April 17, 2008 11:23AM

This Too Will Pass

Julian Simon used to remind us that humans had been worrying about things getting worse for as long as they have recorded their thoughts. Always there was a memory of a Golden Age now in the past, or at least a memory of the good ol' days of one's youth. And there's always a market for predictions of doom. P. J. O'Rourke used a quotation from The Great Gatsby (1925) as the epigram for his book All the Trouble in the World (1994): "I read somewhere the sun's getting hotter every year," Tom said genially. "It seems that pretty soon the earth's going to fall into the sun--or wait a minute--it's just the opposite--the sun's getting colder every year."

Or as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, "If it's not one thing, it's another."

And I was reminded of all this a few days ago by the comic strip "For Better or Worse." Cartoonist Lynn Johnston is approaching retirement by recycling some of her earlier strips to show the development of the family at the center of the story. The recycled strips don't include their original date, but judging from the style and the age of the characters, we can guess that last Saturday's strip originally ran not long after its launch in 1979. And like Johnston's comic strips, the contemporary ideas it reflects are also being recycled today (click for larger version):

For Better or Worse