Children of the Fondue

It has been a while since Joseph Courtemanche has written a Fondue story, but he is back today with a little story that is, well, classic Courtemanche. I think you’ll like it, or at least get angry with it. You will not be indifferent, that is for sure.

We finish up our Easter themed stories on Good Friday (April 15) With Joe Shaw. Click on the very center of the dryer opening below to read “The Big Box Store”. A note of caution: don’t be alarmed by the of a gun on top of a book (I used to think it was a Bible, but now I’m wondering…The side script looks Arabic?) when you hyperlink over to his page, ‘Commotion in the Pews’. It makes sense if you know Joseph.


Parenting is hard enough, now this.

In case you missed it (ICYMI) click here for the link to the story making the news rounds today.  Here is the summary:  The ten year old and six year old children of Alexander and Danielle Meitiv were playing the park, alone, near their Maryland home when agents of Child Protective Services picked them up.  When the kids didn’t come home on time, the parents became worried and searched all evening for their children.  Eventually they found out their children were at CPS, and around 10:30 that evening were allowed to leave with their children, but only after they agreed to sing a “safety-plan” in which the promised to not leave their children unattended at all.


The juicy bit is that this happened back in January too, and it has sparked a big debate about the issue of child safety and unsupervised play.

I have some opinions about all of this, but that is not what is on my mind this morning.  What I am thinking about is how the nature of the debate on such issues has changed dramatically during my life time.  Here is what I am talking about:  If we had told this story back in the glorious 70s or 80s, it would have been assumed that it was Republican conservatives forcing values down the throat of culture by making those children go home because children loose on the roads and in the parks was dangerous, they might learn something to liberate their minds or something.  It would have been Democratic liberals who would have triumphed the cause of letting these children play–the kids are alright–they can have their own adventures to self-discovery and knowledge without the constant shadow of mom and dad and the totalitarian state breathing down their neck.

Today that those views have flipped completely.  It is the liberal agenda to let the government control families, education, and distill what is and is not acceptable knowledge, what is proper language, and how a person should think.  To the contrary, it is the conservative agenda to rail against the nanny state, the intrusion of big government, and to espouse the reliability of the family and the primacy of the individual even if there are obvious dangers in such a course of action.

If this news story had happened back in the 70s or 80s, liberals would have been up-in-arms over this kind of governmental abuse, while conservatives would have probably accused the family of being communist or something.

The change in perspective of this is probably a reflection of the change of direction that civil discourse has taken in the United States.  It is no longer about liberal or conservative, but about progressive and (little L) libertarian.  These are the cultural ideals that will shape the future.  Progressives generally believe that government should regulate every aspect of life to make certain that everyone gets the same.  Libertarians generally believe that people should govern themselves with as little intrusion from the government as possible.

Currently, progressives have landed in the Democratic party, while libertarians have settled into the Republican party.  Yet neither one is completely at home in either.  I think the next few years of elections could prove interesting, especially as technology makes libertarians more prevalent and the growth of government colors the imagination of new voters who don’t remember anything other than the officially sanctioned thought police.

image from http://www.wusa9.com


"Anger issues?"
“Anger issues?”

Or, maybe I’m not on Nationwide’s side.

There is a commercial running on television of late that bothers me.  Mrs. Greenbean tells me that I over analyze these things too much, but hey, its what I do, right?

It is a Nationwide insurance commercial–no, not the depressing one about the boy who never lived because he died–but a different one that I find even more disturbing.

The ad features children in frustrating situations where the customer service is poor.  It starts off with a little girl at what looks like the DMV, there is also a couple in a restaurant being ignored by their server, and it finishes with a little girl having her car examined by an insurance adjuster and he says, “we’ll take care of it” and then suddenly the little girl is a grown woman who says, “Thank you.”

The point of the commercial is that whenever we have poor customer service, we often want to throw tantrums like children do when things don’t go their way.  I get that.  The problem I have with the commercial is the only scene where a boy is venting his frustration has him violently slamming his phone onto the ground.  I have provided the commercial below, in case you missed it (ICYMI).

This depiction of male frustration bothers me in four ways.

1.  It seems to reinforce the stereotype that the masculine way to “vent” or to “be angry” is to destroy something.

2.  Why are the little girls allowed to be civil in their frustration while the boy literally ends the conversation?

3.  The commercial ends by showing us that these are really adults in these situations, so, that means it was  a grown man who threw his phone against the ground.  What else does he throw when he is angry?  Punches?  Plates?  People?

4.  Throwing phones is a sign of anger issues and may be an indicator of a possible tendency for domestic violence.

Again, I might be guilty of thinking about it too much, but these kinds of stereotypes are not healthy, and they reinforce a worldview that teaches us women are civil and polite while men are just jerks who can’t control themselves.

image of little boy from uproxx.com, who, loved the commercial and thought the angry little boy was the best part.


This morning I’m in the study working, and listening to Bob Dylan.  Specifically his song “The Levee’s Gonna Break” and the oldest sprout comes in to work on the other computer.

Bob Dyan still has a pulse.
Bob Dyan still has a pulse.

Sprout:  “What are you listening to?”

Me:  “Bob Dylan.”

Sprout:  “When did he die?”

Me:  “He is not dead.”

Sprout:  “Oh.  Are you sure?”

Me:  “He is alive.  He is not dead, yet.”

Sprout:  “He must be really old then.”

Now I feel old.  Poor Bob Dylan has reached Abe Vigoda status.  Of course, you have to be old enough to know who Abe Vigoda is.



image from theguardian.com