Regular Habits

Sorry this is so ridiculously late.  I went to bed and slept almost twelve hours.  Not sure why, except that my body might sense the onset of winter. I have been having allergies from h*ll but no sign of infection, which is new.  Anyway, I gave in to the sleep, partly because we’ve been driving all over creation in all our spare time, looking for the “permanent house.”  (We’re in a rental right now.)

Partly this is because I need a sense of permanence (and I need the d*mn research books which are either packed or thrown on a single bookcase, higgledy, piggledly with no discernible organization, which makes it hard to find just the sentence or the reference I need in the middle of a story.

Partly it is because the whole search itself keeps throwing off my attempt to establish “regular habits.”

“Regular habits” is often used in old fashioned mysteries, as in “he is a gentleman of regular habits” by which we are to assume they are somber and modest and unlikely to commit crimes.

I was talking, in a private group, recently with one of my fans who is in the mental health profession, and he was expressing his feeling that civilization is doomed, since we started not only allowing people with the worst possible genetic tendencies to survive (by subsidizing their survival) but we also subsidize their reproduction.

To an extent I think he’s unwarrantedly gloomy (and in his defense, he said nothing about weeding out the unworthy or the carriers of bad traits, okay?)  Yes, the useless (in terms of societal maintenance or utility) flourish like the green bay tree, but they are also, to a great extent, dying young and hard.  Yes, I know all the stuff about teeth per tattoo ratio.  And I know if you have more tattoos than teeth you’re unkillable.  But that’s only true to an extent.  And at any rate, your continued survival is ALWAYS at the expense of others.  Which means when the blue state hits a hard patch, your survival becomes very… chancy.

But it goes beyond that.  I am somewhat sensitive to this, because I come from a mixed marriage.  Dad’s family could have “We have the bourgeois virtues” engraved on their forehead.  I grew up with such helpful proverbs as “them who don’t work when they’re young will break their backs when they’re old.” His paternal family was very well to do indeed, but grandad I suspect had the same sensory issues of younger son and in those days, being the 9th son they didn’t bother discovering that.  His brothers (some of them at least) went to college, but he was considered “stupid” and left school in third grade to learn a trade (carpentry.)  He eventually married grandma, who came from a relatively well to do background (in that her family owned several houses) but who had no one with a college degree and who were only wealthy in terms of the village.  OTOH they had habits of thrift and work.  (And I suspect their rise in the world had mostly been hampered by the permanent depression that seems to come with the Marques name.  It was not the sort of depression that leads to grand dramatic suicides, just a sort of little grey cloud that makes your focus not as keen.) Not to say they were unlettered.  For their time and place they were “bookish.”  All the women knew how to read, and great grandmother would pinch the family budget in order to buy books.  To her we owed the complete collection of Dumas and Sir Walter Scott, also Mark Twain and others.)

On mom’s side, OTOH…

It is rumored in the family that when dad announced his engagement, my grandmother threatened to not receive her daughter in law.  (I’m sure rumors that she threatened to climb on the roof and put her head in the gas oven are false.  For one she didn’t own a gas oven, and if she did, it wouldn’t be on the roof.)

Mom held this against her all of grandma’s life, but I’m the mother of boys and I don’t.

Mom’s family had roots in local gentry, but it was decayed.  VERY decayed.  Mom’s dad drank away his inheritance, and raised five kids in a one bedroom shotgun cottage with a dirt kitchen floor, in the middle of a slum.  I suspect, from the architecture, that my grandparents’ (leased) home was once a crafter’s cottage in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, and for that time it was spacious and tidy, but in the 20th century?  No.

As a little kid I hated going to visit my grandparents, because we passed an insula — i.e. an “ilha”  (Beyond its meaning as “island” in Portugal the term is applied to any decayed building with lots of tenants.  Some of them MIGHT be survivals from Rome, but that’s unlikely) and we’d have to run the gauntlet of half naked, (the bottom half) dirty kids begging for money and scratching at you for anything they could steal.  Sometimes they took the ribbons from my braids.

With all this, all of mom’s sisters became solidly middle class, having married professional men.  The brothers… well, one of them was probably brain damaged to some extent (or the result of too many cousins marrying.)  I loved my uncle, but he never seemed fully grown up.  He worked as an orderly at an hospital and married twice.  The first time he married a woman from “decayed good families” and when that broke up he married a woman from the lowest urban class, and raised the second family in an urban slum.  My second uncle, I did not like.  He was accounted “the wit” of the family, but this was usually at others’ expense.  He was trained as a plumber and made very good money, but it ran through his hands.  He raised his family in the same slum he was raised.

Which brings us to heredity and “regular habits.”

It might be that my uncles received the short end of the genetic inheritance.  Or it might be that being boys in Portugal they never had to work as hard for parental approval as the girls.  Or it may be that grandad had problems with his sons in particular.  I mean, I loved him dearly but he seemed to me to be a lousy father to ALL his offspring.  However, for reasons of family dynamics and his history he might have been particularly bad as a parent for the boys.  (I.e. he might have derided them and undermined their confidence more.)

I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care (it’s a long time.  The uncles are both dead, and I have no contact with my cousins from them.)

However, it’s important to note something: from mom’s side, the only grandkids who went to college were my brother and I and the abandoned, cut-off (I’ve never met them) cousins of my oldest uncle’s first marriage.)

The children of my aunts are middle class and relatively well to do, but never pursued college.

And my brother and I were raised more or less BY my dad’s family, where all the cousins but one (and that one for various reasons) have degrees.  (Most of them engineering or medicine.  The cousins in law, psychology and I are the black sheep.)

To me — and I realize anecdotes aren’t data — having grown up in my family, it was perfectly clear that my brother and I weren’t that different from our maternal cousins.  In fact, mentally, we probably had more in common with mom’s side of the family.  (Except for my grey cloud thing.)

Mom’s dad was a brilliant man, who could discourse with and intimidate college professors (one of his favorite games) on his self-taught knowledge.  I remember he had a lot of books in his carpenter’s workshop, and he seemed to have known all the luminaries of the arts and literature from when he was a young man.  (The fact these were mostly Romantics probably did nothing for grandad’s moral character, mind.)

Dad’s side, people were smart and bookish (save for the one uncle who inherited grandad’s issues) and well informed of the world, but the casual brilliance, the ability to learn with minimal effort, and the almost casual way of correlating knowledge were missing.  My brother and I, though, seemed to realize early on that we learned easier than other people.

And I figure therein lay the rub, at least for my aunts’ children and maybe for the ones of one of my uncle’s.

When you know you can “cram” stuff two hours before the test and remember it for ten years, or even deduce the stuff you should memorize from other stuff you’ve picked up, it’s very easy to leave it till it’s too late.

And yet, my brother and I had results like those of our paternal uncles, not our maternal ones.  How?

Well, mostly because we were raised under the influence of dad’s mom.  And because mom adopted the culture of the family she married into.  For both my brother and I there was “no try, there’s only do.”

So, while my classmates could come home with Cs or Ds and have their parents say “it’s okay, do better next time” the only time I had a negative grade in a test (and the teacher had mis-graded) I got threatened with being locked out of the house.

Look, in first grade, I knew myself to take after mom’s family.  I was indolent, unless forced not to be, a wretched planner, and very fond of wasting time (and money.)

But I knew those were simply not acceptable.  If I wanted to keep grandma’s respect (and I’m still aiming for that, even though she’s gone.  She might still be keeping an eye on me, after all.  Formidable woman, grandma, I don’t think a little thing like death can stop her) I had to develop regular habits that countered my innate defects.  And so I did.  I studied EARLIER because I was afraid I’d be sick just before the test and unable to study.  I applied myself.  I didn’t miss classes.  I didn’t go to coffee shops or hang out with the bad girls on my spare time.  I knew my tendency to the irregular and the bohemian and I tried to counter it with “regular habits.”

This is part of the reason I watch myself, all the time.  Like, you know, not admitting I’m sick, because it might be just an excuse to do nothing.  It’s also part of the reason it took me so long to stay home and try to do the writing thing — I wanted to write, and was as close to having a vocation for it as it’s possible, but it seemed like an irregular, bohemian and risky way of life, while having a regular nine to five job was what I’d been trained for and SHOULD do.  It was only having kids, and not wanting to give them to someone else to raise that got me to stay home and also write on the side.

Unfortunately we’re all susceptible to what Kris and Dean call “bad life rolls” from a game they developed to teach their students how a writing life can change.  Over the last three to four years, starting I think with burnout, and a sudden relaxation of the stress I’d lived under (when it became obvious Indie was an alternative) my “regular habits” broke.

I’d long ago realized the only way I CAN make a go of writing is to establish a work routine and writing hours.  If I didn’t get up when Dan got up to go to work, I was as likely as not to get up at noon, take till three pm to get dressed/showered, and generally get nothing done. Even as a stay at home mom that was deadly (I wanted to model good habits for the boys) but as a writer that was deadly.  I could very easily write only one short story a year.

So I made/make it a point of getting up when Dan does, getting dressed by the time he’s dressed.

The complement to this is “get to my desk when he gets to his” — but that means I have a little more time to linger over a cup of coffee and the morning instapundit — and only knock off when he does.

But having been very burned out, then ill, for … oh, a good four years, I couldn’t concentrate and I broke my regular habits and fell into irregular ones of loitering on social media, checking news obsessively (though I also do that when I’m … not feeling good about the state of the world) and such.

I’m trying very hard to build new ones, but hampered by things like house sale/search for house.

None of which matter.  I still need to try as hard as I can to build regular habits again.

Because I suspect while some genetic component goes into developing bourgeois virtues, a lot of it is just “regular habits.”

There is some back up for this in that the countries that industrialized later are those we associate with slovenly habits of time and application.  BUT if you read to the beginning of the industrial revolution you find those habits even among the famously punctual British people.

Which brings me to the mental health professional’s assessment that we’re breeding civilization away.  Yeah, to an extent, maybe.

But man is more than what he’s born with.  The worst thing we’re doing to the new generation is teaching them (in school, in popular entertainment, in philosophy) to mock the bourgeois virtues, those “regular habits” of careful spending, careful living, regular schedules and faithful work.

And that — THAT — will be the undoing of Western civilization.

Teach your children well.  Give them regular habits. Enshrine those as “the way to be” and don’t be afraid to criticize people who don’t have those habits in front of your kids.

Humans are social apes.  Social disapproval and general enshrining of regular habits will bring even those who weren’t taught from childhood into the fold.

Humans are unruly apes, but habit is a powerful force.

It might yet save civilization from itself.

231 responses to “Regular Habits

  1. Don’t feel bad about sleeping in — some days that is necessary balm for the soul. While I rarely recall dreams (and have noticed that doing so is typically a sign of poor sleep) this morning I woke from a dream that not only included a likely concussion (source unidentified at the time I realized I was dreaming, but sliding toward a car accident of unknown cause) but was accompanied by a perception of the symptoms — nausea, aching head, auditory confusion — which might follow upon such an event.

    At least I was visited by a long-since passed cat who adopted me as her person, and got to hold and pet her in the dream.

    Further comment to follow later this afternoon, but in the interim please keep those cards and letters coming.

  2. “Regular habits” is often used in old fashioned mysteries, as in “he is a gentleman of regular habits” by which we are to assume they are somber and modest and unlikely to commit crimes.

    Probably the trait they are pointing at is: not impulsive and so unlikely to haul off and whack someone, or do a large number of things on impulse that would provide a motive for muder

  3. Your comments, and especially the contrast of your mother’s family to your father’s, made me think of the damage our education system does to intellectually gifted kids. The gifted kids finish their assignments quickly, and as a result, it’s assumed that they need nothing else and can be ignored while the teacher deals with the others. As a result, the kids may “learn with minimal effort” but never learn that more than minimal effort is sometimes required–and when they reach the point where it is, they have no idea what to do.

    • I was one of those kids, with a stubborn streak a mile wide. Which meant my parents couldn’t force me to study because I KNEW I didn’t need it. It wasn’t until I hit college and it wasn’t as easy as high school that it bit me, and the Army (and language school) taught me better habits. (For which I am profoundly grateful.)

      • (puts hand up in the air) One here too. I used to clean the classroom after I finished my work as my teachers didn’t know what else to do. That is why my wife and I am homeschooling the little ones. (well, the baby still goes to pre-school – she would be too disruptive).

        Up till 4th grade I haven’t been pushing the girls that hard – basically keeping them at grade level. But my eldest is now in “5th” grade and I have been accelerating the pace on math and science. She is halfway through math, a little slower in science. She wants to be a marine biologist and we have had talks about how if she keeps doing well we will start getting more detailed books – and that there is nothing wrong with writing to college professors, etc. I also pointed out to her that that can sidestep the entire college application process.

        And, of course we can do piano, voice, Chinese lessons – also some violin lessons, art classes, drama classes – with kids who want to learn you can cover a lot of stuff.

        But I am also sensitive to not burning them out – my wife has tendencies to be a bit of a Tiger Mom – so we have talked this out. It helps that one of her friends was pushed by her mother too much on the piano so that the girl at 15 refused to touch a Piano – and at 40 still maintains that refusal.

        Anyway, back to work. 🙂


        • It’s a ballance to strike. I’ve got about 3-4 years before I have to worry about home schooling and my husband and I both work. I’m HOPING to be able to stay home with the Wiggle (and any siblings he may have by then) at that point, but we’re playing it by year. The question is how to pull the same thing off if I can’t stay at home with them.

        • A good cook understands the importance of maintaining proper heat on all dishes being prepared, bringing them to “finished” at the same time regardless of the different cooking requirements. So, too, with education of a child; sometimes you let something simmer, sometimes you bring it quickly aboil, but you must be ever cautious to neither overheat nor let stand cooling too long.

          A healthy child is eager to learn, so that eagerness must be directed toward acquiring not just the knowledge desired but the skills that deliver such knowledge on demand. All without killing any interest in the subject matter.

          When it works, the result is joy.

          • One of the tricks, I suspect — and perhaps a difficult one in a standard school setting, but I admit I’m speaking largely from the child’s perspective here even as I try to think ahead to dealing with future children — is teaching those for whom things come easily that effort is sometimes necessary without it coming across as essentially a punishment for working fast and well.

      • My parents and teachers couldn’t force me to study largely because I had a tendency to go ahead and read the textbooks for fun. I developed a habit of researching ‘for fun’ and more than once people asked me if I was researching something in the library for something in class, and I’d reply, “no, just wanted to look up something for fun.” And they’d look at the stacks of books sitting around me with this expression of “This is what you think is fun?”

        • *sits up on hind legs to see over stacks of books on desk* You mean it’s not fun? Are you certain? *returns to researching Topic of Day*

        • I developed a habit of browsing not research. I’d dig into anything that interested me, but how to apply that to things I HAD to do was missing for a while.

    • I have honestly seen a leftist say it doesn’t matter, they will imitate what they see — in spite of being given no chance to do so

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      The easier and faster it is to do a thing, the less project management you need.

      Public schools may not be good places to learn project management in general.

      My impression is that folks with adequate project management were mostly taught one on one by relatives (since child labor is illegal) turning them loose on a series of carefully sized projects.

      Growing up on projects that are too easy, or where other people take away the heavy lifting is just as damaging as projects that are prohibitively difficult, or where you can’t find someone who can help you figure out a solution.

      • This is one area where Lego blocks and a variety of other childhood toys (such as various sorts of puzzles) can prove very instructive. Start with an easy enough task and work your way up to more complex ones, developing the skills entailed by each process as you advance.

        With the initial Lego kit there are few enough parts that assembly is relatively easy, and as the kits grow in complexity the child leans to work on sub-assemblies and structure, eventually working the way up to conceiving, designing and assembling complex structures from general parts rather than kits.

        • BTW – try this site [ ] for a handy selection of logic puzzle grids, generated by clicking on the “Play” button and setting the desired size/complexity, played with the convenience of computer-marking of squares.

          A godawful time sink for the unwary but a productive exercise of the logic circuits.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          The kids do amazing things with the big blue foam blocks at our library. My favorite were the robots.

      • If you’re in any type of bureaucratic job where goals aren’t measured by profit, then being more efficient or faster working can be a real negative. If everyone else works really hard to accomplish a task in 2 hours, and you get it done in 30 minutes- it looks like you’re not working as hard as everyone else on the team. In actuality, you’re not. You’re getting the same amount of work done, but you aren’t working as hard. So, your evaluations are going to suffer. Because you’re not working as hard as everyone else, and you’ll end up getting passed over for promotions.

        Not that I know this from experience or have witnessed it or anything like that.

        • I used that argument against my (very leftist, very feminist) sister, when she was spouting off nonsense about “equal pay for equal work”. What constitutes “equal work”, after all?

          She didn’t really have an answer. And yes, I have observed/been a victim of the same thing. Takes me five minutes to find/put together the information my Captain is looking for. But clearly it’s just slap dash because it only took me five minutes. No, I just know what I’m doing.

          • That reminds me of a sea story… On my last ship the CO liked to screw around with his officer’s minds. A few days before a Suez Canal transit, he asked the officers at 8 o’clock reports if any of them know how to read the numbers on the canal that indicated water depth. And then berated them for no one had researched that- and sent them off to find out. The engineer came running into DC Central- blurted out his dilemma, and started looking grabbing books. Only took him a few seconds to see I was looking at him funny. “What?!” So I asked, “Those numbers with exes and eyes and vees- what are they called?” “Roman numerals.” he instantly answered. “”And the numbers we use every day?” They’re… (pause) (expletive deleted)” and he ran out to be the first back to the Captain. As he ran out I shouted after him “Meters.”

            I’m certain they all knew- but they overthought it.

    • Yup. I saw a lot of that this year. Some took it as a challenge (“A C+!?! I’ll show you.”) and others needed a little boost (or metaphorical toe to the backside). Study habits are being relearned and realigned, and thus far everyone is rising to the occasion, but only with a goodly amount of sweat equity (which includes the teacher *wry grin*).

    • Yup. Not to mention the wasted time. Gifted kids don’t have any more time than anyone else…and deserve better than to have half their childhoods squandered waiting for the rest of the class to catch up.

      • My favourite* treat for the gifted is to be given larger problem set to work.

        not “more challenging” problem sets, not “more complex” problem sets, just more of the same stupid, boring solve in my sleep problems so that their processing becomes rote and actual thinking about the problems becomes difficult.

        *in the ironic sense

        • I remember once, when I was in 5th grade in the US, the advanced math’s class ended the lesson AND quiz and exercises with a good 45 minutes to spare. The teacher asked if we’d like to try looking into the stuff that would be introduced in 6th grade, even though it’s not covered. We said sure, and had fun for the next 45 minutes.

          Sadly my skills in math have gotten very degraded over the years. =/

        • And I see I should have refreshed before replying above, because you’re clearly familiar with the “punishment for success” formula! I was actually lucky enough not to run into it often, so when I finally did I was outraged. (In fairness — it was a substitute who was probably supposed to throw practice/busywork at us. But still.)

      • Yup. I suffered fits of absolute boredom when I wound up in a high school class with the normal students, instead of the usual honors or AP. This occasionally happened by accident.

        • The difference between nearly failing all my classes and straight A’s was deciding to actually do my homework my senior year.

          Still pissed off my physics and other teachers with a paperback open under my desk that I’d be paying most of my attention to.

          How bad was I? Even with straight A’s my last year (and a 105 in Physics with extra credit) I was literally the guy at the cusp between the lowest ranked quarter of the class and the rest.

          • I was allowed to read – provided I showed the book that I was reading was a novel and not a textbook – if I was either finished with a quiz or test or class seatwork. I also was no longer allowed to pick up my pencil/pen or open the paperwork in question, so to prove openly I wasn’t cheating.

          • I ticked off my English teacher senior year – she caught me reading Dracula (it wasn’t hard – I was in the front row), and when she asked me what she’d just said, I was able to tell her pretty much word-for-word.

            She got me back later, though, when she graded my term paper, which was on vampires. Unfairly and inconsistently with the rest of the class, I thought, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

            • I hated teachers who pulled stuff like that. Was so-so at math because I had trouble seeing the board but put a book in my hands and I was a week ahead by the next day. So I read novels that were too advanced for me and drew unicorns a lot.

              Was a problem with something not being done until too late so in Canada I am technically a high school drop out in terms of actually getting hired even though I got a college diploma and part of uni. I tried to go back and retake the necessary credits but after the teacher that was working with me quit I couldn’t take it anymore.

              May try some of the free online stuff but going back to hs gave me all kinds of stress reactions. Do not want to repeat!

    • I was that kid, bore, angry and hating everyday in school until graduation,then I join the navy, getting into the advance electronics, it was like light bulb turn on, something I was interested in doing and enjoy, now I’m in I.T and before the navy I could not spell it.

    • Don’t knock it too much. You’re describing the beginning of the pipeline that supplies the US Navy with most of its nuclear operators (and I imagine most of the highly technical trades in the rest of the military).

    • What I ran into was “the kid finished his assignment early, and letting him quietly read a book is anathema, so we must assign him useless make-work to keep him busy.”

      There was a lot of butthurt when I wouldn’t do the additional work, but none of it was mine…

    • Alternatively, the gifted kids who gets their work done first gets given more work–and boring, easy busywork at that. Which basically amounts to the same bad lesson: don’t work too hard, or you’ll be punished. (I would have been *thrilled* if they hadn’t given me more to do, since I’ve not gone anywhere without a book or three to read since I was about five.)

      But yeah…despite the high IQ and general ease with which I learned most things, I was the world’s biggest underachiever when I got out of public schools. And unfortunately, university didn’t give me many compelling reasons to change my (incredibly poor) study habits.

      It’s taken me longer than I care to admit to work out that regular habits thing (though holding down a job was never an issue)…and I’m still working on it…

    • I wouldn’t consider myself gifted by any stretch of the imagination. But my parents got called into parent-teacher conferences on a regular basis, which always went the same way. T: Your daughter is reading library books in class. P: Has she finished her work? How are her grades? T: All her work is finished and she has near perfect grades on all work and tests. P: Then give her something more to do. T: I’m not allowed to do that. P: Then what’s the problem with her quietly reading at her desk?

      Unfortunately, my parents didn’t get the hint either – they let school teach me and never thought to give me extra work themselves. The library books I was reading? Fiction, certainly – including plenty of classics. The Three Musketeers was (and remains) one of my favorite books. But also a lot of greco-roman myths, roman history, egyptology, paleontology, English history, American history, biology, geology, etc.

      Another famous parent-teacher conference happened when my third grade teacher asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up. She thought I was making paleontologist up and called my parents in, full of concern about my lying (I gave her a very detailed explanation of what one was). They were not impressed by her dearth of knowledge nor her lack of gumption by not pulling out a dictionary to look the word up. Because I could spell, too. 😀

      • Heh. I dressed up for not-Halloween-at-all-because-people-in-Texas-were-scared-of-it when I was 6 as a paleontologist. And spelled it for the teacher. And the kid behind me? He wanted to be a nuclear physicist. (And spelled it for her. That poor woman. She really did mean well, but becoming a first grade teacher did not prepare her for kids like us…)

        Go, wannabe-paleontologists! (I lost interest when I found out what it *really* entailed. But I still adore dinosaurs.)

        • I became more interested in archaeology as I got older, but stuck with the basic “dig up ancient things and analyze them” until 12th grade. I took a computer class, and that was that. Considering I don’t even enjoy camping, I can’t imagine how I thought I’d be happy living in tents in the wilds of Africa. Which is totally how I imagined spending my life.

          Dinosaurs and other ancient animals still fascinate me, though. Yay paleontology! 😀

          • I did have thoughts of being an archeologist … until a physical anthropology class in upper-div. Fascinating as all get-out, Really, loved the class. But then I gathered that building a career in it would mean a lot of hard digging in heat and dust and primitive conditions … and I had already done a lot of that, in clearing the hillside below our house. Yeah, with a big blade and a shovel … and no, I wasn’t really keen on that. And certainly not where it only involved Indian relics, and Valley fever from breathing in the spores and dust… nope. Not my thing at all.

            • That’s absurd! I have it on the highest authority that anthropologists get to live in Washington, D.C., write best-selling mystery novels and help handsome FBI agents solve murders!

              Obviously, you gave up too soon.

              • Or they teach and pursue forensic anthropology split between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Canada, the later where she is sometimes partnered with a real stud muffin.

                (And thankfully, after one clunker of a reminiscence, they mostly leave the sex off screen and to your imagination.)

            • Same here, but my issue (even if I got the cool celtic ruins) was having to court the perpetually broke portuguese government. No, nope.

              • (sob) You had Celtic ruins, and Roman, too! All I had were the California Indians, who were … well, generally peaceful ,bucolic, happy, well-fed, and generally unwarlike. Arrowheads and baskets was about as good as it would get.

    • Yes, yes and yes. Both my son and my grandson (grandson is apple of my eye – 6 years old) were in the ‘gifted’ programs available in the public schools.
      But it was an extra class, not an advanced placement track (when I was in school, I was in the advanced education track). They don’t want the ‘normal’ kids to feel bad about themselves, so the kids who pick up things easily still have to twiddle their thumbs or get in trouble for doodling or daydreaming while the teacher works with the others.

      How much is society as a whole losing by teaching to the normal kid instead of pushing all of them to reach to the moon?

  4. I’m reminded of Mike Rowe’s “Work Harder? To hell with that… work harder AND smarter….” attitude.

    You have to know yourself, and your weaknesses, and be willing to work, and as you said, work harder to overcome your own weaknesses, and to leave room for accidents when suddenly you run out of time for “cram two hours” or there’s more study involved than you anticipated.

    As to “There is only “do, or do not”… I agree. Something is either done, or it is not. It doesn’t matter what you intended, or that you “tried” – did you succeed in doing “X”?

    That said, one – major – quibble with “There is no try” as many people interpret it…

    There is try,. And if you do not “do” – TRY again. Until you’ve put everything into it you can. And more.

    And sometimes, try is all you can do, the other team is better, the odds were against you and you couldn’t quite hold out long enough, whatever.

    Sometimes the idea sucks, and you need to cut off a business venture or product in “fail early” mode.

    Because we WILL fail.

    It’s teaching people we WILL fail, and need to keep at it, try something different or a different approach.

    TRY is not the goal, it is the MEANS. And in that context, “there is only do, or do not” holds true. Yoda’s statement is one of scope error….

    And I’m wandering off into the bushes…..

    • I’ve consider Yoda a moron since that line. There is only try (alright, except for autonomic processes). It’s the try that results in the do. Sometime try needs multiple attempts before a do – or abandonment. But without try, there is nothing.

      • You do have to try a lot to get there. Perhaps I should say my parents didn’t admit of failure. You’d try as often and as hard as you must to succeed.

      • The statement is perfectly correct in the proper scope. As you point out – the scope ignores CAUSE, and only looks at effect.

        The thing is that “unintended consequences” means that there are a lot of things you can DO without actively , deliberately TRYING. Eric Raymond discussed this in context of weapons handling in “ethics from the barrel of a gun” (yeah, I beat the dead horse on that essay), and learning to live in a context where unconsidered actions can have bad consequences, and accepting responsibility for your actions regardless if that’s what you meant to do.

        There are also situations where it comes down to a matter of “what did you choose”, where “but I tried” (to resist the temptation to steal that cookie) are irrelevant – what did you actually DO….

      • That, and the Jedi Order’s belief that taking children away from their parents, forbidding marriage (but didn’t require celibacy either), denying all emotion whether positive or negative, and raising children as a collective wasn’t going to backfire at *all.*

        The Jedi Code, I realized as I grew older, was unbelievably stupid and doomed to fail…

        • Yeah, same here. And heretically, I know, it seemed that in the long run the Empire was actually not as bad as it was made out to be.

          • Part of it was the worship of a Republic. The problem is that it was clearly modeled on the Roman Empire, which was, for the average citizen, an improvement on the Republic.

        • Sort of like the Star Wars prequels?

        • It wasn’t really in evidence until the prequels, though. The most troubling aspect of the Jedi in the original trilogy was the ease with which Obi-wan lied to Luke about his father.

          Then the prequels appeared, and all of a sudden we’re hearing that Jedi aren’t supposed to love.

          Say what? The single most positive emotion found in humans, and Jedi aren’t supposed to feel it?

          On a somewhat related note, I read somewhere that Lucas claimed he wasn’t paying attention when Timothy Zahn married Luke to Mara Jade. Presumably, he would have put the kibosh on it otherwise. Though it also makes me wonder just how much attention Lucas was paying to the EU in general if he somehow managed to miss that “minor” item.

          • I’d guess not a lot, since Corran Horn makes a point about Corellian Jedi marrying (on the QT of course) and how very different Jedi from different systems could be from the Coruscant standard.

          • In the Star Wars novelization, we are explicitly told that Obi-wan could not, like Uncle Owen, take refuge behind a comforting lie about his father. They really don’t watch the books.

            • No one really cared about the early novelizations, though. And I don’t think Lucas meant for Obi-wan to lie until he decided that he needed a good twist for ESB.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                For that matter, the idea that Luke and Leia were brother & sister was a late addition to the series.

                • Series? What series? There was the first film and the sequel … then there was a pretty well done fanfic but clearly not of the quality of the original two, and I heard rumours of a mediiocre fanfic trilogy apparently based on a no more than cursory review of the original two films.

                  Two films doth not a series make.

                  • Back when The Phantom Menace (Fandom Menace?) was just out, a Star Wars fan was visiting and, though I am not into SW, since he was I suggested we go see it. Also, it’d be the first SW film I’d see in a movie theater. We went. We saw. We left – and he apologized to me either in the lobby or just out the door, adding, “That was not a Star Wars film.”

                    I did see the next two – but only in self-defense so I’d get the references to them. I forget if it was #2 or #3 where there was some talk about ‘being real’ between two of the most artificial characters. I visited the lobby lest my reaction provoke the audience.

                    • I admit denial of Return of the Jedi is simple revulsion towards preemption of ever seeing Fuzzies on film (you realize that if they adapt it now they will probably base it on Scalzi’s bastardization? Insert sound pyte of William daniels saying “Outrageous.”) There are excellent reasons I deny the prequels and why the only way I will ever watch them is as depicted below.

                      Those reasons relate to Human Wave and good story telling, and are expressed by National Review’s Jim Geraghty:

                      George Lucas’ worldview – after a few decades of luxurious comfort, marinating in Marin County life – shaped some spectacularly twisted, morally inside-out storytelling instincts by the time he began the prequels. Even if Last goes too far, we couldn’t help but feel a bit of sympathy for the Empire by the end of the prequel trilogy.

                      In The Phantom Menace, we saw that for some unexplained reason, the Old Republic can’t send a drone or probe to go and take pictures of a blockade of Naboo to confirm it’s actually happening. They send two Jedi, a starship and a crew; once those two Jedi return days later, the blockade is still considered unproven and nobody thinks to ask, “hey, whatever happened to that ship and crew we sent with them?”

                      (“Wait, you’re saying a bunch of diplomatic personnel get killed in a brutal sneak attack, and nobody ever asks any questions about how it happened or why no one saw it coming? I love this government!” – Hillary Clinton. )

                      The Jedi are so spectacularly morally warped that they shrug their shoulders at widespread slavery in Tattooine and are willing to gamble a nine-year-old boy’s life in an insanely risky podrace rather than just slicing a wing or two off of slave-owning Watto and taking the T-14 hyperdrive. They’ll gamble to free the child from slavery, but not his mother.

                      This isn’t nitpicking; these are basic plot points.

                      In Attack of the Clones, we learn the Trade Federation, led by (sigh) Nute Gunray — real subtle, George — managed to stay in power even after having their invasion of Naboo repelled; it’s post-Gulf War Saddam Hussein. The entire Old Republic is incapable of enforcing law, keeping the peace or even recognizing naked territorial aggression, much less stopping it. It doesn’t even have anything resembling a military! It’s the United Nations, a distant debating society.
                      [END SNIP]

                      That is abysmal storycraft. It is moral prawnography It is also emblematic of the reason I could scarcely be bothered to pick up and read any* SF for the better part of a decade or more.

                      It is also the worldview of the Proglodytes and why we must write and support Human Wave fiction.

                      *It turns out that what I did read was almost entirely works edited by some guy named Baen. Who the heck looks to see who edited a book before buying?

                    • A rebuttal:

                      In the Battle of Jedi Versus Sith, I’ll Take the Sith Every Time
                      By David French — October 21, 2015

                      Jim, I deeply appreciate your attempt at a revisionist history of the Galactic Empire, but I fear that you’re missing the forest for the trees. The central conflict of the entire Star Wars universe isn’t rebellion versus empire, but rather Jedi versus Sith. And while the Galactic Empire was but one expression of Sith rule, I think it’s fair to say that the Jedi Order as portrayed in the prequels represents the fullness of Jedi ideology. And it’s not pretty.

                      The Jedi — as portrayed in the movies and in many of the books of the expanded universe — are basically the lightsaber-wielding jihadists of an intergalactic bureaucratic caliphate. The Galactic Republic is the Hotel California of interstellar governance. You can check out, but you can never leave — at least not if you want to keep your head on your shoulders. And the Jedi commitment to exterminating – yes, exterminating — the Sith is total. Notice how quickly the Jedi turned to summary execution when Palpatine was at their mercy. It was that lawless act that pushed Anakin Skywalker to revolt.

                      (Oh, and spare me any rhetoric about “younglings” — what a sympathetic way to describe the Jedi’s child soldiers.)

                      The Sith, by contrast, are defined not by a system of government but rather by their struggle for individual liberty — a struggle against centuries of Jedia oppression. Consider the Sith Code:

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      In rebuttal to that rebuttal, while it’s obvious that the Jedi of the Old Republic were not the “Good Guys”, I believe that the Sith are also not the “Good Guys”.

                      The Sith are believers in “Might Makes Right” which describes the Empire that the Emperor founded.

                    • Sooooo … Iran-Iraq War, then? Or Assad-ISIS. Shame about the collateral damage.

                      This is just like those Loonies who wanted to overthrow the Lunar Authority and force people to live by their own laws.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well, Little Wallaby if I thought you were serious, I’d send a fireball your way. [Evil Grin]

                      As it is, watch out for the ton of carp!!!!!! [Big Evil Grin]

                  • I have vague memories that in the books that Luke tried to find his mother; but I don’t remember for sure what happened. I kind of WANT to say that he found her, in something of a monastic life, and she rather coldly refused to see him. (I only borrowed most of the Star Wars books from a friend. My favorite was The Courtship of Princess Leia for sheer humor and delightful plot. Poor Han.)

          • That was something that bugged the heck out of me. I recall seeing/reading an interview where someone asked Lucas about the prequel-thing regarding Jedi-can’t-love/marry, and asked if that meant they were celibate. He said ‘No, not at all.’

            And there were screeching tire-sounds in my head at that. Wait, *love*–a generally hugely positive emotion that encompasses far more than merely romantic love–is forbidden…but lust–which without the presence of love can be hugely destructive and distancing–isn’t? WTF, Lucas?

            And then I saw his ‘love’ story between Anakin and Padme and realized that the man clearly had no idea what love was. (Because that wasn’t love, that was stalker-mixed-with-teen-hormones.) And promptly decided that Anakin probably did the galaxy a favor by wiping out the Jedi…

            • The guy was born in Modesto and has lived in Hollywood and Marin County all his adult life. What would he have ever learned of Love?

              Look at the sound track for American Graffiti — you see anything in there about love rather than teen lust and angst?

      • I disagree. He was responding to Luke’s “it’s too hard I already tried that settles it” attitude. For that attitude, the response was appropriate. It might as well have been “quit half assing it and just DO it.”. It’s when it gets taken out of context that it becomes an issue.

  5. Jeff Duntemann

    I’m amazed that you’re not already a grease spot. Grab your sleep when you can. It gets harder to come by as one gets older, and the knee of the curve seems to fall about 55-58.

    I see genetic influences at work in our family, but I’m also wondering about epigenetics, and how it influences “soft” things like focus, memory, honesty, empathy, and willingness to work like fury when the occasion demands. I haven’t hit upon a good layman’s treatment of the topic yet, so my understanding is spotty. I do know that when I first read about epigenetics some years ago, the machinery in the back of my head that looks for significance set off all its sirens at once. So I wonder: Do “regular habits” have some sort of epigenetic effect on us? I grew up in a loving, slightly stern, and very orderly household, at least compared to many I see today. I too need “regular habits” to do my best work. Having much of my household in boxes has played hob with my ability to do anything useful apart from pile more stuff into boxes. You’ll be facing this soon. Good luck.

    • I agree- when I read (or heard – book on tape) about epigenetics all my sensors pegged – I actually played the CD several times (it was a middle one in the book) to cover it. I would love to find out more (and thanks Jeff for saying it – I had misplaced the name – but now I have the name and google-fu will happen tonight!)

      And Sara – I sympathize mightily – we have had a home renovation in progress (which is now stationary waiting for the town to approve a revision to the plan – cause they didn’t catch a structure problem in the initial plan) and my books are all boxed up in the basement. Actually, my books have been mostly boxed since I moved out of my apartment after we got married. Arrrrgggghhhhhh. But we do have a room set aside as a library where all my beautiful books (my precious….) will come out and go on the walls. Sigh.


      • My older son has PROMISED me a post on epigenetics. But medschool seems to keep him busy, for some reason.

        • I want to read that — (on epigenetics)

        • Jeff Duntemann

          Perhaps instead of bugging him to write a post, simply ask him what he’s read that would be accessible to non-med students. Matt Ridley touches on it here and there in books of his that I’ve read, but he’s suspicious of any suggestion that epigenetic expression is heritable. Others disagree, and I would love to see what the consensus actually is. I intuit that many wonderful story mcguffins are hiding in there somewhere.

        • Echoing the wanting to read about epigenetics.

      • I’m not a biologist, but I’ve learned enough to fake it, so here’s my take on epigenetics (someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, come and correct me please):

        In school, we learned that your DNA was a “blueprint” for you. As I’ve learned more, I’ve come to the conclusion that isn’t quite accurate. It would be closer to say that your DNA is like a Lego kit: it determines what building blocks you have available for making your cells, but exactly which of those blocks you use and in what amounts can make a lot of difference in the finished product. Epigenetics is all about those changes in the gene expression, what sort of changes can occur, and the physical mechanisms of exactly how they occur (proteins that turn on and off genes, wrapping the DNA in such a way that the genes are more or less accessible, etc.). Epigenetic changes can also be heritable, primarily from the mother’s side (I don’t know if they can also be inherited from the father). If you remember from school learning about Lamark’s theory of inheritance where things like a giraffe’s long neck came from generations of stretching, and your teacher made fun of that…yeah, it turns out Lamark was more wrong than he was right, but he was more right than he usually gets credit for.

        • > Lamarck

          And don’t forget to ask the physics types, “And exactly what is the difference between “quantum foam” and “luminiferous aether” again?”

          • Besides the spelling?

          • Luminiferous aether was the medium through which light – which had observable wave properties – traveled. It also served as the baseline frame of reference for Galilean transforms of the various laws of physics.

            The quantum foam, on the other hand, refers to the sea of particles and antiparticles that continuously and spontaneously spring into existence and annihilate due to the energy-time uncertainty principle.

            • A divine creator seems tidier than today’s physics.

              • I’m commenting on this statement.
                “the sea of particles and antiparticles that continuously and spontaneously spring into existence and annihilate due to the energy-time uncertainty principle.”

                Particles that spontaneously appear?

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  Yes. It was this principle that led Hawking to determine that Black Holes were not permanent, but in the absence of infalling matter, would decay due to particle/antiparticle pairs occurring next to the Event Horizon, with one particle taking off at high velocity to escape the black hole, and the other one cancelling one particle’s worth of mass in the black hole.

                  At least, that’s the way I understood it when I read about it.

                • Yup.

                  Indeed, I have read an atheist physicist saying that that would make creation a redundant hypothesis — something can come from nothing. when it is gently pointed out that a seething quantum foam is not, in fact, nothing, his argument was that the Victorians would have seen the vacuum involved as nothingness.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      My home now is much like what I grew up in. There are extremely disruptive things that can happen, thankfully rarer than at one point in my youth.

      The status quo makes it pretty hard for me to organize and get anything done from home. I know some of it is the environment, not me, because I do okay in other environments.

    • Mid-Fifties seems valid, by my experience; it was at about that point when accumulated health problems coupled with a nasty upper-respiratory infection seemed to permanently impair my cognitive capabilities, ending my ability to engage in multiple simultaneous activities and forcing me to learn to concentrate my attention more deliberately.

      Regular habits are a form of ritual, leading the body and mind into the routine which can enhance one’s efforts. They tend to carry us through and over rough patches in life, distractions and loss of focus not withstanding. By establishing and following such routines we cue our selves as to what is demanded, the way an athlete warms up and stretches,

    • Rather than epigenetics, I think you’re probably aiming more at the concepts of neuroplasticity, brain wiring (“neurons that fire together wire together… and neurons that fire apart wire apart”) and structure, habit, and automaticity.
      To this point, epigenetics has mostly been about diet and/or stress affecting which genes are expressed or silenced in descendants.

  6. Well, mostly because we were raised under the influence of dad’s mom. And because mom adopted the culture of the family she married into. For both my brother and I there was “no try, there’s only do.”

    In other words, harking back to yesterday’s article, you and thieving brother appropriated the culture of your grandmother. Shame on you!

  7. I have that same indolence– I am trying to create “regular habits” — lately it broke on my doctor’s appointments… I need to just make them in the afternoon and do my writing in the morning.

  8. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I was talking, in a private group, recently with one of my fans who is in the mental health profession, and he was expressing his feeling that civilization is doomed, since we started not only allowing people with the worst possible genetic tendencies to survive (by subsidizing their survival) but we also subsidize their reproduction.

    I owe you first refusal on my bit that may be a rebuttal. That I’m still working on despite having said that I’d get it done much earlier.

    • Larry Niven supposedly once said that human evolution stopped once medical science had advanced enough to preserve those who would otherwise have died out.

      My feeling is that he’s not right, but he’s not quite wrong. Evolution is still occurring, we’re just increasing the pool of marginal qualities, because we’ve taken away some of the pressures that were removing them from the gene pool.

      • Evolution has altered. For instance, it’s now selecting for philoprogenitiveness in a way that wasn’t before (when the desire to get laid would do the work).

        • In the West, certainly, because we never used to subsidize reproduction of those who didn’t have – and couldn’t or wouldn’t work to acquire – the resources necessary to support offspring.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Compared to what and when?

        One could say that we have been supporting the unfit since we became social. After all, how many of us would die if we had to be entirely self supporting?

        We know that some populations have better alcohol adaptions, probably because the populations they came from had more alcohol related deaths. This probably happened over thousands of years.

        Are the populations without the alcohol adaptations that much less fit?

        At three to seven generations per century, how many generations do you assume since the point where the pressures decreased? Not all alleles present in a population will express, much less express strongly enough to be potentially lethal.

        I submit that noticeable additional impact over a few generations would require strong selective pressure one way or another. I would suggest that the selective pressure in favor of the unfit isn’t necessarily that strong. I would suggest that the ‘missing’ selective pressure in favor of the fit isn’t strong enough either.

        I think behavior and habits are far more significant than genes as unhealthy factors encouraged by the current situation.

        The status quo is temporary. The future will have different incentives.

        • It is, I believe, critically important to distinguish between different meanings of “fit.” The word’s meaning tends to be taken as being “physically healthy and strong” — physically fit. But in the Darwinian sense it is the meaning, “suitable for a specified purpose” which seems more appropriate – fit to these conditions.

          Thus a person with sickle cell syndrome is perhaps better adapted to an environment where blood-borne pathogens transmitted via insect bite are rife, while less well suited to an environment in which such illnesses are not prevalent. The health of such an individual is of less relevance than their fitting into a particular environmental niche.

          It may well be that particular cultures are better fitted to particular social circumstances. A culture which encourages hostility toward outsiders is probably less suited to trade but better able to handle, say, viking invasions. Gandhi’s tactics were much more suitable to persuading the British than they likely would have proven with the Nazis.

          Humans tend to respond to environmental (physical, cultural) changes by social adaptation more than by physical. Thus evolution in modern times will favor those cultures best able to adapt to changing circumstances, to recognize and respond to threats in adjacent cultures. The most successful cultures will find means to incorporate and balance the various subcultures necessary for such adaptations — farmers, fighters, managers, etc. In the last century the American form of democratic republicanism proved most adept at handling the social convulsions confronting the world; it remains to be seen whether we can adequately gird our loins to meet the fanatical devotees who are apparently ascendant now.

  9. In Europe, things are going to be a bit more interesting, since A) the migration of the anti-West Free S**t Brigade can happen on foot, B) they try to keep guns out of the hands of private citizens, and C) they don’t produce their own oil.

    Here in the US, we’ve got fracking, private arms, and an ocean between us and the bulk of by-the-book Islam. No number of riots in major cities can actually crash civilization, because there will be too many places that don’t.

    For example, (Disclaimer: Yes, I am LDS) does anyone seriously think Utah is gonna fall to riots from our home-grown Free S**t Brigade? Or, aside from the borders with Mexico and Louisiana, Texas?

    Any given major city might be ravaged, but enough of those and the looters die in place, since the roads will be choked by fleeing cars and there won’t be enough FEMA to save more than one or two cities.

    And then those cultures that prize regular habits form a much larger percentage of the mix going forward.

    • Not LDS; still thinking about moving to Utah.

    • The Other Sean

      Minor nit: Some European countries do produce some of their own oil from European fields (some off-shore), or from sources they control in the Caribbean. However, the portion of their demand that is satisfied by this supply is a much lower percentage than in the US in many cases.

      • Fair enough, but they aren’t self-sufficient when it comes to oil. The US may not be entirely self-sufficient with regard to oil, but we can be without too much trouble. (And the collapse of grasshopper cities would reduce demand anyway.)

        • I think at least Romania is likely still self-sufficient where oil is concerned. My understanding is that they’re still pulling oil out of the ground near Ploesti. And while the output has declined, that’s not saying a whole lot. We’re talking about the single biggest source of oil for the European Axis Powers in World War 2. Of course, the current batch of refugees aren’t attempting to live there (or even move through the country) because they’ll get better benefits elsewhere.

          Hungary’s got a border fence up now, and is reporting that it’s a success in keeping out the refugees (who largely want to use Hungary to go elsewhere in the EU). Bulgaria’s border forces, meanwhile, got into a shoot-out with a group of roughly 50 “refugees”. And in Sweden, buildings slated for use as refugee centers have been spontaneously catching fire.

          • Slovenia called out the army when the flow shifted from Hungary, and there are German MPs organizing a way to close the borders in defiance of Die Chancellorin. PEGIDA (or however it’s spelled) had a rally in Dresden on Sunday and 40,000 people showed up to oppose unrestricted immigration and the lack of assimilation. One suspects the attack against the political candidate in Cologne last week may have pushed the balance over.

            • I was reading this morning ( that

              The threats from the right wing of Angela Merkel’s party are growing louder – and its demands simpler. Now a large influential faction of MPs in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is reportedly drawing up a new set of measures to stem the flow of refugees into Germany – most notably, they did not rule out building border fences. According to a report in Monday’s “Bild” newspaper, the initiative comes from the “parliamentary circle for mid-sized companies” (PKM), a faction of center-right Bundestag members that claims to represent the interests of small and mid-sized German businesses. It comprises some 188 members of the 311 CDU/CSU parliamentarians currently in the Bundestag.

              “We have to stop the stream of refugees,” PKM chairman Christian Freiherr von Stetten told “Bild.” “Thinking about border fortification should not be taboo.” The package would also include measures to shut out at the border anyone that come from nations that Germany deems “safe countries of origin” – which normally means the Western Balkans.

              the Germans are not entirely happy with Frau Merkel’s policy.

              Emphasis added.

              There is a swelling of support for “Right-Wing” parties in Europe, and for good reason as too many people are remembering the messes their “elites” have dumped them in ere this.

              • And the elites will no doubt be surprised at what people are willing to endure in politicians who will actually represent them.

    • “Or, aside from the borders with Mexico and Louisiana, Texas?”

      The entirety of the rioting contingent in Louisiana will be in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and mostly in New Orleans. Cutting that city off is as easy as roadblocking a few bridges.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Just break the levees and flood New Orleans. That’ll solve a lot of problems. [Evil Grin]

        • That’s already been tried. First we need the determination to tell them after it happens that we won’t be writing flood insurance for any structure newly built or rebuilt there. Then they can rebuild on high ground, or move. (Or perhaps New Orleans can become the US’s first favela.)

      • Unfortunately, the city of Beaumont happens to be in Texas.

  10. This video series covers some of this.

    It’s full of all sorts of “controversial” ideas.

  11. As your uncle (you shall truly regret ever having adopted me) now that the worst of the fiddly annoyances have been resolved, worst of the medical stuff fixed, house sold (soon if not already I trust), boys well on their way to their own glorious futures, you and Dan ensconced in your own little writers’ paradise, here is what I expect: Two books a year through Baen. I’d say more, but Toni’s been whining about a lack of really good editors lately. Four indie novels per year. Short stories in anthologies as the mood strikes you. Three posts a week here, and three at MGC. On the seventh day you can rest and canoodle with Dan. And in your spare time there is this little thing called SPIV to play about with.
    See, simple, easy, no problem whatsoever once kindly old Uncle Lar lays it all out for you. By the way, tell Dan I expect something very similar from him as well. Gonna leave it to you to do the same for both boys. You are their mom after all.

    • I wish. First we have to find our own little writers’ haven, though. And of course, sell the house.

    • I expect a winning Powerball lotto ticket to be wafted into my lap by the breeze … but I am not building my retirement plans on its occurring.

      • I refuse to buy a ticket until they start drawing my numbers. So far we’re even.

        • I tell people that I win the lottery every week. By not losing. The lottery is, among other things, a tax on the ignorant and superstitious..

          • There is a retirement analyst who said that you should look at the prize level before buying a (a, as in one) ticket and the odds for that lottery. If the odds are 14 million to one and the prize is 14 million or higher, you SHOULD buy a ticket. If the prize value is greater then the odds, you should but a ticket. Even if you don’t win, the entertainment value and the thoughts of what you would do with the prize make it a worthwhile purchase. If the prize is less then odds, pass it by. It’s a voluntary tax.

            • This is true, but the odds of winning the Powerball are about 1 in 172 million. In addition, you have to look at the _actual_ winnings you can expect. Take a lump sum and pay taxes, and the prize drops to about a third of what they claim it is. And a Powerball ticket is 2 dollars. So you have to wait until the Powerball hits about a billion before it’s worthwhile to buy a ticket . . .

              • I use a totally different metric. My wife likes to play when powerball is over $100M – I have convinced her only 1 ticket. Buying that ticket is cheaper then arguments and marriage therapy. So we are happy.

                It all depends on your yardstick – and we aren’t taking any of it with us anyway.

                • That works too.

                  • If the payoff is above 100 — ie more money than even I can imagine spending — I buy a ticket (if I remember to) and spend an agreeable two days planning what I’d spend the money on. 😉 That’s the fun I’m actually paying for.

                    • I just buy whenever I feel like it… usually once a month or so.

                      I figure the odds of me winning at 10 million vs 200 million are between “infinitesimal” and 20x “infinitesimal” – still too small to give a damn.

                      Fully agree on the “an hour or two spent daydreaming” value of a buck or two spent.

                      Oddly – my daydreams are of how I’d turn into a VC after my mortgage/etc. is paid off, and parlay my job and business into something bigger.

                    • mine are “paid off house, no house work, time to write!”

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      If that were my criteria, I would never buy a ticket. The lottery has never reached a level that I could not spend. I have big plans if I ever win.

                    • I don’t need big plans for if I win. Step One is payoff all outstanding debt. Step Two is invest remainder in a basket of safe securities, bonds, debentures and other instruments. Step Three is subsist on the income or (preferably) some minor portion thereof.

                      I figure a $50 million net payout* should reasonably earn 4% after tax return, allowing me $2 million a year ROI — more than adequate to my current requirements with a little room for indulgences while still reinvesting excess. I might set it up as a trust or charitable foundation, paying me a small salary while covering living expenses (housing, clothing and entertainment allowances) as a cost of the foundation — allowing me some tax shield and (most importantly) relieving the need to pay utilities and other annoying monthly expenses.

                      *after taxes and debt retirement

      • I’m not certain I can afford to retire without a win. That said, I usually don’t remember to buy any tickets even when the prize is large enough to grab my notice.

        Doesn’t stop me joking about how I could “cut back” in the case of a win.

  12. As a sufferer of ADHD, and nastily allergic to Ritalin, I had to develop coping strategies – “regular habits” – to get things done. It worked fine for years. But pain from various injuries and ailments proved too distracting, and eventually I found other medications that didn’t put me in the hospital. The sad part is, meds are no replacement for regular habits. So I struggle to renew regular, productive habits and methods of coping with distractions.
    I’ll get it eventually. But the process is not enjoyable.

    • I think I’m at least mildly ADHD. So, regular habits. BUT anything throws me into “oh, squirrel.”

      • I think that should be, “Oh, skvirrel!”

          • Oh sure, easy for newbies to get that, but us long-termers? What am I, chopped liver?

            • No, you’re a wallaby.

              • And, seeing as I’ve started to learn how to drive, I’ve found wallabies and kangaroos make wonderful (grrrr) stand ins for the odd ‘toddler runs out into the street / idiot driver suddenly tries to rush across lane’ emergency break. The damned things like to watch your car get close THEN suddenly decide to cross the road just then. I spot rabbits as often and they seem to have more sense.

                I’m told that my mother in law had half the roof and part of the side of her car folded in when, as she was turning out of the driveway, a huge brown ‘roo decided to body-slam the car. She was lucky she wasn’t in THAT side of the car, or she’d be dead. The roo? Got up, shook itself off, and hopped away.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  The deer do that “watch the car until it comes close, THEN decide to run across the road around here. I’m convinced that it happens when there are more deer on the other side of the road and the one you see feels that it’s about to be cut off from them, but no one I’ve mentioned it to believes me.

            • You’re a sucker for ‘magic’ beans.

            • You’ve been bad man of the month so often that you probably lack room for trophies anymore.

              • Sigh. ‘swhat comes of setting a standard so low people are always tripping over it. My apologies for all spilled drinks.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  See? Several months ago, I said she raises the bar once you’ve been declared a Bad Man a few times, but NOOOOOOO. Nobody believed me.


    • I’ve been trying ginko biloba recently, having read that it helps not only with memory but also might be a means of helping folks with ADHD focus better. Granted, I’m probably only mildly ADHD (having learned coping sklils at my also-ADHD mother’s knee), but still.

      I…want to say it’s helping? Certainly, I’m not falling back on the “can’t focus on anything, just play computer games” wheel that’s dominated my life for far too long. On the other hand, I am still easily distracted…

  13. On the whole “casual brilliance, the ability to learn with minimal effort, and the almost casual way of correlating knowledge” thing …

    This is characteristic of those children we label as “gifted” and it is little more or less than the mental equivalent of the grace, hand-eye coordination and spatial reasoning of the “natural” athlete, or the intuitive grasp of line and proportion which signifies artistic “talent” or the understanding of tone and scale which are endowed to those “telented” musically. Yet we tend to greater resentment of such cognitive gifts and gladly promote development of those more physical ones.

    Yet failing to challenge the cognitively gifted is as damaging (if not more) to those so blessed as it would be to put our young athletes in leagues where they score with ease, or to say of the artistic and musical that they’ve no need to work on developing the skills and understanding necessary to fully realize their innate advantages. By not challenging the “smart” ones we encourage sloth and discourage rigor, generally ensuring they will never learn how to properly study until well past the time they ought have acquired that skill, retarding their development while less “gifted” classmates overtake and surpass them. It is as if the fable of the tortoise and the hare was an instructional manual, not a cautionary tale.

    Back when Bill Clinton ran for president the campaign and the media (BIRM) relayed tales of his “brilliance” — of how in college he never attended class, never cracked a book, merely borrowed a fellow student’s notes, skimmed over them and breezed through the final. Far from finding this admirable I saw it as alarming, as describing the type of personality prone to facile grasp of issues but unwilling to put in the effort to grasp the deeper, fuller implications of policies. (This, BTW, is also a textbook summation of the characteristics that make a good journalist — which likely explains a good bit of the press’ affinity for Billy Jeff.)

    This failure to identify and challenge “bright” kids early on, to force them to learn to think things through beyond the superficial level required to succeed in ordinary classrooms, is a formula for squandering brilliance and for frustrating and corrupting those so gifted. Having grown accustomed to academic ease (where success is typically a matter of giving the expected answer) they grow frustrated by their inability to convert such capacities into professional achievement, competing against the “bright plodders” who learned the skills to fully focus and deploy the talents they did have. Such frustrations accompanied by such brilliance usually leads to bad things.

    Delete diatribe about Millennials displaying many of these same traits.

    We are all victims of the syndrome described in Cinderella, of the effect of character on one’s physical self. Because Ella developed her character she ended far outshining her step-sisters who, whatever their physical attributes, were of selfish and miserable character which became their dominant traits. No matter how beautiful the child, spoiled, petulant brats rarely become attractive adults (although they often succeed in Hollywood where few have occasion to truly know them.)

    • You know you’re preaching to the choir, right? Amen brother!

      • Yeah, I know — but the pagans won’t listen and the sinners throw rocks, so I have to have somewhere to refine the sermons!.

        • BTW – go easy on me; I told you I dreamt I had a concussion, right? If I were a Millennial that would be good for the rest of the week off.

    • I’ve looked at this cloud from both sides now 🙂 Academic subjects are easy for me, but I was essentially learning-disabled for anything requiring physical coordination. No joke–I was actually in a *remedial PE class* in grade school. (Hangs head in shame). If they hadn’t taken away my noon recess for it (and still made me go to the regular PE class, which was one long bitter humiliation) I would have loved it. For one thing, I learned that if I made an effort among my fellow klutzes, I could win! (It didn’t matter how hard I tried in the regular class. I would always be last and lose.)

      I also learned my physical learning style. I have to go slow, with many repetitions, and not try to learn too much at once. If I do that, I can in fact do quite a bit. I learned to do intermediate to advanced dressage riding, which is not trivial. It just took me longer than the average person to do it. I also box MMA style. Again, when I first tried to do kicks I think my trainer came close to rupturing something trying not to laugh. But now… I don’t fall down and the bag makes a satisfying thump.

      • Sounds like you are mentally a horse and physically an ox, to put into a rather way I must admit. Horses and oxen can be taught roughly the same number of commands – but the methods to do so are different (so I was told by a fellow who had a team of oxen). yes, teaching horses take some patience and repetition. Teaching oxen takes far more. It’s go slow, one thing at a time, and routine, routine, routine. (“Practice, practice, practice.”)

        You can switch horses right to left and vice versa, and swap team members with little issue. Oxen? Near ox is always near ox, off ox is always off ox, and forget mixing. “I pull with my buddy” is it. Now I doubt you are that rigid in physical things, but it’s that you CAN do whatever someone else does (the action, not necessarily the speed or precision) but getting there requires more time and effort.

        Yeah, there are times I’d like to be more the horse. Moo.

    • There’s a very fine line between “challenge” and “punishment for being different.”

      • Which is why tracking should start young.

        • Even then it doesn’t always help. I was identified as ‘gifted’ as early as kindergarten (because I was reading at a high school level), and officially so in 1st grade. And there were ‘gifted classes’…but the one in Texas, which would have been awesome on a daily basis (we did logic problems! and had individual lessons meant to challenge us!), we only had once a week (because the principal felt that more than that would be ‘too much’, and he also made sure none of us were in the same regular classes together, because we had to get used to interacting with ‘normal’ people. Who bullied and/or hated us because teachers did brilliant things like, oh, make us do their jobs in certain areas and teach the other kids. The man was a dick.). And when I moved to Oklahoma I was put into an actual, full-time ‘gifted’ class…where we were taught pretty much the same stuff as everyone else (but just moved maybe a bit faster), where those of us who were ‘naturally’ brilliant learned to be lazy and just shrug at the fact that the academically gifted–who worked their butts off to be that way–would always blow our bell curve and it was no big.

          After blowing my first year of college (because really, *really* bad habits formed in pubic school, and my parents, while awesome, had other, more problematic kids to fight with and didn’t have the energy to fight my crappy study habits), I had to relearn a lot of stuff, fast. It helped that my parents–wise people who shared some of my bad habits–informed me that I would be paying for my own college education. That helped a lot…

    • Actors: I’ve known more studio types than actors, but through the execs I am led to believe that the best actors are often basically empty slates, able to take on another personality so deeply as they basically have none of their own.

      Exceptions prove the rule, and I’ve met actors with very large and significantly deep personalities, but the spoiled empty vessels with pretty faces are defintely out there.

  14. Yeah, I was able to drift along in school. I take comfort in the fact that it’s never to late to develop good habits. It might be more difficult but it’s not too late.

    • Probably the best thing to happen to me in HS was a teacher who old me I grades weren’t so hot, and so I actually studied and aced the test. She made me stand up in front of the class and took me to task for being a goof-off. She waved that test and said “This proves you can do the work.”

      By then I had a serious case of the “Don’t give a poops,” a combination of bad attitude, fatalism, and two or three bad teachers. She was different. She was one of the few teachers who’s opinion I valued, and her disappointment meant more than the dressing down.

  15. An interesting and timely contribution, one which I see no clear opening for posting in response to others’ comments.

    The Quantity of Education and the Quality of Education
    By Reihan Salam — October 20, 2015

    In an interview with Chad Aldeman of Education Next, Eric Hanushek, co-author of a new study on income differences across U.S. states, makes the very simple but often neglected point that the quality of one’s education matters just as much, if not more, than the quantity, as measured by years of schooling:

    What we did in this work was to go beyond the simplistic notion that human capital is best measured by school attainment and tried to include the quality of learning, or achievement, that people possess in different states. This turns out to be a fairly difficult problem because we know where workers are now but many workers were not educated in the state they’re working in now, or the country they were educated in, in the case of international immigrants. So we had an elaborate project that involved trying to trace workers in every state back to where they were educated and the quality of education in the place they were educated in. And then we looked at the differences in income across states based on where people were educated.

    That’s an elaborate lead-up to a relatively straightforward summary, which is that perhaps one-third of the difference in incomes across states that we see today can be attributed to human capital differences in the workers of each state. Of the human capital differences, roughly half come from differences in school attainment, and half of it comes from differences in the quality of learning. (You can think of that as test scores, or achievement differences among the population, representing about half of the gap.)


    In essence, it states that two years (frosh & soph) at East Buttock Community College is not the equivalent of two years (frosh & soph) at M.I.T — but for statistical purposes we tend to treat them identically: “% of population with two years of college.”

    This does not yield high quality statistics (a fact possibly more clear to attendees of East Buttock CC than those attending Harvard.)

    • Pournelle is fond of referencing a study that the fastest way to double the quality of education in america is to fire the 20% lowest performers, even with the remainder picking up the slack.

      • The problem is how do you measure the lowest performers? Test performance? But how do you measure the quality of the test (test quality is important, the recent spate of cheating scandals in the Navy Nuclear Program is directly related to the absolutely abysmal quality of the periodic tests in that program)? A good teacher will produce students who do poorly on a bad test. Obviously, popularity – be it with students, administration, or outside bureaucracy – is a horrific metric. What does that leave us with?

        It’s not an intractable problem, you can design a good test, but it is non-trivial. And since it involves breaking more than a few rice bowls, politically fraught – especially when the idea that “more money = better education” is so pervasive in the electorate.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I think we’ve got to tackle the last bit first. We can measure part of the value of an education. (Absent force protecting employment, the aggregate cost to the employers over the working life would be slightly lower than the value to the economy.) Compare with lifetime cost of education and training.

          Now, it would take a lot of statistical work to do this, but it should be doable. Then we could evaluate the degree to which educational ‘investment’ is not.

          Take that argument to the public, and point out that the counter argument is even weaker, because the shit shinin’ theory of economic value is false.

          • We are, I think, faced with a Gresham’s Law of Education in which bad knowledge drives out good. The problem in large part is not the lack of value added in education so much as the devalue added. Tested have long since demonstrated that the average university student graduates more ignorant than upon entry.

            Given what has been exposed about the agenda of the College Boards and AP programs there seems little cause to think this trend will be halted, much less reversed.

            I am not so concerned about what students don’t know as I am about what they do know that is absolutely wrong.

            • Gresham’s Law, properly understood, is the ultimate argument for privatization. Bad money only drives out good so long as the law forces merchants to accept the bad money. Similarly, bad teachers can only drive out good so long as the political system forces us to keep the bad teachers in their jobs and keep paying them.

              • No, Gresham’s law has nothing to do with privatization, it’s the result of the dual roles of money as a store of wealth and a medium of exchange. Strong money, by definition, is a better store of wealth, so anyone who gets some will hang on to it and use weaker money as the medium of exchange as long as they can. Eventually almost all the strong money is sitting in various wealth stores while the weak money is the only stuff available to facilitate trade.

                • A recent* example demonstrates this point:

                  Prior to 1965 the US Quarter was comprised of an alloy (amalgam?) of 90% silver,

                  The copper-nickel clad series of Washington Quarters started in 1965, and as part of the switch Denver and San Francisco did not stamp their mint marks from 1965 to 1967 in any denomination. During the early 1960s, the Federal government had been flooding the market with silver to keep the price down, and therefore keep U.S. coins’ intrinsic values from passing their face values. However, this was causing the level of silver in the U.S. Reserves to reach dangerously low levels. Silver was estimated to only last another 3–5 years at the rate the Mint was manufacturing coins, so the U.S. Congress authorized the Mint to research alternative materials for the silver denominations (dime, quarter dollar, half dollar, and dollar). The material chosen was a 75% copper/ 25% nickel cupronickel alloy (identical to that in the five-cent coin) clad to a core of “commercially pure” (99.5%) copper.

                  As soon as the Johnson-Sandwiches” hit the streets, people started pulling silver coins from circulation, “hoarding’ them as collectibles and as protection against the debased money supply.

                  At the same time, the US Treasury bills known as “Silver Certificates” stopped being printed, replaced by Federal Reserve notes. Up until their replacement a silver certificate bill was “supposedly” redeemable for its face value in silver coinage. Thus a ten-dollar silver certificate bill could be turned in to the treasury in exchange for a $10 coin or raw silver bullion. As with the silver coins, these bills quickly ceased to be circulated, withheld by those who could afford to not spend them.

                  Partially this was collectors and speculators, but the underlying reasons for holding back such monies was an expression of Gresham’s Law.

                  *For certain values of recent

                • It can still be an argument for privatization. The only reason that people accept the weak money is that they are forced to by law. During the French Revolution, it was actually a capital crime to ask whether a person would pay in specie or paper money.

                  • The major reason people accept the weak money is that is what their customers are willing to part with. As long as the weak money retains some value, any business that refuses to take it will lose out to those that will.

                    • Only so long as the weak money has real value. For instance, the fixed prices in the USSR meant money had little value, even on the black market, certainly in the official one. You needed connections and favors to give in exchange for goods.

                    • Yes, but once it no longer has value, it is no longer money.

          • To call that a long row to hoe is a bit of an understatement.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Yup. I think I do need to call the mystic technocrats on at least some of their nonsensical assumptions.

              • I’ve been trying. Their capacity for self-deception and ignoring contrary evidence is staggering.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  Most folks are not stoners. Most folks are functional enough that they haven’t killed themselves.

                  We can reach those people.

                  The mystic technocrats borrow prestige from engineers.

                  I feel we have the responsibility to help others see the difference.

                  • The problem is that most people aren’t engineers. To them “we can put a man on the Moon, why can’t we X?” sounds somewhat reasonable.

  16. A teacher told my mother during a Parent-Teacher Conference when I was in about the 3rd Grade:

    Teacher: “Aaron gets his assignments done before the other children, and then fidgets or causes a distraction.”

    Mom: “Then give him more work to do.”

    Teacher: “OK”

    Fast forward 25 years later when my (now) ex-wife was in a Parent-Teacher Conference for #1 Son, was in Kindergarten:

    Teacher: “A.J. gets his assignments done before the other children, and then fidgets or causes a distraction.”

    (ex)Wife: “Then give him more work to do.”

    Teacher: “Oh, I can’t do that!”

  17. Wayne Blackburn

    I loved my uncle, but he never seemed fully grown up.

    My uncle James (dad’s older brother) never seemed to grow up, even though he did hold down a long-term job. He was always late to family gatherings, though how late depended on the gathering – a couple hours late for things that happened on a particular day, maybe days or weeks for things that were not on a set timetable. So he would make it to family reunions a couple hours after they started, and one year he took until March to show up for Christmas. But he was always cheerful, and still did things like climb trees into his 70s.

  18. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    I think that teaching regular habits and other “K” type behaviors is going to be difficult in the current “r” environment.

  19. c4c

  20. ” “Regular habits” is often used in old fashioned mysteries, as in “he is a gentleman of regular habits” by which we are to assume they are somber and modest and unlikely to commit crimes.” Or easy to rob, kidnap, or shoot because you know when he’ll leave home, his regular routes, and when he’ll return. As we say, a downside to everything.

  21. Just to lighten things up, y’all remember ABBA? This ain’t them; just their song:

  22. This dovetails into something I’ve been thinking about on my commutes. The key to wealth is the accumulation of capital. But there’s more to capital than the financial kind we’re familiar with on our bank statements.

    There’s social capital: the network of friends and acquaintances who can do you favors and pass you information. Having someone who can give you a ride makes a broken-down car less of a crisis. It’s also easier to get a job when your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate works in the HR department.

    There’s also what I call moral capital: the habits and values that enable you to take advantage of the opportunities luck and the other forms of capital provide you. It doesn’t matter if your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate is CEO if you cannot get up in time for work, and if you abuse your friends’ generosity you’ll eventually find out that it – and they – are no longer there.

    The biggest problem I see in America today is the fact that our welfare systems are designed to destroy capital of all kinds among the recipients. Means testing makes building up savings very expensive; once your bank account gets too big, you suffer a substantial decrease in income. That’s why you see things like a $800 stereo in a $500 car. Low income housing mean that all your neighbors are similarly lacking in capital, so the odds of them being able to help you out or know someone who can are pretty low. Section 8 housing tries to get around this, but the lack of moral capital on the part of recipients (I have friends who used to clean up/repair places between tenants. Their definition of sh!thole: A place where there is literally human excrement on the walls/floor and it isn’t the first thing you notice about the place.) means that property owners and neighbors tend to resist bringing it in and ghettoize it to the maximum extent practicable.

    It’s almost as if it were deliberate, but frankly I don’t credit Progressives with that level of intelligence. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in a trap. Even if the welfare systems were reformed tomorrow to allow the low-income to build capital, the lack of moral capital means that too many of them will not be able to take advantage. I don’t see any way out other than a Darwinian culling, which is inevitable once the checks stop coming (hopefully because the productive class decides to stop paying the leaches and not because we’ve straight-up run out of money).

    • “The key to wealth is the accumulation of capital. But there’s more to capital than the financial kind we’re familiar with on our bank statements.
      There’s social capital: the network of friends and acquaintances who can do you favors and pass you information….
      There’s also what I call moral capital: the habits and values that enable you to take advantage of the opportunities luck and the other forms of capital provide you…”
      Perceptive thought — yes, I’ve begun to think the same – the invisible capital. I have a friend and sometime employer who sells ranch real estate. Stand-up guy, I think of him as the worlds’ tallest ADHD child – show him something shiny and he is off like a shot. But he has often advanced me money for work in a crisis … and I have sometimes worked for him when he is totally skint and can’t pay me until he has a closing. Social/moral capital of the most advantageous kind.

  23. True that. Nevermind the “bringing balance to the force” when all the allowed practitioners were “light side” WTF did they THINK was going to happen if Anakin brought balance?

  24. Maybe I was lucky. We had a sort of independent study program in math, so, after calculus, I got to play around with number theory and fun stuff. Music was almost as valuable though – because I have negative talent, so slaving over something I will always suck at gave plenty of pain tolerance. Which is exactly what I needed in college, as our bachelors program (a) had an 80% removal rate and (b) resulted in top tier graduate school looking like easier deja vu.

    Our child’s school is actually pretty good. Albeit, there seems to be the usual problem where teachers are math phobic. The writing is well taught, but the math seems to be done by someone who is smart, hardworking, who dislikes math. Grumble. Albeit, mathematically literate people rarely teach public school. (I got lucky – my teacher was a semi-retired accountant.)

    The incentives for welfare and public housing are pretty backwards. People really should be allowed to save and work. Though, I wonder, if AI keeps growing, what do we do with people who become obsolete? I mean, our gracious host is a writer. And, we already have automatically generated newspaper articles. Give it a few decades and they may scale up to fiction… I knew a hardworking lady who had some sort of calculation-related bank job…she wasn’t really flexible and computers eventually pushed her out of that profession, leading to a kind of death spiral in terms of her career.

    With people, the biggest problem is probably mental illness. Except, I am not sure how much is hereditary and how much is societal. On one hand, children of schizophrenics are high risk for illness. OTOH, most mental illness doesn’t seem to be hereditary. Brains are awful complicated. On the third hand, a lot of people are probably crazy because they can’t handle US culture. (Loneliness, familial separation, weak support networks…lack of closets to lock people into…)

  25. Oh, by the way, speaking of schools, apparently the family of the kid who made the suitcase clock has announced that they are moving to Qatar.

    • I’m shocked, shocked. Aren’t you?

    • ”made the suitcase clock’ by disassembling a Radio Shack digital clock from the early 80s…

      • To be fair to the kid, disassembling and then reassembling an electronic clock is not a mean achievement for someone of his age.
        It was not, however, worthy of the accolades it received from the “smart set.”

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Maybe at 8 or 10. 13 or 14 and it won’t be so rare a task for the folks who are developing skill and ability. Assuming the Dad didn’t do it, and prime him with the story.

          To be charitable to the ‘smart set’, they don’t exactly have a track record of being able to tell actual scientific and engineering achievement from going through the motions, hype, or nonsensical dreaming.

          • I’m hating to say this – but the way it’s all progressed is a bit… weird.

            Kid does something pretty standard for a kid, takes it to school, intentionally gets into trouble – then is immediately ‘rescued’ by the media, ends up accusing everyone ELSE of racism, and is lauded by the President?

            And his dad just HAPPENS to be rather PR oriented…

            “The New York Daily News reported this Wednesday about Ahmed Mohamed’s father, Mohamed ElHassan Mohamed:

            One of the earliest instances of the standout citizen making national news was in 2011, when he sensationally stood up to an anti-Islamic pastor and defended the Koran as its defense attorney. That mock trial at a Florida church ended with the book’s burning, to ElHassan’s claimed shock. In an interview with the Washington Post at the time, the devoted Muslim said he’d take on Rev. Terry Jones’ challenge because the holy book teaches that Muslims should engage in peaceful dialogue with Christians.

            Also in 2011, ElHassan debated Robert Spencer on the questionf of “Does Islam Respect Human Rights?” Clearly, he was trying to score a victory against a famous “Islamophobe” and thus win a name for himself. ElHassan has been looking for publicity and chances to fight against “Islamophobia” for a considerable period. Now he has seized it, going so far as to claim his son was “tortured” by school and law enforcement officials.”

            And now he’s moving with his family to Sudan?

            Something’s making sense here – but it’s the sort of sense you’d get in a bad Tom Clancy knockoff. Unfortunately, we were dropped into one on 9/11 and haven’t been able to find our way out of it since… 😦

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Yeah, looks a lot like a false flag deliberate triggering of alarms, so that people will pay less attention to actual alarms when they happen.

              • I’m not even sure if I’d go that far.
                A publicity hound deliberately set off as many tripwires as he could in order to make a name for himself, with no thought to the consequences for others.

  26. My dreams and I have an uncertain relationship. For instance, this morning I woke up and literally could not leave the dream; it was visibly overlaying the real world like a cheap double-exposure, halfway visible against the background of the waking world.

  27. Wish had seen this while the discussion was still going hot and heavy. Discusses why efficient work and efficient workers aren’t always valued.

    • True, but regular habits allow you to take advantage of opportunities when they come along.

      • That is one of the things I have to pound through my own head about routines. That not only is the self-discipline a virtue, but done properly, they actually make your life more flexible rather than less.

    • Efficient workers?

      You mean “rate busters” — those vicious hyper-competitive workers who seek to enrich themselves by setting productivity standards above those preferred by their more reasonable co-workers (who merely desire a sensible work-life balance.)

      It isn’t as if those greedy, aggressive bastards stay around all that long maintaining that excessive productivity — they usually are quick to move up, grasping for a “better” job, leaving the more sensible fellows stuck with the higher levels of productivity established by those jerks. Those a-holes are also socially disruptive, making unreasonable demands like my sister the school teacher actually “challenge” their stupid brats or that my brother, the sanitation engineer handle their garbage cans without crushing them and take care not to knock over their stupid decorative landscaping walls in his truck.

      Europeans have established a much more balanced work environment, with no risk of people losing jobs for being “unproductive” — as if the only purpose for a job was to enrich greedy capitalist bosses.