No childhood obesity problem there!

  • Mid, the big difference between the regular morons I was referring to and our lawmakers is that the latter let the media guide them through our lives.

  • tdh

    The book Endangered Minds really slammed Sesame Street.

    Most popular kiddy shows are crap. On the other hand, the Gene London show out of Philly was a gem, and the old-style cartoons, exaggerating cause and effect, were quite educational.

  • nick g.

    First ‘Sesame Street’, now Santa Claus! There’s a good piece on over-regulation in the Libertarian International website, and how laws and bureaucrats are squeezing Santa to death! (Oh, well, he needed a diet anyway!) It’s hypothetical, but shows up real possibilities for killjoys. (Not that I harbour any thoughts bad about killjoys, of course! Perish the thought!)

  • Sunfish

    As to obesity: the plump, the voluptuous and the chubby are by no means labeled as ‘obese’ by the medical establishment, AFAIK – maybe it is different in the UK, or maybe I should go out more.

    That depends on how ‘obese’ is defined.

    If you use a raw height/weight chart or its modern version, BMI, you’ll end up giving lots of people the meaningless label of ‘obese.’ They relate height to weight with no attention at all to any other factor, which is IMHO stupid.

    The end result: anybody who does virtually any resistance exercise at all will increase muscle mass/lean mass enough that they’ll be ‘obese’ to any mope who looks only at height/weight numbers and ignores the actual person.

    IIRC, a male 6’0″ and 215-220# should be considered obese, going on numbers alone. However, I’m also running at about 16% body fat, which is a little high for a male in his early 30’s (too much Samizdata and beer, no doubt) but not enough to make the average doctor worry.

    IMHO, body fat percentage combined with resting pulse or blood pressure, and blood chemistry, is more useful as a predictor of health issues but it’s also more complicated and it’s really really hard to demogogue an issue to an audience that understands complicated issues.

    I don’t mean to minimize the problems of obesity. If there’s no problem, then where did these increases in juvenile cases of adult-onset diabetes come from? But you’ll forgive and understand my suspicion of government solving the problem when they created it in the first place.[1]

    From a purely aesthetic standpoint: weight obsession is probably more harmful to young women than excess weight. I got nothing wrong with so-called ‘reubenesque’ or ‘curvy’ women. I like women who actually look like women, as opposed to looking like pre-teen boys.

    [1] No, I’m not joking. USDA made an issue of the fat content of foods back in the 1970’s-1980’s, and caused the replacement of fat with high-GI sugars as a flavoring agent. In other words, they never expected SnackWells, full of high-GI sugars and with more actual stored energy than the high-fat options, but OMG THEY’RE LOW IN FAT!!! I’m not sure what to suggest for good nutritional advice, but the USDA is not where I’d start. (And I’d best stop here before I start screaming about artificially-low suggested protein intake…)