New Weird and parenting

Wired's GeekDad blog has a great interview with "new weird" literary couple Jeff and Ann VanderMeer about raising children in a ultra geeky household, and about why tech geeks should care about the new weird. Wired's also giving away digital copies of a free new book by Jeff called The Situation.
When she was 10, she asked the neighbor's mother "What magazine do you edit?" because she thought all families had their own magazines. As for my fiction, she mostly encountered it as a teenager and made a show of not reading it, but then would talk to her friends about it when she thought I was out of earshot. Which was cute.
Link (Thanks, Jeff!)


  1. GeekDad has helped me through many a rough patch with my 6 and 9-year old boys. My sons consistently attempt to co-opt the family DVD player in order to watch Spongebob, Hannah Montana and other Disney Channel sit-coms

    My wife and I have been attempting to educate our boys through such geek classics as “Gilligan’s Island”, “The A-Team” and “Fantasy Island” (hence the DVD player struggle)

    Our philosophy is that “if this TV programming was good for us, then it must be good for our children”

    Children’s TV these days walks a solid path towards vapidity and mild mind control. Classics (such as”Gilligan”) serve to free, nourish and enrich.

    I would like a copy of the book, but it most certainly has been given away by now.

    long live GeekDad!

  2. I’m the author of the GeekDad post and I’m very happy to see it referenced on BoingBoing.

    Just one clarification (as per the comment above): PS Publishing has kindly made a PDF version of Jeff VanderMeer’s book available for download. Not a single copy, it’s there, it’s digital and it’s free, so please download and read away!

    Brad Moon.

  3. I have the privilege of meeting Ann and Jeff last a couple weeks ago at the SC Book Festival. Lovely people, and as interesting in person as they are in the article.

  4. booooo to the first comment- Spongebob is awesome, and has plenty of sub-cultural references. I’m 31 years old, and I think it’s probably the best children’s programming on TV. Certainly much better than whatever power rangers derivitave is currently running.

    Yes, you should force your kids to watch all of the old ‘muppet show’ episodes. And you should probably force them to watch all the coyote / road runner ‘toons as well- no child’s understanding of physics is complete without ACME catapults.

  5. I’ve got to second #4’s booing of number #1: SpongeBob outsmarts and outcools Fantasy Island and A-Team astronomically. The sad reality for me usually is realizing we watched a lot of garbage as a kid and didn’t know it(Can you make it through a Dukes episode?). As a parent now, I have to wonder how the hell our parents sat through it?

  6. Very cool interview, thanks for the link. I think Jeff’s novels are brilliant – especially City of Saints, which fascinated me enough to read it twice and I think the third one is also coming close.

  7. Spongebob is awesome. The references and commentary on society are freaky. Where it gets really freaky is when you start to watch lots of cartoons, you find out that the voices for these characters are either very famous actors and actresses or are the same person over and over again.

    Ms. Frizzle is Lily Tomlin, and we need more Magic School Bus.
    Tomy Kenny does not only Spongebob, but hundreds of other voices from Spyro the Dragon to Yancy Fry in Futurama. Tell me that’s not awesome.

    We should make a collaborative children’s show. All like science and sweetness. My mom’s a sixth grade science and math teacher, so my brother has been making videos for her class for a while and I give lectures. It’s a blast.

  8. “The growth of popular sports and entertainment…and the creation of popular culture based on TV…[has created three new classes which are], in ascending order, the morons, the yuppies and the stars. The first watch TV, the second make the programmes, and the third appear on them. And because those wh appear on the screen cultivate the manners of the people who are watching them, implying that they are only there by accident, and that tomorrow it may very well be the viewer’s turn, all possibility of resentment is avoided. At the same time, the emotional and intellectual torpor induced by TV neutralizes the social mobility that would otherwise enable the morons to change their lot.”

    – Roger Scuton, 1980

    The point being, television (and nearly all video-based media now) is a toxin for children regardless of the content. I think Scruton does a good job of arguing this philosophically, and there has since been a slew of empirical evidence to support his politically moral misgivings.

    Were I to be a parent to a child right now, I would ensure that they grew up in an environment free of television, with very carefully restricted access to a computer (eg 300mhz machine running Ubuntu no net connection). Not that media/technology/computer skills are not valuable (I am posting here after all), but that a large swath of these are so pernicious to developing children that I would be demonstrably negligent should I expose them to it.

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