This evening's conversation, in my household: Ted Kennedy, whose seizure on Saturday has now been diagnosed as the result of a cancerous brain tumor.
Which led -- not because we're a callous family, but because we have young children -- to a more light-hearted discussion about notable Americans named "Kennedy" who are not closely related to John, Robert, or Ted.
As with Ford, I've discovered that there is notable Kennedy or two (mostly actors, a couple of authors) for every recent American generation... except the Millennials.
Here are the Kennedys I've come up with:
Partisans: Merna Kennedy (actress).
New Gods: Arthur Kennedy (actor, from Worcester). Doesn't count: John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Postmoderns: George Kennedy (actor). Doesn't count: Robert F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy.
Anti-Anti-Utopians: John Kennedy Toole. Wait, does that count?
Baby Boomers: Mimi Kennedy (actress).
Original Generation X: Pagan Kennedy (writer, Ideas contributor, former Allstonian). Doesn't count: Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr.
PC Generation: Jamie Kennedy (comedian, actor), and Kennedy (hated MTV veejay). Doesn't count: A.L. Kennedy (Scottish novelist)
Net Generation: Dead Kennedys (band formed in 1978). Does that count?
BRAINIAC'S GUIDE TO AMERICA'S RECENT GENERATIONS
The Greatest Generation Partisans
The Greatest Generation New Gods
The Silent Generation Postmoderns
The Silent Generation Anti-Anti-Utopians
1944-53: Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers OGXers (Original Generation X)
Generation X PC Generation
Generation Y Net Generation
Please credit Brainiac/Joshua Glenn whenever you use this guide. Got a beef with my periodization, or different generational name suggestions? Leave a comment on this post or email me. Born between 1954 and 1993 and still unsure about whether you're a Boomer, Xer, Yer, or Millennial? Here's a handy guide.
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.