Childish Things.

One of the more embarrassing moments of my childhood was when I approached a cousin’s wedding singer and asked why the group couldn’t play children’s songs.  I remember the look of shock on the man’s face very vividly.

Mind you, I was about five at the time, and the only child at that wedding, and I was bored, bored, bored.  Songs about lost loves and who’d done whom wrong did nothing for me.  It was so far outside my experience as to be… well… Martian.

If you think this is a post about the hyper-sexualization of society and childhood, you’re wrong.  Past societies were actually a lot more sexualized than ours, and childhood is largely a Victorian invention because that’s when society was finally affluent enough not to make five year olds start a trade.  Oh, and children would be exposed to sex and lovemaking from an early age too.

One of the funniest conceits is that people before the twentieth century (women particularly) knew nothing about sex until they were married.  Since I’ve met this in – some – contemporary literature, I can safely say these women were very good at lying (in fact, a lot of the literature has that sort of wink and nod feel to it.)

People before the twentieth century lived much closer to nature than … almost anyone, including farmers do now.  What I mean is, livestock and even wild animals were more like… your facebook friends nowadays.  And nature might be red in tooth and claw.  It is also horny.  At all times.  And it cares nothing what you see.

Also, while there were “children’s songs” before then, almost all of them had sexual double entendres, undertones or symbolism.

What I’d like to talk about is the infantilization of adulthood.

Look, yes, I know.  Teeny boppers put make up on, and I’ve seen middle school girls dressed like hookers, and, yes, yes, they’re talking all big and bad… as they always were.

In a normal, grown-up society, children imitate adults.  My reaction to the songs was so weird because I didn’t want to be an adult.  (Though I’d probably have had more fun if I had other kids around.)  Most kids do.  Most kids fantasize about being adults.  That’s what toy cars and wedding dresses for Halloween are all about.

What went wrong was that about the late sixties early seventies, society had a surplus of older juveniles and the powers that were decided – foolishly it turns out – that it was always going to be like that, forever, so they started catering to the youth.  Suddenly, the “hip” thing was to be a juvenile, act like a juvenile and value what a juvenile values.

Now those numbers are altered.  Society is weighting Senescence more.  So the young imitate their elders.  The problem is their elders don’t act like adults, they act like a frozen-in-time idealization of the juvenile.  They vote like it too.

I’m perfectly all right with “a safety net” though I’m still at a loss as to why it can’t be provided out of private charity.  Private charity has ALWAYS come through, while public “charity” always devolves to some form of oppression.  And besides, the only money government has is extracted under the threat of force (No?  Fine, pass a law that there are no fines and no arrests for failing to pay taxes and we’ll see how many do out of this great land.  I’m willing to bet high on less than 100.)  Is it valid to extract money, under the threat of force to give to someone else?  Why?  How can a faceless entity know that the one it’s taking from doesn’t need it, or that the other one needs it more?  Say I made 100k last year, this year I’m unemployed, but I still owe taxes for last year.  Say someone else makes no money, but eats every night with a wealthy relative and owns his/her house outright.  Which do you take from?  To whom do you give? Show your work.)  If this is moral, why aren’t muggings moral?  Show your work.

But a safety net isn’t what we have.  No.  Seriously.  Contrast our condition with that of most of mankind throughout most of history.  No one was safe from famine, and even aristocrats might go hungry now and then.  Yes, I DO hear a lot about the hungry in the US.  Pray tell, how many people have died in the most recent famine?  None, you say?  But they don’t eat all they want you say?

Sir, that’s not a famine.  That’s an appetite.  And before someone jumps down my throat, yes, I know what having insufficient food is.  In US terms, or perhaps a little worse, and for reasons divorced from my middle class upbringing, I went hungry that way for two years.  As a young newlywed, with zero budgeting hability, I managed to get to the point we survived on an egg, a handful of flour and some very old mushrooms for two days.

We didn’t die.  That’s not famine.

We should absolutely have programs that prevent famine.  I’m against people dying of hunger, and if private organizations prove insufficient (make sure they do, first) then by all means help.  Same for nudity and homelessness (not caused by mental illness.)

But the problem is that our safety net now is set at “accept no discomfort.”

So we have a society of adults who know – even if they don’t resort to it – that daddy-government will ensure they’re fed, clad, housed.

We have a society of adults that aren’t adults.  Like the spoiled children of noblemen of old, they have time to devote to things that are the adult equivalent of playing: sex, dressing up, taking offense at petty things.  And because discomfort is unthinkable, excuses are thought up for acts of thoughtlessness, carelessness and selfishness.

Children are being raised by people that bring them into the world, but don’t think they have any obligations to them.  They’re being raised by people whose sole sacred imperative is “have fun.”

The problem is that our children are trying to imitate adults that don’t exist.

This will end in tears.  And there will be no adult around to dry them and tell you to suck it up and be a big girl/boy now.



190 responses to “Childish Things.

  1. Damn Baby Boomers. Don’t get me started.

    One nitpick: famine. There is no famine–NONE–in this world that is not a direct result of a government deliberately starving a portion of its population for political/tribal reasons. And the reason why famine agencies, whether governmental, non-governmental or quangos don’t succeed in eliminating famine is because the local government causing the famine prevents them from doing so. In other words, “feed the poor” agencies are a total waste of money.

    I’m all for helping the hopelessly poor, ill, disadvantaged or the aged, or people savaged by that both Mother Nature (tsunamis, earthquakes, storms/hurricanes/tornadoes, etc) who need temporary assistance. Looking after those folks is the mark of a civilized society. But note the words “hopelessly” and “temporary”–in other words, help is only provided in extremis, and not just to anyone who thinks they need it. To think that providing welfare will not create dependency on welfare is one of those childish things.

    • yes, I know on famine. It did exist in the middle ages, I think unintended (It’s hard to know — what primary sources we have are limited) because of a) bad tech b) dependence on the produce of a small area c) inability to move if you were a serf or a villain (although that is government, too.)

      • It is probably useful to distinguish between two types of famine; that caused by actual production shortfalls and that caused by maldistribution of available foodstocks.

        Some time earlier this year I read a review of a book on the history of famines (and their relative: lebensraum) which argued that production advances had largely eliminated shortages by the mid-20th Century. Shortages were largely a product of such policies as land redistribution (kulaks and the Great Leap Forward) and war-inflicted damages to cropland and man-power on farms.

        • Susan Shepherd

          Matches my impressions. I remember being fascinated by the occasional serious climate change caused by volcanoes, too, because while that’s far less rare than either war or normal weather shenanigans (drought, hail at a bad time for grain) those don’t result in as much general suffering. My Dad has told me about Reuben Whitten’s memorial in New Hampshire: In the cold season of 1816 he raised 40 bushels of wheat on this land, which kept his family and neighbors from starvation.

          I wouldn’t want to think too much about the supervolcano under large portions of Yellowstone National Park, except that such a “what-if” makes for interesting stories.

          • bah. If the supervolcano go, myself and everyone in the west will only have a few minutes to put our head between our legs and kiss our *sses goodbye, so it’s not a problem. When the ship leaves, all debts are payed.

          • I don’t worry about that caldera in Yellowstone either, even if it is several years overdue for a blow. Mainly I don’t worry because it is a tsunami or giant asteroid type event: if it happens life as we know it will change so drastically as to render plans null and void.

    • Our current dependency problems in the US have little to do with Boomers. It began back in the late 19th Century, and has slowly gained ground. The Boomers are just one more group to blame without doing anything to correct the problem. It’s a cold political decision useful in gaining unrestricted power, and nothing less.

      I have never been “HUNGRY” in the sense of not having anything to eat, and I’m happy about that. My dad proved capable of growing, on one piece of land 70 feet wide and 220 feet long, enough food to provide 75% of our basic subsistence, not only during the growing season, but by my mother canning half of it, all year. There was even enough of a surplus to feed my grandparents next door, my cousin on the other side, and two or three other relatives and their families. Yet for the most part, I was considered “poor” until I joined the Air Force almost five decades ago.

      While I’ve never experienced abject poverty, I have seen it — in Panama, in Vietnam, even in Europe with all its massive support system. I visited people in Panama that lived on houses built on stilts that were literally walled with cardboard boxes — people that lived on about $1 US a day. They make up about 5% of the population of Panama. They make up almost 30% of the population of Haiti. We funnel billions of dollars into both countries. Panama used to have a dependent population as large as Haiti’s, but the numbers have dropped significantly there. They haven’t in Haiti. Why? Deliberate Government inaction.

      There are people the government or charity should support. My son is one of those. He’s not incapable of working, but he’s incapable of holding a job for more than three days. He gets SSDI, and needs it. We help with what we can, when we can — new shoes, a winter coat, etc.

      I’ve read dozens of books that have tried to depict poverty, the struggle up, and either success or failure. Most get it wrong, because the author has no idea what poverty is truly like. Today’s poverty isn’t the same poverty depicted in “The Grapes of Wrath”, or in some post-Civil War novels, and that’s ALL most authors have to fall back on. Today’s poverty is deliberate government policy, to create a dependent underclass, and is almost exclusively urban. Sometimes the story is good enough to pull me through the false impressions; at other times it results in the book getting thrown against the wall (I don’t really do that — I just drop it in the “recycle” bag I then haul to my local used book store).

      • When you start to search for when government started to get power through welfare programs, the first president that really used those programs was FDR. Now I don’t think FDR was in a vacuum so it had probably been discussed or used as a power grab by others before then. My opinion only– Boomers just jumped onto the program easily when their turn came.

        • Cyn, you might want to read up on President Theodore Roosevelt, especially after he ran and won as a “Bull Moose” president. The next president that caused problems was Woodrow Wilson.

          The Constitution of the United States was amended by Amendments 13, 14, and 15 during and following the Civil War, first to free the slaves, second to give blacks and other minorities the same rights as everyone else, and finally to ensure they had the right to vote. It was not amended again until 1909. Between 1909 and 1933, it was amended six times; three of those amendments have since been under censure as having passed under very strange circumstances, including the direct election of senators. Two others were to prohibit alcohol, and the repeal of that law. ALL SIX of those amendments were written and submitted by either a Democrat-controlled Congress, a Democrat President, or both. The roots of many of today’s problems were sowed under those amendments.

          • Not gonna stop until somebody makes me:

            If some alliance of democrats so much as renders the king subject to the rule of law, they are transferring the king’s judicial powers not to no one, but to a concrete human body – a judiciary. They have fragmented the imperium and produced the constitutional solecism of imperium in imperio. Their monarchy is certainly doomed, at least in any substantive sense. And thus men laid, centuries ago, the foundation for all our feral subway yoofs.

            — Mencius Moldbug

            • I read this as you support a monarchy? Am I wrong? Cause I do not support a monarchy or a tyranny or any group of people ruled by one man (or woman). If I have it wrong Marc… please school me? Otherwise… against it.

              • I support minimalist government. The most historically successful form of minimalist government is monarchy. If I can only pick historically known forms, I support that. However, my preference would be for a joint-stock company administrated governmental body.

                • What examples in the Real World currently exist for your “preferred” government? It’s easy to talk about a mythical “good state” while pointing out the Real World flaws in currently existing government. I want to see a Real World example to see *just* how good it really is.

                  Otherwise you’re just talking about an “Ivory Tower idea”.

                  • Medieval Irish clans were joint stock companies (literally – in cows). Admittedly, the lot of the unfree corporation sharecroppers wasn’t great.

                    Not so sure it’s the perfect government,nopers.

                    • Do you suggest that life would have been significantly better for a significant proportion of the populace in medieval times with, say, a democracy? If so, why do the majority of the people in, for example, Haiti, not enjoy significantly better lives? They have democracy all over the place.

                      Don’t confuse what technology and a culture which encourages hard work make possible with what democracy makes possible. I would argue that it’s the other way around: without the production excesses produced by technology and people who work hard, democracy would be totally unworkable. The sad thing is that democracy tends to dilute both influences, though it’s far harder on production excesses and hard work directly and technology indirectly.

                    • If so, why do the majority of the people in, for example, Haiti, not enjoy significantly better lives?

                      Rampant, unbridled corruption. Calling one’s country a democracy doesn’t make it so, even if, on paper, you have the institutions to back it up. Those institutions have to actually function in some fashion and the population must see them as legitimate (ie, “derived from a mandate from the masses, not some farcical” etc etc…) .

                      Haiti is as bad an example of poor quality of life for the people under “democracy” as you’re likely to find. It’s very nearly a failed state. My in-laws have a very good friend, an American, that’s been running an orphanage down there for over twenty years. She a doctor and he a general contractor, they go down there every year for a couple of weeks and do their thing. Many, many, many stories about how things actually work down there, both pre and post earthquake.

                    • I don’t know, at least they didn’t have much paperwork.

                      On a more serious note, what Marc describes as wanting, I have heard many people say they want. At first glance it sounds good to me, but when I really look at it, what I see is a thinly disguised Socialist government. So I will fight it tooth and nail.

                    • Ah Marc, note that as much as people like to claim it, America is not a democracy, it is a republic. Which puts some limits on the unbridled excesses of democracies, and gives some protection to minorities (which does not by any mathematical means include women, no matter how many people claim it does). That being said I agree with Scott on the Haiti issue, it doesn’t matter what is in the title, but how the country is actually ran, that decides whether a country is a democracy, republic, oligarchy or dictatorship. (Weber’s Republic of Haven comes to mind)

                    • No offense, but I find it very funny that these responses are probably meant to refute and/or constitute counter-argument when in my mind, they are basically agreements about the true worth of democracy. 🙂 I never claimed to live in the same reality with the rest of you.

                      And if you think that what I am talking about is some kind of thinly-veiled socialism, I’m even worse at communicating than I’m often told I am. I mean, I agree with Moldbug that the ideal solution for dealing with the unproductive and unwarded is not “biodiesel,” attractive as the idea may sound at first, but I could get behind his encapsulation proposition.

                    • “I never claimed to live in the same reality with the rest of you.” Yes Marc, you don’t live in the “same reality as us”. The “magical” Kingdoms you think are better than democracy never really existed. As for you not communicating well, it’s hard to communicate when your basing your ideas on a reality that doesn’t exist.

                    • No offense taken, because I don’t know what the heck you just said 🙂 If you explained what you thought the ‘true worth of democracy’ was, then I could agree or disagree with you. As for Moldbug, I don’t read him so I don’t know what you were alluding to with the biodesiel or encapsulation comment either. It sounded like you were saying that we shouldn’t turn the unproductive and unwarded into biodesiel. (again not sure what you mean by unwarded, whether that means homeless, or orphans, or something totally different) I would have to agree with you their, no matter how appealing it may seem, it is probably neither feasable, nor a good idea, to turn such people into biodesiel. (fertilizer is at least feasable, and it could be argued that using said fertilizer to grow corn or canola to make biodesiel would be turning such into biodesiel, but that is stretching definitions quite a bit)

                    • Moldbug calls this “The Dire Problem.” What do you do with people who cannot or will not support themselves? He raises the biodiesel solution a) for rather grim laughs and b) to dispose of it as unnecessary and, in a sense, as bad for business. People will not want to move to your Patch if there is a possibility that due to the vicissitudes of life they may find themselves without resources (and thus, becoming resources,) because there is always that possibility.

                      The wardless (which is my word and isn’t a good one because of the multiple meanings of the root “ward:” I should probably call them something else) are those unproductive and resourceless souls who have no productive and/or resource-having patrons to take care of them and stop them being a burden on society. If you can find a responsible person to agree to be responsible for you, well and good. If you go about the streets shouting and writing manifestos on storefronts with your own feces, we know where to send the bill. If not, the encapsulation solution involves putting you in a comfortable room with a means to provide the necessities of life, installing the best virtual-reality environment technology we can manage, and bricking up the door. We unbrick it only for repairs and/or to upgrade your VR rig. If you get tired of it, you may petition to the Department of Wardless Supervision (through their virtual presence) for release, including a plan to provide for yourself. Otherwise, welcome to the Machine. (In the “The Machine Stops” sense, not the Pink Floyd sense.)

                      Such a life need not be meaningless: how many people already have richer existences online than in meat-space?

                    • There is simply no good reason for anyone to be “wardless”. The most basic protection spells are the easiest to learn. A chimp could do it (and has).

                    • OK, I very much disagree with your encapsulation solution. Why should our tax dollzars (because that is the only way I can see it being paid for) pay for someone to live in more comfort than a signifigant portion of the tax payers, just because they are to worthless to support themselves? Personally I would support ignoring such people until/unless they created problems (committed crimes) then they need to punished, not rewarded with a luxurious suite.

                    • They’re not “your” tax dollars. They’re His Steveness’ tax dollars. In fact, he probably wouldn’t even refer to them as taxes: rather, they’d be resident fees. And as I said, he might choose to use them in such a manner because it would be good for business. That way, people who come to his Patch would know that even if they experience some catastrophe that reduces them to both poverty and helplessness, they won’t end up powering his municipal buses.

                      And, if he is of a similar mind about freeloaders, he could always have levels of service for the encapsulated based on what they do or don’t do. If they’re willing to devote some time to some kind of human-AI level sorting task or whatever, they get better food, higher resolution on their AI gear, etc. Eventually they might earn enough credit (and learn enough work ethic) that if they wanted to come out and participate in the real world, they would be able to.

                      In any event, there is no way, no how, that living in encapsulation would be better than being a general resident of Stevifornia. That’s the whole point of Stevifornia. If it turns out encapsulation is preferable, that tells you that something is very wrong somewhere. You may believe that there are enough people who are lazy and disassociated enough that they would do it anyway to mess up the system, and you might be right: I can’t prove that there aren’t. However, I don’t happen to agree.

                      Keep in mind as well that immigration or even entry into Stevifornia is a privilege, not a right. His invincible robot armies patrol the border: intruders are repelled with extreme prejudice. No one is admitted without demonstrating that they have the means to support themselves. Encapsulation is necessary only for that portion of the native-born population who meet ALL of these criteria:

                      1) Can’t or won’t leave.
                      2a) Can’t or won’t support themselves AND have no one who will support them.
                      2b) Can’t or won’t behave according to the requirements of His Steveness (and remember, His Steveness doesn’t care what you think, only what you do) and have no one who will be willing to guarantee their behavior. This is actually a general case of 2a, since “supporting yourself” is one of His Steveness’ behavior requirements.

                      All this is, by the way, is an explicit acknowledgement that somebody is responsible for a person, and giving that somebody authority commensurate with their responsibility. Remember that one of the basic principles of functional government is that authority must be roughly equal to responsibility. This is true at all levels, from governance of the individual to governance of the nation-state. I said functional, not good, because this doesn’t guarantee the system will be “good,” only that it will function. However, functionality is necessary (but not sufficient) to good government, so if it’s NOT true, you are guaranteed not to get good government. Hence its position as a basic principle.

                      Specifically, either you are responsible for yourself – in which case His Steveness grants you whatever autonomy he finds reasonable in accord with his higher responsibility to the Patch itself – or somebody else is responsible for you. If somebody else is responsible for you, then they should have commensurate authority. If your parents are responsible for you, then they can tell you what to do. If His Steveness is, then he can tell you what to do, and he doesn’t have time to be everybody’s mommy and daddy. If you have no other fallback, then you are asking for his protection, and however he decides to grant it, he is doing you a favor and spending money that otherwise could be paying dividends and boosting his annual numbers. Be grateful. Or at least keep the carping to a minimum.

                    • Ok, first thing you have wrong, they are not Steveness’s tax dollars, they are mine, that I pay to him. (Warning: calling then Steveness’s is very communistic thinking)
                      Next, go spend some time in your local jail, chances are you will find that many of your fellow inmates like the fact that they get 3 squares a day, a bed, likely cable tv, and don’t have to do anything for it. They may not prefer it to living on the outside and doing whatever they feel like; but they prefer it to living on the outside, working for a living, and obeying the laws.
                      Where I grew up they elected a new sheriff, the first thing he did was remove all tv’s in the jail, except the one in the communal area of the chain gang cell (the chain gang was voluntary, considered a privilige that was only allowed to those on good behavior). The second was to remove all tobacco from jail. The third was to do away with the ability to ‘serve out ones fines’, before this many would sit in jail, getting a certian amount of credit against their fines for every day served until their fines were paid off, all the time of course living on the taxpayers dime. This last required the help of lawmakers, but the sherriff is who pushed for it, and the lawmakers actually changed the law so you fined $50 per day in jail rather than getting monetary credit for time served. It was amazing how fast jail overcrowding became a problem of the past.

                • Louis XVI. The Roman Emperors. ALL monarchies devolve into the government devouring everything else. It is indistinguishable form end-stage communism. Sorry, no.

                  • Looked at in that fashion all governments devolve to end-stage communism. There ARE no eternally stable governments. I stand by my statement that the best odds are with a monarchy.

                    • If you ignore history– Marc I just can’t agree with you. Monarchies (good ones) last one generation and then the rot sets in–

                    • Not necessarily. It can take many generations before the entropy catches up.

                    • Three, tops. I’ve studied a lot of monarchies.

                    • There are a lot of threes in generational issues. Regardless of what a society considers currency, be that gold, fiat currency, oxen, whatever, there is a very real phenomena that involves the loss of family wealth in three generations.

                      The first generation comes from nothing, works it’s ass off, however that’s defined, and starts the process that creates the family wealth. The second generation, raised by former paupers and watching their parents work their asses off to create the familial wealth tends to stabilize the wealth or grow it. The third generation, though, raised only in affluence, has no idea what a true work ethic is or what it really means to not be affluent.

                      I’ve long wondered if this phenomena could also be applied to generations. The Great Depression generation, the WWII generation, and the Boomers come to mind.

                    • WHICH Monarchy? WHERE after Greece of the Classical age.

                    • There is a reason that Louis had “Sixteen” for a last name.

                  • I was going to go the full-blown monarchy route with the primary protagonist in my end-of-the-world story. A reluctant, but duty-driven, man pushed into the post by his own followers. After giving it quite a lot of thought and with some consultations with those hereabouts (like the very ugly RES), I kept the strident calls from followers to enact a monarchy, but had the main character refuse, allowing only a regency until they become stable enough to reinstate a small “r” republicanism. The fact that it takes decades and his son, who feels cheated out of royalty, usurps his original intent in the second book and goes whole-hog king. This, I think, is much better (more tension) than just setting up a monarchy at the start and writing everyone just hunky-dory with it.

                    Desperate people in desperate circumstances will turn to whoever looks the most likely to see them through. Especially if said person has a string of successes behind him/her.

                    • I have a monarchy in many of my stories, but then the species is descended from pack hunting predators, and the pack (or lineage or House as it is later called) can remove the pack leader if things start going sour. On the other paw, would-be pack leaders (nobles or monarchs) have to prove themselves, because there is no primogeniture inheritance. Thus far, with two massive exceptions (one purely internal civil war and one with some outside assistance) the political system has proven stable. There are also escape valves for individuals who won’t/can’t accept the system, but since pack support behavior is hard-wired, those individuals very rarely seek to completely overturn the system. I’m not so certain the system would work with humans, though.

                    • I’m not so certain the system would work with humans, though.

                      Don’t be so sure. If they are roughed up, melted down, and crushed in a crucible, who knows what will come out the other end. There have been absolutely bloodthirsty societies on Earth for much of our meager time here and may very well be again. Remember that our concept of democracy, monarchy, totalitarianism, etc, are all based on the underlying morals and mores that we’ve inherited in the last five-hundred years or so. There is an inertia of history propping up the legitimacy of our contemporary way of looking at right and wrong, but there’s nothing saying that might all be an cosmic burp.

                      On the other paw, would-be pack leaders (nobles or monarchs) have to prove themselves, because there is no primogeniture inheritance.

                      I’ve got some notes toward a future project in which a strong, smart, aggressive race of (currently catlike, but that’s just from reading too much Kzin stuff way back when) aliens who have a absolute monarchy without primogeniture inheritance. As they have done for eons, having conquered about a dozen other species, including humans, the leader adopts a member of one of the conquered races and raise the lot of them as his own sons/daughters. The leader is free to set whatever challenge he wants, the winner of which gets named his heir.

                      In the story I was working on, humans were one of the later species conquered, and while not the strongest or the fastest, humans are considered one of the more crafty.

                      The leader announces his challenge that the first one of them that can draw his blood, without maiming or killing him (the only rules), will be named heir. His life is, to him, a humorous series of avoiding clumsy traps that these children (7 or 8 in human terms) keep setting for him. The human wins, of course, but only after a new, incurable plague gets so bad on the leader’s homeworld that even the royal household has to be tested…causing a medical officer to draw the leaders blood. The human boy stands up and demands to be named heir. Before the humans had sent him to the royal household, they had created and infected him with a disease only fatal to the conquerors species. Thus, he had caused the leaders blood to be drawn.

                      Just an idea at this point…

                    • For the story to be satisfying you probably want the boy* to have had a more active role in the chain of events. Either slyly contriving the choice of challenge** or deliberately ensuring the leader’s infection.

                      *Why a boy? Girls of that age are generally slyer, meaner and more clever.

                      **As a leader might be inclined to design a challenge to pre-select the winner, tradition might provide a pool of challenges to limit such forced choice. The human could, by subtle direction, influence the selection of a trial he could win.

                    • I had originally thought about it as a short story, but I think there’s a lot of meat there to chew up and it could easily bulk up.

                    • No “dog-in-the-manger” willingness to bring down the pack if not selected leader then? That is one of humanity’s less admirable traits.

                    • As RES said, “why a boy?” –and saying that females are the craftier of the species. Plus females are known for their use of poisons (Lucretia Borgia) for bringing the stronger males down. (disease in this case could be a poison). So I would find it a better story with a female who had an active role in either the challenge or drawing the blood–

                    • There is no headstone currently engraved with anything. The totality of the comment was the totality of the concept as it currently stands. As far as the human itself is concerned, it was to be the dead middle in all other aspects (except craftiness) because my original idea was from being a bit exasperated that humans are always the baseline for MMO character creation. There are usually a race that’s faster, but with stamina, or stronger, but with less intelligence. Some cast magic better while others use armor better, etc, etc, leaving the human to be good, not great, at a wider range of things. The old min/max meme yet again.

                      Sex of the protagonist-that’s-not-really-a-protagonist (as the story is from the POV of the leader…so far) doesn’t really matter.

                    • Meant to say…doesn’t matter, just like MMO’s where sex has zero impact. However, there’s nothing saying a girl isn’t a more “crafty” choice. In the mode of aggressive youngsters, the other candidates could constantly call for harder and harder physical challenges, in which the human female always ends up near the middle in results.

                      Still, I’m hesitant to use a female for the sole reason that I’m sick of the female-beats-everyone-all-the-time schtick that’s so prevalent these days.

                    • I am certainly sympathetic to your reasons against a female protagonist — but a story should be crafted to its own internal logic, not as reaction to current cultural memes (except as those memes generate a story in reaction, as Hawks legendarily made Rio Bravo as rebuttal to High Noon.

                      OTO … well, not hand… if this disease is transmitted by sexual contact, female might be a more logical transmission vector … and allow playing with certain primal male … concerns. But that requires a significantly older character.

                    • Umm–RES don’t you mean “king of the castle” qualities? I remember a game we used to play as kids. The first child to get to the very top of the hay or jungle gym– or some highest point would point down and say– I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal.

                      The rest of the children would try to grab his (or sometimes her legs) and drag him down. The parentals stopped us the one time they realized the purpose of the game.

                    • Where I grew up that was “King of the Mountain” or “King of the Hill” — but in West Byrdginia mountains and hills are rather present in our thoughts. I looked up dog-in-the-manger to check whether I was using the idiom rightly and it is indeed not quite what I wanted.

                      someone who keeps something that they do not really want in order to prevent anyone else from having it Stop being such a dog in the manger and let your sister ride your bike if you’re not using it.

                      Which leaves me not knowing the proper idiom, a condition which engenders existential angst (is there any other kind?)

                      Admittedly I was influenced by having Sean Hannity on in background and he is today playing audio clips of NY union electrical workers telling out-of-state power-line repair guys to eff off, calling them scabs and accusing them of stealing food from the union guys families by presuming to come up and help restore electricity to NY families post-Sandy. Down here we have had ice storms that dropped so many power lines that help came from seven surrounding states, and the only concern anybody had was restoring power to houses in need.

                      And going partisan political for a moment, I quit ever considering voting for a Democrat back in 1990 when the House and Senate Democrats used the issue of funding our troops already in the field preparing to drive Saddam’s forces out of Kuwait as a pretext to force George H. W. Bush to repudiate his “No new taxes” pledge. I have seen several repetitions of that attitude in the meantime.

                      So, that “If I can’t have it, nobody else can” attitude was what I was trying to reference. Think “the hunchback who betrayed the Spartans at Thermopylae in the film 300” and you get the image I sought.

                    • RES (dog in the manger) it could describe what you are trying to convey. I tried to find a better metaphor, but I am coming up blank.

                    • I can think of a few, mostly involving the sort of words I try to avoid posting online, especially in so nice a blog as this. Oddly, all of them do involve a dog reference …

                • I agree with minimalist government– I don’t agree with a monarchy– … the monarchy would have to be for a small country (the size of NJ or smaller) or it wouldn’t work… plus I am against it very very very much.

              • Also, you may think you live in a democracy, or a republic, but you are wrong. You live in an oligarchy ruled by the Supreme Court. Because, at the end of the day, someone decides, and that is who rules. The rest is bureaucracy.

        • Oops – I forgot about Woodrow Wilson (another academic president). He caused a lot of havoc around WWI (in my personal opinion). I blame a lot of memory loss on chemo… although when I am writing, I lose even more of my history as I am working–

          Plus I agree that those amendments are the seeds of the problems we see today.

          • Interesting book review related to this:

            By Glen Jeansonne
            Palgrave Macmillan, $60, 539 pages

            For years, many accepted the thesis that Herbert Hoover was the worst president of the 20th century and justly deserved the reputation of tipping the United States into the Great Depression. Moreover, the line went, he did nothing to set things right thereafter.

            The fact is, most “conventional wisdom” about Hoover, both taught in college classrooms and coming through “historians,” is flat-out wrong. Such is the inescapable conclusion one must draw after reading Wisconsin academician Glen Jeansonne’s richly detailed account of the Hoover presidency, 1929-1933.


            Unfortunately, Hoover took office just as the economic boom of the 1920s lost steam. Foremost among the victims were farmers, who had increased output during the war to sell to Europe. The heart of the problem was continued overproduction “and the resistance of farmers themselves to controlling it.” Instead, they wanted the government to set prices or give them some form of direct cash payments. Farm bankruptcies surged. Foolish market speculation shook the financial world.

            As Hoover struggled to find feasible long-term solutions, he fought opposition not only among Democrats but also within the GOP, notably the so-called “progressives” from small states who were bent on protecting their rural constituents.

            An even larger factor was a vigorous Democratic propaganda machine, funded by financier John J. Raskob, the party’s national chairman, and crafted by hatchet-man journalist Charles S. Michelson, the publicity manager. Lacking a program of their own, the Democrats set about demonizing Hoover as responsible for the country’s economic woes.

            Using what Mr. Jeansonne termed “scathing invective” and “scurrilous venom,” Michelson was to “skewer Hoover personally for all four years of his administration, a job he relished. Michelson ghosted speeches for senators, representatives and other public figures, which they lip-synced.” Thus became “the process of cementing Hoover’s place in history as an inept, uncaring president.” (Mr. Jeansonne correctly writes that Michelson’s boasting memoir, “The Ghost Talks,” “could have served as a primer for Machiavelli.”)


            Hoover’s aim [with Smoot-Hawley] was a moderate revision — that tariffs be levied based on what it cost to manufacture any specific item domestically and overseas. But the putative progressives — acting in the name of their farmers — created a nightmare of a bill, with 1,253 amendments added in the Senate alone.

            Mr. Jeansonne argues that Smoot-Hawley “did not cause the crash or the Depression because the crash had occurred before its enactment and the economy was already spiraling downward by the time it was law. More than 40 nations had already increased tariffs before it became law, so it did not initiate trade wars.”


            Hoover also suffered from a lack of regulatory authority over banks, which then were under state jurisdiction, and such institutions as the New York Stock Exchange. When he suggested that the New York legislature move, Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt “not only declined to intervene but dabbled in stocks himself — though he did not need the money,” Mr. Jeansonne observes acidly. (Despite such occasional asides, Mr. Jeansonne’s book for the most part is studiously objective.) Nor could Hoover stir the states (including Roosevelt’s New York) to assert more vigorous policing of banks, even as bankruptcies littered the country.

            Unfortunately, Democratic obstructionism did not stop at the water’s edge. On the eve of an international conference to deal with the debt issues tormenting many countries, FDR blithely rejected the president’s appeal that he tell other nations of his planned economic policies.

            The debt crisis, he said, was Hoover’s responsibility, not his, and he would “leave that baby on Mr. Hoover’s lap.”

      • I recommend Theodore Dalrymple’s Life At the Bottom for those who want a better view than The Grapes of Wrath.

        • I recommend John Scalzi’s “Being Poor” and John Cheese’s “Five Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor” for modern descriptions of what it means to be poor. Dalyrmple seems likely to be as dated as the other sources discussed.

          • Right. A contemporary writer is dated.
            That doesn’t pass the laugh test.
            And did either of the authors you mention work for decades among the underclass?

            • The article in question is coming up on fifteen years old, but the real response is that I was thinking of another writer who isn’t contemporary, and I was just wrong.

            • ….Someone is referencing a list as a better “modern” authority, and a seven-year-old blog post rant as a better “modern” source than a guy who has spent decades working with the poor and only retired from it in ’05?

              Ppaul‘s got a point.

  2. In theory, I agree with you completely and under normal circumstances, I expect that churches and non-profits probably could provide for the basic necessities of everyone in need. But I think “normal” isn’t normal anymore. What happens when things go pear-shaped, like they did in 2008? When millions of needy become tens of millions in a short time. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a nagging feeling that the good times are over and they won’t be coming back. Western populations are aging. The babyboomers are retiring and due to declining birthrates, they don’t have enough children and grandchildren to look after them. We’ve lived well for half a century, but the credit card bills are coming in and I don’t think the United Way is going to be able to cover the tab.

    • It is probably pointless to observe that the 2008 meltdown was a consequence of bad policy by our government? Corruption at Fannie & Freddie, political pressure to put people who couldn’t afford houses into houses they couldn’t afford, forcing banks to lend money to people with bad credit records which pushed banks to develop “bond instruments” to move the bad loans off their reserves.

      Add in a ton of other bad policies too numerous to cite and we have government as drug pusher, selling us on “solutions” that were the source of our problems in the first place.

      That half century of living well was financed and promoted by the same government now being touted as our saviour. At least United Way doesn’t dig us into a deeper hole.

      • It’s not pointless. I’m sure you’re right (I’m Canadian, so I can’t claim to be close enough to the situation to say with certainty). My point is, I don’t think private charities are big enough to do what will need to be done in the future. A hard-bitten libertarian might just say “every man for himself”, but ultimately, those millions of retirees who risk getting thrown off the Social Security rolls have votes and will use them to elect someone who will represent their perceived best interests (note: I did say “perceived). Better to cobble together some kind of functional compromise than to continuously pit the 47% v. the 53% and stumble along in a legislative and budgetary deadlock.

        • My point is, I don’t think private charities are big enough to do what will need to be done in the future. A hard-bitten libertarian might just say “every man for himself”, but ultimately, those millions of retirees who risk getting thrown off the Social Security rolls have votes and will use them to elect someone who will represent their perceived best interests (note: I did say “perceived).

          Fair enough point, but we’re not talking about suddenly yanking the IV out of the arm. What I believe the sentiment is aimed at is a society in which there is a stigma about going on the public dole. There used to be. Further, a society with such an outlook would hopefully make more responsible individual decisions about money, jobs, kids, etc, and thus the need for charity would go down even while the number that can provide it goes up.

          As far as the elderly, something has to give and the best way I’ve seen put forward is to draw a line in the sand (which sucks for those just on the other side, but you gotta do something and some point) and say, everyone under this age gets x and everyone over can continue as has been.

          • And as someone JUST under fifty, which is where the line will be drawn (or 55) I say “bring it on.” I have sons. they shouldn’t be enslaved to my retirement. What we have ONLY works with increasing population/prosperity. That looks un-possible because one thing socialism ALWAYS does is depress birth rates. (And don’t talk back on “socialism” — the cradle to grave thing is socialism, one form thereof. I first heard cradle-to-grave and how dear leader wanted to ensure it for us under Portugal’s ancien regime which was … technically national socialism. (Though, unlike the one in the northern climes without anti-semitism.))

          • On that, I agree. Welfare should not be a lifestyle choice. Most people I know would be embarassed to go on social assistance (as we tend to call it up here in the Great White North), but if you have hungry mouths to feed, you do what you have to. Dignity is a luxury.

            • Dignity – properly understood, is no luxury, it is what separates homo sap from animals. Welfare policies should not be structured so as to strip recipients of their dignity. This was the essence of the Welfare reforms proposed by the “GOP Revolution”, signed by President Clinton and gutted by President Obama.

              I could provide anecdotage, but what’s the point? Structuring social assistance as a “Right” only if you exchange your dignity for it is demeaning and dehumanizing. Assistance provided through charitable institutions benefits both donor and recipient, forcing them to recognize mutual humanity and interdependence, allowing the recipient to preserve … oh heck, just watch the video:

              • ??? That (The Moral Paper Route & Freedom’s Price) ain’t the video that was s’posed to show up … and isn’t the one that came through in my email link. You should be watching Joke Of The Day:

                • That was great, RES. Thanks for sharing that. It puts the importance of work in a new context. I’ll be passing that along at every opportunity.

                • I enjoyed it too– liked the joke as well… I will probably try it on the hubby. Why is it that I am a good (and competent) writer, but I can’t remember simple jokes?

                  • Given the way this nation keeps electing simple jokes to high office (remember: you can’t spell Joke without Joe*) I too find your inability puzzling.

                    *Who knew that this Administration would cast Joe Biden as Ed McMahon, nor have the president emulate Johnny Carson’s golf swing?

              • It is not half so dehumanizing as living on the dole in the certainty that you are entitled to do so.

                For those who doubt, I offer this vision:
                And for those who find it too long to read, the summary is: life in the underclass of a welfare state makes life in third-world slums look preferable by contrast.

          • I’ve written several times on this. There are legitimate and useful ways to end the government dependency, even for the elderly, while still providing what was promised to those that either currently get assistance, or will in the very near future (5, 10, or 20 years). The problem is, one would have to be an absolute dictator, and in power for at least the transition phase and slightly beyond, to make the changes. Doing it under representative government requires a commitment to intelligent decisions no politician is willing to make — at any level. As Glenn Reynolds keeps repeating, “what can’t go on forever, won’t”.

          • As far as the elderly, something has to give and the best way I’ve seen put forward is to draw a line in the sand (which sucks for those just on the other side, but you gotta do something and some point) and say, everyone under this age gets x and everyone over can continue as has been.

            That won’t work, either on the long term or the short term. It would cause far too much fraud, which is part of the problem now. What we need to do is to first elect a fiscally responsible government, and HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. If that means recalling some of them, or sending half (or all) of them to jail, so be it. Secondly, we need to break the government dependency. We were doing pretty well until President what’shisname decided to govern by executive order, rather than the Constitution and laws of the land. One of the ways we can break dependency is to encourage private charity while discouraging government handout. ANY assistance from either government or private sources should have both an amount and a time limit. I know from personal experience that we have people on the welfare roles who are third or fourth generation welfare recipients. Unless there’s a genetic reason for that, it needs to end. I’ve worked for everything I’ve gotten, including both my disability and my social security.

            I’m not unwilling to allow the government to cut back on what it pays me in Social Security, provided the burden is shared. One suggestion I made to my US Senator (a Democrat, so it went nowhere) was that ALL government checks except disability and social security be cut by 2.5% until economic growth reached 4.0% or higher for four consecutive quarters, then the money would be reimbursed on a month-by-month basis for as long as it had been withheld. It would have helped, so it wasn’t even considered.

            The government of the United States will collapse unless it does SOMETHING to reduce spending and debt. When that happens, there’s no telling what things will look like. I’ll tell you how worried I am: I haven’t had a gun in my house since I joined the Air Force in 1964. Last week, I asked my brother to bring my guns to me that have been in his house since my parents gave up housekeeping in 1991, and I’m looking for a pistol to buy. Things are getting THAT scary.

        • You have to factor in that
          1. private charities will get larger as people who want to help do so through them.
          2. more self-reliant people will need them less.

          • BTW, Rognar, it is wrong to say libertarians are “each for himself.” Anyone who knows me can tell you I give support and help to everyone I know who needs it in the measure of my ability and sometimes more.

            My libertarianism is two-fold. I believe I personally can figure out who needs it and how best to help than a vast country-wide bureaucracy. I also believe that a society in which the government intervenes only in the DIREST cases and leaves most of the money people earn to those people to spend creates incentives to work/save/invest which lift all boats.

            Call me a “compassionate libertarian” — most of those I know are. Salt of the Earth, would take off their shirt to give to a needy stranger. BUT NOT if the government demands it.

            • Never intended to suggest otherwise. I’m sure most self-described libertarians are generous folks. I was really thinking more of the devotees of Ayn Rand.

              I have certain libertarian instincts myself, but I think the problem with reducing eveything to an individual level is that it becomes impossible to recognize the scale of the problem. We all get together with our local church group or the folks in the office and adopt a poor family at Christmas or, maybe we volunteer a few hours a week at the local food bank and we feel we’re doing our part. Yet, we’re fast approaching a state in which there will be less than three workers for every retiree (not to mention children and people with disabilities who also require financial support). I don’t see a way through that without involving government. At least voters have some leverage when it comes to government. Other powerbrokers like large corporations and unions seem to operate pretty much uninhibited.

      • Amen, brother RES, preach it! 8^)

    • The problem isn’t that we have a safety net. The problem is that too many folks use that net like it’s a hammock.

    • Government programs for the aged should at least in part be based on number of descendents who are neither in jail nor on welfare.

      And I say this as a woman who has no children and expects to have none.

  3. I look at the young adults having children and I shudder. They have been taught by the boomers to be irresponsible. I remember when the boomers felt that a child shouldn’t do any work but be a child. In my opinion that was very unnatural. I remember stories from my grandparents about how they helped their families survive when they were as young as five.

    Although I am not too happy with my family, they did teach me to work (good thing). Plus that the government is not responsible for us. Though that lesson didn’t stick with some of my siblings.

    I don’t get caught in the “its for the children” trap like some of the folks around here. There was a guy in our complex who was trying to get us to sign a petition for the children. I listened to him for awhile and realized what he really wanted was a tax on business to go to the schools. There wasn’t any oversight for this money– just another tax. I said no. When I started to explain why, the guy decided that I wouldn’t be an easy target and left. It was an interesting conversation and got me riled up. 😉

    So yea– I agree on all points Sarah.

    • Plus I know what it is like to be hungry– I mean really hungry.

    • I will admit that one time I voted for a quarter cent sales tax “for the children.” The reason? Living in a town that got an influx of 10,000+ souls over four months due to a massive military personnel shift, and where very few people paid property taxes (the usual support for schools). The town manager had good numbers and showed exactly how the tax revenue would be distributed, so I supported the measure. That is the only time I’ve supported anything of that kind, and probably will be the last time I do so. Note too that this was a local effort to sort out a local problem, not a national tax to support an increase in bologna and handwavium.

      • EVERYBODY pays property taxes. Many just don’t realize they do. Renters, for example, tend to be unaware that they are paying the landlord’s taxes on the property rented.

        • Yea– and any tax on business is paid for by the person using the services of the business– why can’t anyone see that???? Taxes are on people every time.

        • This town was rather different, RES, in how property taxes were weighted and assessed. I won’t go into painful detail, but even most of the apartment house property owners (and renters) paid no property taxes due to the age of the properties and/or the age of the owners. I greatly suspect that things have changed since I left a decade ago. If not, the town is probably as broke as the Ten Commandments.

  4. I wish I could remember where I read this, but for much of English history, charity would veer back and forth from a point at which the lazy could live corfortably off of public alms and food at frequent festivals, to a point at which even the honest poor were in a very uncomfortable state. Soft, hard, soft, hard, from one to the other and back. And I think we are headed for one of those turns of public opinion; America just isn’t old enough and its history interrupted by too many wars for this cycle to be as easy to see as it is in Britain.

  5. I think I have mentioned this before, but look at the way people dress now vs how they used to dress.

    These days “Adults” routinely go about in T-shirts — worse, T-shirts with stupid and offensive legends on them.

    Go back to WWII and look at the visual documents. Men attending baseball games wore slacks, shirt & tie, sports coat or suit jacket and hat. In a time when there wasn’t air-conditioning. Look at the Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland flicks — all the kids are dressing in “adult” clothes, slightly simplified for youth. Sure, they were movies, but effort had to be made to depict life recognizably; that probably was how kids aspired to dress.

    Your daily uniform reflects a view of life. Back then kids sought to be viewed as adults; now … adults seek to be viewed as adolescents.

    Now you kids get off of my lawn.

    • Recently, I made the conscious decision to dress “better,” at least when I go to work. I wear a hat (not a cap, a hat) and a sport coat and nice pants and a dress shirt. (I draw the line at ties. I hate ties. I have no desire to present any potential assailant with a ready-made garrote.)

      Although I have never worn anything but dress pants and either polo shirts (in summer) or dress shirts (in winter) to work, I *still* get people asking me why I’m dressed up. I get odd looks all the time.

      Now, some people might say part of the reason I do it is that I want attention. I wouldn’t even argue with them. But part of it is sort of a rebellion against the sort of attitude you describe. I am a highly trained, highly paid professional. My manner of dress (as well as my manner of speech) should reflect that. It’s not putting on airs: it’s acknowledging a position which carries responsibility and which should visibly be filled by a competent, adult professional.

      Also, I really like tipping my hat to women. It makes a few smile and confuses the rest. Wouldn’t be surprised if the vast majority of the time it was the first time anybody’d ever tipped their hat to them. 🙂

      • I think the apparel line of thinking is very valid, though I’m one of the worst offenders. Spending years in rock radio, where you can come in to work wearing shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, didn’t help.

        • I have no illusions that I will start any trends since I work for a technology company. Between the anti-social/borderline Aspberger’s which is par for the course and the informal history and nature of the place, it ain’t gonna change, and I am not particularly upset about it. That’s them and this is me.

          I have kind of a weird position authority-wise. I have only one subordinate: otherwise, I have no actual authority over anybody. However, if I tell somebody to do something, or not to do something, they ignore my advice at their peril. It does no harm to reinforce the fact that in some ways and in some situations I’m the metaphorical grown-up.

          • I just don’t want the added stress of having to choose which suit to mow the lawn in. On the other hand, as discussions of “grown up” apparel blossomed over at Althouse, I became conscientious of my own attitude toward dress and chucked all my shorts except for those I wear while exercising.

            No hat yet, though.

          • My kids and about 20% of the younger kids are starting to dress that way. Robert wears a tie, too, but I pity the fool who tries to strangle him with it. (No, really. He went to a high school across from a rough park, was mugged first week, broke mugger’s arm.)

            • It is important to remember that a properly fitted shirt and tie are quite comfortable (at least, physically.) Most people wear their shirt collar too tightly and knot their tie improperly, pulling it up to choke themselves rather than allowing it to sit comfortably around the throat.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I have problems using my body to do things.

                Tying my shoes was a problem well into highschool. I eventually handled it by using a different knot instead of the standard one, and a lot of practice.

                For ties, I found instructions on the internet for the easiest knot, and I still haven’t put in anywhere near the practice to get it right.

                For work, I prefer to look professional. If this means a suit and tie, I’ll wear a suit and tie, if it means a collared shirt and slacks, I’ll wear that.

                Sometime back here, someone here claimed that jeans that have been broken in are as comfortable as slacks. I compared pairs, said experiments confirmed some prior observations.

                Jeans are often made with a thicker, heavier fabric than slacks, and with a weave that catches more on leg hairs. Heaviness of fabric increases the moment of inertia in regard to the leg joints. This means swinging the legs takes a little more heft. Thicker fabric tends to increase the moment of inertia around the joints, making bending harder, which is worse when leg hairs catching prevents the pants leg from moving around the leg during the bend.

                The effort is probably not noticeable by anyone in good physical condition who has spent enough time wearing it for their nervous systems to adapt. My nervous system seems to have calibration issues, and I notice the difference fairly often.

                Around the house, I prefer to wear t-shirts and shorts made out of the same material. I find these more comfortable than slacks, which are better than jeans. On the other hand, slacks tend to go with nicer shirts, and I am less comfortable with the higher upkeep of those. I prefer not to wear my nicer shirts and pants when I am doing to do something that will get machine oil or the like all over me.

                • I have a *reasonably* typical sensory system and anybody who tells me jeans, of any sort, are as comfortable as good dress slacks will be laughed at. And that’s not even getting into the fact that you can have good dress slacks cut to fit your individual body. I suppose you can do that with jeans, too, but at that point most of the other advantages jeans allegedly have go out the window and they become dress pants made of denim.

                  • Start laughing, anything that provides as little protection as typical dress slacks for your legs, are not as comfortable as jeans IMHO. Of course most people are more comfortable in what they are used to, and am used to jeans.

                    And yes I have ‘dress jeans’ one pair black, and one pair very light gray Wranglers. With a button up dress shirt and nice boots they are as dressed up as you are likely to ever see me, they are what I wear to weddings or funerals, or any other occasion that requires dressing up.

                    • I would distinguish between the article of clothing’s level of comfort and the level of comfort provided by wearing it. If you are in a harsh environment, naturally you are going to be more comfortable in more protective clothing, even if the clothing itself is not as comfortable as less protective clothing. I don’t shovel snow, mow the lawn, garden, or do carpentry in dress pants.

        • I’m also an offender. When I worked for an electronics firm, the “work uniform” was slacks or jeans and a polo shirt. The company even gave us several of them. Since then, my attire is strictly for comfort. I find anything that’s too tight to freely move in aggravates my arthritis. I mostly stick to jeans and either a tee or a polo shirt. In winter I wear pull-over shirts with long sleeves.

          Ties are the invention of the devil. I agree with Prince Henrik of the Netherlands — a tie is a ‘snake around the neck’.

          • My work uniform (except in the Navy– and that was dungarees) was slacks and a polo shirt (males and females techs wore the same uniform). I find it is the most comfortable for me too. When I want to dress up, I have a pair of black slacks with a tailored coat. I look elegant in it. 😉

            I was wearing guy clothes before they became popular. They fit easier on me and were easier to clean. I never had a waist– not like other women.

      • I hate to say it– but I like T-shirts and jeans too… I really really really dislike to wear skirts except for special occasions.

        • I don’t know. I got massive street creds (taxiway creds?) when I preflighted a Cessna 182 and flew a photo mission while wearing an ankle-length skirt and white blouse – without getting any oil, avgas, or dead bugs on me. Not that it was planned, but far be it from me to turn down paying work even if I’m dressed for the airport Christmas party! 😀

          • Panty hose are the invention of the Devil. Topped only by high heels.

            D**n I wish I was still skinny enough to look good in both!

            • Urg – I miss those days too. Except I really didn’t like it when I was in those days. lol

            • I’m sorry, but I can’t let that comment pass. Pantyhose (or, as we used to call them, “passion-killers”)? Sure. But high heels? Oh no, Madame: high heels are the very essence of sexiness. (Yeah, they’re uncomfortable. It’s not like you have to sleep in them.) They elongate the legs, they sound wonderful, and they can even dress up a pair of jeans.

              Now I’m not talking about the grotesque things as worn by Lady Gaga and her slutty ilk, but those elegant, classy pumps like these:

              I don’t know a single man (real man, that is) who doesn’t appreciate a decent pair of high heels on a woman. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

          • How in hell did you manage to get into and out of one of those in that outfit without giving the entire flightline a show they’d not soon forget? 🙂

            (Says one who spent most of his childhood on flightlines.)

            • Skirt was ankle length and full, and I was wearing boots and a pretty thick petticoat. So I used one hand on the safety grips (such as they are) and the other to keep the skirt from billowing when I jumped down off the wing-strut. There were almost as many disappointed gents as there were when I jumped out of the back of a jeep without showing anything. ;D

              • Dorothy Grant

                When I was on crutches and giant cast, living alone, the doc suggested sweats (a pain to get over the cast, and the other leg hadn’t exactly escaped injury, either), or cutting a leg off a pair of pants, and wearing house slippers on my feet.

                I decided on trail sandals (good treads, minimal fuss), and my nice evening gowns with a slit rather high up. Sure, they were made for showing off thigh, but they worked great for being easy to get into and out of, ease of movement, and staying modest. And I knew, despite feeling like I’d been run over (which I pretty much had been), that with a little makeup, I looked great from the waist up.

                As long as I was going to be slow moving, sensitive to people staring at me, and awkward, I might as well have a great time and a good attitude about it, eh? I found out that a smile and a gracious “thank you kindly, sir!” in a nice dress gets a lot more doors opened and groceries carried than ratty cut-up sweatpants and a sour expression.

                • I generally wear t-shirts (with baby stains, although they’re always fresh stains– and only funny or pretty or neutral stuff on the shirts) and jeans (in good repair, other than the hems being worn because I’m a runt) with sneakers or slip-ons, but I’ve also found being polite and grateful for others being polite results in a lot of help. Also, my girls are petty dang well behaved and love people, so we attract lots of spare grandparents. ;^p

                  It’s almost bad, because I hate taking help beyond someone grabbing the door or similar. Ah well, my pride can take a few hits to let other folks be generous, and it is rather nice to not juggle babies and groceries.

                  • Of course guys are hardwired to be helpful to a pretty girl (something the feminists are doing their best to eradicate in society) even if she is obviously unavialable. If she is friendly and looks approachable without looking scummy, this is much more prevalent. Nice jeans and a t-shirt look good, without looking high-class; about as approachable as you can get.

                    As for the spare grandparents, I would say that is mainly the little’uns doing, although the fact that they are well behaved will not be lost on people, and reflects well on you.

        • Same. I have rather ugly scars on both of my legs, and after I fell on the right one a few years back it has tended to swell, badly, everything under the knee, if the weather is hot or if I sit too much. So I rather hide them. Long skirts are okay, preferably at least down to my ankles, except then the problem, at least during summer, is finding shoes or boots which cover enough without being too hot or otherwise uncomfortable. Of course with long skirts there are some problems. Like forgetting its a tight one before you try to leap over a puddle. Or tripping on the wide, loose one when you are going up stairs and don’t have a free hand to lift it with. 🙂 I kind of miss the divided skirts which were in fashion for a little while during the 80’s, at least here you could back then buy ones which were pleated so that they looked like a normal skirt while you were wearing them (most of them are rather ugly, I admit that), in some ways they were a bit easier to move in.

        • I would like to point out here, that jeans were work clothes, so kids were originally imitating their bluecollar working class fathers when they wore jeans. Then of course it was encouraged by their parents for much the same reason jeans were work clothes for those parents in the first place; they were much tougher, more durable, and easier cleaned than your typical pair of slacks or skirt.

          Bob, I would argue that jeans are more comfortable than slacks (part of this is because I am used to them) slacks tend to lightweight and thin, offering very little protection for your legs. Shorts obviously are even worse at this, and other than for swimming or laying on the couch I fail to see any use for them. You could argue that they would be acceptable in an office, but they still provide less protection from minor things like bumping into desks, dropping a cup of coffee, and whatnot. Besides the arguement against jeans was that they don’t look ‘professional’ enough, and shorts are several orders of magnitude less ‘professional’ than jeans. Personally in most if not all job fields I would rather deal with the guy in the office wearing jeans, than the one wearing a three piece suit. Jeans give the impression that he came up through the ranks to the position he currently holds, meaning he is more likely to understand the realities of the on-the-ground work, also it implies that he is both competent and ambitious.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Here, regarding the relative comfort of jeans vs. slacks, we see the difference of perspective between someone who is primarily and indoor and city person, and someone who is often out in the untamed outdoors. From bearcat’s website, I can see that he spends a ton of time in the woods, where the protection angle is a significant factor in comfort, as low protection equals lots of scratches, whereas slacks would be considered more comfortable because they are easier to move in.

            Incidentally, I HATED jeans when I was little, because the only ones I ever got were so horribly stiff that I didn’t want to wear them enough to soften them up (and besides, by then, I would outgrow them and have to get a new pair). As an adult, I prefer slacks for an office environment, though I often wear cargo pants because they last longer, and jeans for tramping around in the woods.

            • Yea – if I want to tramp around in the desert, jeans are the ultimate. The thorns can be unbelievable and can even go through running shoes. I don’t have boots because my feet are too soft from (chemo— inactivity– what have you) to wear them. Long-term chemo and prednisone does damage to the body.

            • I prefer slacks for an office environment, though I often wear cargo pants because they last longer

              Plus, cargo pants give you more options to pilfer post-it pads.

      • Bravo, Marc.
        Men weating shorts in public… don’t get me started. Hell, I even cringe at wearing cargo pants (instead of slacks) and a shirt with a collar (NOT a polo shirt, never mind a tee shirt), but hey, I’m probably one of the best-dressed men on campus. Every so often I just have to, and wear the slacks/white shirt/tie/blazer/dress shoes outfit, with a hat. Then I AM the best-dressed man on campus.

        • Of course, I went to a high school where the latter outfit was the everyday uniform (yes, including the tie), so I’m not hassled by “going formal”. Besides, my wife gets all squiggly when I dress like that, and a squiggly wife is always a good thing.

        • When I am doing photography, my preferred outfit is a pair of black cargo pants and a black t-shirt. (I’m not dramatic: I’m non-reflective.) Mainly because I hate those vests and there are so many little doodads you might want access to in a hurry.

        • Hey Kim –
          My hubby had to change to cargo pants (strong ones made by Dickie) for work so that he would have a comparatively nice looking pair of pants that put up with the work that he does. He is in communications and sometimes climbs on the roof to put up antennas. Other pants rip and tear and the abuse of what he does– in matter of a day. So we use what we can.

          He does wear a shirt with a collar (laundered and starched) for work w/o a tie. He would do better with jeans for work, but they are seen by the governor often.

          • How did cargo pants become ‘nicer’ than jeans? I agree this is the common perception, I just don’t understand how it came about.

            • You can starch the cargo pants and they pretty much keep their shape (of course you can start jeans I suppose… but the office you controls his work environment says no jeans except on Friday).

            • Maybe because they are not made of denim? Or perhaps because of the “hole-y” jeans fad from a few years (decades?) ago? *shrugs* Where I live you have ratty “wear for nasty chores” jeans, “everyday” jeans and your newest pair for Sunday night or Wednesday church. I don’t see many men in cargo pants.

              Now, if you want trousers that will stand up to wild pigs, highway rash, and kneeling on broken glass, try the Duluth Fire Hose ™ pants and jeans. They will stand up to everything short of a chainsaw. I do not recommend them for comfort, however. (Yes, I knelt on broken glass and did not feel it through the material. I was on a post-tornado clean-up crew.) Legal disclaimer: I get no products, remuneration, or other benefits from Duluth.

              • Are the Fire Hose pants similar to the tin pants made by Filson and now other companies? Tin pants are made from wax-oil impregnated canvas, and are the absolute best thing I have ever wore for turning thorns and stuff, also they are water-proof. They have two major detractants however, (other than price) you have to wear longjohns under them unless you like your legs waxed, and they are called ‘tin pants’ for a reason, they are heavy and stiff, especially when wet they are like wearing stovepipes on your legs. I used to wear them working in the rain all the time, and when I got home I would take them off and stand them in the corner by the stove, they are stiff enough to stand on their own. (these are what I picture when people started describing how much more work it is to walk and lift your legs in jeans instead of slacks)

                • Fire Hose pants (and jackets) do not have the wax impregnation. It is the same material used to make fire hoses, or at least the basic clothing line is. There are some lighter versions. Fire Hose cloth tends to soften a bit over time, and you do not have to wear longies under them, except in winter. They are cold and uncomfortable when wet (like other heavy cotton weaves) but not that stiff. At least, mine have never gotten that stiff.

    • I’d do that; but in a business suit, I look like I work for Murder, Inc. …. 🙂

  6. If we stop giving trophies for participation, everything will resolve itself within the amount of time it takes for the first group to get from K to 12. Likewise, stop putting helmets on kids for every activity short of board games.

    I just won a major battle (shhhhhh, don’t tell the wife) about work for our children in our home. I was for an allowance based on chores. She was for a per job payment. The endless dickering over what a job should worth, whether x kid got paid for y job, and the abomination of a kid telling you that he/she doesn’t want to do something because it’s not worth the amount you have given them…perish the thought. I’m cut from the the “you’ll do it because I told you to do it,” cloth.

    The point that I’ve long been trying to convince my wife (who grew up relatively poor, but they had a nanny who cooked and cleaned) that children are very, very strong and will rise to the challenges you set in front of them, especially if they are convinced that there is a reward for overcoming that challenge. Hell, most video games are BASED on this (and there is a djinni out of the bottle, sure and true).

    • Susan Shepherd

      I’m sure you resolved this in some other way, but I’ve wondered whether it could work to have both a list of chores, each worth some amount, and an allowance based on chores — but the allowance is worth somewhat more than all of the individual chores combined, and goes up by a nickel each week in a row that a kid completed every single one of their chores. Probably up to some reasonable cap, of course,

      Then keep track on a privately kept sheet of paper and a publicly displayed record somewhere the kids see often (kitchen door, maybe). If a kid who thinks its better to just do the “easy” chores each week notices that their sibling is not only making more money, but also getting awarded for consistency, I’d expect a) some arguments and bad attitude for a few days while they test your resolve, followed by b) a sudden uptick in chores done.

      I regrettably don’t have much experience dealing with young kids, but if anyone’s tried something like this, it’d be neat to know how things turned out.

      • In Principle this seems a good method, but — depending on the number of incipient shysters in house — might be susceptible to problems. What might be a rather simple chore for child A may well be quite challenging for child B, five years younger, but each would be paid the same credit for the task? I guess you could include a multiplier for age, in inverse ratio to the child’s age — which would encourage younger kids to push themselves.

        I could also imagine an older child grabbing up the easy if low value chores, in recognition that doing so would a) allow them to breeze through, making up in volume what they forego in value per chore and b) freeze out the younger siblings, thus achieving the ever popular “it is not enough that I do well, my sibling must also suffer” paradigm. Such a “chore grab” might also be used by your budding mafioso to sub-contract chores to younger siblings in exchange for a kickback.

        Why yes, I am one of four kids. Why do you ask?

        • Susan Shepherd

          Huh. I never considered having a chore pool available for all the kids to choose from; I was picturing specific tasks assigned to each kid, to do or not, since that’s what I grew up with.

          That admittedly leads to the problem of chores not getting done. Maybe after a certain point, anyone can do unfinished chores. Say, if payout’s at noon Sunday, then the kids need to get their assigned chores done by 4 p.m. Saturday or else a sibling might poach those unfinished chores for extra cash.

          Thanks for replying, though. For whatever reason, a fair percentage of the narrative voices I get are kids between ages 8-12 (magic is most likely to evoke “wow” rather than skepticism at that age, might be the reason), but I don’t have much experience with that, and having an in-story chore list is a good excuse for why a kid that age might have a “more mature” work ethic compared to his peers, for stories where maturity matters.

          • Susan Shepherd

            Sorry, I realize in retrospect that RES and scottmcglasson are not in fact the same individual.

            • LOL. It’s the hair. They part it the same way. (Runs.)

              We did it by chore. It gave the older one a massive advantage, but then he knew where to spend the money, the younger didn’t.

              • Unlike Scott (aka: the Slovenly One) I always wear a tie at work. I also am much handsomer (my mirror wouldn’t lie about a thing like that, while Scott’s mirror is highly suspect, probably as a result of all the powdered substances sucked through a straw from it … Scott seriously needs to lay off the Lik-M-Aid.)

                Also, unlike moi, Scott has a sense of humor.

  7. Just anecdotal, but got more evidence last night. Back when I was a boy – allow me to grab my cane and can of prunes – I stopped trick or treating when I was 12. High school kids came to my door last night. I know I was out of the candy giving business for a few years doing fun stuff in the Middle East, but when did that trend start?

    • H*ll, at around 9 pm we pull in the decor, turn off the lights and go upstairs where we keep the front of the house dark, otherwise we start getting drunken college students, who are incredibly vindictive if they don’t get the candy they WANT. So we hand out to the littles, 7 to 9, then close up shop.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        It’s not just the older ones. Check out this FB comment from my niece:

        “Never thought I would take candy away from a kid and tell him to get off my porch. But it happened. Little sh*t was banging the storm door back and forth, opened it when I unlocked it and then told
        He didn’t like the candy he got. So, I gladly took it back. Then, in front if his parents, told my children if they even thought of acting like that they wouldn’t go trick or treating. What is wrong with people????”

        • The worst that we ever had our kids do was unintentional. First time Robert went trick or treating, at one and a half, he would shout out enthusiastically “Thank you” — he was one and a half. The Th came out f and the n wasn’t really clear. We followed (and it was difficult, because he was running once figured he could get candy) telling the horrified-looking people “It’s thank you. He’s only one and a half. He doesn’t talk very well, yet.” (He was MASSIVE, about the size of a three year old, so explanation was needed.)

      • This is why God invented garden hoses. And don’t think I wouldn’t. That would be the best Halloween EVER.

        • If kids don’t want the treat, they must want the trick, right?

          Although I do make exceptions for allergies, I expect that most families are prepared for wheeling and dealing at home or with their neighbor kids.

    • Older children trick-or-treating has been going on since at least when *I* was in high school depending on the area. However, our town has a trick-or-treating ordinance. Trick or treating is over at seven. At 7:01 we turn off the porch light. If a child, of whatever age, came to my door at 8 PM looking for candy, I would lecture them.

      And we have two vats of candy. Anyone wearing a costume (painting your face is not a costume) gets good candy. Anyone not gets crappy candy. However, we do not discriminate by age. So far as I am concerned anybody is entitled to trick-or-treat.

      • The non-discrimination is good. My kids matured early. Marsh, trick or treating at 13 with fuzz on face got yelled at by people and told to get off the porch because he was “one of them college students” (He was attired as a pirate.)

        But I should have specified, the threatening, drunk and disorderly older kids are NEVER in costume.

        • Susan Shepherd

          They deserve what they get. They can’t claim they’re too overworked to dress up; I know of people here who’ve prepared quite elaborate costumes despite chronic hosage (including, in at least one case, chainmail using theringlord scales so that his dragon costume had actual metal scales everywhere and he could still move).

          • Susan Shepherd

            Er, and also threatening, drunk and disorderly behavior is poor in and of itself. But when people who are jerks get confronted, in my experience “I didn’t have time, so that doesn’t apply” gets brought up fairly quickly. Just as “it was just a joke” or “get a sense of humor” is often used when you call a jerk out for being inappropriate or rude.

          • My favorite costume I MADE for the kids (I was looking for pictures yesterday to put on FB and embarrass them) I made Robert a Dragon costume, wings and all and I got Marsh a plastic helmet and sword, and made him cloth “armour” in grey fabric. (He was two, I think.)

            In retrospect, it was a stupid idea to give the young one a plastic sword. (He was about half Robert’s size at those ages.) Fortunately I padded the dragon’s head. The sword became the “Weapon of smiting brother” and Robert could not retaliate because his arms were in the wings. So all he could do was flap the wings and squawk. The young one enjoyed himself immensely AND the act was SO cute they came back with overflow candy.

            • We did a single block, maybe eight to ten houses, and ended up with at least four pounds of candy for the one and three year old fairies. (The one year old was in her stroller, but everyone insisted on giving her candy, too.) First time I’ve ever had someone see my group walking past and order us to visit their house!

              I’m 90% sure that a lot of the double or triple loads of candy were because opening a door and finding a tiny blue fairy, with huge princess-type curls (natural) and huge blue eyes (also natural) staring up at you and whispering “twikker tweet, peas” and saying “tan’koo” after you offer one piece hits all the too-stinking-adorable buttons.

              That said, I am totally stealing the dragon-and-knight idea; the little one will be big enough to walk for herself next year.

              • Awesome! Our trick-or treat got put off till Saturday, and I have to work so I don’t know what I’ll do. Sigh. Trapped in a house with bags and bags of candy.

                OTOH, my welcome mat disappeared, so I guess Halloween pranks live.

    • High school kids came to my door last night. I know I was out of the candy giving business for a few years doing fun stuff in the Middle East, but when did that trend start?

      Slightly over 20 years ago, in Texas. The high schoolers would come out at the very tail end of Trick-Or-Treat night.

  8. Wayne Blackburn

    ’m perfectly all right with “a safety net” though I’m still at a loss as to why it can’t be provided out of private charity.

    It certainly can be, but the ones who wanted it shifted to a government system didn’t like the fact that the majority of charities were faith-based, and didn’t want to “feel bad” about going to get their assistance, and didn’t want to listen to the messages from the religious organization they asked for help.

    • Also, there’s the danger that they might straighten up their clients and then who would there be to exploit as mascots?

    • Makes for some funny situations, though.

      Mercedes Lackey, I can’t remember the book, has some character(s? might be in multiple books) go off on a rant about how horrible it is that you have to listen to the folks who are giving you free stuff while you’re eating, and that they offer you additional help if you’re willing to follow their rules, like not sleeping around while you’re in their hospice sleep area…. Then has her magical characters give a lecture every time they help someone, and sometimes refuse to help at all unless the one in trouble changes their behavior first.

      Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time…she does that a lot. (reading her Indian fantasy book and noticing that all the non-Indian characters were utterly dehumanized was kind of funny)
      Thank goodness she’s a good enough writer that the stories are still enjoyable anyways!

      • You nailed why I virtually quit reading Mercedes Lackey, she is a very good writer, but I disagree with many of her views, which she tends to express in her books in exactly the inconsistent manner you described. The bad guys are vilified for forcing their views (which at times are the views I agree with) on others, while the good guys do the exact same thing with thier views, and it is treated as a good thing.

        • I’m still wondering how they process all of the sewage from the palace in Haven. Running water and flush toilets require an outlet, and no character ever complains about how horrible the river/creek smells.

          Lackey’s recent cut-and-paste trend does not help as far as readability and enjoyment. She’s a good writer, and the magic system she and Larry Dixon created for Velgarth is impressive, but the heavy hammer of message and the repeated material have both been put on my list of “things not to do to readers.”

          • On sewage: if there’s a decent amount of water, take a page from my relatives in Kansas: it goes into a sewage-tank, ages for a while, and the over-flow goes into a small pool. Doesn’t smell any worse than any other stagnant water, lots of moss and plants and such; make it shallow and big enough, it’ll evaporate fast enough to avoid…issues, generally. If you’re going to go into detail, make sure there are gas baffles at each toilet– prevents explosions.

            Also, have the toilets go to the septic, while sinks go to a gray-water thing. Less water flooding the system. Might even have the gray-water from sinks going through the toilets, depending on what your level of sophistication is.

          • I read her elemental masters books, and the Godmother love-note-to-Terry-Pratchett series. She seems to be having so much fun that she forgets to lecture.

            Tried to read the “why murdering all the Catholics is OK because some elf had a vision” series, and the only thing I can remember is getting a bit in and realizing that was the take-away. Uh, no, not going to read that.

            • “why murdering all the Catholics is OK because some elf had a vision” series’

              That seems to be a fairly standard takeaway (well sometimes you can substitute Baptist for Catholic) from a lot of her fantasy, so I have no idea which series you are referring to. She is one of the few authors that I prefer reading books she coauthored, because it seems like her coauthors tend to curb her tendency to hammer home the religion=evil message with a 10# sledge.

  9. > If you think this is a post about the hyper-sexualization of society and childhood, you’re wrong.

    No, THAT one was the previous post comparing Act 3 of a novel to post-coital smoking, I think.

    Well, implicitly.

  10. Years ago I had a job that paid more than minimum wage. Which meant nothing more than I was broke, but had a roof over my head and could get to work. Didn’t mean I ate well though. I could eat full if not well most of the time, but 1 weak out of every month I might have had next to nothing if I hand any extra expenses. More than once I used $1.25 I had left and live on popcorn for a week.

    No that isn’t famine, but that is to say just because you should have something doesn’t mean you do have it. Help and how much you have to pay when the tax collectors come knocking is based on what you should have and not on what you do have.

    As to adults acting like children I can totally agree with that. I see it both in those that think they are “entitled” and those that sigh in exasperation at those “entitled”. One blinded by what they feel is owed to them the others blinded by their arrogance happily oblivious to their own short coming of believing anyone who has a problem thinks they are entitled. I’ve seen in those that have children, but the blame everyone else for what their child does and then yell when someone restricts them.

    I’ve seen it in the woman that wanted to yell at me because she worked at night and it was some how my fault that her child(when at home alone till she got off work at 10) watched something unacceptable because the show before it was for everyone, but felt the show after it should be rated as teen “or even adult” and how we rate something like that since she didn’t want her child to watch it. Yes, don’t let me explain we had zero control over anything like that. That I don’t rate the show nor control the fact your TV doesn’t block it.

    Then I’ve seen it in the parents that didn’t want the school system to punish their child, even with something as harmless as detention because “it singles them out and makes them feel like they are being ostracized”. Then how dare they expel the child when they no longer have any recourse. “What was she supposed to do with them! She had to work!”

    Or the parent that allows their child to get away with bloody murder, but wants people turned in to child services because the spank their child or discipline them too harshly.

    Some of these people need to grow up and learn that a child isn’t just something you can put clothes on like a little doll and set on a shelf when they can’t be bothered to “play” with them. Nor are they going to automagically going grow up into a person worth something. Some people do grow up well in spite of what they had for parents, but more than that don’t. At some point we all choose how we grow up(or if we do), but if you have no example of worth then people are unlikely to see where the difference is.

    It is one of those catch 22’s where it would be too much government control, but at the same time some people should have to qualify for a license before they have kids.

    • Many of the problems with the later Boomers (around 1955 through 1960, and the next few generations after them), was the sudden inundation of adults with wishful-thinking “child psychology” — from Dr. Spock and others. Most of it was counter-factual, but it was “different”, and a lot of children didn’t want to raise their children the same way their parents raised them. The result is all the “feel-good” claptrap, and an extended feeling of entitlement.

      A very good friend of mine is a child psychiatrist (not a “psychologist”, which is usually a four-year degree, sometimes with a masters, but not necessarily. A psychiatrist has to be an MD before he can become a psychiatrist). Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fey created the “Love and Logic” Institute, which DOES provide parents training on how best to raise a child. They don’t believe that everyone should get recognition just for showing up. They have courses that schools use to train teachers (none of this is covered in teachers’ colleges or “schools of education”) on how to deal with reclusive, aggressive, sick, and endangered children. Their training makes a difference. It’s used in my grandson’s school, and it works. If you have young children (2-12 — if you haven’t gotten them by 12, it’s almost impossible to turn them around without a MOUNTAIN of work), I recommend you check them out.

      FULL DISCLOSURE: I don’t get a nickel for promoting Dr. Cline or the Love and Logic Institute, but Foster Cline was our main psychiatrist when we worked for the Youth Behavior Program, fostering emotionally disturbed children. We’ve been good friends ever since. I promote him the same way I do Sarah, and for the same reason: both provide what they promise.

  11. Sarah, I love it when you write like this. If you are ever in Grand Rapids, I’ll buy you and your hubby and boys a round of favorite beverages and toast your health.

    Years back I read Marv Olasky’s book “The Tragedy of American Compassion” wherein he describes how the US won the war on poverty without any government involvement. Olasky also came to Grand Rapids where I saw him at the Acton Institute as well as the GR Theological Seminar. The first point he made was that in olden days, non-Universalist Christian charities made a distinction between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. (This distinction was washed away by the universalist heresy of Modernism.)

    If you accept the notion of undeserving poor, you can perceive behavior patterns such as pauperization. In pauperization, a person will intentionally put himself into an untenable situation so you HAVE to help him. I’ve seen this myself while working with homeless people.

    So, when you’re dialing in your safety net, you should be aware that some will be watching and planning howto put themselves in a position where they just barely qualify for assistance.

  12. [sigh] This reminds me of a quote from, of all things, the movie _Road House_:

    “And we have entirely too many troublemakers — too many forty-year-old adolescents, felons, power-drinkers, and Trustee of Modern Chemistry.”

    The question is: Who’s going to “Dalton up”, and start taking out the trash?

  13. Re: the wedding singer, I suppose that “children should be seen and not heard” was the background there. Going to an adult party (like a wedding reception) was a privilege, when I was a kid, and we were supposed to show our appreciation by acting inconspicuous.

    That said, I’m also a bit surprised that the wedding singer didn’t rise to the occasion by singing some simple pop song that was in the repertoire but is also regarded as “for kids.” Like songs from The Sound of Music, or some folksongs.

    If this was some kind of fado thing, though, I can see why the singer’d be surprised. I don’t think either fado or the blues is meant for kids. The topics just are too post-childhood.

    • They were not fados, but they were Portuguese songs. At that time, in that place, there was nothing that wasn’t about lost love, etc

    • There’s a little problem with privilege of going somewhere you didn’t ask to go, to do nothing, and with everyone acting like you should be grateful for it.

        • But being ordered to be inconspicuous is like having a license to ninja! You can do whatever you feel like! And your parents have no right to complain, unless somebody notices!

          Yes, you can tell I was part of a family where the hairy eyeball was the main threat.

          • My family was similar. I have a personal SEP field: unless I am actively drawing attention to myself, people have a tendency not to realize I am there. (I am 6’2″ and 240#: this is more impressive than it sounds.) I’ve walked into places where people whose job it was to specifically keep people out did nothing to stop me. Either they didn’t notice me at all, or as one rather shamefaced cop said later, “He looked like he knew what he was doing and it didn’t occur to me to stop him.”

            Part of this is that I am of a non-threatening (assuming you’re not a native tribe whose traditional lands contain valuable resources) ethnicity and dress well, but most of it is just something about me. I have no idea how it works. It may be a beneficial side effect of the general energy-damping which seems to follow me around. (I refer to this as my anti-fun field. It works in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I have witnesses.)

            • I have said this before — unless I get mad– people don’t even see me. Even in the mall they will walk right through me. I have had to walk behind my husband so that I wouldn’t get bumped etc. etc. urg

              • Now for the other matter–I’ll be the only person in line to get their purse searched. The reason I liked Japanese security is that I wasn’t the only one being singled out.