After reading Kate’s post yesterday, something started bubbling up from the dark recesses of my mind (and, oh, let me tell you, my mind has dark recesses) and that was how the word respect started being shoved down my throat at every turn about… twenty years ago or so.

Respect the professionals; respect the training, respect the uniform, respect the office, respect the teacher’s position; respect the degree; respect the authority, respect… respect… respect…

And to all this I have but one thing to answer: WHY?

It was part of the argument of the blog-invasion by Desperate Teen Brownshirts (an upcoming reality series) “You should respect our teacher because she’s a TEACHER.”  They couldn’t explain to me why this was worthy of respect beyond how that teacher might do her job (or lack of respect beyond how that teacher might do her job.)  Nor could they explain why I should “respect” whatever she did, just because she was in a position of authority over them.  She was not in a position of authority over me and I will match my credentials with hers school room hour by school room hour and books read by books read – without even mentioning capacity for reasoning.  (Like the little worm Heinlein talked about, who bragged of being a brontosaurus on his mother’s side, a teacher who sends half-formed adolescent to defend her from a largely imagined insult by being rude and crude in public might not have anything else to be proud of.)

My children, of course, as soon as they entered school, (and because they’re mine from the top of their little horns to their little hoofkins, which they don’t got) started telling me “you know, when a teacher comes in demanding respect, you know he/she will have nothing – neither knowledge nor ability, nor even a lively teaching style to justify it.”  (This is different from a teacher who displays dignity.  They rather like those – teachers with enough SELF-respect to demand silence in the classroom during class and to teach as though they know more than the students do.  Their second least favorite teacher is “call me Joe.  We’re all friends here.  I’ll learn more from you than you’ll learn from me” idiot.  Interestingly those are also often the ones that flip and start yelling “you have to respect me.”)

But it went beyond that.  The very first cozy I wrote and submitted came back rejected because I had a funny policeman in it.  “You can’t have that,” the rejection said.  “The police are professionals.  You can’t make fun of them.”

I thought this was very odd, having grown up on the Saint and even on Miss Marple and Poirot and … all the others.  I thought “It’s this house.  They’re insane.”  And then I got books on how to write mysteries, and I found that the very FORM was being barred by decree from above.  “Cozies are not real mysteries, and besides they’re unbelievable.  How could an amateur be better than a trained professional?”  This from houses that claim to publish fiction.  At the same time, both written and TV mysteries tried to show policemen as near-infallible professionals who followed on clue upon clue.

Oh, yeah, the other thing, if you disagreed with “scientists” – like the clowns who have for thirty years pushed a lethal food pyramid down our throats – you were “anti-science” because the “scientists are professionals.”  If you disagreed with your doctor, he’d ask you if you had an MD (and they don’t like being told “Well, no.  But I’ve had this here body for almost half a century, and you haven’t.”  And yet, it’s true.)

Suddenly the world was full of experts whose opinion was irrefutable because they were experts.  Listen to the experts, kowtow to the governor.  Kiss the baton.

The oldest civilizations known to men were all that way.  Perhaps it is a way human civilizations go, when we’ve been civilized too long.  Perhaps…

Or perhaps it was the result of an elite who knew they didn’t deserve their lofty positions and were trying to hold on with coordinated razzle dazzle, to change our culture, to make us into what we were not, so they might have power a little longer.  I read somewhere it started with the student revolts in the sixties – that these happened at all the better colleges, and students changed the curriculum and learned near nothing, and then when they move into life all they wanted was respect, so no one questioned the deep dark pit beneath the pretty paper.

I know that I, myself, was taught by post-sixties standards.  All the students who asked that things be thrown out as no longer relevant, like western classics, classic languages, long hours of formal training, extensive reading, modes of deportment, screwed my generation over.  We never got a chance at saying “but we want to learn that.”

Heck, because the immediately previous generation, at least in Portugal, were often our teachers, sometimes we didn’t get the opportunity to learn anything.  I spent an entire year of language arts painting a mural outside the middle school with my class.  (Because it taught us revolutionary… oh, BALLS! Because the teacher was barely literate due to all the “classroom occupations” and “student demands.”)

Were all the people of the generation before mine that way?  Oh, heck no.  Virtue isn’t generational.  But the bad apples did carry the day and make it bad for everyone.  My brother’s classes had so many “student strikes” that one year he almost didn’t have classes.

The rest of us, who weren’t striking or acting like loons could react one of two ways.  I’m not virtuous, either, but I am curious, and have an insatiable need to feed what Heinlein called The Elephant Child (in an allusion to Kipling.)  Oh, yeah, and I like reading.  So I set about to repair a lot of the omissions on my own.  It worked, sort of.  Or it is working.  I have holes in my knowledge, and besides math is a devil to learn on your own.  (However, for all the auto-didacts out there, Great Courses is the way to go.)  A lot of people did that.

A lot of others didn’t.  And going into the workforce – now two generations since the great burning of the mental tools of Western civilization – they were conscious that they could pretend, but the real knowledge wasn’t there.  And then they started talking about “respect.”

This is a simplistic explanation, and it doesn’t cover everything.  There’s also the growing power and scope of bureaucracy, and the desperate need anyone who even aspires to, much less has attained, a position of unwarranted power over other individuals, has – as a sort of reflex of their personality – to have you “respect” their ideas, their opinions, their very existence.

And then there’s those who, through luck, contacts, stealth, or the sheer fact that the people older than them thought they were ‘the future’ took over the commanding heights of art and mass communication and who, once secure, spent their entire time holding the political color line and keeping anything and anyone they disagreed with out.  Oh, and promoting this weird idea of respect for the position and that you had to have credentials to do things which, until recently, you didn’t even have to have formal schooling to do.

They had to know some of the people they were keeping out could outthink them and outcreate their darlings five ways from Monday.  So they created this idea that believing like they did was a sign of intelligence and therefore anyone who believed differently was dumb.  Just another cry for R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

And once the virus of “respect” is in place, we’re asked to respect all sorts of absurd things: symbols, pieces of paper, positions.

Look, I’m not a sans-coulotte, even though at various times when I look at policies being implemented, I’ve been known to mutter that we need more lampposts with arms, so we can hang the aristos from them.  I do respect some forms and some places – those that have a history worthy of respect.  I respect our form of government which sucks, but sucks less than all the others.  I respect the places where our history has been forged and the monuments that symbolize it.  I even respect the constitution of the United States (a work birthed by geniuses who produced it while half-dead of heat stroke in a place with almost no human comforts) to the point of respect extending to the paper it was written in.

But I don’t venerate the paper above the content.  And my respect for the oval office might or might not extend to the man in it – why should it?  A lot of the men in it have not respected the office either as a charge or as a location.

I wonder how it would all have ended without the internet.  (What a marvelous world this is, which has such electrons in it.)  Badly, I suspect.  Hell, it might still end badly.  We’ve now raised what?  Three generations? With this stupid idea of “respect for the position.”

But I don’t think so.  I don’t think so, because the establishment is on the run and the aristos are trying to hide behind walls of “you must respect me.”

I first noticed how the internet discomfited my older colleagues, the vaunted lions of a generation that has yet to produce a world bestriding giant of Asimov’s stamp – let alone Heinlein’s –  when one of them went into a spit-flecked rant about Amazon allowing “just anyone” to review books.  After all what credentials did these “reviewers” have?  Why should they be allowed to voice their opinion?

This was the first time I realized that not only were their amazing reviews in fact controlled by their publishers (yes, most of them WERE paid for) and the prizes they awarded each other hollow of any significance – but they KNEW it.  Meanwhile I, back then, as a completely naive beginner writer, was thrilled every time I got a new review because it meant someone else had read my words, and I treasured the good ones, even the dopey ones that praised characters who weren’t actually in the novel.  And, as a reader, I’d already found that those reviews, once you filtered out the obvious nuts (best exemplified by the buying of things other than books, at Amazon – you know, the review that says “this might be an okay coffee maker, but it doesn’t work at all as a steam shovel, so I’m giving it one star.”), were a much better guide of what I’d like to read than all the “expert” reviews in the world.

Now, of course, with indie publishing, the screaming has got deafening.  “Why are they allowed to publish anything?”  “Publishers are professionals.”

Other mavens of the establishment are going equally unhinged.  The “scientists”, say, whose emails got leaked, and who proved to be far less worthy of respect than the con men of my childhood who deceived the farmers with shell games but who at least were willing to work at it and perfect their crooked trade.  The “Journalists” whining that they can no longer change the national conversation – as though this had ever been part of their job description.  The doctors who sue someone for describing – on his blog – how he lost weight (which incidentally is how my husband lost over 150 lbs and is keeping it off) because it doesn’t accord with their doctrine.  The “businessmen” who apply to the government for subsidies because they’re too big to fail – after proving the only way they can run a business is into the ground.

All of them are screaming “RESPECT ME” at the top of their lungs.  Which is all the proof you need to have that they don’t deserve that respect.

Unearned, office-associated “respect” is something given to priests and shamans, to guardians of a mystery religion.  Respecting the “office” and the trappings of the office is a thing of ancient monarchy.  It is not something that should even be talked about in a free society.

In a free society, we respect those who have earned our respect.  To them I’ll give full measure of respect and brimming over.  Take Ric Locke – he went from wanna be to colleague with one book.  I have other friends and acquaintances who haven’t even had the success he had.  But I’ve read their work, and they’re my colleagues.  They earned it.  They don’t have the position, but they already have my respect.

The others?  The lords of empty pomp and circumstance, hiding behind their credentials?  Don’t make me laugh.

Whether they’re petty teachers demanding pomp and circumstance from their classes, or heads f publishing houses trying to impose their taste and opinion on a tired public* – they don’t deserve and they don’t get my respect.  For them I’ll paraphrase Marlowe: Heyla you pampered jades of the establishment!  We’re coming to get you.

*No.  Of course I DON’T mean Baen.  Baen caters to the public.  And has been called “lowbrow” for it.  And the grace with which they laugh their way to the bank HAS earned my respect. (Grin.)

187 thoughts on “R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  1. The Emperor’s New Clothes….Where is the child who will call out the tipping point truth? And won’t we enjoy watching the naked flee!

    1. Pure fairy tale. There is no way any of our modern emperors would believe any significant portion of their public smart enough to “see” those robes. They RELY on their followers being “poor, uneducated and misinformed.”

  2. This is completely random, but now I’m curious about your husband’s weight loss and method. I couldn’t find a post on it?

    Also, I’m sharing this post through facebook, and tweeting it too. This is something I’ve never questioned, and now I’m thinking.

    1. Read Gary Taubes “How We Get Fat” — Dan didn’t, but he was diagnosed with diabetes and designed his “diet” himself. He lost 150 some pounds (might be 160 now) and our older son, who’d been overweight since babyhood, despite frankly not eating much, lost 120 some pounds. I lost 45, and with exercise (which I didn’t do, they did — time) hope to lose more. A guy in NC (?) came up with the same diet on his own and posted about it, and the AMA sued him for “practicing medicine without a license.” (rolls eyes.)
      Dan is now, afawct NOT diabetic. We read the Taubes book last year and found he’d evolved a thesis close to our own.

      1. I did Atkins & Eades before Taubes came out with his book but couldn’t stick with it. Too much stress and traveling when my Father died. Also, my husband couldn’t handle it even though his health mostly got better on it. Atkins was the one diet where I felt like I was in control of my weight. No starving. No hunger headaches in the afternoon. No shakes from low blood sugar. No “Psycho Amazon B* from H* with PMS” moments from hunger.

        1. There are tons of ways to make this easier. what we’re doing is much tighter than atkins, but it’s much easier. There’s products like Carbquick and the Dixie carb counters bread company. There’s no carb “not quite rice” from Amazon. And there’s all the recipes I’ve “evolved” for baked goods because it was that or stop having tea. I keep meaning to write a cookbook, but since I’m a dab-and-pinch cook I need a clear month, where I measure everything.

          Anyway, it’s MUCH easier now. And it works. Also, the horrible cravings only last about six months. My worst one was potatoes. I’m over it now. We do this thing where you can be bad on your birthday, but the funny thing is Robert is the only one who exerts the prerogative.

          1. Just wondering, I haven’t read the book, but I’ve lost 30 pounds since January just watching my carbs and not worrying at all about fat (though I probably could still do with more fruits and veggies). Is that basically where you’re coming from?

            1. yep. We cut carbs to the point of cutting out most fruit — we left in berries. Apparently our fruits are way sweeter than they used to be. And yep. I don’t worry about calories, which is a relief, just restrict carbs and I’m now trying to work out every day, which is hard (time!) but allows me to feel better.

              1. I’ve got to wonder whether it’s ALL carbs that are bad in large quantities, or just sugars. Plenty of cultures have had carb-based staples (bread in France, rice in Asia, etc.) for centuries without obesity epidemics. But the obesity epidemics do correlate strongly with when those various countries started using sugar (or corn syrup or whatever) in just about everything…

                Not having read Taubes et al, my gut feeling is that people will see the most benefit from cutting sugar drastically, and that starch won’t cause nearly the problems that sugar will. But my evidence for that is only historical rather than scientific. Those of you who’ve read Taubes: does he ever address the “if ALL carbs are bad, why haven’t Asians been obese for millenia?” question?

                1. Eh – they also correlate with us changing to sitting on our butts all the time. My waistline is directly correlated with lower and lower activity level. The average carb content of store-bought food has probably gone up, too, no matter what the source.

                  1. I was reading a thing about this today and as usual it said “get up off your sofa and exercise” — well, the most obese/out of shape people I now are NOT couch potatoes but people who work long hours at their jobs… which are sit down jobs, of course.

                    1. Well, yeah, that’s how my activity level went down, too. I was never skinny after I stopped growing, but I was in fairly good shape when I had manual labor jobs. And while I don’t work long hours, I have a fairly long commute. I typically spend 11-12 hours away from home every day.

                2. actually the problem is that our cereals, our fruits, etc are ALL more “sugary” than in the past. They’ve been cultivated to be. Taubes argues this and has a point. Asians weren’t obese for millenia (though do consider the drawings always showed them as chubby) because the rice they ate was higher in fiber and lower in sugars. Also, frankly, because there wasn’t a heck of a lot of it. But in the eighties I was very skeptical about pushing potatoes on everyone, for instance. Yeah, it’s a starch — but countries who rely on it for a staple are known for overweight, undernourished peasants.

                  WE personally — and there might be reasons we have hunter gatherers closer in our ancestries — find we have to cut starches too, not just sugars. I’m not saying it applies to everyone. I have a friend who lives almost exclusively on starches and is model-slim (eats like a horse, too.) Years ago Dave Freer told me there is FAR more variation in metabolism in humans — even within families — than one size fits all government recommendations could POSSIBLY lead you to suspect.

                  1. We are also eating far more refined foods, and there are a host of problems that come with that. There is much to be learned about nutrition, and how individuals differ — but tell that to the do-gooders who want to legislate our diets for the good of all.

                    1. Yes. And the people for whom the “recommendations” work think — I think — that those of us who were living on 800 calories a day were secretly snacking on lard. When Dan tried to lose weight before this, he at one time kept a food diary. The doctor just told him maybe he was eating in his sleep. (Head>desk.)

                    2. Oh yea – three years ago my prednisone was raised to 20 mg, and then my weight started going up fast. The nephrologist told me that I needed to eat less. I told him what I was eating and he gave me the stinky eye… you know… the one… I don’t believe you. I gave up trying to convince him finally.

                  2. I was on a modified Atkins diet before I became ill. What worried me is that the nutritionist told me that if I ate too much meat that it would impair my already hurt kidneys. I still don’t know if that is true or not.

                    1. You freeze it, then you thaw it, squeeze out the water, and marinade it in wine and garlic for 24h. Okay, you actually make it taste like wine and garlic, but it makes very good mediterranean stew. And it’s cheap.

                    2. Yea – we are close enough to CA that we can get some fish. Plus I do some freezer fish as well. I eat a lot of Omega-3s because it really helps the inflammation of the disease. I’ll have to change my cooking …

                3. As I recall, Taubes thinks Asians often weren’t obese because they ate mostly fish and vegetables, with a little rice, and then did huge amounts of physical labor, burning those carbs off right away before they had time to be metabolized. Plus most didn’t get enough food of any kind. (To be fair, I’ve seen plenty of pictures drawn by Asian artists, both historical and modern (in manga) and there are plenty of pudgy people in them, especially in the upper classes or middle-aged and elderly people.)

                  I do wonder if having, say, some native American ancestry, might tend someone to be more carb-sensitive, while the French might have developed more of a tolerance. Just as, while most of the world is lactose intolerant, people of European or Indian descent, and some African, are fine.

                  1. Sigh. Look, I used to commiserate with my black students about the work we had to put in to stay on the low side of “fat” — while people with more “pure” (none of us is pure, mind) European ancestry can live on twinkies and rice and be skinny. There DOES seem to be a correlation to how long most of your ancestors were exposed to agriculture and fed mostly on cereals and how you react to them. Northern Europeans tend to be skinner than Southern Europeans who have more recent African probably hunter/gatherer genes. All this is highly empirical, because it’s easier to issue one size fits all directives “carbs good, fat bad” then double down on stupid when people’s weight explodes. Yes, the availability of food and our relatively sedentary lifestyle explains some of it, but look — I was living on 800 calories a day and showing ALL signs of malnutrition and still steadily gaining weight.

                    There seems to be also some correlation between autistic/aspergers/the sort of sensory issue my younger kid has and CEREAL consumption. We found he progressed much faster towards “normal” — which happens to about 90% of kids with his issues — if we removed cereals. All this sounds like the ability to healthfully digest/use cereals/carbs are an acquired evolutionary trait, exactly like digesting lactose as an adult.

                    1. I hadn’t eaten cereal for years until my docs told me to get more fiber and eat more grains. I exploded… plus I was taking prednisone too. Prednisone can make you fat on a limited diet. I don’t eat the amount I used to eat before my illness and I gain more weight rapidly. I have been off the cereal now for a few years again.

                    2. Because of my related kidney problems (related to my disease) my docs and nutritionists want to limit protein. I learned that if I limit too much the protein leak from my kidneys get bigger. I think my docs and nutritionist are wrong. I started to eat more protein, but not as much as I did before my illness.

              2. The Russian diet seems to be worst on carbs. I’ve seen WWII photos of Soviet snipers coming in from the field after months of shooting Germans and eating what Soviet rations they could carry… and they’re fat!

                1. Also remember that large portions of Russia being fat (or at least having a healthy insulating layer) is a survival trait. So genetically the propensity to pack on a little extra insulation gets passed on, and the diet is adjusted accordingly, if possible. Eskimos are another excellent example of this, a healthy as a horse Eskimo would be consider chubby (obese if your our first lady) by most standards, but their ancestors adapted to the environment they lived in.

  3. In addition, the “respect the position types” are often hateful toward those who hold non-Leftish views especially when those people are in “positions of authority”.

    1. ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’ I grew up with the tales of black listing under McCarthy.

      From Pete Townsend’s We Won’t Get Fooled Again:

      There’s nothing in the street
      Looks any different to me
      And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
      And the parting on the left
      Is now the parting on the right
      And the beards have all grown longer overnight

      I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
      Take a bow for the new revolution
      Smile and grin at the change all around
      Pick up my guitar and play
      Just like yesterday
      Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
      We don’t get fooled again
      Don’t get fooled again
      No, no!


      Meet the new boss
      Same as the old boss

      1. Funny thing, the black-listing … it wasn’t McCarthy’s doing, it was the House HUAC pushing it, a House controlled by the Dems. The Hollywood 10, for example, were ordered by the Party in Moscow to make a public stand, sacrifices for The Greater Good. See Red Star Over Hollywood,

        Until now, Hollywood’s political history has been dominated by a steady stream of films and memoirs decrying the nightmare of the Red Scare. But Ronald and Allis Radosh show that the real drama of that era lay in the story of the movie stars, directors and especially screenwriters who joined the Communist Party or traveled in its orbit, and made the Party the focus of their political and social lives. The authors’ most controversial discovery is that during the investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Hollywood Reds themselves were beset by doubts and disagreements about their disloyalty to America, and their own treatment by the Communist Party. Abandoned by their old CP allies, they faced the Blacklist alone.
        (Amazon product description)

        Oh, and BTW: Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were guilty.

        1. And this is more serious than a lot of people realize – Hollywood was the media, in the days before television, and had such control over information and ideas. I blame a lot of the idiocy of the Baby Boomers from the fact that their parents grew up under the FDR propaganda and believed it all. Hollywood was a huge part of that.

          And McCarthy was right about the State department being riddled with Communist Russian spies as well.

        2. And a few others. And as we’ve reason to believe there WAS a long march through the institutions. Heinlein thought that McCarthy’s actions were justified in war time. I wasn’t there. And I know the media and MOVIES have distorted everything. I’d have to see primary sources before I believe it.

          1. Ahem. Read any Radosh (check his footnotes) or David Horowitz (esp. Radical Son.) See any of the “red diaper babies” who converted to freedom.

            Check The Venona Secrets. Or just read any issue of The Nation and invert the reality expressed.

          2. The first blacklist was Communists blacklisting liberals. They didn’t want competition on the Center to left side. And it’s a myth that just a whisper could ruin someone. Lucille Ball was called in, said, “my late dad made me sign up. The party had been good to him in the homeland. I never went to meetings.” The interrogator said, “we probably won’t need to speak to you again,” and she had no trouble in her career after that.

            1. Lucy’s plight did engender husband Desi Arnez’s immortal line: “The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate.”

    2. You mean the way we have to “respect the office” when Barry Obama sits at the desk, but “dissent is patriotic” when it is George W. Bush?

      I am imagining the hue and cry the first time somebody tosses a shoe toward the presidential seal at an Obama press conference … oh wait a min, He don’t do those, do he?

      1. I was thinking the exact same thing – no one ever said we had to respect the office under G.W. And he never demanded it.

  4. One of the hardest battles of the last half of the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st, is the battle to maintain a reasonable weight in the face of the availability, at the drop of a hat, of massive quantities of food. Kudos to your husband – and I’d love to know the blog of which you speak.

    Respect must be earned. And earned over and over. I respect someone who makes it through med school, but not if he doesn’t continue to learn. I respect someone good at teaching me something she knows and which I want to learn. I respect those who add value.

    But fewer and fewer are getting automatic passes any more.

    1. Yeah, I’ve decided that anything that can be achieved by a twenty-something isn’t all that impressive – which includes academic degrees, Ph.Ds, med school, law degrees, the CPA exam. Someone had better have some real achievements, post academia, done as an adult, to get my attention.

      1. I turned 42 last weekend and I am six weeks away from finishing my fourth post-secondary degree. I say that not to brag, but to agree: my first three were Physics, Math, and Law, and done on the traditional educational path. This one is in something MUCH less complicated, and even though I am doing well, it’s WAY harder. Not only do have other actual responsibilities now, but a 42-year-old brain does not work the way a 21-year-old brain does. I was always impressed by those people who did things like go to medical school after they retired (although I think that’s a huge waste of resources, sorry) but now I am more like awed.

  5. I am afraid I have always had an unhealthy respect for authority.
    For instance, I respect an effective teacher because she has had training I have not and get a little anarchistic savages to generally behave and even learn something. This isn’t as easy at it sounds. I’ve tried teaching my daughters and they won’t listen to a darn thing I tell them; there are some pretty serious disconnects between a 50 year old and a 12 year old; certain “assumed” knowledge is just not there.
    That said, the older I get, the less I trust authority. Cops are NOT your friends. Scientists are as much about the grant money as science (which, IMHO, explains “anthropogenic global warming”). Officers above battalion level are as much politicians as they are soldiers (maybe more so).
    In general, I try to differentiate between “authority” and “achievement.” Achievement deserves respect. Authority, esp. authority without matching achievement, deserves only suspicion.

    1. Oh, I respect GOOD teachers too – they’re d*mn rare, btw. The system works against them. — Even when we were stone cold broke, we’d get nice gift cards for the GOOD teachers, like the third grade teacher who convinced #2 son to share with the world the fact he could read, and actually got him to do homework (!) or the History teacher who commanded Robert’s respect (ex-navy-officer) not an easy task since the boy lives and breathes history. I just don’t respect them because “they have a job teaching”

      1. Acknowledging, up front, that “Hollywood Isn’t History” there are some things to be learned from films. Such as the fact that audiences accept without question the representation that most teachers at “troubled” schools are burnt-out time-markers. Pace Stand and Deliver (1988), To Sir, With Love (1967) and Blackboard Jungle (1955). Add your own favourites.

        Yes, it is a stereotype … or is it an archetype? Whatever, people’s experience leads them to believe the whatever-type.

        1. My experience is that there are good teachers and time markers everywhere. OTOH there are fewer every year, because the bureaucracy wears them down and runs them out.

  6. Sarah,
    You talked about your missing holes in your knowledge. I know what you mean. There is a place called Khanacademy that has videos on several different subjects. The guy who started this was making youtube videos for his niece who was having a hard time with school. Basically it started as a mentor program. I haven’t looked it up yet– I just have been seeing his stuff for awhile now. It looks like a place to plug the holes (especially in math).

    As for respect, even religion doesn’t get my respect. I learned a very long time ago that people who demand respect have a sort of self-loathing, and loathing of other people. They are empty balloons wandering through their lives and others.

    It was an interesting post as usual.

    1. Ah, be careful with some of Khan’s math videos, notably when they talk about quadratic equations. Some are incorrect and while Khan acknowledges the problem, they were not corrected as of early August 2012. I don’t have the list anymore, but you might double-check Khan’s material with Teaching Company or other on-line lectures.

      1. Thanks for the info TX– I guess what I am saying is that people are trying to get the info online so that other generations can actually learn the stuff instead of guesstimate.

        1. MIT and some other universities are putting intro-level tech courses online for free (at the moment), as well as educated individuals.Or just daring souls (“Will it blend?”). As you say, people and some institutions are pushing information out past the gatekeepers.

  7. All the students who asked that things be thrown out as no longer relevant, like western classics, classic languages, long hours of formal training, extensive reading, modes of deportment, screwed my generation over.

    Warning: This blog has already touched on several of my hot buttons.

    Something went dreadfully wrong before the 1960s. When the rabble asked why this? why that? or why the other? was ‘relevant’ the authorities either failed to or could not defend their fields or explain the traditions. The authorities gave in to the ignorant mass. College steadily became more about job training and less about learning the long history of thought that lead to who we are today. We have failed to provide an understanding of the underpinnings of our democratic republic and are left wide open to assault. I might argue that this result was intentional on somebody’s part…

    BTW: The authorities in this country in the 1960s did try the ‘but you have to respect me’ argument. It did not hold well at the time, as I think a critical mass of discontentment had been reached. This is one of the reasons I have hope. If the imagination of the people can be caught by Human Wave, if places like Hillsdale continue to educate, if people who are fed up become educated and can give reason for what they believe — then the tide will turn again. (That is, until the next time people get lazy about their thinking.)

    1. And they do a durn poor job of job training. If they were actually any good at job training at least there would be some bright side.

      1. As it stands how can we tell if they are doing a good job or not, so many of the kids presently graduating are looking at a bleak job market. Of course that is because we haven’t shown proper respect and let the marvelous academics we have elected and the experts they have appointed to finish their job fixing the economy, or so THEY tell us.

  8. I found out pretty early in life that Respect was usually a mask with nothing behind it. I was in high school during the McCarthy era, so bucking the pressures to conform and ask no questions tended to get me in trouble every now and then.

  9. The South Park clip of Cartman bellowing “respect mah authority” sums up the problem rather well. “He has credentials/ she went to the right school/ I’m doing trendy research/ he comes from a historically victimized group/ the government gives her money/ you MUST respect him.”

    “Relevant” is one of those words that seems to go along with demands for “respect” (without achievement). Classes are “relevant” or like the new Colorado education rankings that encourage “social action,” you are supposed to teach/learn “relevant” modern, trendy, current, things such as hyphenated studies, social awareness, social action (an oxymoron, since most of it seems to be profoundly anti-social). All instead of classical literature, critical thinking, the Trivium, the scientific method, foreign languages, and other things that will help the student function as a citizen or even just hold their own in a coffee-shop conversation.

  10. The R-E-S-P-E-C-T as demanded by the same think that has brought us the vaulted Self-affirmation and Self-esteem movements. Empty and usually cracked, not even good to use as vases.

  11. See also… C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. The precursor to what Sarah is describing is when the elites laugh sanctimoniously as they deconstruct concepts such as objective truth, morality, beauty, and patriotism. (Of course, the people that destroyed that particular foundation would have characterized their opponents as hypocritical, immoral, and ugly traitors. Go figure.)

  12. Interesting about your first cozy being rejected b/c of a “funny policeman.” I wonder if nowadays manuscripts are rejected for having insufficiently serious and reverential portrayals of public school teachers or union officials. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    And you don’t have to respect the paper the Constitution was written on. Because it was written on parchment (calfskin). 🙂

    Sorry, it’s the auto-correct in me; I work in archives with pre-19th-ct manuscript collections, and paper was a scarce commodity then. Parchment was the default choice for any important document.

    A good choice too, b/c parchment is way more durable and long-lasting than most types of paper. Which means that the physical form of the Constitution will almost certainly be around a lot longer than the ideas it contains.

    Irony much?

      1. The “piece of paper” line is popular amongst those advocating a “Living Constitution.” Shows how much respect for the contract they hold.

            1. Well now I don’t subscribe to the whole living document thing, but I would say that Constitutional government remains, but some would suggest it is being tied in knots.

  13. I may be a partial dissident here.

    At least in US military culture, a degree of “respect the position” is required. Or at least “respect the power and authority granted a person in the position” – even if you think the guys a hateful backstabbing snake.

    It doesn’t mean we always accord the person IN that position respect, but it’s bad for the chiefs and officers you DO care about to openly undermine the asshat of a Master chief with a god complex among your peers and mutual subordinates. Gripe amongst your peers. Work around him if needed, but actively undercutting him undercuts the authority of his position in the hierarchy as well, and makes it more difficult to deal with peers and subordinates who also think they don’t have to follow orders.

    Granted, most of life doesn’t have the life-or-death issues associated with not following orders.

    As to teachers: I’ve dressed down at least one loser of a teacher – privately – because they marked my daughter wrong for correctly answering an vaguely worded question not in accordance with the key (and added to that, gave an incorrect reason contradicting the material they were teaching for geometry, as to why she was wrong). I also love poking teachers over their credentialist sensitivities over home, private , and other non-union “teachers” (you can hear the air quotes in the eye-roll). My twelve years running training programs (among many other jobs) in the nuke navy exposed me to far too much to ever believe the credentialist BS, and far too many petty, narcissistic people fall into positions like “teacher”, “cop” or “bureaucrat” even with the numerous decent or good ones.

    That said, tearing apart a teacher in front of the class makes it more difficult for them to earn or retain the respect of their class. I may not care about THAT teacher (though some just need a correction, and I’m also damn well aware of helicopter parents who give the teachers a hard time over anything that might hurt their kids pwecious widdle self esteem), but this affects other teachers too, even the good ones, who have the same students.

    So I may defer a bit to authority as a default until I learn the person hasn’t stepped up to their role, and I hold nothing but contempt for people who don’t try their damnedest to live up to the responsibility their position of authority demands.

    1. Some teachers need to be taken apart in front of the class. One would be the person who sent the kids to my blog to call me names, when I’d neither named her nor the school and had ONLY made fun of the assignment, not her. (And the assignment — I pointed that out in the post) wasn’t HERS because I’d seen it before.

      The military is a different kettle of fish, though even there I understand we train men so that the “we were just following orders” doesn’t apply. It’s what makes us better than WWII Germany.

      1. Yeah – like I said – a “degree” of “respect the position” – because unlawful orders or something “wrong” (will destroy a turbine for no good reason, etc.) when you should know better get you in trouble for following them. More importantly, they are simply an abandonment of your own personal authority and responsibility.

        And point taken about how some teachers MUST be dismantled, including the one that sent students along to call you names. It’s just given the second order consequences, it’s gotta be something egregious enough to warrant it in a “this should never be tolerated ever” sense, or you also harm the good ones from the fallout.

        1. I understand where you come from Darius since I was in the Navy for six years. However, I found that sometimes if you do not go up the chain of the command on certain occasions, then you are NOT doing your duty. I had to do it a couple of times. It was not fun for me either. (We had chiefs who would abandon their duties during the weekend and leave it to the lower ranks who did not have the experience.)

          I was the 2nd class. Eventually the Commanding officer got smart and put our electronics shop under a Warrant Officer. Our chiefs and 1st classes were getting tainted by the senior chiefs. It was an interesting situation when the Warrant officer asked for certain records and the chiefs kept sending me in to explain it to the Warrant officer. He told me kindly not to come in there again. 😉

          And then through the door I heard him ream out three chiefs and a senior chief. It was music to my ears.

          1. Yup – sometimes correctives need to be applied – but I also note HOW it was done in your tale.

            ….and nope, never wished the “chain of command” was something literal to beat some of the snakes with. Absolutely never. Nope. Notatall.

        2. This is why it is incumbent upon proper occupants of office to demand and maintain standards for those admitted to the office. ONE bad teacher, allowed to fester, diminishes the respect of ALL teachers. ONE bad cop harms ALL cops, ONE bad CPO degrades the respect for ALL CPOs. Too often “Professional” organizations (AMA, Bar, CPA) forget their duty to police their ranks and uphold ethical standards … in part, it must be recognized, because too few of the individual members want to be held to those standards themselves.

          1. At which point those professional organizations become nothing more than guilds, with all of the behavior (and attendant problems) that guilds have carried with them for centuries.

            1. Aside from that conspiracy against the public interest element, there were a lot of positive things about guilds. For the guild members, at any rate. Not something which has ever quite caught on here in the States, but not for lack of unions trying.

          2. I’ve decided one of the most thankless jobs in the world is “Internal Auditor”. An Auditor is usually hired after a mess becomes public, everyone resents the Auditor, the people in authority who created the mess give the lamest excuses and attack the Auditor for telling them where they messed up and then fire the Auditor. If people saw what happens behind closed doors in government offices, they’d be using those lampposts.

            P.S. I’ve been lurking awhile. This topic happens to be one of my hot buttons. I found this blog via John C. Wright’s blog linking to this one on the topic of Human Wave. I like Space Opera and I like stories about funny policemen.

            1. You and most people. Er… I mean You ‘orrible, ‘orrible peasant with low tastes. Listen to your betters! You shall like ONLY belly-button gazing epics where the character is lost in grey goo! Have you no shame? (Grins, ducks and runs.) Congrats on decloaking. Come out and play more often. The inmates are friendly. (We shall have Human Wave news soon, too. Just let me get head above water.)

      2. In the military, we’re trained to respect the rank or position FIRST, and the individual if and when they deserve it. I’ve known some exceptional officers and NCOs in my 26 years in the Air Force. I’ve also known a few that couldn’t pour water out of a boot using step-by-step instructions. As an NCO, I’ve always tried to earn the respect of my fellow NCOs, the airmen I led, and the officers I served under, not necessarily in that order. Most of the time I succeeded.

        We have a saying in the Air Force (don’t know about the other services) that authority is given, but respect is earned.

        I have met some exceptionally POOR teachers, raising our four children. I’ve also met some of the all-time greats. For the most part, the teachers I had in school were excellent. I can’t say that about many of my daughters’ teachers.

        We have a few good politicians in public office at the moment. We have even more bad ones, and an even greater number that are at best warm bodies holding a seat for someone better next time. I’ll leave it at that.

  14. Well, arguably, the whole “respect your elders” thing is where the rest comes from. Why respect them? Well… they’re old. And, um, know more, right, that’s the ticket.

    And our kid continually gets into spats with one of the school aides because the aide is all “I’m the grownup; respect me” and the kid is all instinctively “treat me like an equal — explain what I’m not getting, if you’ve got all this experience — and then I’ll respect you.”

    It’s probably our fault. I mean, even when she was a little kid, I didn’t just yell at her if she got near something hot. I went and turned on the gas fireplace and let her touch the glass in front of it as it got warmer and warmer, and told her “hot” and eventually “ow” (before it was more than uncomfortable) and then she was wary of anything else I said was hot. I’m hardly perfect at treating her with respect (*sigh*), but it’s usually faster to explain than to argue with stubborn.

    I dunno where she gets her stubborn. I’ve got all of mine left.

    1. Well, we did bark orders at our kids in emergencies, but we always explained afterwards. And while our kids are almost unreally polite, they’re that way ON THEIR OWN. Yeah, we taught them. But we didn’t demand they Kowtow to us. Please and thank you and the forms of polite society were ingrained because WE use them. Of course, for reasons known only to the psychiatrists they don’t have, they both went through like three years of calling us “Sir” and “Ma’am.” I blame Pride and Prejudice A & E mini series. They still occasionally call us Mama and Papa. Often.

      1. Oh, for emergencies, yeah! Though the habit of Explaining Afterwards makes the kid willing to go with it to start with. And the teachers and aides who don’t actually Explain After… Well, she starts questioning them even more.

        I do remind her to be polite, but it’s not because she’s natively unwilling — just natively absent-minded. *sigh*

      2. Daddy could make a long shore man blush. The Daughter, on the other hand, determined for herself that she did not like cussing. Now cursing, that is something else. She doesn’t do it, but doesn’t mind if I let off with a: May you live to be over one hundred years old with increasing wealth, good health and excellent hearing. May you be granted with one hundred wives, each more beautiful and precious than the next. And may each of those wives come into your household with her beloved mother to whom she is closer than a sister.

    2. Once upon a time being “old” meant you were, 35? And, especially in pre-literate culture, were a primary repository of the group’s knowledge base. But mostly being “old” meant you were smart enough, fast enough, strong enough, LUCKY enough to have survived all sorts of things that killed your childhood mates.

      1. With all due respect [wink], the “35 is old” is just a myth. Men and women could reach 60 or so if they were not killed by “outside forces”. The “35/40” average age involved more infant/childhood deaths than are currently common. Of course, in earlier times late teens were considered full adults not “interbetweeners”. Of course, “respecting your elders” was more important then because the elders had survived tough times and could tell you how to survive those tough times as well.

        1. I agree – my great greats lived to be 60 or over. The few that died young, died of influenza or something of that nature. My great grandmother who had stomach cancer in her mid 80s lived to be 98 years old. I think I’ll be one of the cut short ones, but that doesn’t mean my siblings won’t live very long.

              1. The idea that the great expansion in longevity is a myth comes from studies done in either well-to-do places (for their time) or from letters and papers left by the upper crust. Mind you, even there 80 was rare and people were in worse shape by then. But … field hands? We have reports of vast numbers of children raising each other and living wild (it was immortalized in our fairytales) because people didn’t live that long.
                Sorry, one of my hot buttons is this bright idea that the benefits of modernity are illusory (and presumably that we can go back to an agrarian dirt poor society with no bad effects. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people would love to see feudalism brought back.)

                1. As long as they were at the top of feudalism… No one wants to be at the bottom. You know a lot of hippies who lived in communes in the 60s are not there now. They learned about hard work and some didn’t like it. imho

                2. The children on their own is not just immortalized in fairytales. Early photo-journalists made their mark documenting the conditions street children of NYC for the Children’s Aid Society. There are far fewer orphans now, such that such institutions as Girard College (grades 1-12 boarding school in Philadelphia), was founded in 1833 to provide a free education for poor white male orphans with academic promise. In 1968 the color line was broken and then in 1984 girls were admitted as well. Now, for lack of qualified orphans, children from single parent low-income households are now admitted as well.

                3. I’m waiting for a horror movie called “Heartland” to come out in theaters or on video. It uses the Zombie Apocalypse as an excuse to depict that, a big stretch of Midwest US farmland in which the kids from tots to mid teens are on their own, raising crops and livestock and defending themselves with guns, because the parents and older kids didn’t come back from the last trip for supplies, and no sign of any outside authority and no sign that outside aid will be coming. The trailer on You Tube is very creepy.

            1. No idea how long any of my ancestors lived before they got to America, though it wasn’t the United States when my ggg-grandfather arrived. Everyone since then has been so long-lived, I’ve wondered if I’m a member of the Howard families.

              But yes, we’re an exception to the rule.

        2. It is NOT a myth. I know EF believes that, but it’s based on very few studies and frankly limited. Paul, sorry, the life expectancy in Elizabethan England was around 39 — NOT counting infant mortality. Yes, the upper classes could live to sixty or seventy or even longer. Paul, sorry, but I’ve seen people old at 39 — some of the hard-living people in our time. It’s not even hard. With inadequate food and climate control, not to mention hygiene? It’s not a myth. And no studies of Roman Emperors or bourgeois in well to do towns in the nineteenth century will dispell that. People could even live to their eighties — given the right genes and conditions, but they were flukes. I’ve seen the change in my life time if you count Portugal.
          Shakespeare died at 58 and was considered “Very old” — now someone dies in their sixties and we say “oh, no. So young.” Look, the change is not illusory, though most of it was due to soap and toothbrushing. To claim it’s illusory betrays a to-narrow view of history.

          1. “The life expectancy in Elizabethan England was around 39”

            How would the mortality of women in childbed have affected that average?

            1. Oh, theirs was probably lower. What I’m talking about here was when a peasant was considered “old and out of it” — and nearing forty was about it. Mind you, history is not written by/about peasants.

              1. true – I was thinking of the industrial revolution when the peasants went into the mills and the mines. It was very dangerous for the children who worked as well. The chimney stacks were cleaned by young boys, etc. etc… It was more dangerous imho than some of the farms.

                1. Not really. We’ve been taught that, but life was — weirdly — better in the cities in the industrial age. That’s why people moved there. Marxist “historians” have distorted that fact. Rural life was pretty dangerous as well. :/ We’re seeing this move real-life in China and India.

                  1. It is hard to get the straight scoop when it comes to history nowadays (or maybe always). I have been hearing that the serfs in China are not allowed to leave their villages. Plus they don’t live as long as those who live in the cities. (Or this maybe distorted too). I had already heard about the one child policy in China in the 70s. I don’t that it has helped them much either.

                  2. Cities always draw the young and impressionable, claiming relief from the boredom and drudgery of rural life. People need to read about tenements and other realities … and about what happened to the farm kid whose foot got stepped on by a cow. It wouldn’t take much for a medieval city to be safer than a farm. ; /

                    OTOH, read R. F. Delderfield’s “God is an Englishman” series for a pretty credible depiction of mid-19th to early 20th Century England’s transformation. (Apparently available as a free ebook: http://www.ebook3000.com/God-Is-an-Englishman_32620.html)

                    1. The accidents farm people got into even when I was a kid… My favorite story is of the farm laborer who sliced into his foot with a hoe. Preparatory to sewing it, my grandmother went across the street to the general store because we were inexplicably out of agua-ardente (everclear/brandy) which she intended to use as disinfectant. She comes back with the bottle, and before she can sit it down, the farmhand grabs the bottle and downs the contents. My grandmother, shocked, says “That was for your foot.” To which his answer was “It will get there internally.” But yeah, farm hands, farmers, they aged really fast and looked BEAT.

                    2. My dad tells of cutting tobacco one day on his father’s farm, and accidentally stabbing his hand on the tobacco spear (a narrow metal cone that goes over the tobacco stick, which is used to hang the tobacco in the barn, so the stalk can be split onto the stick). He went to his father, who took the chew of tobacco out of his mouth and slapped it on he wound, wrapped a handkerchief around it, and told him to get back to work.

                    3. In her book Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest Justice Sandra Day O’Connor tells a similar story about her father cauterizing a broken tooth by grabbing up a stray length of baling wire, heating it in the branding fire and … solved the problem without a blink.

                      And young Harry Truman held the kerosene lantern for the doctor performing an appendectomy on Ma Truman.

                      Leave us not even start on tales of surgery during the War Of Yankee Boorishness..

                    4. I’ve had my foot stepped on quite a few times by cows (worked on a dairy farm as a teenager) one of whole multitude of reasons I despise cows. Not an experience I would recommend (it generally hurts like the dickens) but I never had any damage more severe than severe bruising that went away after a week or so.

                    5. The difference between having a horse step on your foot and having a cow do it is that the horse is much easier to make move OFF your foot.

                    6. My mom tells the story of my dad getting his wisdom teeth removed (around the time I was born, dad quit chewing tobacco before I was old enough to remember). He went in to the dentist first thing in the morning and refused to allow them to knock him out because he was going to work when they were done. So they took his wisdom teeth out with just a local, he walked out of the office and went to work, when the local wore off the empty sockets really started bothering him, so he stuffed them full of Copenhagen and continued working. I had mine removed in high school after hearing this story many times, while I wasn’t man enough to not be knocked out (besides it makes a great excuse to miss school) I did use the Copenhagen trick the next day. No teacher will suspect anything about a funny bulge when you have just had your wisdom teeth removed 😉

                      Chewing tobacco actually makes a decent topical antibiotic, and was used a lot in the War of Yankee Boorishness. Of course I quit all that unhealthy stuff after I got a little older, so the chances of me having Copenhagen or Everclear around when it is needed are slight 😦

        3. Well, yeah – the 35 was a benchmark. The positive side of high childhood mortality is the slow learners tend to get weeded out of the gene pool. Absolut agreement about the old coots being likely more able to tell 100-year winter from an ordinary one, and stock larders and woodpiles accordingly.

          More Wood

          in the fall of the year
          when you feel the winter near
          and the days are clear
          it surely isn’t good
          to sit by the fire
          and want to stroke it higher
          when you could be cutting more wood

          from November to March
          the winter winds are harsh
          on the fields and the marsh
          they’re covered up with snow
          when you trudge to the shed
          you have to scratch your head
          because the dad-blamed pile’s getting low on

          wood (hardwood)
          firewood (dry wood)
          there’s not a stove in the world
          that’s going to do you any good
          with out wood (stovewood)
          we could (you should)
          be out cutting more wood

          when the kindling is dwindling
          the bottom logs get soggy
          those ricks of sticks and racks and stacks
          it makes you wonder where they go
          and barnfuls of armfuls
          they only last a week or so
          and then you’ll be hurting for wood

          well the sassafras it burns too fast
          it starts the fire but never lasts
          and swamp oak likes to smoke
          you blow it till you think you’ll choke
          but hickory its just the tree
          to remind you of the ecstasy
          of having a pile of good wood I said

          wood (hardwood)
          firewood (dry wood)
          there’s not a stove in the world
          that’s going to do you any good
          with out wood (stovewood)
          we could (you should)
          be out cutting more wood

          well the Scandia and the Jotel brands
          are made so far across the sea
          the Fisher kind and Timberline
          are made here in the country
          with all the rest put to the test
          the one I like the very best
          is the one my Uncle Wade he made for me

          he took an oil drum and welded some
          piping from the septic tank
          and fore and aft he cut a draft
          and then me hade a damper crank
          with an old broom from the back room
          he painted it fire engine red
          and said now watch her consume your

          wood (hardwood)
          firewood (dry wood)
          there’s not a stove in the world
          that’s going to do you any good
          with out wood (stovewood)
          we could (you should)
          be out cutting more wood

          when the spring rolls around
          and I spade the muddy ground
          I have often found
          I lay my saw away
          the shed is empty and yet
          you can make a bet
          that I’ll forget to be cutting more wood

          the old-timers say
          to split a little every day
          and stack it away
          to season well but
          from March to November
          I rarely do remember
          December will find me in a rut

          without wood (hardwood)
          firewood (dry wood)
          there’s not a stove in the world
          that’s going to do you any good
          without wood (stove wood)
          we could (you should)
          be out cutting some
          throw it in the oil drum
          what do you think your saw is for
          you can always use some more wood.

          Heard performed a capella 3-part harmony in concert circa 1983 by Malcolm Dalglish, Grey Larsen, and Pete Sutherland (aka folk/Celtic trio Metamora), written by Dillon Bustin

          Good luck trying to find it, hah!

        4. If no outside forces killed you? Cess in the streets. The rigors of childbirth where hemorrhaging and childbed fever took many women. All sorts of infections which would kill. Farming was dangerous, and it became more so in the early days of mechanization. Women had to be careful of their skirts around fireplaces, and as that was where cooking was done… Localized famine. There were plenty of outside forces. We have too many records which indicate that for most life was short. (Side note: women who survived their childbirth years did tend to live long lives.)

          1. ALSO just repeated infections. It’s amazing reading Heyer — well researched stories, set in the eighteenth century — where anything from a cold to a broken bone could bring on a lethal fever, and the treatments were ineffective and often counterproductive. Even if you had the constitution of an ox — and many people had to, to survive — repeated infections (TRUST ME ON THIS, considering my family’s congenital tendency to pneumonia, we’re d*mn aware of this) take a massive toll and age you before your time.

  15. When my father had vinyl siding put on his house, he made sure to tell the leader of the crew that came to do it, “Now, if this isn’t done right, I won’t pay you until you make it right.” The man assured him that they were professionals. I don’t remember the exact way it went then, because the man assured my dad they were professionals a couple more times (can’t remember what dad said to provoke this), and dad finally responded, “You might be professionals, but I’m a perfectionist. Before I retired, my job was to go around and fix what the professionals screwed up.”

    He said the guy never mentioned being professionals again.

  16. Definitions:
    Expert = Someone who has mastered the conventional wisdom.
    Conventional Wisdom = what experts in a field agree on
    Innovative Thinking = conventional wisdom with new graphics

    There is (was?) a rule in advanced physics to the effect that most breakthroughs came from scientists in their late twenties, although they might not have the supporting data to publish until decades later. It took until their twenties to master the established knowledge and principles, and much past that age they would be too invested in protecting that “knowledge” to challenge it in any significant way.

    1. I used to talk to my biology professor (before he taught he used to research how to rehabilitate chimps and other apes who had been raised by humans and in cages… he found a way to do it that was pretty innovative in the late 80s. )

      Anyway, he felt that the best scientists were the ones who mastered more than one field. The fields didn’t have to be in the hard sciences even. These were the people who were innovating the fields. Apparently the ones who were able to be more flexible were the younger students. However, older people can innovate if they allow themselves to learn.

      1. Being able to apply approaches learned in other disciplines leads to some fascinating new results. I’m good at that, and use it frequently. Only example I can think of right now was using the fact that liquids will follow a rod by adhesion (learned in Chemistry) to pour transmission fluid into the fill tube at the back under the hood when we didn’t have a funnel.

        When my friend saw me preparing to pour the transmission fluid while holding the dipstick up to the mouth of the container, he asked what kind of crazy thing I thought I was doing. When he saw the fluid going into the tube, his jaw dropped.

    2. RES: Definition of “Expert”, from Bill Cosby.
      “Let’s break the word down, so we can better understand it. We all know what the letter ‘X’ stands for in math – it stands for the unknown variable. And we also all know that a spurt is a drip under pressure. Therefore, the word Expert means an unknown drip under pressure.”

  17. The problem to me is that it is even harder today to tell Experts from “Experts”, Doctors from “Doctors”, and Teachers from “Teachers” (etc). The first know what they are doing and the second are just good at remembering what they’ve read.

    For instances I’ve had too many “Doctors” that wanted to do nothing but keep throwing medicine at the problem till it went away rather than diagnose the problem. Most recently I ended up with a 3 week ear infection because of that. It is why I hate most “Doctors” and almost none in the last 10 years have EARNED my respect.

    1. Sorwen –
      My doc is an older man that will retire soon. I makes me shudder because he is the best primary doctor I have ever had. Unfortunately he is really upset with the healthcare law. While he was gone for a vacation, I went to another doc for this stomach flu.

      She wouldn’t listen to me. I felt like she was more interested in what her computer told her than what I was telling her. I have a lot of experience with dealing with docs because of my disease. So what does she do? Send me to the labs to do 8 vials of poop that needs to be done in two days or less… you can guess where this was going. When I got it to the lab, they threw it away saying it was too old. And then, I receive a call to do the labs again… I will NOT.

      When I told the doctor that I would not do it. She kind of whined, “but I am trying to help you.”

      Since I will have to deal with docs for a long time, I am pretty upset at where the profession is going.


      1. Sorry to hear your experience was as bad as mine have been. That is why I don’t currently have a primary care physician. I haven’t found one I can trust. I’d rather go to Direct Care then at least I have the chance of getting a worth while Doctor rather than keep going to the same idiot. I was lucky when I went to a different Direct Care the second time and actually got a doctor that listened and did more than take a passing glance and hand me a prescription. He made sure I had a strong enough medication to knock out any ear infection(I had both an inner and outer ear infection and the first doctor was only treating the outer and that poorly).

        I hope you get lucky when he retires and find another physician you can trust.

        1. We changed doctors ten times over the last twenty years — each time a little lower in competence. Each of them retired, usually young because they “just couldn’t take it anymore.” In choosing doctors I’ve found older is better. Unfortunately we’re running out of those.

          1. I think that is because the “Doctors” are overpaid to play golf, while the Doctors are working 60-80 hours a week. I have to agree though since I gave up on a primary care physician when mine was retiring and I had to see his soon to be replacement while he was out(may have been on a vacation lol). She had just finished her residency else where. Worst experience ever. Even beats out the one that messed up my ear infection.

            1. I gather that an increasing number of doctors are retiring at ages younger than has previously been the practice, fed up dealing with insurance and government bureaucracies. Many others are joining medical groups where they can put in an eight hour day and go home. The overhead costs for billing, malpractice insurance and other factors just drives them to it.

          2. Don’t worry, under Obamacare [insert trumpet midi] you are GUARANTEED health coverage … by the kind of doctor willing to abide by doctrine of treatment directives established by bureaucratic panel of politically connected boobs … sigh. Probably will keep malpractice costs down because you will probably be estopped from bringing suit if they followed certified approved plans of treatment.

            1. Yes and only those approved plans. Everything starts with diagnosing a hangnail. 6 moths later they finally determine your dying of cancer. Your dead? Oh well next patient. Doctors are already so constrained and you better believe when all is said and done they will be even more so under the health care. That is one of the number one problems with government support of health care. Then you have the side effect of all the bureaucratic red tape.

              What we needed was better health care laws to cut down the bogus malpractice suits, cut down the ridiculous cost of medication(a big portion is because the cost of getting them approved), and a whole host of other problems. OC put a patch on the problem ignoring the causes. It was a “Doctors” type of diagnosis.

              Sorry about the soap box. I’m just tired of the mentality that if you throw enough money and words at a problem you fix it. Normally you just hide the problem.

              1. I grew up under government healthcare. Portugal now has branched out — from what I understand — to also allow private care, which means that only the destitute or emergency room patients use the public healthcare… which costs the same or more than it did before, but never mind.

                In my second year in college it was determined I had impacted wisdom teeth. Our dentist couldn’t do the procedure at ANY cost (and dentistry was expensive, because they allowed private, but if you went public it took forever and you know, most dentists are a matter of emergency. Well, they are in Europe.) It was surgery.

                So I spent EVERY MORNING for something like nine months, missing ALL my morning classes, to go and sit in a waiting room, till my name was called, when I confirmed that yes, I still had impacted wisdom teeth and was still alive. Every morning I moved fractionally ahead — while living on the most painkillers I could get because the teeth were actually growing into my jawbone — in the list. At the end of the school year I had my teeth removed in a procedure that took about 4 hours and fortunately had no complications. NINE months in the making, most of it consumed by bureaucratic nonsense.

                Had I been given the option to take a loan and have the stupid thing taken care of that week, I’d have jumped at the chance. My grades would probably have been better, too.

                  1. too many want a wand to fix all the problems. I run into this with newby writers too. I often get two people, equally talented asking me to help. I know right away who’ll make it. That’s the one who takes the criticism, goes forward and tries to change (Cussing my ideas out first is optional. Some feel better after that 🙂 ) The one I can’t help is the one who basically wants a magic wand. “I just want you to introduce me to someone” or “tell me the secret.” No matter how talented, that one will NEVER make it.

                    1. Too true. Too many can’t seem to understand it doesn’t exists and if you seem to find one you are ignoring the bigger costs involved. Everything costs somebody something.

                    2. I learned a long time ago that there are two kinds of people who cook. The first type can follow a recipe and produce something edible. The second type can cook. Too many people waste time looking for recipes that will produce success when they should be learning to cook.

                    3. I learned to understand cooking from a recipe for fried rice that started by explaining there is no recipe for fried rice. Or rather, the recipe is: look in the fridge, pull out leftover rice. Pull out leftover meats (ham, shrimp, chicken, all of the above. Hey – is that bacon?) Pull out some of the old carrots. Grab an onion. Any celery or other useful vegetables — bok choy, or a leaf or two of celery cabbage? Grab an egg, maybe two. Shred some ginger, prep some garlic to crush. Shred the veggies and meats. Mix up some soy, some rice wine vinegar, maybe a few drops of sesame oil. Cooking instructions? You need cooking instructions for leftovers?

                      I reckon writing works much the same way. Grab a few characters, mix and season. Figure out what they’re doing there together. Add plot to taste.

                1. At the end of the school year I had my teeth removed in a procedure that took about 4 hours and fortunately had no complications. NINE months in the making, most of it consumed by bureaucratic nonsense.

                  And bets are that had they addressed the wisdom teeth nine months before, when they were first diagnosed as impacted, the surgery would have been simpler and shorter because the teeth would have had less time to grow into your jaw. Less pain, less lost class time, a better educated citizen and an easier procedure? Wouldn’t that be better for all? Seems logical, but what do I know, I’m just a spoiled unenlightened American. No, they have a system and they are gonna damn well stick to it even if it kills them!

                  1. Less pain, less lost class time, a better educated citizen and an easier procedure? Wouldn’t that be better for all?

                    Oh, now that’s just crazy talk, right there. :-p

              2. A) if you throw enough money at a problem some of it is bound to land in your pockets.

                B) The Daughtorial Unit has wanted to be a doctor (forensic pathologist) since before CSI, but is in a holding pattern re: medical school because she is unwilling to subject herself to the system that Obamacare will produce. She has a peculiar dislike of indentured servitude, go figure.

                  1. The thing is, she wants to join the Marines in her (intended) medical capacity — their facilities for forensic pathology is unmatched and because, unlike Municipal and County M.E.s (who treat forensic pathologists as disposable commodities, to be used and discarded after a year or two) the Marines invest in professional development — they know you’ll be there for the long haul.

                    But she is going in on her terms and not willing to sign on to the bait and switch Obamacare would enable.

                    1. The Navy provides the medical officers for the Marines and the two top forensics labs in the country are both military: Dover and Quantico.

                  1. though in his case he wants neuro-surgery. A more direct form of playing with people’s minds. I guess writing isn’t enough for him. UMPH.
                    (Though I swear THIS was the conversation this morning “Mom, do we have any clean old pants?” “What? Why old?” “Cadaver lab. Things splursh.” Me. “Oh.” Then “EWWWWWWWWWW.”)

                    1. Odd – Beloved Spouse and I were discussing the concept of “safety words” (something we were watching had a character announce his safety word was “pineapple” — our interest was strictly disinterested) and “EWWWWWW” was one we agreed would be approriate … along with “no”, “No”, “NO!”, “NO DAMMITT!”, and “What the blankety-blank do you think you’re doing?” …

                      Now that I type it out like that, I think I know why we never tried that sort of role playing.

                  2. Understood. The Daughter just picked up a degree in Psychology (emphasis in bio and cognitive) last year to go with her Bio-Chem and is now considering adding one in Statistics.

              3. Hey, don’t you know that that death will make the system better by allowing us to cut costs? I mean end of life is so costly and once you are there your productivity goes down. So we might as well send dear old Boxer to the Veterinary Surgeon for the best of care. Shush, pay no attention to man behind the curtain or the sign on the side of the van that identifies it as belonging to the knacker. Um? He’s just helping us out.

    2. I’m generally satisfied with a doctor I can bully (politely!*) into doing the tests that I’ve researched (from the more reputable sites), and then give me the test results… So far, I haven’t had anything that’s been mystifying enough to really need a specialist; the one thing that was close was pronounced “harmless and we don’t know why green.” I was also diagnosed as half-Martian. Awesome lady.

      (* So far, the “sit in the chair like I was glued to it and repeat that I’m sorry to be a problem patient but it would just ease my mind to know this data” tactic has worked wonderfully.)

      1. Lucky you Beth…
        Actually my doctor is there so that I can get appointments to my rheumatologist who actually manages my disease. I have to say that my doc knew his purpose and was really nice about it. When I had shingles, he did dx it and got me the anti-virals right away. It was then that I realized that he was a GREAT doc.

        Plus he realizes when I have something to say that it is something I have researched. He is willing to work with me i.e. niacin.

  18. True, respect is earned.

    But my take is that the people demanding it are not just bolstering an empty ego, but are searching for the grace and ease an old cultural institution used to provide: courtesy.

    Like so many other cultural institutions, we threw it away because we couldn’t see the point of it, saw it as hypocritical, and besides, it’s hard work. But we still need it, and in its absence, think it’s respect we’re missing.

    1. courtesy keeps issues at bay in every day interaction. And while on that, let me say that Americans are still MILES more courteous than Europeans in every day interaction. Not sure why, but it is so.

      1. I lived in Germany for six years and I learned that the “discourteous Americans” was not as bad as the “discourteous Germans on vacation.” 🙂

        It was very interesting to watch. I saw a 60 year old man hit a younger woman with a cane so he could have the right of way.

      2. IIRC, de Tocqueville made that same observation about American courtesy, something to the effect of equality rendering every man a courtier.

        I think it has to do with the fact that in America, he who is up today may be down tomorrow, and vice-versi

        That’s life, that’s what people say.
        You’re riding high in April,
        Shot down in May.
        But I know I’m gonna change their tune,
        When I’m right back on top in June.

        That’s life, funny as it seems.
        Some people get their kicks,
        Steppin’ on dreams
        But I just can’t let it get me down,
        Cause this big old world keeps spinnin’ around.

        I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
        A poet, a pawn and a king.
        I’ve been up and down and over and out
        But I know one thing:
        Each time I find myself flat on my face,
        I pick myself up and get back in the race.

        That’s life, I can’t deny it,
        I thought of quitting,
        But my heart just won’t buy it.
        Cause if I didn’t think it was worth a try,
        I’d have to roll myself up in a big ball and die.

  19. I had trouble with a councilor a few years back who kept saying that I needed to “trust her”. I had trusted her until she said that, but after that my trust level went way down. As far as I can tell, usually when someone says you need to trust them, they’re con-men.

    I seem to recall that the best teachers were really tough and strict the first couple of weeks, then eased up as time went on.

  20. Since I am older than dirt, I grew up in the era of respect your elders, betters, etc. Something I wasn’t very good at doing. Mainly because I asked too many awkward questions. Respect is earned. Those who expect it or demand it generally do not deserve it.

    I respect the office of the President, but I certainly do NOT respect the man that currently holds that office. I respect the uniform of a police officer, because they are there to protect and serve the public, but I can loathe the man in the uniform because he is an arrogant jerk. I respect those who teach, only so far as they teach well and use correct information. But I can dislike a teacher because he/she thinks they are God’s gift to the world.

    I respect my elders, because it is culturally ingrained in me to do so. I don’t have to like them, but I must be civil to them. They earned their old age, and none of us will ever know their whole life story. I generally don’t respect those who are much younger than me because they tend to be so self serving and full of themselves that they annoy me. I respect any man or woman who served/serves our country in the military. It is an honor to know them.

    Self respect, when taken too far is arrogance and fear mixed together. When I was teaching, I always expected some of my students were much more intelligent than me. Giving my students the space to actually learn, express, and develop ideas was paramount. Did they respect me? Some did. Do people respect me now, who cares if they do or not? As someone older than dirt, I am too busy getting on with life to worry about it.

    1. Do people respect me now, who cares if they do or not? As someone older than dirt, I am too busy getting on with life to worry about it.

      I am not older than dirt. I’m older than some igneous rocks, though. And I COMPLETELY agree with this. I will feel bad if I’ve done something bad to a friend (usually unintentionally) or harmed someone else, but other than that? Respect? Mwahahahahahah. They will fe– er, that is, I couldn’t care less.

      1. There is a difference between not being disrespectful and being respectful. I live in that gap. I am not disrespectful until they earn it … and I am out of range.

  21. Nobody “deserves” respect because of a position, respect is earned. More than this and I will go into a rant longer than Sarah’s original post, this is a hotbutton issue for me.

    The one place where I automatically give respect is the military, if you are serving in the military I will respect you until you prove yourself a raving idiot undeserving of my respect. Everybody else… I assume your a raving idiot until proven differently 😉

  22. People who don’t believe in the dignity of all human life, and who thus fall into functionalism as the only measure of whether a human life is justified in its existence, have to find some reason they should be regarded as worthy of continuation by the mighty state and the people around them.

    1. *cough* from National Review Online gangblog The Corner:

      The Media and Abortion: Worse than You Think
      By Kevin D. Williamson
      September 5, 2012 12:48 P.M.

      So, I’m eavesdropping on the staff of a largish mainstream-media outlet next door (the press working spaces at the DNC are separated by curtains) and got a good earful of liberal asininity.

      The pro-lifers are out in force in Charlotte, displaying very graphic images of small human beings cut up in the name of sexual convenience. I find the images difficult to look at, and I am not the only one.

      So the geniuses in the tent next door were declaring that these images are somehow fake or exaggerated (what do you think a baby a few months away from birth looks like chopped up), and were complaining that the pro-lifer protesters should not be allowed to bring their children along. Specifically, one lady said, “That’s child abuse!”

      It takes a special kind of moral illiteracy to look at that poster of a small person butchered and then to conclude that bringing your kids along to protest that state-sanctioned violence is the child abuse.

  23. Well, well, well…Jacksonian Democracy rears it’s head. Just when the latest New Aristocracy thinks it’s got everything nailed, a bunch of yahoos stand up and say ‘hell no!’ and ask ‘why the **** are you any better than me?’
    Ms. Hoyt: actions have consequences, and due to your sentiments expressed in today’s Instapundit posting, I now formally declare myself your fan. I’ve already read Darkship Thieves, but will now look for all your stuff. RAH and H. Beam Piper are proud of ya.

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