Various Degrees Of Resentment

*Sorry, I did it again.  Put post up and forgot to push the “publish” button.  I swear…*

An article came out recently saying that the brains of 25 year olds today resemble those of  15 year olds in the past. (I’d link it, but, as usual, can’t now find the article.  If one of you puts it in the comments, I’ll link it.) (Thanks to Alert Reader RES for the link!) To some extent this sounds like a good thing.  Note the “to some extent.”

I grew up in a society where it was clear that there were different rates of maturation for those who started working at ten and those who went to school to their early twenties.

When I was little, ten was the most usual age to get a job in the village.  Yes, the law was that kids had to stay in school later.  Portugal was, if not the first, among the very first countries to pass anti-child-labor laws.  But there were loopholes – there always are when a well-intentioned law is out of step with the economic reality of the country – and so people got certificates saying their kids were educable mentally retarded – despite often flying grades from elementary which ended in fourth grade – and got them jobs in the textile factories or apprenticed them with various craftsmen.  Later there must have been a crack down on these certificates, so every middle class family acquired a maid of ten or twelve years old, who was according to parents “Sent to live with relatives” – well, I suppose that was right, right?  After all go back far enough we’re all relatives.

This is btw a prime example of how both well intentioned, completely unrealistic laws help nothing, and how crackdowns make things worse.  In the factories the kids were treated well, because there were inspections and labor laws to follow.  Once the factories were forced to stop hiring kids – but a family still couldn’t support itself from just a salary or even two — those little girls were all but slaves, because they had no recourse to any legal authority, their wages such as they were were mailed to their parents, and their conditions depended entirely on the benevolence of their employer.  It made me faintly queasy.  (Made mom faintly queasy too.  Her reaction was “I can’t ‘hire’ one of those girls, because what would happen was I’d adopt her and do the work for both of us, and pay her parents to boot.  She also thought less of – and lost – a few friends who ‘hired’ these kids.)

Anyway, it was very easy to see – and I mean physically – the difference between those kids and we, pampered children of the middle class.  They looked older.  And I don’t mean older in the sense of aging.  There is some of that, but mostly I see that in paintings of the nineteenth century or so, where little kids have these aged, on the verge of lined faces, and I’ve always wondered if that was vitamin deficiency.  The kids I grew up with weren’t like that, but two years after I’d left elementary (ten, fourth grade was the end of elementary and fifth and sixth grade were middle school) and was ready to enter high school, these kids whom I’d played with and who had looked pretty much like me back then looked… grown up.  Yes, they were usually smaller than I – at 5’5” at 12 and weighing in at 120 lbs, for my generation in Portugal I was what is known as a moose – and often less developed, but they stood with more confidence, they could do things I couldn’t (like navigate opening a bank account or a savings account.)  They were adults despite the lack of full adult growth.

But even that changes.  We just bought the entire Columbo series and we’re going through the second season – listen, I DO have a sinus infection, which, btw, is annoying because it’s something no one dies of, but my mind becomes total mush – and I swear the women who are considered “young and sexy” look my age now (though thinner, I’ll grant you.)  I.e. to the modern eye they read “forty to fifty.”  How much of this is improved health care and vitamins and all that, making us look younger?  I don’t know.  But I do know that twenty something year olds now look like we did in our teens (only usually pudgier, but that’s a talk for another time).

And that makes me wonder.  People are maturing later physically and emotionally.  I remember watching Friends and thinking that might have been stuff my friends and I did in our early twenties, (not really.  Well, some of my friends, but in general we weren’t that sex-involved.  OTOH the stupid pranks and such?  Totally.) but these people were turning thirty and were still not established in life; still had no direction.  I’m afraid that’s slipped further still, due to a combination of many things, including the horrible economy.  I now sometimes see “a bunch of kids in coffeeshop” then realize some of them have white hair coming on and are probably early thirties.  But their faces still look like kids’ faces, their movements and everything still says juvenile.

I wonder how much of this is the brain regulating the body.  We do know that in the history of the species we’ve been moving to extend our childhood and that to an extent this has helped us because we had more time to learn.  This particular brand of naked apes, after all, hasn’t conquered the world through our special speed or whatever, but through our learning and brain.  We have been extending childhood so we can cram more and more learning before we hit our adult years.

There are only two problems: we haven’t really pushed off senescence much.  We mitigate it, sure – through stuff like better nutrition and MUCH better medicine, but that doesn’t really push off getting old.  We’re still hitting the beginning of old age – white hairs, decreased energy – at around thirty five, just like our ancestors were.  We’re healthier, so it’s showing less, but it’s still there.

And this applies to having children too.  By the time today’s children hit “grown up” they likely are no longer able to have children.

All of which might or might not mean much of anything, but what worries me is the idea that our kids – all our kids – are now behaving like the kids of very wealthy people in the past.  They never mature, they live at an infantile level forever, and they waste their lives in the pursuit of “juvenile” stuff.

More, I’m worried that at some level we’re creating the exact same type of personality as the royal prince whose parents lived too long and prevented him from taking adult responsibilities for far too long.  I’m afraid we’ve entered the territory of “we’re making their lives so easy, why do they hate us?” (Which could also very easily apply to home-grown terrorists.)

What precipitated it was this prank that some cute comedian came up with. You were supposed to text your parents with “I got two grams for $40” and then “Sorry, wrong person” and sit back and watch the results.

Yes, I know there’s a whole genre of “fake texts” and that some of these might or might not have been doctored.  OTOH the whole thing, both the prank and the responses rings true to what would happen in most of our social circle.  And it baffles me.

Our kids know we’re giving all aid and support we can, PROVIDED that they keep their noses clean and bring home nothing worse than Bs.  (This is only necessary because younger son messes up tests on a routine basis, and “does not test well” has always been his issue.  Even he has mostly As.)

If one or both of the kids had sent us that text, they’d find themselves on the front porch with the clothes on their backs, as we waved goodbye.  Yes, even knowing that it was a prank.  Perhaps particularly knowing that it was a prank.

The idea of kids who are, probably, mostly, legal adults, who think it is fun to play on their parents by pretending to be drug buyers/dealers (considering all the legal penalties that attain to both kid and parent if the drug is in the house, up to and including forfeiture of the property) have proven that at some very deep seated level, they resent the parents who are looking after them.

I don’t even know what to say other than that, other than “when you artificially prolong childhood in homo sapiens, till it starts blending with senescence, it seems to create a backlash.  Perhaps Heinlein’s thing about there being however many words for “Thank you” in Japanese and all of them involving some level of resentment should be invoked.  Or perhaps the thing about never ruining your children’s lives by making them too easy.

Yes, as a parent, of course I want to ease everything for them.  On the other hand… How much is adversity or at least struggle needed to form the adult brain?  And what happens when people never encounter any growing up? (Addition thanks to alert reader Bearcat.  [someone has to be alert.  This is my brain on sinus infection.])

378 responses to “Various Degrees Of Resentment

  1. The article was at Dr. Helen’s PJM blog.

      • 1. Can current technology detect these developmental lags in the physiology of the affected brains? I need specific evidence before I’ll nod to that.

        • From talking to a friend who is a neuro scientist, yeah I think so.

          • 1. Neuroscience is advancing rapidly, but it seems that the more rapidly a field advances, the more its progress is outstripped by prognostications. I’m recalling the Apollo era and the explosive phase of the Internet’s growth. There are also examples in so-called pure science.

            2. How the brain processes information can presumably be analyzed, now or in the foreseeable future, by monitoring how signals travel therein. That’s potentially different from the kinds of differences in physiological structure that, e.g., autopsies would reveal.

            • Neuroscience is doing interesting things with MRIs, EEGs, Magnetoencephalography and neurotransmitter analysis these days. They are even working on “seeing” people’s dreams and brain-to-brain interfaces.

              To keep up to date, visit Teddy’s Rat Lab for topics such as this:

              • Some people say that a sapient AI could be a decade away. Other people say that a sapient AI has been a decade away for at least half a century. Although that second bunch is correct, I do not rule out the eventual development of sapient AIs.

                I have been slow by decades to recognize that BS hype does not necessarily mean the absence of progress. Therein is a possible difference between a rich society and a straitened one.

                • Given the range of stuff that gets tagged as that– everything from a mildly useful game AI to really-can’t-tell-it’s-not-a-person– all options are true.

                  • Turing test.

                    • Considered using the correct term, but then I’d either want to say exactly what I did in addition or link to a good page on it, and “able to pass a good version of the Turning test” is clunky.

                    • A description of the Turing test is not what I was driving at.

                      My point is that there are criteria which can be agreed upon in discussions of sapient AI. As you indicate, such discussions can be ‘anything goes’, but they don’t have to be.

                    • …Since I included being able to pass a Turning test in the options, not sure why you felt the need to bring it up. That it’s your personal definition has no bearing on what people mean when they talk about how close we are to a real AI.

                      I would personally favor an informal sort of Turning test for figuring out if a computer is a person or not, because that’s how I’d judge any unknown class of being– if it seems to be a moral being, I have to assume that it is. (Yeah, that “Data goes on trial” episode of Star Trek would’ve been really dang short in my case– some SOB tries to claim one of my officers is property? Nuclear option time.)

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      You’ve seen a strict definition for a Turing Test? The only one I saw was, “Can convince most other humans that it’s human”.

                    • *laughs* I’ve read SEVERAL that were different!

                      It’s been over a decade, and it was in print books or magazines, but the definitions tended to range from stuff that the “talk to a computer” websites can do that simulate conversation for various majorities of the population, to “is tagged as a computer with the same frequency that humans doing the test are tagged as computers” to “can fool an expert in the field that is being discussed.”

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      The setup for the Turing Test is where a conversation is held between the computer and humans where the humans don’t know they are talking with a computer. The computer passes the test if after a prolonged conversation the humans don’t realize that they were talking with a computer.

                      An online conversation (like we’re doing) would be the basic setup for the Turing Test.

                      Of course, considering the apparent intelligence of some internet trolls, it’s possible that some of them were computers (none AI ones). [Grin]

                    • I’m sometimes not absolutely sure most of my friends, colleagues or indeed myself would pass the Turing test 😉

                    • I teach community college classes online, and I’ve got students who can’t pass a Turing Test.

                    • There was a computer program that passed it once. Parry, it was called. It convinced psychologist that they were dealing with a real albeit very disturbed human being. (Parry being short for Paranoid.)

                    • Foxfier | May 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm | …Since I included being able to pass a Turning test in the options, not sure why you felt the need to bring it up. That it’s your personal definition has no bearing on what people mean when they talk about how close we are to a real AI.

                      To repeat, I noted the existence of a term of art. The development of terms of art indicates that a topic has acquired specificity and structure.

                    • To repeat, I noted the existence of a term of art. The development of terms of art indicates that a topic has acquired specificity and structure.

                      Well, not really, no, you just stated a jargon phrase that is not very precise (worse, which can be used in a precise way and mean a range of things depending on who is talking) and was covered in a less clunky matter in the comment being replied to, and when it was pointed out that the area covered by it was included in the original comment you claimed that there are “criteria” that “can be” agreed on; the use of the phrase “Turning test” just indicates that the guy proposed a popular answer to a famous scifi question. He was trying to set the terms of discussion, but that neither makes the shorthand a “term of art” nor indicates that he was correct in his framing.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                Just saw:

                For a long time I’ve liked the theory that some of the coding is internally generated during development, and has no need to be the same between people. Looks like my original formulation is wrong, let’s see happens about the rest.

            • No neurological tests or scans can determine the “age” of adult brains. Psychological tests can assess a persons attitudes, maturity, and patterns of thought, correlate them with age, and then assign a “maturity age.” That’s what the researchers did in the study (cited second-hand).

  2. ” How much is adversity or at least struggle needed to form the adult brain? And what happens when people never encounter any?”

    The answer to the first is, I’m not sure, but I suspect as a society (average, obviously every family, and really every kid, is different) we are already edging over that line.

    The answer to the second is, it never happens. At some point everybody encounters adversity. People learn from experience though, so the less often they encounter it, the less capable they are when they do.

    • I meant growing up of course…

      • I don’t believe you DO ‘grow up’ without struggle. Mentally, obviously you grow up physically, although it could be argued that since no one has been raised in zero-g that we don’t know if you’ll physically grow up or just out, without struggle.

        • Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that we mature, not because we grow older, but based on the responsibilities we take on.

          It was bad enough with my generation; I shudder at the special snowflake kids of today who aren’t allowed to lose a competition.

          • Let’s hear it for participation trophies!

            • If I cheer your comment, will I be awarded one?

              • Not here. We deem cheering its own reward.

                • As opposed to venues where cheering is deemed an improper inducement to excessive competitiveness.

              • Not my department. You’ll need to fill out a form 231-q in triplicate and take it to that office over there. No, not that one – THAT one. Once that’s done, they’ll issue a provisional 231-a which has to be ratified at the bi-weekly meeting. That’s strictly a formality, but it IS a formality. Once that form has been ratified, you’ll get a – are you writing this down? Here’s a pad. No, I can’t spare a pencil. Prick your finger with this. Now, once the ratification is done…

          • I think at least it’s taken me running the store and watching the midget for a few hours once in a while to cement: some things in my brain.
            Been thinking that some of the kids I work with: well they are only a few years younger then me so not really kids. Anyway, they have a tendency to call out if they feel like it: I just called out last week in fact, though it was the first time in the three years I have been in that job. I have sick days, and I decided to call out, but I wasn’t opening or closing the store.

            • Don’t worry, I routinely call people several years older than me kids (and I’m mid-thirties), although I don’t consider myself one. That comes from spending a lot of time around guys in their fifties and sixties when I was younger; who considered anyone under mid-forties a kid.

              • Dorothy Grant

                I find that my tendency to call some one “kid” is based almost entirely on their behaviors and actions, and has very little to do with their physical age.

                Every now and then, like at work, this means I have to choose my words very carefully.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  I one said of a political figure being evaluated for office, that he needed to grow up, that he was mentally far too young for the job. He was either twice my age, or over twice my age.

                  That said, perhaps by taste, I’ve found that I enjoy hanging out with people much older than I am. That said, I also like pontificating to those younger. Sometimes the younger ones chew me out as well as the older ones can.

      • The critical issue is whether our society is breeding resilience or brittleness into our kids.

        I have mentioned previously about an article, read some 25 years ago, about people volunteering to go in and shake the trees at malls and similar enclosures. Apparently the essentially breeze free environments allow trees to grow without developing tough fibers so that when they achieve their full growth they are unable to support themselves.

        Similarly, our therapeutic society denies kids the opportunity to overcome challenges at an age when they are still resilient. Coming to challenges too late in their development breeds timidity and resentment.

        • There is also a story that is often told in my church about the man who saw a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. The small creature was struggling, and the man thought to help it by opening the cocoon for it. He very carefully did so, but what emerged hardly looked like a butterfly; the wings were heavy and unmovable. The butterfly never did recover; the struggle to free itself from the cocoon was an essential part of its development that the man had bypassed.

    • And yes, it was infelicitously phrased on my part.

  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Yep, when I read about 13-16 year olds in the medieval and early modern period being given adult responsibilities and generally behaving like real adults, I think “we’re” doing something wrong. All this talk about teens not having “adult brains” runs into the historical facts about teens actually behaving like adults when they were expected to behave like adults.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Minor note, do you know where the “you’re not an adult until you’re 21) comes from? A young nobleman couldn’t become a knight until he reached that age because it was believed his body couldn’t support full-plate armor. He couldn’t become a knight until then but was otherwise expected to behave as an adult before then.

      • William O. B'Livion

        The story I’d heard is that 21 is the voting age because historically you weren’t allowed to have a say in the community until you’d been acting as an adult for 7 years.

        Also, IIRC most men were apprenticed around 12-13 and 21 would have been the end of most of their apprenticeships.

      • Louis the Great of Hungary was participating in “reisen” into Lithuania in full harness before he turned nineteen. I suspect that’s apocryphal.

    • What will blow your mind is reading books about say Elizabethan England — kids working with livestock at three? Yep. Being given responsibilities for younger siblings at five? D*mn skippy. of course some of it ended badly, but NOT most of it or it wouldn’t be “normal.” Now we wouldn’t trust a three year old with HIMSELF, much less around a chicken. And objectively these kids were smaller and less developed than ours.

      • Back in the Eighties(?) when the first wave of “horror” stories about Third World Sweatshops (remember the furor over Kate Jackson’s clothing brand being manufactured in plants employing child labor) there was a front page NY Times article (has to have been pre-Nineties!) pointing out some relevant facts.

        Among those facts was that in the subsistence level economies at issue, there was no need for most children to have advanced educations — there weren’t jobs for them nor money to support them while getting useless learning. The alternative to sweat shops was not school, it was farm work — farm work far less safe and far less supervised than the “sweat shops.”

      • Ben Franklin designed his education at age 10. David Farragut was put in charge of a captured British ship at age twelve. It wasn’t just Elizabethan England.

    • Agreed– then we go farther back when people died in their 30s and 40s. ummm?

      • To be fair, according to statistics I saw of England in the 1700s, most mortality was in the first 10 years of life. Anyone who managed to make it to adulthood had a pretty good chance of living to 70 – assuming they made it through war and childbirth.

        • I am thinking much farther than that– Romans and pre-Roman eras. But yes 😉 A lot of women died in childbirth and a lot of children died before they were three. Then we had those epidemics– flu, plague, etc.

          • A lot of men died through accidents and murder.

          • Those “statistics” are all wrong.

            You have to realize how archaeologists used to determine age of the person with a skeleton: They’d look at several things (won’t name them all) like growth plates, fused skull sections, wisdom teeth, tooth wear… and then **average** them. Well, duh! Everybody averaged out to about 35 (1/2 the Biblical “three score and ten”, no less).

            That’s not how the good ones do it, any more. Watched a fascinating show on a church moving its crypt to open up a soup kitchen someplace in the UK (I know, ew… get past that). They had a sealed lead coffin with the name and dates of birth and death. They knew who she was, when she’d died, (she was, remember this well: 78 IIRC); she was still wearing her grave clothes (special sort of one-time nightgown, closest thing you get to disposable clothing). Then the fun started. They gave the skeleton to the archaeology team at several universities. Then they asked a dentist or two to weigh in.

            The archaeology teams did the “average out” and came up with 35 to 40 (what a shock!). The *dental* teams looked at layers in her teeth (something archaeologists just didn’t do) and came up with 75 to 80.

            Those statistics about people only living to be 35 are lies.

        • Waggles hand. Lies, damn lies… I once had a huge argument with Virginia deMarce about this. She’s wrong and those statistics are wrong too. I KNOW because I saw life expectancy extend 20 years in my lifetime.

          Look, what you’re not taking in account is how P*SS POOR records were for those ages up to about the middle of the 19th century, unless in exceptionally safe/ordered areas, or (and even there mostly) for wealthy people.

          Yes, upper middle class and nobility, yep. BUT the rest of the people? OMG. You do realize what we don’t know about Shakespeare is much less than what we don’t know about anyone else? And yet… we can’t really “prove” he existed and we THINK he died at 58.

          The ages recorded at death might not be right. The date of birth might not be right, as baptism might happen whenever.

          As an example, in the thirties, in a country with modern bureaucracy, we really have no idea whether my dad is going to be eighty four or eighty five or eighty three or…

          Why not? Because grandma never registered him until he looked large enough and was reading, so she decided to send him to school. We know the story of his birth, because grandma delivered him alone everyone else in the village having gone off for some saint’s festival a ways away. This meant his birth HAD to be a Sunday. Except… When he turned seventy, my brother got him a newspaper for the day of his birth. Wednesday. The official date is Wednesday. So, it can’t be. He was either born on another date, or another month (and grandma confused saints) or another year. And this with a mother (my grandmother) who was exceptionally literate and tried to do the proper thing.
          (My guess is that he’s about three years younger than she thought, because I’ve seen his clone’s growth curb — younger son — and at 4 you would think he was 7)

          • True, the statistics I saw were for London, where the records were better – parish church and all that – but only for the more well-to-do (or at least not desperately poor) with fixed abodes. And who knows about the rural areas.

          • Birthday girl

            Even in oh-so-modern America … my mom’s birth in the family home was never recorded by the inebriated doctor with the county clerk, so when Mom applied for Social Security … surprise, you don’t exist! Well, they got it worked out, but still …

          • My very intelligent Appalachian uncles are having an annoyingly difficult time proving their ages for Social Security, because their birth certificates have their names spelled differently, by a mountain midwife, than all their subsequent records. Almost Terry Pratchett level confusion, the young witch and her child getting their names crossed at Christening.

          • My grandfather had 3 different birthdates, two different ones from the army. The first one because he lied about his age to join at fourteen or fifteen, then when he rejoined for WWII he gave a different date, and another through social security. Then when in his sixties he needed a passport to go visit his daughter in Germany, he had no birth certificate (he ran a way from home at twelve, with the circus, I’m not joking). The town where he grew up had been pretty much destroyed in a flood, but they eventually found some school records from when he was in third grade, his birthdate on them was different than any of the other three, assuming he wasn’t lieing about his age then, he was a year different than HE thought he was (can’t remember now if it older or younger).

          • My mom was born – we think – in 1920. But since a birth certificate was not issued (backwoods Arkansas) all we had to go on was oral history based on what her “Auntie” said. (No real relation) So she could have been born in either 1919 or 1921.

        • curve. The growth curb is a brick on his head. I’ve been considering it since he started calling me “Shorty-mom” in the most affectionate tone of voice…

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Bad news Sarah, I know an almost 60 year old guy who deliberately “looks over the top” of his mother’s head. [Evil Grin]

            • Yeah. (Gives Paul the hairy eyeball) — I think I know that guy too.

              I’m 5’5″ having lost a couple of inches (long story, pregnancy with Robert.)

              Robert is 6’1″ and Marsh is 6’3″ and STILL GROWING…

          • My mom gets called “Mother-thing”. Yes, from you-know-who, and she knows and approves. (And she is just as wonderful as Kip’s Mother-thing, and a pretty good shot too!)

        • Properly, to make this sort of data meaningful you need to break it into age cohorts: the likelihood of dying by age 3, the expectancy for a person who has reached age 30, 40, 70 living another ten years, etc.

          Other factors to consider include that until relatively recently sanitation was … rudimentary, at best. Having horses crap in the streets of the city has consequences beyond just the smell, as does allowing people to empty their “night soil” deposits out the window. Changes from fireplaces as a primary source of interior heating reduced particulate matter in the air, which was another factor in “aging” people’s appearance. It also exacerbated problems from respiratory illness, making recovery more difficult.

          A major cause of death in women in frontier-era women in America was the use of wood-burning stoves which were prone to set ladies petticoats alight.

          • I’ve also read a large number of livestock-related death certificates and obituaries in the late 19th century. Horses running away, or kicking, other people gored or trampled by cattle, a few done in by pigs (last one of those I know about was 1997). Buggies and trains are also a bad combination for longevity.

            • There is currently a local guy in ICU (last I heard they were giving him a 50% chance) from being gored by a bull.

              • And then there’s the wildlife. I’ve heard of tourists making their children go stand under a tree with a bear cub so they can take pictures, or trying to lure a buffalo calf away from its mother so they can have their children pose with it.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  There were stories about people visiting Yellowstone Park trying to put their kids on the backs of buffalo to get pictures of the kids on the buffalo. One “idiot” claimed that the rangers wouldn’t let *wild* animals into the park. [Frown]

            • Death by animals seems to be mostly a matter of how much you’re around them than anything else– I’d guess that the death rate is about the same if you average “modern folks being idiots” with “modern medicine is amazing.”

              Pigs just gets mentioned a lot because folks don’t think of them as human-sized omnivores that can bite through three inch thick wood rods.

          • I was shocked at how many children died from burns or being scalded in the laundry.

            • Found floating in the wash tank was a significant enough cause of death that almost everyone knew a family who’d lost a kid that way. (Wash tanks in Portugal can be/sometimes are) about six by five and three to four feet deep.) My family didn’t lose a kid that way, but only because they found my brother in time to give him mouth-to-mouth and bring him back. Perhaps because I grew up with THAT story, I never had any interest in even leaning too far over the washtank until I was too old to die that way. (I.E. could stand up if I fell.) That meant no doing laundry till I was eight…

              • My great-grandfather had a neighbor who’s toddler toddled off the porch and drowned in the slop barrel.

                • Beats being found floating in the privy.

                  The elimination of which represents a major health advance, as profound as any this side of Pasteur’s “nutty” theories.

          • Wood-burning stoves were far safer than the open hearth fires they had used earlier

        • William O. B'Livion

          So somehow England in the 1700s was a *healthier* place to live than the US during the 1920s and 1930s?

          Because when Social Security was created the actuarial life expectancy was IIRC 64.9 years. And this was for *workers*, so childhood deaths would have been factored out.

    • To be sure, there was awareness that adolescents would frequently act foolishly. It just wasn’t indulged, and so was limited.

      Witness that for a period in ancient times, unless a child was in danger of death, people put off baptism until after adolescence, so the kid would commit sexual sins that would be washed away by it, rather than risk his committing them afterward.

  4. I recommend you read Escaping the Endless Adolescence. I suspect it would be highly relevant to your interests.

    I’ve already decided that when I have kids, I want to be like the dad in Have Space Suit, Will Travel. The “if you want something, figure out how to get it on your own” philosophy of parenting really appeals to me for the reasons you mention above.

    • A lot of our parenting, and a lot of raising my kids was that way. To some extent I must have seemed like a loony parent. For ex: no money for existing. I.e. no allowance. OTOH, prices fixed for household tasks, whoever does it claims it. (We used to have a white board in the kitchen.) Older son ended up making a small fortune this way. (Well, for a ten year old. At one point he was clearing $50 a month. His brother sometimes made $10) I figured clean house was a value for me NOT THEM, so if I wanted them to clean, I paid.
      The system went by the way side when we moved here, and I note they’re incredibly unmotivated to do housework. Maybe I should re-institute it.

      • stephaniesouders

        Heh. Not sure I will pay my children to do chores, but I’ll probably tie them to certain privileges. For example: “You want me to drive you to the mall? Did you take out the trash yet? No? Well, then the mall’s not happening.”

        • the problem with that is that it’s not immediate/regular enough. Also, these weren’t their chores per se — they did things like weed the garden and dust the house and do the cat boxes. Things that were technically MY chores. I don’t pay them to do their rooms. I just lecture. And sometimes I turn a blind eye. Right now their rooms are pigsties, but they’ve been doing finals/end of year projects, and I remember my room looking like that at this time. I’ve just served them warning come Summer vacation, if they don’t clean their rooms, I will, and anything I want to throw out goes out. (Beatific smile.)

          • stephaniesouders

            Ah. Yes, I can see paying the kids for big jobs.

          • stephaniesouders

            Actually, that’s probably a good idea in my case given my disability.

          • Sounds a little like what we grew up with, but with a lot more emphasis on “you made the mess, it is your job to clean it up,” and we eventually got an “allowance” that was more of a salary for helping on the ranch. (plus hourly pay for seasonal work)

        • My parents tried that a few times, but it’s really hard to discipline an Odd who would rather be in his room with a book.Eventually they realized that simple politeness worked better….

  5. I can certainly see why young people held back from adulthood that long would be resentful. I was resentful about it by 14! If I’d had to go on passing time waiting for adulthood to descend until I was pushing (or, in some cases I’ve seen, past) 30, I’d probably have ended up going on a killing spree instead.

    In some cases, dumping that resentment on their own parents would be misplaced, though.

    (I doubt that your kids not pulling that prank has much to do with fear of consequences. More to do with you two being, by orders of magnitude, _better parents_ than the overwhelming majority of their generation have had.)

    Adulthood doesn’t just happen. You have to learn it by doing it.

    • I’ll note Robert’s response when I told him this was “yeah, my brother and I wouldn’t do it, like we wouldn’t hit old ladies and/or run naked through town — some things are UNTHINKABLE”

      • ” … or run naked through town …”

        Yah, well, I recommend reading the newspaper’s police blotter column regularly nonetheless.

  6. You want to see old 20-somethings? Watch Depression era movies, such as Gold Diggers of 1933. Ruby Keeler was 22, Joan Blondell was 26 when making that movie.

    When she made Singing In The Rain in 1952 Debbie Reynolds was still shy of 20.

    It stunts individual growth for family to protect them for too long. All evidence is anecdotal, of course, as I am not sure how you measure intellectual and emotional maturity.

    Still, it might well explain some of the tantrums that seem to typify modern society:

    Broussard also said “true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle [differing lifestyle beliefs] as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.” Yet that is exactly what gay advocates are unable to do.
    [ ]

    • Yeah, I recently saw some old pictures of my parents when they were just out of college and they looked so mature. They don’t look old – my parents were kind of the perfect young gorgeous 50s couple – but they look much more competent, they have more gravitas, more sophistication; more than I had or felt at that age, and far more than the young 20-somethings I see today.

      To be fair, I think life didn’t get really fun until you were an adult, on your own. Today, the toys are just too good.

      • One thing that struck me about those old pictures is that people dressed like adults — watch one of those old Judy Garland – Mickey Rooney musicals from the Forties, or look at pictures of people at public events such as baseball games or the like.

        Nowadays adults dress like adolescents, even for what were once considered formal occasions.

      • I got mistaken for being a grown-up a LOT when I was 15-21 years old. Apparently I had a gravitas about me that fooled people. I’d taken over running the house for the most part when I was 13, so that may have had something to do with it.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          I spent so much of my time hanging around older people that I never really had my age questioned (such as being carded for alcohol), though I never had anyone specifically say I looked older.

  7. I agree with what you’re saying – but I think you need to factor in smoking. Back when it was “in” and everybody did it, the wrinkles starting popping up pretty quick, no matter what the age. And kids sent to work early would end up smoking, because all the adults around them did.

    But that’s just *appearance*. The actual “trying to become an adult” mindset seems to have gone under.

    I remember reading, somewhere about 1980, some essay by Louis L’Amour (wrote adventure novels, one or two SF novels, most set in the West – although one of his last and better ones was set in Siberia). He said that when he was a kid, little kids looked up to bigger kids and wanted to be like them – wanted to be recognized and fit in with the ‘big kid’ crowd. Meanwhile, the ‘big kids’ looked up to adults, wanted to be recognized by the adults, and wanted to become adults and take their place in society.

    He went on to say that somehow, kids had gotten into the habit of ignoring anybody older, including teachers and adults in general, and were now totally centered on impressing only the kids in their peer group. And that this continued even into college, or when they went out into the world to work. They didn’t care about how they did their job (or if they did their job, frankly) – as long as the other people *at their level of employment* thought they were funny or cool.

    My observation: Those perpetual kids he was talking about were starting to be teachers who asked their students to call them by their first names and wanted to be their students’ friends. They gave away their students respect in a bad exchange for ‘friendship’, and, instead, fed into the “cool guy in 5th period is fun” – and retarded that kid’s development into adulthood even more. Not to mention reinforcing that kid’s ‘coolness’ with the rest of the class.

    Now we have perpetual kids all over the place, and the real “adults” are made fun of – because, otherwise, the perpetual kids would have to admit to themselves that they’re still in a stage of retarded development.

    And I think that’s what makes the generation older than me want to rip their hair out. There’s nobody coming up the pipe, so to speak, who can take over the really important jobs any more.

    They’re all too busy texting ‘pranks’ and sharing memes on twitter and facebook – where nobody can see your gray hair, and everybody is 14, maturity-wise.

    IMHO. And everybody knows I’m older than dirt and a curmudgeon of the first water 😉

    • I think that’s part of us putting the kids in classes by age. Seriously. Makes NO sense and I think retards their development.

      • stephaniesouders

        Ayup! That’s one of the thirty million reasons why I want to homeschool. I want my kids to be socialized by people of all ages — not just their peer group.

      • Yes! I’ve been thinking this, too – regimenting kids so that most of their interaction is with other kids of the same age, and not enough with adults, or older and younger kids.

      • It also teaches the bright kids poor study skills and to resent the other students.

      • I’d have to add in creating schools that are segregated. By that I don’t mean by race, sex, or any other recognition features, but by putting them in elementary school, then in middle school, and finally into high school. I went to a school (for twelve years) that catered to all the kids in the area, from grade 1 (no kindergarten) to graduation. I’m sure the kids were exposed to more “mature” stuff than normal, but they also had someone to look up to — as well as someone to look after them. I know a lot of the high school students stopped bullies (because they were brothers/cousins, or just plain older). I think the children that graduated from such schools had a much more mature look on things than the clueless graduates of high school these days. [You also couldn’t get away with ANYTHING, because your younger/older brother/sister/cousin would tell your parents you got into trouble at school, and you got into MORE trouble at home. 8^)]

        • I grew up in a village. My teachers knew my relatives at least by sight. They were not above standing at the door of the school waiting for one of them to walk by, then calling them over and giving them an earful of my adventures (I’m thinking here specifically jumped the school wall to the bamboo field next door and cut “swords” for all her classmates. Well, we were playing Three Musketeers. The potential for poked-out-eyes horrified the teacher. Mind you, I did it again. And again, till she gave up.) When I got home, all the adults, and sometimes members of the extended family would be waiting…

          • I presume your parents, or at least your father, approved of Musketeer swords? Mine would have. ^_^

            • Yes. BUT my aunts didn’t. My dad was very bad at letting them curb my “acting like a tomboy” thing. He’d start making this “Papapapapapapah” sound that meant he disagreed, until they shut up, and then he would say “Stop cuddling the girl. Let her have fun.”
              Mind you if I’d been raised by dad I’d be a holy terror. Dad hit me twice in my life, and apologized immediately afterwards, both times. OTOH there was nothing that cast me as low as knowing dad was upset at me. (Still isn’t.)
              Even when I broke the neighbor’s window with the slingshot, he just said perhaps I wanted to play with that IN THE WOODS, not in the street.

        • creating schools that are segregated Yeah, just what the hormonally insane middle-schooler needs, constant oppressive contact with other hormonally insane middle-schoolers.

          • stephaniesouders

            Yeah. Having worked with plenty of middle schoolers over the years, I can confirm that the hormonally crazed thing is mostly a function of their being penned in with other kids their age.

            • The funny thing is that middle school in Portugal was fifth and sixth grade and it was just as bad. I think it’s the “not children anymore” AND no older “kids” around to keep the line.

      • Gnardo Polo

        John Taylor Gatto talks a lot about this (IIRC) in The Underground History of American Education. He put the whole thing online years ago (, and it’s well worth reading just to get a feel for how we ended up with the system we have. He is also a big proponent of kids learning from adults by emulation, which we have had less and less of in the last fifty years. Now we have too many adults who want to emulate kids.

        He also has a lot to say about administrators, educational fads, and the true purpose of public education (it isn’t about teaching kids to think).

  8. If one or both of the kids had sent us that text [pretending to be drug users], they’d find themselves on the front porch with the clothes on their backs, as we waved goodbye.

    I’m finding that’s remarkably difficult to do. Parents have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, and house their children till 18. Oh, and you can’t physically lay a hand on them either. We’re having some difficulty with our 16 year old daughter, she knows her legal rights, and as a result, we have extremely little leverage over her at the moment and she’s taking every last bit of advantage she can while she can.

    • Bret,
      Mine are both over eighteen.
      At sixteen, I explained to them the whys and wherefores of how they were hurting themselves. IF that worked because Iw as persuasive or because “OMG, make her stop talking” I don’t know. But it worked.

    • btw, at sixteen (in CO at 14) you can emancipate them.

      • In CA (where we live), a judge has to agree to the emancipation and will only do so if the 16 year old has a legal income that can plausibly enable them to live on their own. Unfortunately, my wife and I are at the point where we’ve been researching stuff like that.

        • I hope it turns out as well for you as it did for us. (Hint, there’s a reason we looked at it when he was 14. We got about six months of hell, and you wouldn’t believe it now. In our case it was a “girl” issue. Ie. a bad seed girl influencing him. Once he got over that, he straightened out. BUT we were lucky and it never involved anything illegal, just massive rebellion and grade-punting.)

          • That’s the thing. She’s not doing anything illegal (that we know of) so it’s hard to take too drastic an action.

            It’s also amazing how quickly it all degraded. Our relationship with our daughter seemed quite good, then she wanted to stay at a party all night, we said no, she stayed anyway, we grounded her, she ignored our grounding, we took most tangible privileges away, she didn’t care and now completely ignores us and comes and goes as she pleases (on foot or a ride with a friend), we learned from a lawyer that we can’t lock her out or starve her and that it’s very unlikely she would be declared emancipated, and here we are, all in less than two months. The moves from here are all pretty ugly and involved permanently giving up legal status and transferring her into control of the State of CA or the more expensive route of a bootcamp (but that’s a pretty rough crowd).

            At this point, if she keeps her life legal, we’re probably just going to live with it since the “solutions” seem pretty bad. The goal here is NOT to destroy her.

            • Are you allowed to drug test her? and take her regularly to a gynecologist to make sure she doesn’t have a sexual disease? Or would you think it would be destroying her? IMHO she needs to learn that every action has a responsibility attached to it. You know her best– but this sounds like a direct blow against the MAN (being you). Plus you might want to consider that something has changed in her life — bad change (it could be school, it could be drugs, or something of that nature).

              Sometimes it is peer pressure, sometimes it is meeting a pimp over the internet, and sometimes it is drugs. You really need to know who her friends are– it might give you a clue to what is really going on.

              Since I haven’t been in this situation– you can take my advice for what it is worth. I just see feral teenage boys and girls in our area who do what they want and are dealing drugs and selling their bodies for sex by the time they are 16. Their parents all believe that they have good kids. Unfortunately when they go feral they are not good.

              • And sometimes it is an older boy/girl who is telling them things like “your parents don’t love you” and “They just want to keep you tied to their apron strings forever” and…

              • Regarding drug tests, I can request that she take one (I have a drug test kit), but when she says no, then what? On the other hand, I went to college once upon a time and have observed drug use by my peers so it’s highly likely I would be able to tell if she is a moderate to heavy user of virtually anything (we’ve also searched her room and found nothing). She’s not a drug user. She doesn’t seem to drink either.

                Regarding medical exams I’ll just quote the ACLU: “All states have “medical emancipation” laws that guarantee teenagers confidential access to health care related to intimate behavior, such as sex and drugs. For example, teenagers may obtain treatment for as sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, pregnancy, drug or alcohol abuse, AIDS, sexual assault and mental illness without parental notification or consent in California.” It turns out the reverse is true as well. A doctor in California can NOT (legally) reveal to parents the results of an exam that has to do with sexual activity without the minor’s consent even if initiated at the request of the parents.

                The choices are: (1) declare her a troubled youth and turn her over to the state (involves massive State approved propaganda (counseling) for both the teen and parents; (2) put her in a boot camp or other private incarceration place which involves substantial expense and some risks (kids die moderately often); (3) do nothing.

                This train wreck is still in motion, so we’re still considering the options, but as long as she seems to be staying legal, then it seems that the damage from (1) and (2) at the moment outweigh the possible benefits.

                Lately, I’ve been feeling much, much more sympathetic for the parents of “feral” teens (though I wouldn’t describe my daughter as “feral” quite yet).

                • Good questions Bret– I am so glad that I am not in the situation you are in now. I just see the results. If you are sure she is not doing anything illegal, you might have to work with 3) do nothing. The laws of today have tied parents’ hands because of course all adults (snark) will abuse children. You have all my sympathies–

                  • Some of those feral teens have NOT been trained in their early years i.e. I met one of those teen age girls when we moved here. When we talked to her father, he told us that we needed to stay out of his business (she was hitting other children in the complex, vandalizing property, and having sex in front of other people– I actually found her on the steps of our apartment complex in a bikini and with a guy. I will not describe what they were doing.)

                    So I am not that sympathetic with parents who let their children run wild from the time they could walk– I am sympathetic with parents who are trying to instill values into their children. When it doesn’t stick (or if it doesn’t stick) I mourn with them. As some of the people here with teenagers and now adults in this group who have had to deal with the laws and their children, they probably know better the best courses of action.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      When I use the phrase feral children, I mean the few rare cases of children who get ‘raised’ by animals and the like. As I recall, they can be alive, and maybe able to find food, but the lack of exposure to language and such means that they can’t learn.

                      Feral teens, well, barbarian might be the better word.

                    • Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.
                      Thomas Sowell

                    • Yes. When the boys were little, Dan would come home some days and I’d be wiped out and he’d say “Hard day fighting the barbarians?”

                    • They can speak– but they are feral in every other way. Plus violent and uneducated. You wouldn’t believe it unless you saw them… really…Barbarians were better behaved — worked in groups etc.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      Supposing an otherwise total failure of society, some of them can probably function in small bands in order to prey on others. As the least dysfunctional and evil of these might become something that could eventually be called a society, they might be a step above feral children and several steps below barbarians.

                    • I see what you are saying– there is some civilization in them– imho these are the type of children/teenagers that turn to gangs for the discipline they didn’t get at home. Still– feral– fits if you remember that feral dogs and cats (yep– I am going there) were domesticated before going wild. IMHO feral should have the same meaning– Children raised by animals do learn civilization from their raisers. The children I am seeing ignore all civilized behavior and only a few of the parents are trying to instill it in them. By the time I see them (teenagers) it is too late. They are already on the path to juvenile detention and learning criminal behavior and rules.

                    • All the great apes spank their children. Saying “but we’re better than that” is nonsense, when you’re talking about how the species was designed to be corrected at the pre-verbal time. (I’ll point out that spank is NOT beat.)

                    • I agree– a spank on the buttocks is a great correction (especially during diaper days) because it is more a shock and less a hurt. Plus I used to stop at three (one would have been ideal but I was dealing with boys–young brothers). And never in anger — Of course this was in the 70s.

                    • When I was REALLY furious, I didn’t dare touch them. Like the time Robert jumped from the upper bunk and missed Marshall (laying on the rug) by inches. He hadn’t looked and had come so close to killing his brother, that if I had hit him I’d not have stopped. He says he still remembers me being very pale and going “Go into the other room. Stay there. I’ll call you when I’m ready to see you again.”
                      Took about half an hour to call him back, but if you ask him, he’ll say it’s days.

                    • Yep– I saw what happened when someone lost control over the children– no it wasn’t me… yes, it was the adults in my life at the time.

                    • I was furious with my sisters many times… I learned to run away–

                    • Is there a reason you didn’t call 911, and have her and her paramour arrested for public indecency? Does your apartment complex have security cameras?

                    • No– the apartment complex doesn’t have cameras although in the last couple months we installed some at our apartment (overlooking the street). It stopped a lot of shenanigans.

                      k’ calling the police doesn’t help. She got one person in prison for 90 days when she spit on him and he put her on the ground. Plus her dad hauled cars for the Sheriff’s office. Plus calling CPS doesn’t help either. I can tell you stories about two and three year olds running around the complex after 11 p.m. One of the grandmas called CPS and was told that it wasn’t her business.

                      If we were living in a different county, maybe. BUT– every time we call the police, they tell us to quit being nosy neighbors. I am so up to here——- with the police in our area.

                    • snelson134

                      Sounds like it’s time to leave or get a lawyer. Your apartment complex rental agreement probably contains a clause requiring them to deal with other tenents who “interfere with ability to enjoy uninterrupted tenancy” or some such language.

                    • It would be nice– but it is a problem with renters rights (it is damn hard to get anyone out of an apartment here unless they do something illegal) and police who won’t get off their butts. (the landlord calls the police and the police say –so?) I don’t blame the rental company– other than the problems with teenagers (you get rid of one and another fills the void) it is a good place to live. I also now that it is no different in another complexes. *sigh… at least no one has been killed here by drug-riddled 20s (yes, that happened at a newer complex).

                    • Landlord-Tenant law isn’t my field of expertise (that’s contracts, and would mean seeing the lease itself), but I believe the term you’re looking for is “right of quiet enjoyment”, but that may differ from state to state, and it sounds like the local police specifically are not interested in any kind of nuisance complaint.
                      Which maybe means suing the apartment complex to enforce your lease rights, but that again depends on the lease, the state law, and might just be easier to find a different apartment without those kinds of problems.
                      Standard disclaimer (Yes, I’m a lawyer. I’m not YOUR lawyer. This doesn’t create a client lawyer relationship. Facts on the ground matter. Laws change from state to state. Don’t take anything I’ve said above as legal advice. Consult your own attorney.) applies.

                    • I don’t see moving to another complex would help– because the problem really is how children are allowed to run wild and there is no one (nuisance complaints aside) who is willing to enforce them. If the police won’t enforce what are your options? Plus suing the apartment complex (when they are also bound by poor policing) is not my idea of fair. We find too that many people in the complex are transient. They will be gone in a couple of years, then someone else who is of the same temperament will move in– It is a social disease imho. I have decided not to get on my soapbox because I can go on about it for hours, days, weeks– the rest of my life. I keep myself safe by keeping the door locked and am ready to react if any one tries to accost me– Plus it has gotten better– we don’t have as many HUD people. Evenso the better-heeled residents are just as bad with training their children.

                    • and– they wonder why we have the highest teen pregnancies in the State and the highest amount of teens leaving school before getting a diploma–

                    • Also last time I called the police, I had to report the officer because he refused to write up the incident. Let’s say I made a big stink… didn’t make a difference though. However, a person I know was at the emergency room (losing the nerves in his feet) and didn’t have an address. In two days the police were there to pick him up at the apartment complex for not having an address– explain that. We have meth heads, gangs, drug dealers and they went after a person who was using a cane and was losing the feeling in his legs. Maybe because he couldn’t run?????

                    • snelson134

                      ” In two days the police were there to pick him up at the apartment complex for not having an address– explain that. ”

                      Same reason they go after law-abiding gun owners rather than gang-bangers: the law abiding gun owners are less likely to shoot back, and our police departments are largely staffed these days by cowardly union thugs.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      IIRC, Kratman had a comment to the effect that the future may end up being such that, using the metrics we are talking about here, MS-13 would look good in comparison.

                      I don’t have much spanking stories, as it was felt that it should be a rare thing. One I remember as particularly righteous was a case of a youngster stomping another, or trying to stomp, in the guts. Spanking was followed by an explanation of the fragility of internal organs, and a warning that serious offenses would be punished seriously.

                    • Cyn,
                      What is illegal about not having an address? I didn’t have one for several years (used my parents when I needed something shipped). I didn’t know I was being illegal, I was simply working sixty to seventy hours a week and staying in hotels (paid for by the employer) and spending most of my weekends in some other state. In fact I didn’t have an address for the next few years although I effectively did, because the boss rented a house where we working and unlike the guys I worked with I didn’t have a family to go home to on the weekends, so I just lived there. I’m sure the house had an address, but I never knew what it was, and had no mailing address from the time I was 19 until my mid to late twenties.

                    • I don’t understand it either. If he wasn’t having physical problems he would be working and would have an address. *sigh. I just don’t know– it really upset me.

                    • Bob,
                      What is MS-13?

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      MS-13 a.k.a. Mara Salvatrucha (sp?), is a large criminal organization, I think originally out of Salvadorans at who had formerly been in the military. As I recall, the point was that it had members across international boundaries, making it not as bad as a future where organizations are only along blood and ethnic lines.

                • While it is to late to do a lot about it now, you can hope you instilled good values in her. You would be amazed sometimes how those show through even after they run wild. After I moved out I ran a little wild, and with a pretty rough crowd for a while (something I never did while I lived at home, because I knew what the consequences would be, and while they wouldn’t have been legal, part of those values instilled in me is that I wouldn’t have ever turned my parents in for them). It was amazing the difference you could see in those who had the values instilled in them growing up. Things like somebody being a tweaker and a drug dealer, but you could still trust them not to steal from you, or they would never cheat somebody in a drug deal. Staying true to their boyfriend/girlfriend regardless of temptations, etc. If they are raised with the values to fall back on, they know they are doing wrong, and many of them will grow out of it. If not, well most of them just continue in a downward spiral.

                  If it boils down to having to do something, and you can afford it I would go with the bootcamp option, as being the most likely to obtain desireable results. (well, I might go with a less legal option, but I wouldn’t advocate it for anyone else). Hopefully she’ll grow out of it, and fall back on the values you taught her, without you having to do something so drastic.

                  Oh, and feel free to ignore all my advice, those without children are always the ones who tell everybody else how to raise theirs 😉

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  There IS another option, though it’s almost as extreme as boot camp: move to another State, and move out into the country, where she’s unlikely to be able to get friends to come pick her up.

                  Not recommending this, just pointing out that there is another option. Whether it’s a realistic one or not, I couldn’t begin to say.

            • Um… I’ll hope these are the “six months of H*ll” that so many kids go through. If they are, you’ll find things are fine on the other side. With our kid, it involved in many ways, his finally figuring out we DID care for him. I’m very lucky the other son went through these six months so young that it precluded stuff like walking off and it mostly consisted of screaming at us.

              • Right at the moment we’re in about the 9th month of purgatory with our son. We’re just hoping that all of us will live through his teen years.

            • Has she been to a doctor? Drastic changes in behavior can have serious medical problems behind them.

              • Damn– I should have thought of that– plus meds (I know this from personal experience) causes change in personality. (Does anyone know if birth control pills cause change in behavior? I wonder about that one)

                • I know of one girl who took them for years because they alleviated the severe effects she got with her period. They did change behavior for her, but that was because they stabilized a hormonal imbalance, I’m unaware if they have a similar effect on ‘normal’ people.

                • Scientifically, no evidence.

                  Every single person I’ve spoken to who KNEW when someone was on the Pill and not? Could tell when they’d started it back up again after a detox.

                  Kind of a no-duh, it seems to mimic that point of the normal hormonal cycle. (Good thing I didn’t get on the Pill, I’m an emotionally manipulative female dog during high progesterone time, and I can control it for a few days.)

                  • Interesting– I have not been on the pill except for one month. I found that I have a very interesting reaction to it. (retain water, feel sick, etc)

                    • Scary thing:
                      It’s well established in testing that a woman’s cycle is very important in choosing a mate, on both sides. (to the point of taste in men being different during an infertile time, and strippers that are fertile getting WAY bigger tips)

                      Most marriages are formed while the woman is chemically sterilized, and a couple of years later they go off to have their one point five children…..

                    • I agree– Chemically– my hubby was the only man around me who smelled right to me. 😉 My mom kept introducing me to guys and there was something wrong. It was later that I realized that they smelled wrong. I read somewhere that one of the reasons women are picking feminine men is that they choose them when they are on the pill i.e. their infertile times. It makes for an interesting explanation for why the young males may become feminized. (or it could be wrong).

                    • Yep. Women on the pill prefer more feminine men.

                      BTW this also explains my first ever real boyfriend. I LIKED him a lot, but first time he kissed me was a total “oh, my, we’re related.”

                      Chart wise, I mean, he came from Eastern Europe, I came from Western Europe except for both of us having some family from Scotland. But something in my back brain said “Family.” and “Ew.” Which was a pity as we could have got along fine. We were great friends. It just wasn’t right.

                      Dan, OTOH always seemed perfectly attractive even on the day I met him, when he hadn’t yet showered and was wearing a ratty robe. (He’d had dental surgery the day before and his mom had neglected to tell him they’d invited people for his birthday. He might have forgiven her by now.)

                    • Oh yea– I knew I was interested the first time I met him. I hadn’t been interested (except for the insanity of puberty) in guys– until I met him. lol So I know what you mean. Plus I am comforted by his pillow when he is not there. 😉

                • Yep. In some women it causes a very serious change in behavior.

                  • I’m going to chime in here, as my chosen mate and I met while I was/am on the pill. Now, two things. I’m on the pill because when I’m off it I have some severe problems. I’m also not on “the Pill”, but a version with only one hormone. So YMMV. Yes, my behaviour changed when I started on it – I mellowed and became able to handle things better than I had before. When I’m off it I’m moody as h*ll.

                    As for being attracted to a more feminine guy… um, no. He pointed me in the direction of this conversation because he was highly amused by the idea. When we met I was on the pill, and he ‘smelled’ right. Hard to explain. I had no intention of becoming involved with anyone on a long-term basis again. Met him and my body reacted to him on a level it took my mind a year to catch up with. It was interesting, to say the least. He affects my brain on a chemical level that I have been studying since I started school this year. It’s fascinating, albeit scary.

                    • Actually Cedar, you might fall where I am. I took am on a “therapeutic version” and my tastes shift in the other direction when I’m on the pill. As in, well… I dated VERY PRETTY guys when I was au naturel — and I know that Dan still is very handsome (yes, he was pretty when he was young. DO NOT TELL HIM I said that. He was also completely straight which, man, was a change), but being on the corrective pill makes me appreciate that his features have gotten blunter and he has grey in his hair, and I’ve noticed the types of guys I look at (happily married. Still have eyes) becomes older and more masculine.

                    • Sounds about right. You know who my guy is, and why the ‘feminine men’ comment amused him. I’ve decided my personal kink is for ‘older men,’ as I seem to be attracted to guys a minumum of ten years older than I am. Medication doesn’t affect that.

                      On Wed, May 1, 2013 at 10:45 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “Actually Cedar, you might fall where I am. > I took am on a “therapeutic version” and my tastes shift in the other > direction when I’m on the pill. As in, well… I dated VERY PRETTY guys > when I was au naturel — and I know that Dan still is very handsome ” >

                    • Oh. Well. I don’t have that kink. I used to like guys all ages, but since I turned forty “younger than thirty” triggers the “mom alarms.”

                    • *snort I married a man 14 years my senior– even 40 alerts my Mom alarm lol

                    • had an amusing moment at college the other day – I was talking to my classmate (19) and his friend got involved, was so carried away at having found a geek girl he blurted out “want to go on a date?” to me. My face must have given my horrified reaction away, as he backpedaled very quickly. I was thinking ‘he’s young enough to be my kid!” LOL

                      On Wed, May 1, 2013 at 11:23 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > Cyn Bagley commented: “*snort I married a man 14 years my senior– even > 40 alerts my Mom alarm lol” >

                    • Oh yea– pretty funny 😉

                    • Funny– I am more comfortable with masculine men. If have more respect for men who I can’t break. lol

                    • Hormones aren’t one-size-fits-all– even inside of families. My sister and aunt have a whole week of being cranky, and it mixes with one of being highly emotional, instead of my own one or two days of being a totally controllable jerk. (I didn’t even connect it with my cycle until my cycle stopped from stress.)

                      Thank God, women are also very good at finding things to love about guys– if they are so inclined. (Example #1- notice there’s a big group of folks who think the Beast is more attractive than his noble human self? Emotional connection to the person that absorbed the physical appearance. Opposite works, sometimes, too; I can’t see the attraction to a lot of “hot” actors because I know they’re flaming jerks.)

                    • I used to get completely paranoid the week before the end of my cycle. Just a continuous foreboding and the feeling everyone hated me.

                      The thing is, I KNEW where it was coming from, so I knew to counter it.

                • Head injuries and brain tumors are among the really ugly possibilities here.

                  • I can see that– a quick change in personality can be a dangerous signal to health–

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      Then there is the mental illness side of things. Less likely if there isn’t much in the way of a family history, but the neurochemistry is changing a little, and there is a bunch of stuff that can pop up in the teens and twenties.

                      The drugs used recreationally when one is in college are not going to be the same as the ones that one’s kids might have access to in their teens. Among other things is the recreational use of stolen prescription drugs. Many psychiatric medications are extremely nasty stuff, worth taking only because of the medicinal effects limiting the danger of the illness offset the poisonous effects.

                      Pharma continues to develop new medications, and then there are the evil people who synthesize novel things for recreational use. No matter what the parents know, and how close attention they pay, all children may be vulnerable if they have a weak grasp of toxicology and poor risk assessment. Even the harvested stuff may change over the course of decades.

                    • Even the harvested stuff may change over the course of decades.


                    • Well I’m not sure how much peyote or shrooms have changed, but as far as anything that is ‘farmed’ I think the proper term is Will.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      That is the example of change that I was thinking of. Conversely, I don’t exactly know a whole lot about the botanical history of the opium poppy and the coca whatsit. Technically, since distillation, the agronomy of the feedstock has not had a huge effect on physiological effects of ethanol distillates, whatever it does to price.

                      Plants produce chemicals, some of them, if you pay attention, explicitly optimized for killing various kinds of animals. All medicines are poisons. Synthetic chemistry can, with extreme care, produce the same chemicals with much greater control over the purity and amount.

                      I was trying to cover a broad area at an appropriate and useful level of detail, and not get distracted by my hatred for pot. (I’ve just realized that I’m been letting my disgust at the henwittedness of the modern stoner, who smokes stronger dope, shape my emotional conclusion as to whether the stoners of the fifties, sixties, and seventies deserved to die. That said, I’m not convinced that those cohorts were brighter. Note that my emotions are far from the only factors in the actions I choose to take, and that I think ‘bad people who deserve to die’ is probably a much broader category than ‘people, whom, on net, our society should make a practice of killing’.)

    • You must not live in OK, you can still spank your children here. As for Food, Clothes and Shelter…..There is food in the house, tell her to fix it for herself, no going out to eat on your dime. Take all of her clothes, and replace with three sets of thrift store clothes, that gives her two sets to wear and then she can wash the third set. Shelter. Remove all furniture from her room except the bed and a small table and chair to put her clothes on that aren’t in the wash or closet. All perfectly legal. Remove hair dryers, flat irons, makeup that you purchased. Keys to cars, they are not food, shelter or clothes. Anything else she wants, she can earn. That might help you get a rein on it. Also, talk to a lawyer friend in your state, to find out what her “rights” ACTUALLY are, you may be surprised that what she says is not what is. Good luck, being a parent is not always fun, especially, when we WANT our kids to like us. But it is far better for them to love us later in life for setting the boundaries that helped them grow into decent people.

      • I had a super awesome childhood: hell I still live in my parents basement rent free and help round the house (the amount of times ive shuttled the dog to the vent this year alone…). That said, I always knew what was allowed and not. Didn’t really seem that my parents were ‘friendly’ till I got a part time job and they split up. I would liek to note not linking them, just putting them in the same sentence. After that life event, the tone changed a bit obviously but I still knew where I stood.

        My dad, mom and step parents of both have always done their best, and beyond to help, more then I’ve asked. Yes I assume they will feed me, but ive gone shopping for stuff and I’ve paid my car insurance and gas, got a majority of clothes myself. Christmas comes and they are bugging me for stuff to get me since I don’t ask. Now the reason I don’t ask, is because I don’t want them getting me stuff (yes I want the stuff) because they have bought me stuff all year. I don’t know: I think the proliferation of electronic devices has certainly not helped. Beyond that, I got nothing.

        Also in preparation for tonight’s marthon reading session I’ve started a word press site and threw up some poems I did in college. I loathe to call them poems, since Im sure none of them are good enough to pay money for, but I am proud of them. I will update tomorrow My thoughts on the Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, and possibly whatever else comes into my head. I got 8 hours to stay awake after all. Comments and criticisms welcome, flame bait not so much.

        I hope to make it more of a regular thing. also FAIR WORTHY: I couldn’t decide upon a pithy enough name and they say imitation is flatter, so let me know if they URL needs to get changed (or I’ll delete it and make a new one) I just didn’t know what to put and it sounded half decent,

        Thank you all for any time spent reading.

        • Trav,

          You sound like my kids. Particularly on the “but we don’t NEED anything for Christmas” — we usually end up buying them funny stuff…

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            My parents “grumbled” when I suggested book store gift certificates for my Christmas presents. They wanted to put something more than a card under the tree.

            • Well, I take GREAT care in selecting books they might not have seen/heard of or quirky games, or some electronic thing I think will help them — last year? Kindle fire — that they’d never ask for because they think it’s way too expensive. I also get them socks, underwear (it’s the sort of thing they NEVER buy) fun ties for Robert… that sort of thing.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              Tell them to put it in a big box and wrap the box.

            • The problem with those is a) they make the cash amount of the gift explicit b) they make the gift the cash amount and c) they fail to represent actual thinking about what the recipient would like, which is the primary purpose of a gift, rather than a simple asset transfer.

              And yeah, at certain life stages it can be very d*** difficult.

          • I have for three years now asked for socks. And get them. Bloody sock monster.

            • ROFL. You and Older Son could trade bitter comments on “What the heck happens to socks in the washer, anyway?”

            • I have got either a new shirt, or a new pair of jeans from my grandmother every year for Christmas and my birthday for years. She always complains that she wants to get me something different, and I explain to her that I don’t WANT something different, the jeans and shirts I will need, and will get used. Last year she got me socks instead, and I had to go out and buy a pair of jeans, since I hadn’t bought any expecting a new pair 😦

      • Unfortunately, we’re pretty much doing what you’ve described and that’s part of the reason we have very limited leverage left – there’s nothing left to take away that won’t cause long lasting damage. Unfortunately, what we’ve done so far may already have caused long lasting damage (for example, when a pretty young girl has allowance withheld, what might she do for money? I’m not sure she’s having sex for money but I’m not sure she’s not either).

        • Let me point out that you are obviously still allowing her out of the house, that is one privilege you can still take away. Personally I don’t think kids should get allowances anyways, if they want money they should have to earn it, that better prepares them for life. Or should at least, all to many these days go from getting an allowance from mom and dad to getting an allowance from Uncle Sam.

          • Mine never got allowances. Period. The only lasting damage i see is that they’re allmighty tight fisted, not just with their money, but ours too. “We don’t need to buy that college book. So and so will let us read the pages.” Head>desk.

          • However, let me add, depending on the law he MIGHT NOT have a chance to keep her in the house. And this is far more difficult than people might think.

            • It’s nearly impossible to keep someone IN a house. For example, she does go to school at which point she’s out of the house. Even if she never had to leave for things like school it’s hard. Bars on all the windows? Locks on the insides of the doors? That might be a little hard on her younger sister and what happens in case of fire? Attach a ball and chain to her leg?

              The one thing that’s possible, though pretty ugly and probably ineffective and we haven’t done it yet, is that we could file a missing persons report immediately when she doesn’t come home and since she’s a minor, there’s no waiting period for filing it. However, it would still be hours or days before they’d get around to dragging her home since it’d be a fairly low priority issue for the police. Since she does come home nearly every night (and most days she comes home right after school), she’d usually be back before the police looked into it.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Does she have a smartphone? There are apps that will let you know where the phone is.

              • I would agree that the missing persons report would probably be ineffective, I’ve never seen it be effective anyways.

                One thing that may or may not be feasible is to send her out of state to a relatives for the summer. I had a younger cousin who was worse than you describe sent to stay with me one summer. I worked him hard cutting and selling firewood (he got paid, but not until he went home, anything he wanted to buy until then he had to ask me to buy for him) but I also took him and let him do stuff that he had never got the opportunity to do growing up in Boston. He respected me, and never got in any trouble while here, unfortunately it didn’t last once he went home, but he seems to have grown out of it now, and I like to think I might have had a positive influence on that. It is amazing how often youngsters will respect someone they aren’t around all the time more than they will respect familiar people like their parents.

        • Brett
          Look into bootcamps. A friend credits one with saving his son who is now a very nice young man with two kids. If you want I can ask him the name of the bootcamp. It’s pricey but if you’re at the point of considering emancipation…

        • Susan Shepherd

          Eeep. My sincere sympathies.

          I know of one instance where a teenager who would take the car out for drives despite her parents’ wishes suddenly found the car not working when her parents were asleep or otherwise unable to supervise her… because the father was quietly removing a spark plug (IIRC) each evening, putting it back in when morning came. But I realize that nowadays, she might have friends who can drive. Or perhaps she’s just willing to walk however far she needs to go.

          I hope things get better.

          • Our issue was not being able to trust the kid, and the feeling this (older) girl was asking him for money etc. It never got to the point of us actually doing something, but we did look up the legalities. He eventually came to his senses. However, it gave me an impression of how futile all efforts can feel even when you’ve done the best you could.

        • A bootcamp run by the Illinois National Guard saved my then-idiot son from being pitched out head-first into the street by me.

          Good luck. I hope you all survive.

        • You have my sympathy. When the Daughtorial Unit got to full of the garbage fed her by the “therapists” at school and threatened to call police on us, we told her go ahead. Then we went through the things we provided her (reading whatever she wanted, indulging her peculiar dietary preferences, etc.) that no foster home would be expected to.

          She never issued that threat again.

          It is a phase that almost all kids go through, and certainly the ones who turn into anything notable pass through. Unfortunately, as I realized one day upon a “it’s just a phase” comment, some of those phases are ones they never grow out of. I wish you luck and strength and patience. I am already confident you get a surfeit of well-intended advice from people who don’t know the details of the problem.

          • Oh, yes. We got that out of the way when Robert called 911 on me at THREE. I was on the phone to Portugal because there was a family issue (the sale of my grandmother’s house) and it was hours, and I was speaking a language he didn’t understand. So… as soon as I got off the phone, he grabbed it and called 911 because he was being “neglected”. Fortunately the policeman who answered was VERY understanding (the fact that by then Robert had got over the sulks, and was helping me bake a cake for his daddy’s birthday and being adorable and that I was rather pregnant probably didn’t hurt.) He did have a hard time not laughing, though, when Robert explained that he wanted them to make me pay attention to him and not “neglect” him and talk on the phone in Portuguese.
            After the nice policeman (“I have two at home just like him. Just older.”) left, I explained to Robert exactly what foster homes were like, and what would happen if he were removed. End of problem. Even when the school tried to get him to rat on us and asked if we punished him, etc, he evaded. And he must have told Marshall, because we never got the “I’m going to tell social services” from the younger. I did get “you can’t take my computer cord away. It’s cruel and unusual” but that passed.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Hypothetically, I may have had ‘a friend’ who heard about social services from close trusted relative who worked for them, for a time. ‘My friend’ may have, mostly on their own, worked out that they didn’t care for their survival chances in foster care, due to certain medical and psychological issues. After that, their parents didn’t have that much use for stronger forms of coercion. If you do due diligence to your school work, or rather, if you ignore it enough, social services may see it as grounds to take you away.

    • By the time I was sixteen I was well instilled with the knowledge that the government had no business putting its nose anywhere near the subject of child raising. One of the worst things constantly preached at in our schools today (it has been a guiding principle of every communist country, big surprise) is to narc out anyone who you either don’t like, or is doing something you don’t want them to, to authority. I was an only child, but when at my grandparents or with friends I was always raised with the principle that whoever ran and tattled got spanked first, THEN the one that they tattled on got spanked if the adult thought the offense worthy of it. Tattling was always considered worthy of a spanking. Of course I imbibed a distrust for authority in general, and government in particular with my mothers milk, it was just as I got older that I developed the reasoning skills to understand why that distrust was warranted.

      All of this won’t help you with your sixteen year old, but might possibly help with younger children who haven’t been fed quite so much Kool-Aid yet.

      • I was raised on the same rule. This meant I dealt with bullies and nasties myself — and when they whined, THEY got spanked (beatific smile.).

      • Birthday girl

        Yah, me too. A few years back, at a family gathering, my niece ran up to me in breathless agitation and tattled on my son “J isn’t sharing his toys”. I couldn’t help it; I just burst out laughing and said “my, you’re quite the little tattletale.” I mean, come on, it wasn’t even shoving or yelling or whatnot, it was just sharing or not sharing. (BTW, this was the Aspie child at issue.) This had the unfortunate effect of attracting the attention of all the other parents in the room and their supercilious contemptuous glares. They tried to explain their philosophy on tattling as a protective measure; I just rolled my eyes and continued to disagree. They’re all urban lefties and I’m not and you can guess how well-liked I am in that crew; I don’t know what they think of their kinsman who married me.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          There is something to be said, as a child, about not letting anyone have any grounds to expect one to keep secrets. That was part of my counter-predation strategy as a child. Anything I was not willing to tell everybody, I would not tell anybody, so that no one could blackmail me.

          Old age is saying that saying that relying on talking to someone stronger is also strategically problematic. If one lets oneself rely on borrowed strength, one becomes vulnerable to that strength. ‘If I die, I forgive you, if I live, I’ll kill you’ seems like it has some wisdom in the context.

          Especially for ‘sharing’. Yes, we were all amoral, wet behind the ears snot nosed brats at that age, but there is no need to encourage us with stupid excuses.

    • You have my sympathies and prayers.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Feed, clothe and house is a *very* minimal standard. It does not mean a full sized bed, cellphone, a car, a closet full of clothes purchased at Nordies, and your very own personal computer.

      It does mean a cot, a folding table and chair for a desk, and a weeks worth of clothes purchased at Salvation Army, or better yet Wal-mart. Computer time is strictly for school work. Chores get money to pay for extras. And no, you cannot borrow the car.

      OTOH one year my father laid down the “It’s my house, my rules” thing. It was 18 months before we saw each other again. He was much more reasonable after that (I didn’t want to come home drunk, with a girl on each arm and smoking a blunt. I was a Marine at the time, and I felt that an 12 o’clock curfew was a bit restrictive. It was a choice we both had to live with).

      I’ve spent *years* living in shared rooms with a wall locker and three drawers for all my worldly goods. It’s good for perspective.

      • This made me laugh o.B’livion. My dad tried to lay down the law when I was 22. I left. I was getting ready to leave anyway (I was going to school and then going home to make money for school in the summer.) It wasn’t the rules that made me mad, but it was that my dad insisted on treating me like I was still under 12. Plus at the time he was mad at Mom. I just happened to be home at the time–

  9. Wayne Blackburn

    You know, the thing that kills me about this is that the common trope is “Children are growing up too fast, nowadays!”, rather than the true issue of them staying childish too long. Every time I hear someone say that, I want to rip their tonsils out with a rusty pair of pliers.

    • stephaniesouders

      When people say “kids are growing up too fast these days,” they are observing a real and troubling phenomenon — but it’s not “growing up” in any sane sense. Instead, our children are prematurely acquiring the trappings of pseudo-adulthood, which include such things as sexualized clothing and behavior, substance abuse, exposure to filthy movies, etc.

      • I confess to loving modern YA and MG books more than books for adults, but I also love old books, too, and those are considered kids books these days, even though they were adult books in their time.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I understand that’s what is ACTUALLY happening, but I’m pretty sure the people I normally hear saying it mean it literally.

  10. We haven’t pushed back senescence all that far. We HAVE, however, gotten MUCH better at reducing inflammation in general, and nicotine use (which deteriorates the skin and leads to an early aged look) is considerably down. While I don’t dispute the overall point, when everybody looked like hard road, people we would now look at as “meh” were relatively attractive. Much like today, when all a girl has to do in order to be “hot” is have a relatively pleasant face and stay in shape.

    • Yeah, in appearance the “aging” thing is obvious when I go to Portugal, where most people still smoke. HOWEVER I do remember a friend’s grandfather at 80 and he was a wreck. And he was the oldest person I knew. My dad is 83 (soon 84) and he looks like my memories (and pictures) of my grandparents in their late sixties. So, improved medical care HAS helped push it back some, at least EXTREME senescence.

      • When my grandfather was 90, he could pass for 70 or younger. By the time he died at age 93, he looked every inch of those 93 years.

        On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “Yeah, in appearance the “aging” thing is > obvious when I go to Portugal, where most people still smoke. HOWEVER I do > remember a friend’s grandfather at 80 and he was a wreck. And he was the > oldest person I knew. My dad is 83 (soon 84) and he looks like ” >

        • William O. B'Livion

          It’s not the length of the line, it’s the slope at the end.

          I want mine to look like a wall.

      • And pushed back how *quickly* a person looks like a wreck. I remember my great-aunts and great-uncles in their 50s, and, well, they looked like “old people,” and not in a distinguished, happy way. Now I routinely meet people in their mid40s and almost-50s who are obviously not 20-year-olds, but equally obvious are fully vigorous and don’t look like hell.

      • Some of it is genetics, I grew up around a bunch of hillbillies from West Virginia, who all tended to live to extremely old ages. It wasn’t from the superb medical care either, since most of them didn’t believe in doctors. The older ones mostly smoked (those only in their 50’s when I was a kid didn’t, but most of them chewed snoose), and other than violent deaths I can only remember one who died as young as their eighties, the others were all in their nineties to over a hundred. I recall going to Granny’s 105 birthday party, and she was still smoking a corncob pipe and still had a coffee can beside her rocker to spit her chaw into. 😉 While not running any marathons she still got around fine without a cane or anything.

        • In the days before DEET and its friends smoking tobacco offered protection from mosquitoes and the like. With diseases like malaria and West Nile Virus constituting a greater threat than cancer or emphysema* in the normal lifespan it was a reasonable tradeoff.

          There has also been some research connecting tobacco smoking with resistance to Alzheimer’s, dementia and other such afflictions of old age.

          *I wonder whether the lung damaging effects of tobacco smoke might have been ameliorated by a more physically active life, greater daily physical exertion helping to reduce buildup of byproducts in the lungs?

          • Also and I know this sounds very odd, there might have been a good reason for Cambridge to make the boys smoke two pipefulls of tobacco a day. Tobacco ITSELF might help prevent respiratory illnesses if you can remove the tar, etc. Considering what you got from the environment back then, tobacco might have been good for you…

            • William O. B'Livion

              Smoking a pipe, for most people, gets MUCH less smoke in the lungs. You still get nicotine through the mouth, but in lower doses.

              • Robin Munn

                Pipe smoke also has a distinctly different smell than cigarette smoke. I’ve never personally smoked tobacco, but back when I was twelve or so (and living in France) I used to attend a chess club where a lot of the regulars smoked pipes. I didn’t exactly like the smell of pipe tobacco, but I didn’t really dislike it either. Plus, since I now associate the smell of pipe tobacco with the memories of that chess club, it’s gained a net positive effect on my subconscious. (The other thing associated with that chess club in my brain is Lion candy bars, since that was among the snacks they offered. I’ve had the hardest time finding those candy bars in the US.)

                Whereas cigarette smoke just smells nasty and is instantly off-putting. (I used to have a female co-worker whom I found quite attractive… until the day I saw her smoking in the parking lot during lunch break. BAM, instant and permanent loss of attraction. Not a conscious decision, either.)

            • When going to school I recall a friend of mines father telling the story of how his father used to make him put his head under a towel and ‘hotbox’ a Camel as a cure for asthma, according to him it worked.

          • There is reportedly a small but statistically significant protective effect for Parkinson’s. And I think I’ve seen some report of an effect on tubercolosis but not sure where I saw that.

            The reality is that the real large rise in lung cancer came with mass produced cigarettes post WWI.

            • There was a school of thought holding that the real problem derives from the way the cigarettes are treated to ensure a slow, even burn.

              As if anybody will fund research on that!

              • Hence the misguided popularity of supposedly “natural” cigarettes.

              • William O. B'Livion

                It’s not the “slow even burn”, it’s the pesticides. The slow, even burn is achieved by uniform shredding and salt peter in the paper tube. Pesticides, however, are allegedly really nasty when burned.

                This, however, doesn’t do anything to prevent chronic bronchitis, emphysema, damage to cervical spine cartilage from the carbon monoxide, damage to other cartilage and connective tissues from constriction of the capillaries reducing blood/nutrient flow and the damage to the heart from nicotine.

            • “The reality is that the real large rise in lung cancer came with mass produced cigarettes post WWI.”
              My husband swears that todays cigarettes have chemicals added to the tobacco that keep them burning. He points to his pipe tobacco that stops burning when there’s no draw on it to back up his claim. Light a cigarette and set it in the ashtray and it will burn completely.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Yeah, my family is like that, except not quite so extreme. I have several relatives who didn’t make it past their 80s, but several more who did. Dad’s 90 this year, and while he’s starting to get rather infirm, he had a really hard life to break him down.

  11. Developmentally speaking, I believe every species has to overcome adversity of some type in order to thrive.
    Sink or swim seems to be natures way of improving (not to mention approving of) the species. Eaglets are tossed out of the aerie to fly or fall. chicks must break out of the shell or die – that egg tooth comes in real handy then. A fawn that does not follow it’s mother is soon a meal for a predator – and if it doesn’t learn the lessons it is anyway, eventually.
    And most ‘primitive’ cultures have expectations of their young – rites of manhood and the like, often with a sudden death as a failing grade. Lions are always ready for a snack. Only ‘progressive’ civilizations coddle their young – with the results we too well know.
    Heinlein was right, as he often was. Keep kids short on pocket change, but long on love. Don’t make life too easy for them. Give them a challenge, then be proud of them when they make it; but make it clear that you expected they would succeed.

    • … chicks must break out of the shell or die …

      IIRC, it has been shown that if some well-intentioned busybody “helps” that chick break out of its shell the chick will not fully develop properly.

  12. Hmm, the human body wants to do adult things beginning at puberty, and until about a century ago, they did. Jokes about being an old maid at 14 have more than a grain of truth to them. the majority of cowboys didn’t mind being called that because they started as that. Used to be that a man was a man when he started behaving as a man. The Bar and Bat Mitszva ceremonies were a recognition that things could get started as adults. My own upbringing in the 60s was against the grain of society. I learned to cook while young enough that I had to stand on a chair to reach the stove. By the time I was 8 I was doing all the cooking and housework (mother was a semi-invalid) by the time I was 9 I refuse to go on the weekly pilgrimage to eastern KY. I spent my weekends alone. If that happened today my parents would be arrested. We thought nothing of it. I remember the horror my mother felt a few years ago when Home Alone came out. That was when she first realized how she had been wrong. And it wasn’t her solo doing. My Dad and the whole extended family knew and thought nothing of it. Yeah, we are destroying our kids in so many ways. God help us in another generation or two

    • Hah! I started cooking at around 3, when my mom didn’t come in fast enough to cook eggs for me. I made my own – extra salt, pepper and lots of extra calcium – and she made me eat them all.
      But instead of turning me into a non-cook, I’m a fairly accomplished one. My potato salad has been the rave over three states and stolen several times, I have 50 pages of cheesecake recipes alone, and my Hasselbacked potato wedge fries are to die for.
      And I make a pretty good omelet, too.
      Minus the shells.

      • My kids also did this stuff, but Marshall did things like… nuke a frozen burger for TEN MINUTES until the kitchen was full of smoke. He had the attitude that if he could do it, he wouldn’t ask anyone. My problem was staying just ahead and telling him the things to avoid. the extremely salty and garlic-powdery eggs were a phase, but he’s starting to be a dab hand at omelets.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          I found out a couple of years ago that Chris was using my Farberware Stainless Steel pot to make Ramen noodles. In the microwave.

          After I explained the whole concept of the metal absorbing the microwaves, he said, “Oh, that’s why it gets so hot, then.”

          • After I explained the whole concept of the metal absorbing the microwaves, he said, “Oh, that’s why it gets so hot, then.”

            Takes less time to cook that way 🙂

          • Wayne, how in the devil hasn’t he shorted out the microwave? Metal in the microwave causes arcing.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              The smooth, rounded edges don’t produce sparks. It’s the sharp edges and pointy ends of things like aluminum foil that produce sparks. The electrical build-up has a sharp edge or point to come out. Of course, if you put a CD or DVD in there, the metal is so thin that it melts locally and then produces the spark.

              • So why do plates with gold trim (I’m having a brainfart and can’t think of the correct term) on them spark all over the place?)

                Oh, and by the way, cans of beer will explode in the microwave, we tested this once when I was much younger. (noticeable amounts of alcohol were consumed before testing, and the beer was Lucky’s so no real alcohol abuse was involved)

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  Again, very thin metal, allows the current to overwhelm it. The pot is nice, heavy stainless, and can contain the current. The beer will build up pressure from the heat and explode.

                  If you see the Campbell’s soups that you heat in the container, they have a metal ring around the rim, and they don’t spark.

                  Interestingly, and I saw this demonstrated, if you heat a piece of glass in a single spot before microwaving (the demo used a torch), the hot glass will absorb microwaves, and melt, because the heat doesn’t disperse well.

              • snelson134

                Learned something new; the day wasn’t wasted.

            • There are some weird exceptions to the metal in the microwave rule, I know, because occasionally some cooking or science show will explain them. Also, some really older microwaves work on different frequencies, and they used to actually have metal apparatus!

              But me, I don’t play that stuff. I had arcing from a metallic-inked jar label once, and it FREAKED ME OUT.

              • We had a combo microwave/convection. I never used it as convection, because I was afraid of forgetting and leaving the metal rack in there and then using it as microwave.
                See, when you’re an addled writer, you develop PROTECTIONS.

                • You’re one step ahead of me Sarah. I once almost burned the house down because I turned on the wrong burner on the stove to make tea. There were cookies on the stove instead of a teapot. OOPS!!! In my defense, it WAS finals week…and I was working full time… and caring for my then four year old daughter during the day (worked/went to school nights and weekends) but yeah, I need to develop some of those.

                  • I’ve heated pans red hot a couple times doing that, and wondering meanwhile why it was taking so long for my coffee to perk, but have never done it with something in the pan. I was at some friends house twice though and the wife turned on the oven to warm it up and… her husband had a habit of sticking pizza boxes with leftover pizza in the oven. No idea why he did that, but you would think after the first fairly significant kitchen fire you would have thought either he would quit putting them in there, or she would check before turning the oven on.

            • I microwave frozen pies in an aluminum pan all the time. It depends on the size and shape of the metal whether they absorb the microwaves efficiently or not. Pointy irregular and small favors absorbing, Much larger than the wavelength of microwaves (12.5 cm) and smooth doesn’t so well.

        • I burned easy mac and cheese in the microwave. Five minutes and no water. On my sister’s birthday. Yah that lecture was fun.

    • the majority of cowboys didn’t mind being called that because they started as that.

      Warning, “cowboy” of as recently as the 60s in the High Desert is not just “anybody that works cattle.” A “cowboy” was the guy who was hiring out for seasonal work and would be a criminal if nobody hired him…and, of course, might end up being one anyways.
      Calling a rancher a “cowboy” was dangerous when I was kid in the 80s, but that was an old ranch.

      • We didn’t call them cowboys (only if they were rodeo’n) At work they were ranch hands. In Nevada they are called buckaroos. A cowboy was kind of a derogatory remark (usually some one who didn’t know how to work cattle.) 😉 1970s-80 when my dad was the foreman.

        • Yeah, cowboy was a derogatory term just above ‘goat-roper’, both were used to describe city folk who dressed in cowboy boots and hat, and thought they knew which end of the horse to point the horn at when they saddled one. The term ‘old cowboy’ however was a term of respect, often used for somebody under thirty, which meant they had been a ranch hand, outfitter, etc. that had worked with stock their whole life.

          • Yes– about “old cowboy”– and city folk– since my cousins from the city came to visit every summer, we learned how to snicker without moving our lips. 😉

  13. I remember reading (and later watching) Bridget Jones’ Diary, and thinking that the character of Bridget was essentially a teenager in a twenty-something’s body. Disorganized, childish, scatterbrained, totally irresponsible. I couldn’t relate at all. By the time I was the same age that Bridget was supposed to be, I had gone through a catastophic romantic break-up, become a single parent, made E-5 in the military and sorted out an adult life for myself … I never watched “Friends” but I gather that it was pretty much the same thing – adult juveniles.
    On the other hand, my daughter when compared to her peers, always seemed very adult and responsible, even before she joined the military herself. I had a theory that joining a military service may be our only remaining ‘adult ritual’ – that experience which signifies that now one has gone through the tribal rites marking the passage between childhood and full-fledged membership as an adult.

    • That’s one reason why I think that ALL schools, beginning in middle school, should begin training “the militia” — the general body of people. Put some pressure on the kids, make them assume some responsibility, and reward those that seem to excel. Keep the training going all throughout school, from middle school to graduation from High School, and then allow those that wish to continue through college ROTC programs. Those that choose not to go to college could be rewarded with a promotion to E-2 upon enlistment in any of the military services, or with some other recognition if they choose to work in civilian society. I think that would do wonders for our society as a whole, and especially children from low-income or welfare recipient families. For one thing, the male instructors (and a fair majority would have to be male) would provide a father-figure in the lives of so many that don’t have it.

      In the end, all of us would benefit. We’d have a much more civil society, kids would learn to accept responsibility earlier (or at all — we have some teens on campus that are in their 60’s and teaching), and we’d have a trained militia to call upon in case of disaster or invasion.

  14. How much of this is improved health care and vitamins and all that, making us look younger? I don’t know. But I do know that twenty something year olds now look like we did in our teens (only usually pudgier, but that’s a talk for another time).

    Perhaps part but presumably not the whole story: if she takes care of herself, a female today has much better access to exercise than her counterpart a generation or more ago.

    How much did Title 9 have to do with this? (I know, I know. I just painted a target on my front and a ‘Kick Me’ on my back…)

    If one or both of the kids had sent us that text, they’d find themselves on the front porch with the clothes on their backs, as we waved goodbye. Yes, even knowing that it was a prank. Perhaps particularly knowing that it was a prank.

    Surely there are better ways to say We are not amused?

    The idea of kids who are, probably, mostly, legal adults, who think it is fun to play on their parents by pretending to be drug buyers/dealers (considering all the legal penalties that attain to both kid and parent if the drug is in the house, up to and including forfeiture of the property) have proven that at some very deep seated level, they resent the parents who are looking after them.

    Or maybe at some deep seated level they are confusedly starting to grope for self-sufficiency but don’t understand why or how, especially if there are flaws in their upbringing. I’m not discounting the seriousness of the behavior and IMO an unmistakable penalty is appropriate.

    I don’t even know what to say other than that, other than “when you artificially prolong childhood in homo sapiens, till it starts blending with senescence, it seems to create a backlash. Perhaps Heinlein’s thing about there being however many words for “Thank you” in Japanese and all of them involving some level of resentment should be invoked.

    The Great Generation didn’t want their children to go through what they had endured…so they produced the Tantrum Boomers.

    Thanks-cum-resentment is just human nature, afaic, with the possible exception of personal relationships. When my mother was being fed in a refugee camp via the Marshall Plan, she resented what at the time she perceived as the GIs’ arrogant attitude. The animus passed after the family got rooted in the States. Of course, needing the help is really what she had resented.

    …Or perhaps the thing about never ruining your children’s lives by making them too easy.

    Yes, as a parent, of course I want to ease everything for them. On the other hand… How much is adversity or at least struggle needed to form the adult brain? And what happens when people never encounter any?

    My parents strongly disagreed about how I should be raised and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll have kids of my own. That said, IMO it is not constructive to swing kids’ values back and forth between extremes.

    • Er… “Women couldn’t exercise” is a myth. Oh, sure, the type of exercise you would need if you had a sedentary job — but even sewing involved treadle machines. And most women (and men) not obscenely wealthy walked a lot more and worked a lot harder with their bodies. I know my mom (and she had a cleaning lady most of the time I was growing up, who came in to do “the rough”) worked WAY harder at the house than I do. Sweeping vs. vacuuming, Going shopping every three days — on FOOT (the fridge is still tiny.) etc. etc. etc.

      • Sure.

        But I submit that exercise through imposed physical labor has a different effect, physical, cosmetic & psychic, than a voluntary exercise program which is tailored to tone the body.

        • Cosmetic exercise, in other words.

        • To an extent. However, we’re learning that more activity is better, period.

          • To the extent we disagree (if indeed we do), it seems a matter of degree or emphasis.

            Here’s a cosmetic exercise program for the facial muscles.

            • Robin Munn

              Warning: that link to the “cosmetic exercise program for the facial muscles” seems to be a search-engine-trap page, which has pulled (and mangled) articles from other websites. Notice how the links at the bottom ALL seem to have “…/archives/20130424/…” in them — a classic sign of such a site. No genuine site would have posted fifteen articles in closely-related subjects on a single day.

              I recommend avoiding the link, so as not to give the scammers who set up that site the traffic that they want.

              • unwholesome expletive I see what you mean. Thanks for pointing it out.

                I had googled “cosmetic exercise” and that site was one of the first to come up. When my brain concocted the phrase, it neglected to recall that it (the phrase, not my brain) is commonly used along the lines of ‘cover-up’.

                My Norton 360 ranks the site as “questionable”. Apparently I overlooked that. My eyes aren’t what they used to be and they were never all that good. (An explicit query yields “This site has not been tested yet.”)

                Nolo contendere.

                • Robin Munn

                  The thing that actually tipped me off first was the broken English. I’ve read enough English written by non-native speakers to know what it looks like, and this wasn’t that. This site’s text included such gems as “Fitness center, fitness area is recommended in your eyes, put your finger gently pulling generate resentment, and then raise your eyebrows.” Even living here in Asia, where I see broken English routinely, I’ve almost never seen text like that: usually you can make out what they intended to say (and sometimes catch clues about the grammar of the writer’s native language by seeing the mistakes they make — for example, many Asian languages don’t use gendered pronouns, which is why speakers of those languages often confuse “he” and “she” in English). Text like that sentence only comes from one kind of source: a program that has crawled over another website, copied its entire content, and then randomly replaced a few words in each article with a few phrases from other articles so that automated compare-and-contrast algorithms won’t flag the “new” site as a duplicate of another site.

                  BTW, gs, I’m not trying to pick on you by harping on this link. 🙂 I just wanted to point out some features to look for in sites like this, so that others can improve their sense of “smell”. (As in, “this smells like a search-engine-trap site, so it’ll have nothing of value to me.”)

                  • Robin, my post below was submitted before I read yours. I did not and do not think you were picking on me. Congrats on a good catch.

                    My long-ago ex is Asian and I remember the he/she thing.

                    (This is my second try at posting this, so apologies if a duplicate happens.)

                • Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I put it to you:

                  The only people on the Web known to use this new and unconventional sense of “cosmetic exercise” are the operators of a possible scam site, and the arriviste “gs”.

                  Oy weh.

                  • Well, the phrase makes perfect sense the way you used it… I’m actually going to use it next time the topic comes up at home. (Beats waiving a hand and going “it’s like…look, their muscles are for show, OK?)

  15. Birthday girl

    ” Put post up and forgot to push the “publish” button. I swear…*”

    I swear too, mostly at my children. They learned all their bad words from their mother, sigh ….

  16. No need to apologize to me about Columbo – Peter Falk is a delight. Why can’t we have actors like him anymore? (One of the main reasons I dislike the products of modern Hollywood so much is that the people don’t look like people, they look like plastic Barbie dolls.)

    And yes, I think those women look older because they are so thin, and that’s with the camera adding 10 pounds – that was the 70s, the age that gave us anorexia.

    • Yes, that’s probably part of it. The fact that Europe still sticks to that standard probably has to do with people getting older faster.

    • Well, Falk started acting in the Sixties, the movie age of manly men. Most of those guys had been through WWII or Korea. Falk was not allowed to enlist because of his glass eye (illness, had a glass eye since he was three!) so he joined the Merchant Marine, which actually had higher death rate than the Army or Marines, if I remember correctly. Have you seen any of Sam Peckinpah’s westerns? It would be impossible to cast those today with the hard, tough men Peckinpah found, I saw the bad movie about the mass murders in Sierra Leone, in which Leo DeCaprio played a mercenary. (??????!!!!!!) Well, he’s a great actor, but playing a fighting soldier of fortune? He acted the part very well, but it was like that atrocious movie “Bugsy Malone,” a twenties ganster movie in which all the gangsters and molls were played by children. From what little I saw of that, twelve year old I think Jodie Foster did a magnificent job of playing a tough gang moll, but… she was a little kid! Come on! Watching DeCaprio in “Blood Diamonds” was like that. I hope the Great Gadsby with him in it will be good, but Gadsby never grew up either.

      • The Merchant Marine had the second highest death rate in World War II.

        First place? German submarine service.

        The Battle of the Atlantic was ugly.

  17. Had this discussion just over the weekend with my daughter about an activity she wanted to do tonight. School outing. We’d filled out the permission slips and written the check and given it to her… and she hadn’t turned it in.
    So when I found out about this the other night as I was driving her home from an activity, that resulted in a discussion about taking a little responsibility and consequences.
    Which became a rather pointed and loud conversation in the car, which I think ended with me shouting “Just because of the possibility that someone else is going to be a jerk, that’s no reason for you not to at least try asking.” Surliness ensued. (No one gives good surly like my daughter. She learned from a master. Me. But she has the teenage hormonal influx going for her, so she has the edge there.)
    But at the end of it, she took responsibility, came clean with her teachers about what had happened, and it looks like she’s all set to go tonight. Which may be sending the wrong message re: getting things in on time, but the fact that she overcame her natural shyness and actually took responsibility has me pretty much okay with that result.

    • Birthday girl

      ” … she overcame her natural shyness and actually took responsibility …”

      The essential point and the one that will stick.

      In real life, well at least in my experience, many if not most deadlines are flexible that way. Good for you, dad.

      • I can’t take too much credit. Her Mom is awesome. And she’s been playing D&D and Star Wars: Saga Edition with a bunch of… egads… 40-something guys for over a year now. I’m just glad that some of that seems to have had a salutary effect.

  18. My parents (veterans of the Depression) used to say that I had a sheltered life. Knowing how difficult things could be, they took the attitude “If WE don’t spoil him, who will?” Even so, they had well-defined limits and would’ve been capable of cutting me off if I’d pushed my luck too far.

    I think being shielded from unnecessary hardship is a good thing, if it means minimizing distractions at a time when you need to be learning and improving yourself. But when you’re also shielded from the necessity of making decisions and the responsibility for what you’ve chosen, that’s when the process gets mucked up.

    And in one way or another it might get mucked up for everyone. Parents typically seek to help their children avoid the mistakes they made/the problems they encountered, while possibly leaving them open to erring in another direction.

    A sheltered early life can mean you enter adulthood without much context. I’ve written about (and still fret over) a graduate school admissions interview many years ago when I simply did not have the maturity needed to answer the questions being posed to me. I could handle it swimmingly today. But in some things there are no do-overs.

  19. There are some people who are adult at quite young ages, and then there are people like this guy:

    who not only lost his life savings at a carnival, but actually had to go home to get his savings and come back to lose it all.

    • It’s a carnival game. Of course it’s rigged! I thought everyone knew that. But yeah, he’s got a lot of growing up to do.

      “Never bet scared money,” as in money you can’t afford to lose.

  20. My first book of a series – “April” – introduces a young girl nearing 14 years old. One of my Amazon reviews says: “The very youthful protagonist is slightly unbelievable for her age (and I have a very mature, bright 13 year-old daughter, so I know whereof I speak) but enjoyable nonetheless.”
    I didn’t bother to argue. How can I convince her that other do what obviously her loved daughter can’t do – or was never asked to do? In times past children of that age went out and rode the fence armed, and stopped and repaired it if need be. Pretty much ran a kitchen for a large family. Were expected to hitch teams to a wagon and comb them down and take care of the tack when done.
    I owned a gun and kept it and ammunition in my room, and took it with me pretty much everywhere but school starting the summer I turned 11. I never in my life pointed it at someone I did not intend to shoot. And I never once pulled it out to make a threat when some kid got physical with me but not life threatening. I had my first business selling bait the same summer. And I bought food and shoes with it. Not iPads or $200 tennis shoes. At the time I had one pair of jeans which I had to wash at night and they went back on in the morning even if they weren’t dry. There were also times there was no food in the house. I remember one time as we were leaving a rental place moving. All we had in the house and left behind was a huge jar of pickles. We wouldn’t eat them because the lady who gave them to us was kind hearted but nasty (that’s Southern for dirty). I also bought myself airplane tickets to visit my aunt and uncle in Ohio. This was back when the trip was in a DC-3. Twin prop tail-dragger with no auto pilot. The ticket was about $40. I remember I found out with horror that many of my school mates had never been out of the county. I used to walk down to the country store and buy dynamite and blasting caps. The man asked me a couple questions about my knowledge on using them safely the first time – that was it. On many things like that the government has come to expect all of us to never be adults.
    I will ask this. Is there a sweet spot. An ideal age range in which you mature, or loose the opportunity to do so at all? I see people who are not adults at 40, and I can’t imagine they will ever change now. That’s why I proposed making the attainment of your majority a matter of having it voted on by the community upon your application in the same book.
    I hope you don’t mind me giving a little plug here – “April” is free for Kindle May 5 and May 6, Pacific time.

    • I’m too lazy to add it to the post. Sorry. You guys should poke me to do these promo posts more often.

    • On many things like that the government has come to expect all of us to never be adults.

      Gee, why would Nanny government want our development retarded? Isn’t in their interest for us to become self-sufficient contributing members of society instead of dependent juveniles able only to follow instructions?

      • I have a professor friend (who is a really nice guy if you keep him off politics; he gets his views from NPR) – he was the by-far brightest guy in his high school growing up, probably the nerdiest/geekiest as well (and this was during the pre-computer days when geek was not cool).

        He’s spent his life isolated in the ivory tower of academia, and I think he thinks that the majority of humanity is at the level of those high school kids, or his students today (and his wife is a teacher of second grade kids, so that doesn’t help).

    • Wayne Blackburn

      In Where the Red Fern Grows, I don’t remember how old Billy is, but he seems to be between 10 and 12 when he finally sends off for his pups, and goes to town on his own to pick them up, then trains the dogs, goes out hunting on his own, cuts down trees to get the coons down from them, etc.

    • I enjoyed the ‘April’ series. Do you have another one coming out?

      • Well I tried to post twice, Naleta – maybe it is blocking it for the link. I have a fourth April series book coming out in maybe a month. Titled “A Different Perspective”. The cover is on my blog if you’d like to see it.

        • I figured out how to add your blog to my Feedly stream, so I saw that cover. Looks good! I’ll be buying that book for sure!

  21. This is in reference to the whole idea of “treat children like adults and they will start acting like them”: (via Instapundit)

    ‘We’re just average folks’: The family sending all ten of their home-schooled children to college by the age of 12

    • In medieval times, sending a child to university at 12 was normal.

      Hamlet, despite the claim that he’s thirty, was probably rather younger.

      • My grandfather went to college at 15, and that wasn’t all that unusual in his day. If you could pass the entrance exams, you could get in.

    • If I had to do it over again, I’d have homeschooled the boys.

      • I wanted to do a telepresence service for homeschoolers. “for this amount you can have a top-notch (specialist) educator teach a class for your homeschools – you proctor the tests and classes, send them to us to grade” (grading, of course, would be handled by TAs, as usual)
        The upside is that the high-end educator can teach as many classes live as he wants, never gets spitballs in the back of the neck, and doesn’t have to teach boring remedial classes. With Skype or they like it should be possible, and at large enough classes, should be profitable.
        I’ve been told by educators that it would not be useful.

        • There is one for the classics, I’ve mentioned Lukeion project. I just wish there had been one for the math. Younger boy would NEVER have gone back to school….

        • I doubt it would be useful to educators, most of whom seem to think they are doing just fine employing the current paradigm.

          Go to Walter Russell Mead’s blog — — and look at comments about MOOCs (Massive Online Only Courses.)

          Or discuss the proposal with educators who have expertise in home-schooling.

  22. Birthday girl

    “Is there a sweet spot. An ideal age range in which you mature, or loose the opportunity to do so at all? ”

    Ooh, I like this question. Don’t know about age, but there are some markers I have notice, in a very broad sense.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that married people, who stay married at least several years, grow up quicker and people who stay single tend to take a whole lot longer … broad generalization there, don’t hate me on the exceptions. So is the daily relationship thing part of that “struggle?”

    And all the military people I’ve known are the most mature and competent people I’ve know, regardless of anything else in their lives.

    But then, I currently live in an area of the country where the natives seem to remain childish until about the time they become grandparents, even though they tend to marry young and have children right away … then somehow, around grandparent-age, they magically they grow up and become what I call adult. Very frustrating and I’ve lived here 7 years and still can’t figure out what’s going on there. But I am not an in-group member, so I’m at a disadvantage with that.

  23. I also want to just state that there’s a difference between being “young at heart”, and “immature”.

    • My brother dated a girl who made a point of remaining “childlike.” All she ever seemed to achieve was “childish.”

  24. I’m looking forward to us learning more about epigenics, all the fuzz, so to speak, around the DNA that turns genes off and on and effects the timing of various things. It’ll be “interesting” to learn if the changes to our diets, all the not-found-in-nature chemicals we eat, have changed our bodies. And brains, the stuff upstairs is, after all, part of the body.

    Whether that has anything to do with prolonged adolescence or not, at this point, unknown. I think a lack of parental rigidity about subjects and progress through college has a lot to do with it.

  25. Okay, I just subscribed. Per your instructions a few days ago, I made a donation accompanied by a message that it’s for a year’s subscription.

    What does this have to do with various degrees of resentment? They’re what I passed through as I tried to submit my donation to PayPal.

    • Ehgads. I UNDERSTAND. From my end, I’ve considered assembling Hoyt’s huns and…

      • Don’t look at me, I’m scared of Paypal. Ever read their terms of service? ** shiver **

        • I’ve heard a rumor that PayPal’s legal department ran the ToS past Old Scratch and he went scrambling for holy water and/or Rabbi Lowe before he got to the third page.

          • Hey, it’s not REALLY that bad.

            And it was the fourth page… 8^)

            • There ToS isn’t that much worse than those payday loan places. Really, honestly, charge the buyer, charge the seller a percentage when they receive payment, offer no interest on money held in their account, and charge when money is withdrawn; why when compared with the way government handles social security paypal is practically run by angels.

              Oh, and the quality of customer service when you call them is at least as high as that given by government officials.

  26. Interesting thought: a hypothesis has been floated around that technology keeps the mind young, as evidenced by the growing number of seniors using smart devices (iPhone, Blackberry, etc). Would the adverse affect, then, be that it slows down the development of younger minds and, if so, could that lead to potentially longer life, since the mind tends to lose much as it ages?

    • Susan Shepherd

      I’d be surprised if it actually slowed down development of younger minds, but yes, I suspect that adapting to new technology may help keep older people sharper longer.

      There was some study I read, oh, ages ago now and I don’t have the link, but it showed that seniors who regularly did crossword puzzles or Sudoku were less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s-associated deterioration than seniors who did not regularly challenge themselves with such things. I can easily imagine that “learning how to use a new program / computer / phone variant” would constitute that sort of helpful mental challenge.

      • Well, when I talked about “slowing down”, it was more along the lines of “keeping younger, longer”, in which we can look at a potentially longer lifespan of neurons in the brain and synapse control. Degradation could be potentially offset by the “mental weightlifting” one begins as a child.

        Just a thought.

        • There have been studies purporting to show that watching TV puts the adolescent brain into a trance-like state. I don’t presume to know whether those studies were validly conducted, but if so there could be an argument that TV prolongs adolescence.

          Smart phone apps, computer games and the like might have an opposite effect. I am sure some bright neuroscientist* is even now crafting grant applications to fund studying this.

          *Spellcheck wants to make this word into conscientiousness, which I am confident neuroscientists claim to exercise.

      • I have seen similar studies reported, but cannot help but think that people who suffer Alzheimer’s, dementia etc are unlikely to regularly do crossword puzzles or Sudoku — making it hard to distinguish between correlation and causation.

        It is only recently that we have developed the ability to prove an Alzheimer’s diagnosis short of autopsy, a procedure of limited utility in treating the condition. Now that we are able to identify the plaque markers for Alzheimer’s in the victim’s system we are growing an ability to develop effective therapies.

        • My maternal grandmother was the one of my four grandparents both afflicted with a love of routine, and not interested in reading or learning anything new. She got early Alzheimers though, and you have to ask “which came first? And was the tendency already working at her.”

          Here’s something interesting — I ASSUMED she was borderline retarded my whole life, and wondered both how grandad had come to marry her, and how she could have raised my mom at all. It wasn’t until I was talking to my brother and he said “Well, grandma died of Alzheimers. Early onset” that I went “Oh, is that what it was?” You see, by the time I knew her she already had it and fairly advanced.

  27. I don’t know enough about biology or the maturation process to say much of substance about if/how this is happening. But there may be some interesting parallels in terms of what happened to dogs as we domesticated them. Dogs are, in many respects, permanently adolescent. Certain aspects of the biology and personality that manifest in adult wolves never fully develop in dogs. Over the years, we’ve been selecting for juvenile traits – it apparently makes them better companions.

    In the case of the Dogs, the change was probably Darwinian (genetic) as opposed to Lamarckian (epigenetic/environmental). In the case of humans, if this effect is occurring just in the recent transition to industrial life, it would have to be due to environmental effects. Only 400 years ago, you had to be ready to plow fields at 13 and fend off the barbarians.

    I thought I did read something once to the effect that certain pacific island tribesmen were reaching physical maturity at a very early age.

    A few things:
    1. If everyone’s a nobleman in this modern industrialized world: Great! Mission accomplished. (Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but I’d see it as something to shoot for whenever/if possible.) Seeing as how, objectively speaking, the problems of being rich are a strict subset of the problems of being poor (since you can always roll up your money in large bills and smoke it), I’d rather have a future where everyone were rich and ‘dealing with’ Hollywooditis than poor.
    2. Slower maturation (cultural) may be tied to having to still be in a student’s position for a long time in order to reach competence in many jobs. (Or at least to reach the credential that lets you start.) You don’t have the time or resources to be an adult in college undergrad. If you try to take on an adult role too early and gain real-world experience, unfortunately the only doors that will be open are dead-end positions that never pay enough, or offer enough for a fully adult life. Most employers these days demand a degree instead of an apprenticeship, so it’s one or the other: Extend your childhood to arbitrary lengths (by staying in school), or never be given the opportunity for responsibility at some point very late in life. I think a great many fields would be better served by apprenticeship than degrees, but it’s a fairly entrenched aspect of the culture at this point.
    3. I wonder if it helps the learning process? How do early maturers vs. late maturers fare in mastering new material at an equivalent age?

    Hmm, my preferred solution to the problem (perhaps for some future generation): correct the painful brevity of the human lifespan. Then it doesn’t matter how long you mess around working at Starbucks and piling up degrees.

    • My preferred solution is yours, too, but until then it worries me, particularly in terms of reproductive ability and… are we going to extinguish ourselves?

      • One thesis you will assuredly find no grant money to investigate is the possibility that the effects of the Birth Control Pill — including urinating female hormones into the water supply; IIRC, there are no processing steps to filter those out downstream — on this extended adolescence and increase in male androgyny.

        So of course there can be no connection!

        OTOH, if kids are racking up house-purchase amounts of debt while accumulating degrees, what long-term consequences might we experience?

        • One check for that would be to compare the rates of androgyny with how far upstream the municipal water source was. If your thesis were correct you would expect to see places like Colorado Springs to be relatively unaffected, unless you’re postulating roving bands of women urinating into the snowpack.

          • Eh, you might choose a better example than Colorado Springs, which has a very high influx of people from California, which is notably androgynous and notably downstream of a lot of urinating women.

            • Might have to look at where they were drinking water during puberty.

              • Unless a significant portion of the estrogen etc. survives the hydrologic cycle, in which case we’re all pissed.

                • Jeff Gauch

                  I don’t see how, just from a molecular weight aspect it wouldn’t leave the oceans readily, and I imagine there are all kinds of wee sea beasties that would look upon estrogen as a tasty snack.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool


        If things are dysfunctional enough, maybe the civilization falls down.

        Wiping out humanity is currently, most likely, beyond human capability. At most, we are talking a great deal of suffering.

        As society breaks down, it ends up reverting to earlier models, which require less in the way of cultural mental infrastructure. The more fundamentally the institutions of a society have been undermined, whether in service to progress or otherwise, the further back is the nearest, most easily reachable functional societal model. We are still far from being able to reach past the typical human society, reverting to a lower level of function than that.

        Anyway, there is variation in the sorts of breakdown we are discussing. Were it random, we would expect pockets of function, possibly capable of surviving or maybe rebuilding in the ruin of the rest. It isn’t random, so a full breakdown probably won’t be all of one piece.

    • If you try to take on an adult role too early and gain real-world experience, unfortunately the only doors that will be open are dead-end positions that never pay enough, or offer enough for a fully adult life.

      This is simply false. There are plenty of jobs available that do not require a college degree. I have one, and even at the trainee wage I’m beating the median income. And my employer (the US Navy) isn’t even the highest-paying one in the field. Now, a lot of these jobs will accept college in lieu of some experience, but all the college in the world isn’t going to make you a good welder, or auto mechanic, or plumber. All of these jobs pay well enough to support a family and a rewarding adult life. In part because so many kids and parents today buy into the fallacy that a college degree is necessary to get a good job.

      Now, if you want to drive a cubicle for 30 years, then yes, you need a degree. But I think I’d rather remove my tonsils from the wrong end than become a pyromaniacal Dilbert.

      • I totally agree with you, unfortunately some jobs ARE starting to require college degrees without good reason. I have surveyed off and on for fifteen years (the first 9-10 full-time). I never became licensed because I didn’t want the headaches, even though I knew more about the job than some of those I worked under that had licenses. I have worked with several people that went to college for surveying, all agreed that six months on the job training was worth two years schooling in terms of knowledge. Up until last year to qualify to take the test to become a PLS you needed X-number of hours work experience plus either a 2-year degree and Y-number additional hours experience, a 4-year degree, or Z-number additional hours experience. Being stupid I never took the test and as of 2012 you now need a 4-year degree to qualify. Meaning even though I taught the licensed lady I work under most of what she knows about surveying (after she had went to college for four years) if I wanted to be licensed I would have to go back to college and get a degree from some professor that either hasn’t worked in the field ever, or not in so long that he is even familiar with the current equipment. Meaning all he can really teach is the theory, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I am probably better qualified to teach the class than he is.

        • I wonder how much of that is due to the failing education system making a high school diploma worthless and how much is due to the “College=smart” fallacy.

          To be fair, my current job requires either a 4 year degree in a technical field or military experience in radiation protection, but there are plenty of jobs in the shipyard that will take you in high school and train you up.

          • It’s due to high school diploma being worthless and competency tests getting you called “racist” or worse. There is NO way that a lawyer can’t argue a test is biased against this race or that gender. It’s impossible to make a perfectly balanced one, and then there’s the way you interpret it. College, they assume you can at least read and write. (Because they don’t know some of the graduates I do, that’s why.)

      • The military is a far different case than private employers. The military has a lot of experience taking raw kids and molding them into useful soldiers/workers. And they have advantages in the UCMJ for doing so that a private employer does not have.

        Today, the high school diploma is useless to most employers because it does not represent a measurable degree of education any longer – and worse – it does not even measure an ability to “show up”.

    • Ori Pomerantz

      If you try to take on an adult role too early and gain real-world experience, unfortunately the only doors that will be open are dead-end positions that never pay enough, or offer enough for a fully adult life.

      I am pretty sure that any decent career requires you to keep improving your job skills. Maybe the right solution is to start working at eighteen, and take classes “in the background”.

  28. “How much is adversity or at least struggle needed to form the adult brain? And what happens when people never encounter any growing up? “

    I think Eloi might be pertinent.

  29. All of which might or might not mean much of anything, but what worries me is the idea that our kids – all our kids – are now behaving like the kids of very wealthy people in the past. They never mature, they live at an infantile level forever, and they waste their lives in the pursuit of “juvenile” stuff.

    Commercial for, two 30-somethings talking about how they visit a new city each year, and now they can do TWO of them!

    My thought: how sad. Where are their kids?

    • William O. B'Livion

      Youngest daughter celebrated her 1st birthday in Redwood City, CA.
      Second birthday was on a trip to Rome, It.
      Third was in STL, MO.
      Fourth and Fifth were in Alice Springs, AU.
      Sixth was in Denver, CO.

      We were with her for all of them. Kids travel, if you teach them how.

      • My family traveled, too.

        It was really, really obvious that they did not mean that kind of travel, even if you ignore that it’s an airline ticket ad.

  30. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    I grew up on a farm. Everyone I knew was working from the time they could do something useful. Most of us had the money to buy a car by the time we were 17-18. One farm kid managed to save enough to buy a ten year old Corvette when he was 18. One of the girls had a Firebird with a 400 cubic inch engine.

    Yes, cars were cheaper in 1974, Corvettes especially. But we worked damned hard on the farm.

    The town kids were soft. They didn’t have the same need to work. They didn’t have the same sense of responsibility. I’d guess they were a couple of years behind the farm kids, and from what I’ve heard from farm kids all over Canada and the United States, I think this is probably common.

    The move from Farm to City probably hurt society in some ways. On the other hand, it probably helped in some ways, though I can’t think of any off-hand.


    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Yeah, I dunno if I’ve mentioned this, but my impression of farm kids today is that they are still more together than the rest of the cohort. I see enough of them that I have trouble fretting too badly over the neotony of current and future generations. Of course, there is the question of how many generations removed from the farm. Sarah’s kids are probably fairly close, I know I picked up a good chunk of my sense of fiscal responsibility from that side of the family.

      • Nah. We had a family farm on one side — but the family were actually merchants and craftsmen. We just had the farm for personal needs i.e. enough for the family. On the other they were landowners till grandad’s time, but more administrators.
        I grew up around farmers, but it wasn’t my family background. But I think you have it by the wrong end. It’s not how close you are to the farm, it’s how close you are to subsistence. The whole d*mn country was pretty close to subsistence. Subsistence has a way of making you know what’s real. This is why the three generation cycle: poverty, middle class, rich, poverty as the fourth generation squanders the lessons the first new.
        And my fiscal sense does NOT come from the wealthy landowner side…

  31. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Re: the drug ‘prank’. I’d note that this might just be a case of our culture taking drug use far too lightly. (If only the ‘Greatest’ generation had been willing to put enough of their kids to death to stamp it out in the Boomers… Well, there are sound reasons for not having done so, but I am jerk with a hobby horse.) Think about what exposure kids have to drug use. A fair amount of mention in the news is that by the rich and powerful, who get away with a great deal they really shouldn’t.

    Anyway, I’m going to be *mumble* years old soon. I am very far from satisfied with my own level of maturity, for my age. (I measure this by way of empirical things, like successes, proven competence, and effectiveness.) Part of the issue is that at some point I read a bunch of Doc Smith, and internalized it as part of my understanding of ‘This is what an Adult should be’.

    • William O. B'Livion

      [blockquote]If only the ‘Greatest’ generation had been willing to put enough of their kids to death to stamp it out in the Boomers… Well, there are sound reasons for not having done so, but I am jerk with a hobby horse.[/blockquote]

      You mean the generation where the working class stopped for a beer or three on the way home from the shipyard/factory, and the generation that invented the three martini lunch. The generation that went from hand rolled to machine made cigarettes, the generation that gave Valium and Speed to moms to “help them cope”.

      The Greatest generation? Sorry mate, I spent time in Iraq with today’s generation, my dad spent 18 months in Korea and my Uncle was one of the Greatest Generation–a navy guy. He had 3 ex wifes and a bad liver from meeting all three in a bar (presumably different bars).

      That same generation gave us the Great Society programs and utterly failed to do anything about the broken government their parents left them.

      There ain’t no greatest generation, there’s just young a*holes, old a*holes and dead or dying a*holes.

      • William O. B'Livion

        An edit button wouldn’t suck.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        How do I put this, my spite dearly wishes that following enabling legislature being passed, that the hippies would have been arrested, convicted and executed. I can somewhat forgive not doing this. After all, among other things, the Democrats had been badly abusing the legal system for some time.

  32. Since the negatives have been covered…

    I sometimes wonder if delayed development is related to modern education, the emphasis on certain skills, or even “civilization” itself.

    Some people think neoteny in humans is associated with intelligence (the idea being that a longer childhood gives more time for a child-like flexible brain to absorb and sort information). Perhaps the skills needed for the modern world require a longer development period to master. Or perhaps the misguided emphasis on widespread extended education is partly responsible via a similar mechanism (instead of the more obvious mechanism where more students in their 20s and 30s who can get away with childish behavior increases the social acceptance).

    Or perhaps increased specialization allows more childish behaviors. A farmer cannot succeed with childish habits, but a computer programmer can. Childish behaviors are no longer a fatal disadvantage in all circumstances and they spread.

    Neoteny is also a characteristic of domestication in animals (especially for behaviors but sometimes for physical changes, see the domestic fox experiment: Perhaps humans in the developed world are more domesticated every generation. Do we even know what an “adult” human would be like? Perhaps nothing nice. Or perhaps civilization always leads to an excess of domestication, docility, stagnation, and ultimately conquest by barbarians.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Comments can be made about systemically screwing up portions of the educational system, and thereby requiring more service out of other portions for longer.

  33. And now you’ve got hipsters, which strike me as nothing more than adults with the minds of children playing dress-up. If they ever start acting like adults acting like children the stupid will have become recursive and we might as well kiss the species good-bye.

  34. I have been telling people this for a couple *DECADES* now, and telling them the solution: Childhood Must Be Abolished, Permanently. From the moment one comes out the dropchute, one is, like it or lump it, preparing for being an Adult; what varies is how well one is being prepared. The kids from the 1930s who came up with “a degree from the University of Life, a diploma from the School of Hard Knocks, and three gold stars from the Kindergarten of Getting The Shit Kicked Out Of Me” won WW2, put men on the Moon, and kicked Communism’s spoiled unwiped ass; the current crop — oh dear god… “too many forty-year-old adolescents, felons, power-drinkers, and Trustees Of Modern Chemistry”.

    People don’t want to hear it, because they know what will happen to them if their kids turn out to be *better* than themselves….

  35. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Forgot to mention a very important thing.

    I have long been inspired by those who went before me as I traveled the path to adulthood. Some of them may have been worthless shiftless ne-er-do-wells, evil, or other people one ought not emulate. Others were Men and Women.

    April thirtieth is the anniversary of the battle of Cameron. A detachment of French Legionnaires fought the Mexican Army. Many were killed, or died as a result of the fire and close combat. Finally, three legionnaires survived, beaten to the ground in the assault. The Mexican commander, impressed by their valor, wished to spare them. They insisted that they be allowed to keep their arms, and to, if I recall correctly, escort the body of Captain Jean Danjou, their own leader.

  36. Zachary Ricks– thanks for the advice– there is another problem — the landlord-tenant court system here. The landlord has tried to evict people for paint-ball shooting on the property (vandalism), for allowing children to run around the complex after 11 p.m. (they were three and six), and for gang activity. In every case, the judge ruled for the tenant. The only way she can evict is if she has proof from the police or if they refuse to pay rent for at least six months, then she can move to evict. So catch-22.

    • Dorothy Grant

      Thank generations of “speaking truth to power” and “fighting the evil bloodsucking moneybags”, and “Ending the reign of slumlords” for those lovely clauses, regulations, laws, and interpretations piled on top of each other til they stink like something left in the fridge way too long.

      • Not surprised– and forces landlords to become slumlords.

        • Yeah, it also cause the small business guy who has a little extra money this year, and decides to buy a rental or two as an investment towards retirement, two quickly decide that is a bad idea.