2016-2020… the ills of the 80s on steroids

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As Britain careens toward its own economic, political and existential doom, I’m almost tempted to laugh except that pointing at the chaos is an entirely misplaced form of schadenfreude. Their chaos is probably only foreshadowing what worse ugliness is to come in the US. If much of England and Wales can vote the entire UK out of the European Union, much of America can vote the “reasonable parts of the rest of America” into the oblivion of a Donald Trump presidency. Who will be laughing then?

It will be a lot like the 1980s of Thatcher and Reagan – only much worse. More xenophobic, more reactionary, more chaotic, more violent. And even though I know many people care deeply, the fact that things are unfolding this way makes it feel as though no one really does. The current escalation of terror attacks (all blamed on Islam or racial unrest but underpinned more and driven by all kinds of other issues – socioeconomic and historical vestiges of colonialism and slavery) feels like a parallel to the various terrorism that took place in the 1970s, which then led to the 1980s of trickle-down economics, a continuation of the Cold War and constant threat of nuclear annihilation, the AIDS crisis, the escalation of the war on drugs/Just Say No and all the socioeconomic and racial implications of that (i.e. turning drug problems into a criminal justice problem rather than a public health issue), a lot of economic unrest (striking, etc. in the UK), Bhopal, Chernobyl, the famine in Ethiopia, Iran-Contra, Tiananmen… and a whole lot of other not so pleasant stuff.

The rest of this decade may be tumultuous indeed: like the ills of the 1980s on steroids. I hope I am wrong.

Lunchtable TV talk – The Goldbergs: Nostalgia makes me cry, as do robot overlords

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The Goldbergs was a bit over the top for me in the beginning, but as I continued to watch, the 1980s nostalgia eventually won me over. Many, many moments choke me up with tears. The show manages to evoke nostalgia, emotion without being overly saccharine. And I suppose people who did not grow up in that era might not feel as strongly about it. But they can find other points to connect with emotionally (the importance of family, the connection the crazy mother has with the kids, the sense of not wanting your kids to grow up, the feeling that everyone is awkward in youth but eventually, with the right guidance, they find their voice and path). It is interesting to watch the Goldberg kids grow up.

A recent episode made me laugh out loud. The dad wonders why someone would destroy a perfectly good Fiero to make a robot when the youngest, Adam, enthuses about the greatness of The Transformers (toys and cartoon). Adam pits the “stupidity” of a game “where grown men hit a ball with a stick” against his future run by robots. Argument ensues about baseball versus robots – America’s pastime (past) and its robotic future.

“Robots aren’t even real.”

“Oh you’ll see how real they are when cyborgs take over and outlaw your precious baseball.”