Lost Children

The first time I heard the Heinlein dictum about not handicapping your children by making their life too easy, I was still technically a child myself.  Technically, because I was around fourteen I think.  I didn’t know how easy I’d had it, relative to the world at large (who does?) but I knew I had it better than my parents, who only didn’t have to walk up hill barefoot in the snow because it rarely snows in Portugal.

So I was mildly resentful of the idea that it was bad for kids to have it too easy.  I no longer am, and in that way of aging children and their parents (though Heinlein could only count as a mental parent) I’ve come to think the old man had a good point.

Look, I had it much easier than most people in the generation previous to mine.  Too easy?  That’s relative.  The family was never wealthy enough that I could have whatever I wanted at the drop of a hat with no worry about how much it cost.  In fact, my incentive to tutor a lot in college was that I could pay for my own books and also for additional language courses on the side.  So I was conscious of financial limits, and not so sheltered that I didn’t get in my share of physical danger and fights.  (Though I wonder if my parents were aware of those, having grown up in different times.  Well, mom was aware of what use I put my umbrella to, hence buying me the weaponized umbrella, but I wonder if she had any clue how often those were deployed against real weapons.  My brother seemed to have a little more clue than the parents, as he told them if I didn’t learn to keep my mouth shut, I’d end up disappeared or dead.  I didn’t.  I don’t know if the old man (RAH) was right again and it’s easier to be a live lion, or if I got lucky.  Who knows?  The fact that I invented “fight like a cornered cat” before it was hip probably didn’t hurt.)

However, life has its way of giving you challenges neither you nor your parents could have anticipated.  For instance, I will not claim to have been an indifferent student, because none of you would believe it.  I was usually at or near the top of my class (and if only near, I was working my tail off to be top.)  I was/am one of those people “born with something to prove” and quite capable of being unconscionably hard on myself to make up for natural deficiencies.

And natural deficiencies I did have, as I found out when I started going up against others in intellectual arenas.

I am not going to talk about IQs, because IQs are…. slippery, particularly above a certain level.  I’m simply going to say by the end of elementary school, most of us know exactly where we stand in relation to those we’ve encountered.

I had a good enough reasoning and could do things like reconstruct/invent methods of solving mathematical problems, if I’d forgotten formulas.  I had words at my command with almost lightening ability, compared to my classmates.  I could reason through philosophical principals and, due to a defect in character, find flaws in the best constructed arguments.  My memory was good enough for either words in context, or for numbers given a place I could reel them off from (I used to know all the history of the renaissance in relation to Leonardo DaVinci’s birth date.) My reasoning was useless for anything spacial.  I couldn’t — quite literally — think myself out of a paperbag.  It was non-existent for visual puzzles.  (Let me touch the pieces, though…)   And my memory was NOTHING for random syllables, arbitrary words, and unconnected/not logical strings.

Because G-d has a sense of humor, I was pushed — through a chain of circumstance and events — into humanities in 9th grade (which is when you make the choice in Portugal.) In the humanities, you were pretty much consigned to teaching, UNLESS you studied languages.  I could easily have taken philosophy.  Baffle them with bullsh*t has been a strong point since I learned to speak.  But at the time, for reasons known only to Bob, I was convinced I’d hate teaching.  (Actually I was wrong and right.  I do love teaching in itself, almost as much as writing.  I purely hate the bureaucracy and in Portugal it was/probably is worse than here.) So I took languages.

What do languages offer?  Ah, yes, the endless opportunity to memorize endless strings of what is to a foreigner arbitrary syllables.

Part of the reason I loved English from the first is that the verbs are MUCH simpler, and there was less arbitrary bullsh*t to memorize.  There is also a certain internal logic to English which I couldn’t explain because it’s a back-brain thing, but once I had acquired a basic vocabulary, I could start reading in English, which gave me the “roots” of things and made it easier to learn English by making the strings of syllables less nonsense.

German, because it’s both arbitrary as to genders, declines everything including nouns, and is more strict as to structure was my least favorite and more easily lost language.  (Also our teacher tried to teach us by translating nothing, which fell into my competency black-hole.)

That said, I will note I was still among the top of my class for languages, which included German.  I managed it by packing in an inhumane amount of work around my busy social life.  I must have worked four to five times as hard as my colleagues who were GIFTED in languages.  (I’ve seen gifted in languages.  My brother is.  I’m not.)

At the end of it, I spoke five languages with enough fluency that on my first-to-stay flight into the US I found myself the hub of translation going through customs.

I’ve lost most of that fluency in acquiring near-native fluency in English.  (Well, it seems close to native to me, but I might be wrong.  OTOH English is the language I think in and have for thirty years.)  Because English is what I needed to make it in a fiction writing career, where I had neither acquaintances nor help and perhaps not a natural talent for.  Perhaps not?  Who knows?  Some people seem to me to be natural storytellers, but then what I do with characters might seem all supernatural to them.  WHO KNOWS?  I’m not in their heads.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to brag, and I’ll admit readily most of what I’ve done is not through natural talent or intelligence, but through hard hardheadedness, refusal to give up and the sort of determination other people put to more useful ends, like trying to cure cancer or map the brain.

I was thinking about this while contemplating my sons’ generation.  These kids are screwed five ways from Monday, and there will be another post on this later on.

BUT the way in which they’re screwed worse is that they were raised with “self-esteem” teaching.  Okay, not my kids.  I was the horrible mother who would look at the proffered childish drawing and go “You can do better.”  Now I wasn’t stupid, and I knew what they were capable of at any given age, but if it was something they knew they hadn’t put any effort into, I knew it too, and could call them on it.

Many people and most of their classmates’ mothers were shocked by this.  Didn’t I know I was destroying their self-esteem and their chances at success?

Well, no.  I was giving them an honest opinion.

I suspect they resented it as much as I did my parents’ honest opinions, but then when Marsh first showed me his art, when Robert first showed me his writing, and I said “this is good” they knew I wasn’t fooling, and that my opinion was something they could build on.  (Marsh’s writing is very good too.  Think Bradbury with better plotting.  Someday I’ll convince him to publish it.  Right now the perfectionist doesn’t consider anything ready to let go.)

But most of their generation PARTICULARLY THE GIRLS are coddled and protected within an inch of their lives and treated as prodigies.  And don’t argue with me on the girl thing.  If you don’t have kids in school — particularly sons — you don’t know how skewed it is.  Most of the work is geared to “a woman’s way of learning”, things are demanded at appropriate ages FOR GIRLS who develop faster than boys (for instance to deliver work on time with no demands.  Teen boys can’t do that till about 16, but it’s demanded at 11.  If your male middle schooler is floundering, you know why.  Add to that that most teachers are women, and women of a certain generation, who feel they are “sticking it to the patriarchy” by “encouraging” girls more and what you have is a recipe for disaster, particularly for girls.

Let’s right now admit men and women are different, with different capacities.  If I ever persuade my brain-researcher friend to give you a post on how hormones influence brain development, we’ll have a biological base to build on.  But still, statistically across all the various cultures of the world, men and women are different in raw capabilities.  Men prefer spacial and mathematical reasoning (well, abstract, where mathematical is iffy) and enjoy danger more.  Women are linguistically inclined and able to multitask or work in an “Interrupted environment” better.

Now these are all statistical capabilities, which applied to real life mean very little, and applied to real humans are not predictive.  I mean, you’d expect to see more male engineers and more female linguists — and you do — but it means nothing as to whether your own very special male or female apple blossom should be one or the other.

Remember where I said above that NATURALLY I suck at languages (other than native) but I did get to the top of my class in them.  In a different leg of pants of time I’m a damn good mechanical engineer which is what I WANTED to be.  I was always pretty good at assembling machines (well, mostly disassembling them and streamlining them, ie. ending up with spare parts, but never mind.)  It would have taken a lot of work because of my tendency to transpose digits and I might do things by either feeling the parts or cutting them out of cardboard so I could feel them (how I do carpentry) but it COULD be managed.

I’ve known women engineers and women mathematicians who beat out even gifted men.

I’ll add here that I don’t understand the NEED of the cognoscenti in our society to fight natural inclination and make male nurses and female engineers. It seems to me they’re working out some bur under their own psychological saddle, so to speak, by playing with the lives of others.

On the other hand if women want to be engineers and are willing to work hard enough they should stand the same chance as any man.  And yet, we have classes that start out with equal numbers of male and female, in engineering, but by the end it is, as younger son puts it “a sausage fest” most women having deserted to Business or Art or Art of Business or Business of Art or whatever.

A lot of these were probably never that interested, and were pushed by parents/teachers.  But those that were were handicapped.

Any number of boys quits too.  Fewer than the girls, because they weren’t as handicapped.

These kids are handicapped by making their lives too easy.  If the school goes out of their way to value “a woman’s way of learning” a woman will never learn to stretch her winds.  If even boys are taught “you’re special and unique” and every thing they toss out with little thought is praised, they don’t learn what their blind spots are or to compensate for them.

What this means is that sooner or later they’ll come up against things they’re bad at — the best “rounded” person has things they suck at — and they don’t know what reserves they have, nor how to fill in the holes in natural talent with work.

Yeah, there are places hard work won’t take you.  There are natural abilities you can’t compensate for with really insane levels of work.  For instance, I’m tone deaf (and mid range deaf.)  I remember before the pneumonia that likely made me so (around 12) being able to write down notes as heard from piano.  Now?  Not all the hard work in the world would get me to do that.  I simply don’t hear it.

However, absent physical disability, I have yet to find one single “gift” that you can’t make up for by working harder and LEARNING.  Even if that means insanely hard.

But if all your life you were praised for your genius and your “gifts” for which you had to do nothing or very little, you will never learn that you have defects in your abilities.  And worse, you’ll never learn to compensate for them.

We’re destroying entire generations, particularly females, by making their lives too easy.  And what’s worse, they will have absolutely no resilience when they come up against something that’s actually difficult.  The fact that this is being done to the girls particularly by a generation of women who think they’re making it so girls “win” is tragic and scary.

I don’t know if you can learn to work and compensate later on in life.  I’d say we’re about to find out.  The idea terrifies me more than a little.

Meanwhile, teach your children well.  They’ll have to make up for generations scarily ill-suited to the adversity that’s coming.

And make up your mind to it that we’re going to have to work harder and smarter to get this boat to shore.  Put your shoulders to it, and let’s do it.

167 thoughts on “Lost Children

  1. To: Brook Allenso

    Re: SFWA Survey

    Dear Brook,

    It’s that time again!

    I sincerely hope you can take a few minutes to fill out our annual Shunning and Denouncement Survey. Not only does it help to keep the ranks of our organization clean of undesirable elements, it can also offer a fun, cathartic release of pent up emotions.

    While some might deride these efforts by smearing us with negative labels, I can assure you that it is simply a way for all of us to honestly and openly evaluate those aspects that truly need addressing, as well as helping avoid those who consistently refuse to look to their own behaviors.

    Simply fill out the following checklist (repeating as necessary for each person who has crossed a line) and send it in. As usual, we’ve updated the list to reflect the latest behaviors that cross the line.

    We’ll compile and evaluate the responses and release the final list of the truly egregious among our fellow professionals in a few weeks.

    Sincerely yours,

    Mike A. Grishin
    Social Compliance Secretary, Socialist Fiction Writers of America

    Offender: _________________________

    Offense (check all that apply):

    __ Failure to recognize privilege

    __ Can’t explain/describe the 34th entry on Facebook’s Gender menu

    __ Claimed my award recommendation list is the same as a “voting slate”

    __ Repeated pronoun violations

    __ Tried to censor me with a boycott

    __ Tokenism (i.e. rejection of or opposition to victim status)

    __ Claimed my call for a boycott of their work was censorship

    __ Put a flyer I didn’t like on a convention freebie table

    __ Tried to pass off an award voting slate as a “recommendation list”

    __ Claimed my inconsistent use of definitions or rules is “hypocrisy”

    __ Says that story/writing should be more important than social commentary

    __ Triggered me by ______________________________________

    __ Wrongfan

    __ Wrongfun

    __ Other: __________________________________________________

  2. IQ is easy.
    IQ is your score on a particular test on a particular day.
    Different test, different day, different score.
    Now the range of your score, particularly in comparison to the general public will have some bearing on how well you retain and process information.
    The Mensa society accepts any of several dozen standardized IQ test scores for entrance into their club. Yours just has to fall in the top two percent for that particular test.
    I will note that Mensa no longer accepts any number of tests administered by the US educational system as reliable indicators of IQ. Make of that bit of information what you will.

    1. Decades ago I realized that I qualified for Mensa membership. I looked at the Mensa members I knew (or could learn about) and decided that I’d much rather hang out with normal people who aren’t so enamoured with their putative intellectual gifts.

      1. I was in Mensa just long enough to wife up a red-headed engineer, former Marine, fam-trad Wiccan and her sister. For a brain fetishist out of school it was a useful group.

        I did notice that psychology professionals were over-represented. If access to the test instruments were an advantage, then I suppose one would expect such a thing. And that the psychologists would be, in that context, somewhat dull. Yup.

      2. I was a member of Mensa for a few years because my boss at the time thought that it would be a selling point for the company. Made a few friends (one long-term good friend), and worked hard to refrain from rolling my eyes at any number of others. Raw intelligence level says nothing about common sense or plausibility of beliefs, although it does have a bearing on the plausibility of justifications for those beliefs.

        1. Never been a member — suffice to say I’ve been tested for other reasons, and I would qualify with room to spare. I’m too aware of statistical uncertainty and measurement error to make much of differences between IQ scores in the same general ballparks. I think more in terms of “sigma bands” (one, two, three,… standard deviations above the population average): I can fairly easily tell if a colleague is a “three sigma”, or a “two sigma” who happens to have a very strong work ethic. Intelligence is a necessary requirement for success in professions of the mind, but not a sufficient one — and sometimes one who is “merely” gifted but willing to work their heinie off and learn from their mistakes will succeed where the “genius” won’t

    2. eh, different score, maybe, but invariably, your score on another IQ test is the best predictor of your new score.

  3. at the end of it, I spoke five languages and was fluency that on my first-to stay flight into the us I found myself the hub of translation going through costumes.
    were there pirates, astronaughts, cat people, women wearing masks. in all my flying around in my youth we didn’t get to wear costumes. … wait, does wearing a sailor suit count?

      1. Wait, you mean you didn’t sneak into the country wearing a cunning disguise? I’m disappointed – that sounded so adventurous! 🙂

          1. I want to be there (waaaaaaaay in the back) when someone dressed as Dead Pool goes through TSA check point.

              1. i am (now) looking at the movie case which I just bought.
                you are correct, a smarter man then me would have looked at it before typing.

                1. Specifically, the drone version that he controlled remotely while paralyzed.

                  The version that, if you follow the helmet/head schematics, cannot exist in three dimensions.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one who blinked to eliminate an image…

      Finger flubs aside (which we all have), I’d say that Sarah’s American is probably a bit more “native” than that of my grandparents – all four of whom were born and raised within a day’s horse ride of the lower 48 State geographic center.

      1. Yes indeed. But when she slips, she slips in a more inflected language than English. Shades of N.V. Luria!* Dem furriners thinks diffrnt than us(aia)’ns!

        *Great Patriotic War, one side temporal trauma lost ability to read Russian, other side Chinese. Yes, of previously bilaterally biliterate.

      2. Geeze, I was suppressing my response on “philosophical principals” up to now. Most of the principals at the schools I attended were more dictatorial than philosophical … although I s’pose dictatorial is a philosophy.

  4. Two thoughts:

    (1) Yes, you can figure out how to compensate for a lack of talent with hard work relatively late in life. I was in graduate school before I was given anything to do that didn’t come completely naturally to me. The first few semesters were a culture shock, but after that, I figured out how to buckle down, start doing some more reading and prep work, and eventually even become pretty good at the things I’d done so badly at at first. So, yeah, there’s hope for even the wussiest Millennials to figure it out eventually, even if they have to wait for their parents to die before they have the opportunity to do it.

    (2) But, oh boy, many of them will need to. I’m not sure if I’ve told the story of my 19-year-old intern who couldn’t go to the next building in order to get his security badge without his mommy to hold his hand, but I’ve heard from other friends that he’s not as much of an outlier as I would like to believe. There’s twenty-somethings out there who seem incapable of doing things that I would have expected from middle schoolers. And yes, despite their complete incompetence, most of them have gotten the steady diet of self-esteem boosting and believe that they’re brilliant and just one job away from the corner office.

    1. A significant number of very bright people used to flunk out of college because they had gotten to that level on cruise control and were unable to find the gearbox for shifting to the demands of a more rigorous academic environment.

      Now that we’re making college instruction less rigorous and more dependent on feeding the teachers their desired genuflections the problem has largely been eliminated. Very bright people typically never make it into college now, sparing us their original thinking and innovative problem-solving.

      1. A significant number of very bright people used to flunk out of college because they had gotten to that level on cruise control and were unable to find the gearbox for shifting to the demands of a more rigorous academic environment.

        I will admit that one reason I switched from Maths to Comp Sci was precisely that. The University of Cambridge Maths course is (well was, but I believe it still is) one of the hardest undergrad degrees there is, and even though I made it through the first year, I could see that this was going to remain very very tough. Comp Sci on the other hand was easier and their lectures started an hour later

      2. Hell, that was me the first time I went to college. I picked myself up, joined the army. Figured out how to apply myself. This gives hope for some people getting sense knocked into them (It takes a lot to knock sense into my head. Stuborn? A mite, that’s also what got me through basic.)

      3. Yup, I’ve seen this happen more times than I can count — including hotshot assistant profs who ended up being denied tenure because they, well, weren’t prepared to put in the hard work required to actually get new science done.

  5. I don’t know how common it is, but I do know that the “encouragement” I got didn’t help– it destroyed my ability to trust.

    If I turn something in, and it’s the best I can do– but I KNOW it’s not that good– I don’t want to hear how wonderful it is.
    I want to know how to improve it.
    If I say as much, and I am told that it’s fine the way it is, and I KNOW it’s not– I’m not going to trust you.

    Now, for stuff where I’m only afraid it sucks? Or where it being bad will hurt and I am not sure?
    I’ve been bit by people assuring me that it was fine, it was wonderful, it was great, it was perfect…. and I’m left holding the bag.

    1. Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      At the end of this last semester, I asked my Mother (who has always been good about giving proper criticism of our projects) if she’d even gone through a critique and, afterwards, wished that the reviewers had been harsher.


      1. I’ve found it’s a trait in those who actually want to get better at whatever they’re being critiqued on rather than feel better about whatever they’re being critiqued on.

        1. Depends on the critique, too. I loved it when my group — and sometimes now my betas — hit on something that had been nagging me, but not on the front of my brain enough to grasp, if that makes sense. Also, once — the second book to Bantam — the editor looked at it and said “You threw your biggest conflict away.” I had to rewrite the entire last third of the book, but yowza, it made it MUCH better.
          But then there are the critiques that are “I want you to paint it purple, because I like purple” all the way through “It’s not purple enough” when it’s all over purple. I’d rather have no critique than THOSE. Why? Because I’m insecure enough I’ll drive myself nuts trying to figure out why they think that. And if not stopped I’ll try to make it into what I think the critiquer wants. Which is why Kris Rusch told me to have my critiques filtered through someone I trust. (Or from people I know really well, so I can filter their biases myself.)

  6. Sarah, you are trying to use facts, logic and reason to arrive at a conclusion. Modern child rearing techniques rely on equal parts unicorn farts and feeling good.

    1. Based on the large number of Instapundit’s “Teach Women Not To Rape” entries, I would say there is a great emphasis on ensuring the kids are feeling good.

  7. I object to Your penultimate paragraph. Between the song and the Marxist teachings of our educational system that has come to mean; Teach ’em kumbaya and not to think, but to feel

  8. I read a very interesting article somewhere (i.e. google has failed me) about what *really* messes up kids is thinking you have to have a “gift” for an intellectual skill. The researchers explained that the brain is like a muscle, and just like practicing free-throws helps your basketball muscle, practicing reading or math puzzles can help the “brain” muscle. Freed of the fear of failure, the kids did MUCH better.

    There also needs to be a return to ability grouping. Kids can handle competition if its in the “if I try hard I have a chance at winning”. If they will fail no matter how hard they try, they stop trying. From personal experience. While I did quite well at “brain” things in school, anything involving physical coordination was a lost cause. Until they put me in the “needs help” PE class. With my fellow clumsies, all of a sudden it mattered if I tried. I still have the physical issue, but I accept it as how I am and just know it will take a few iterations for me to get what ordinary people can get on the first try. I was doing competition-level dressage riding, for example…but it took me longer to get to that point. Tell kids they are not “dumb” for having to practice reading, and see them improve.

    1. yeah. On the physical. that’s how I ended up in the badminton team.
      BTW both my kids’ have their dad’s lousy memory while mine was/is in spurts near eidetic. Apparently this is also a matter of early training. Portuguese education emphasizes memorizing a lot of stuff, some of it bloody useless. However, it helps build the memory-muscle. So, any of you who have the training of kids, and if I get a say on raising grandkids, make them memorize stuff. Start with poetry and praise them when htey “get” it.

      1. I have a strangely good memory. Then I recalled that in elementary school, we had to memorize a lot of poetry, for example, The Charge of the Light Brigade. We were also required to learn and recite The Declaration of Independence, The Preamble to the US Constitution, The Emancipation Proclamation, and The Bill of Rights.

        No way would parents allow their children to be bored by forced memorization these days. Being able to memorize something is a good exercise for the brain. These days, people don’t even have to memorize phone numbers, though.

        1. LOL ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ was my bete noir, along with the multiplication tables up to 12 x 12

        2. Memorization training in schools these days is disparagingly called “Drill and Kill”.

    2. Seriously, I wish that I had been grouped with the other klutzes when it came to gym/team sports/whatever, from 7th grade on. I am and was no bloody good at team sports like baseball, volleyball, basketball, etc., and would have been just as happy pursuing a solitary exercise program, instead of trying my best to be nowhere near a fast-moving sports ball.

      1. I might have also ended up being in much better shape at a much younger age had their been an option for an individual fitness program instead of non-stop team sports that led me to instead avoid doing anything in gym whatsoever in order to avoid the abuse that goes along with being really really bad at sports and (to this day) the world’s slowest runner. My strength and endurance were always pretty good, but I didn’t know the value of that until I was in my thirties because the focus was on particular skills I was far behind my peers on. This is a big reason my home-schooled boys are in martial arts rather than team sports, individual skills developed at their own pace and within their specific limitations (eldest has hypotonic CP) have done a better job at skill-building over the long term and with far less of the wrong kind of discouragement that would stop them from pursuing physical fitness altogether.

        1. Being forced to participate in team sports that you are hopeless at, and know that you are hopeless at is my idea of Hell unending.

          The last time that I was forced to do so was at a team-building exercise ginned up by the commander of AFKN in 1994. He made us play a basketball game. I hated him, from that moment on.

          The best part of being an adult, and being retired from the military is that no one can make me do this loathsome exercise ever again.

          1. I have about two more years until retirement (although I’m only a part-timer these days ARNG) but at least when I went to the dark side and took a commission folks stopped expecting me to attend group PT. Now I just look forward to the day that nobody but my doctor makes me step on a scale, sigh.

        2. I bet I’m a slower runner than you are! Our gym teacher was brutal. She made fun of me from 1st grade all the way through high school. I hate sports with a passion.

          1. Ugh, at least I got a brand-new sadist each year, instead of being stuck with the same one for 12 straight years. Not a one ever tried to get me to play to my strengths, but at least some of them just ignored me in the corner.

            1. It was a small girls’ school. Her name was Kenny – she lived on the school grounds and was in charge of the sports programs and taught PE.

              She eventually got assistant coaches, they were maybe slightly more feminine than she was, but just as mean to those of us with flat feet, exercise-induced asthma and natural-born klutziness.

              1. Our PE teacher eventually got sick and tired of me and “punished” me by telling me to spend gym class in the school room that housed the school’s only computer ( a Commodore PET, for those who remember that dino). Probably the most welcome “punishment” I ever received 🙂

        3. When I was in the Navy, their “sports days” approach to team sports was pretty good– we played soccer.

          You didn’t have to do anything to try to catch the ball, you just had to be in about the same quarter of the field as the ball. And there were no goalies.

          So basically we ran up and down the field all night. 😀

      2. and would have been just as happy pursuing a solitary exercise program, instead of trying my best to be nowhere near a fast-moving sports ball.

        “It was moving fast, clearly had a place it needed to be. Who was i to interfere? Of course I got out of the way!” – me, multiple occasions

        And then the monkeywrenching. They try to take the ball. So I try to give it to them. “Here.” “No.” “But you want it?” “Yes, but not that way!” “You only want it if I try to stop you?” “Yes.” “Do you have any idea how stupid that is?” “…”

  9. I think it was in one of Lois Bujold’s books, “Generalities can be very useful, but tell you nothing about the next person who walks through the door.”

  10. My son’s male teachers are all very impressed by how hard he works. His robotics teacher is impressed that he wanted to write his own code instead of using the drag and drop ones from the curriculum they’re using. His female teachers say he’s helpful, willing to participate and is astoundingly well-read for someone his age.

    I’m proud of him for stretching himself in math, science and robotics (all his male teachers) but it was pulling teach to get his language arts and social studies teachers to give me anything he was having a difficult time with (all of his female teachers). Well, aside from the social studies teacher complaining that he rolls his eyes in class when he disagrees with her. The fact that he doesn’t tell her she’s full of shit in the middle of class just shows the great strides we’ve made in learning tact in the last year.

    I worry for my daughter, though, as she’s getting ready to go into kindergarten next year. She’s incredibly bright with a big personality. If she’s not running the classroom, I worry it’s because her teacher has decided they’re going to fight rather than channel her into productive work.

        1. In my experience more administrators need to be shortened than stretched. Very few of them have demonstrated any capacity for stretching intellectually while almost every one could be a head shorter without noticeable loss of effect.

          1. I’m fairly certain the principle has her head so far up her rectum, she wouldn’t notice it was missing from her shoulders.

            1. My Emergency Backup Mamma, who is somewhere around “tungsten” on the steel-magnolia scale, quietly eviscerated the principal of her granddaughters’ middle school by fulsomely praising the many, many achievements of said school over the years. “But then you came.”

              All of it in the softest, sweetest voice while shaking her hand.

  11. If you want to read something excruciating try reading a Technical Report. I worked for a large Aerospace firm and found that the younger the engineer the worse they got (with some notable exceptions). No one seemed to care!

    1. I had an uncle who spent a career at Shell Oil. He got rotated into the HR department to two years. Having gotten disgusted by brilliant young engineers who couldn’t write a coherent report or proposal, he instituted a new test before engineering job interviews. A candidate would show up for a 1:30 interview and be told the interview would actually be at 2:00. The receiptionist would hand out a clipboard the say “Please read any article in one of those magazines and write a two page summary.” The summary would be read by the interviewer. He said that everyone was amazed by how many candidates gave up and left before the interview.

    2. I learned an awful lot of my writing arguing with people on the internet. After my schooling was over. The barflies would not give in to anything but a solid argument written at least well enough to be comprehensible.

    3. A nuclear plant Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR). Nineteen volumes of excruciating bureaucratese…….

  12. I’ve talked to many women about intelligence and I started to notice something and I’m not sure if it’s common but it feels common so here goes: Most smart women I’ve met grow up thinking boys are stupid and inferior until they hit sixteen and all of a sudden many of those morons have raced ahead of them and those women now have to compete with those idiots and are shocked that they often lose.

    Some react to it by getting determined and working harder and they can most often keep up, others react by blaming others (usually the school system, I actually had one woman tell me with a straight face that High School is designed for boys to excel in and she took great offense at my incredulous laughter), and those that blame others never seem to catch back up. They can pivot and stop competing, going into different kinds of courses that don’t have many men in them, but they don’t know how to compete with and/or relate to men.

    What you’re talking about here, Sarah, where girls are coddled in school, I think affects smart girls more than the normal ones. Being on that pedestal for 10 years with little effort and much acclaim and then finding oneself brushed off as if it didn’t even take much effort to do so would be hard for anyone but if you’re never on that pedestal….

    The difference of when boys and girls mature is part of it (if you’re a girl and are mostly mature intellectually at thirteen it might be difficult to realize it takes boys a few more years to mature intellectually and because no one can point out general inherent differences between the genders for worry of offending, they are never warned that it’s coming putting them at a double disadvantage). But there’s also the insidiousness of praise, the idea that you are naturally gifted and don’t need to work. Your thesis, that girl’s special treatment actually tends to produce a lesser result by accident, feels true.

    As to gifts and talent I always look back at me and my older brother and art. He is much more gifted with art than I am, it came easier to him, he was better at it, a natural and received his rightful praise for having that talent. He never really worked at it (though that wasn’t an issue of praise, it was more a lack of the right kind of imagination). I sucked but I liked it (and had the right kind of imagination), and I worked and I worked and I worked and within a few years I was better than he was. Now, he can still draw a bit but I can literally draw circles around him (if he stands still and I have a big enough piece of chalk).

    1. See, where I came from boys were assumed to ALWAYS be smarter, so I always knew competing with a boy was difficult. Only I competed with the smart boys. It was fairly easy to tell the morons.

      1. I, too, went to school in foreign lands … Asia first, then Europe. My school experience was very much like yours. Especially in Asia.

        1. I had brothers who were just as smart as me. Never really noticed any difference between boys and girls, other than pretty much nobody could keep up with my brothers and me. And we went to schools full of bright kids.

          1. After my dad retired from the AF, the family ended up moving to where my dad’s new job was. My sister Janet was relieved, because she was tired of hearing her teachers say, “Oh, you’re Steven and Jim’s little sister. I hope you do as well as they did.”

        1. It is well known that Madame Curie, Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Mary Kenneth Keller were men trapped in women’s bodies.

          OTOH, Albert Einstein was actually named Alice and had to dress as a man to be taken seriously. (Really – that mustache is as fake as Groucho’s!)

      2. From a certain perspective, and not one that I necessarily accept–I wonder if what they were looking at were the things that appear when you start to look at aggregates–Males are way more divergent than women, in terms of IQ test results. Women tend to center around the middle of whatever scale they measure things on, while men have more morons and more geniuses. So, the thinking may well have been “We’ve eliminated the morons; they’re all in the working class, and not here at an elite school… The girls are merely middle-of-the-pack mediocrities…”.

        Of course, that’s if you assign any validity at all to IQ testing, which I’m highly dubious of. Getting into the heads of the people that made these decisions and formed these beliefs is often difficult–Were you to ask them “Why?”, they likely couldn’t explain, but the attitudes had to originate somewhere, and from something that was observed. Every single time I’ve gone looking at history for an explanation of something strange to my eyes, I’ve found it usually derived from something that at least made a modicum of sense, when looked at it from the perspective of conditions that obtained at the times.

        A lot of the issues we have with “gender roles” can be ascribed to the lag time in social adaptation to changes in conditions. When you no longer have the attrition rates in childbirth that were prevalent in pre-modern medicine days, all of a sudden a bunch of social assumptions and traditions go out the window. Which take generations to work out, and adapt to–I still don’t think that most societies have really “gotten” that women don’t automatically suffer the rate of death they did before Semmelweiss. They also haven’t “gotten” that modern mechanization makes physical strength less important in a lot of roles than it did before, or that a lot of other fundamental assumptions are no longer valid.

        1. Of course, that’s if you assign any validity at all to IQ testing, which I’m highly dubious of.
          IQ tests are well established and highly calibrated to act as an accurate predictor of academic performance in college.

          Academic performance in college has never been shown to have a strong correlation with superlative performance after college.

          For a military equivalent, consider the effect of defining “Leadership Potential” in terms of how well people follow orders.

          1. In technical terms, you’re right. However, the average person takes whatever the hell we’re actually measuring with these things as being proxies for actual “intelligence”. I’m not dubious of the academic uses or implications; I’m dubious of the popular misconceptions that most people have about these things. Whatever the various IQ tests are measuring is not at all a predictor for what I’d term “real-world functional intelligence”.

            Hell, I test really well. Really, really well–And, I’d hesitate to term myself really all that “intelligent” in a lot of important ways. But, I can fool the tests with disturbing ease. Hell, I took a couple of the “pre-tests” for one of my Lieutenants when he was getting ready for his EIT and PE tests. I scored higher than he did on them, but there is no way that can be accurate, as I’m lacking educationally, where he had a full ME degree from West Point. I just test really well, is all. That’s not “smart”, or “intelligent”, that’s just being attuned to what the test-maker was looking for as a proxy, and being able to suss out the structure and the internal consistencies of the test itself, something that’s always come easily to me. I’ve actually taken tests I never studied the material for, and managed to get into higher ranges on them. Test-taking is a knack, and doing well on them is not, in any way, a proxy for having mastered the material.

            1. I’m pretty good at tests.

              Whatever intelligence is, it isn’t wisdom. Neither intelligence nor wisdom is productivity.

              I have a lot of something. Decent chance it would translate into good scores on many IQ tests, but I don’t care. If I’m sure it will lead to money, I’ll take the test, but otherwise I’m too tight.

              These last ten years have taught me a lot about what isn’t all that valuable on its own.

          2. “Leadership potential” is probably the wrong term, but they use it to evaluate if somebody is worth promoting. I don’t think the military would be well served giving more responsibility to somebody who cannot be trusted to follow orders.

            1. About all I’ll venture, after a career in the services, is that whatever the hell we’re doing, we’re doing a lot of it wrong.

              I look at the people “the system” promoted and put in charge of things on both the enlisted and the commissioned side of things, and the only thing I can think is “What the f**k were they thinking…?”. There’s a lot of problems with the entire defense effort that can only be ascribed to the poor selection we’ve made of the available material to put in charge of it, in all aspects. Whether it’s the DA civilians that run the various agencies, the officers, or the senior enlisted, we seem to have selected for many of the precisely wrong characteristics and attributes, while discarding or driving away many of the people we should have been moving heaven and earth to keep.

              And, that’s unfortunately true of a lot of other organizations we have, whether you’re talking IBM, Microsoft, or GM. I’m convinced that there is something inherently “wrong” with a lot of what we do in the area of organization and bureaucracy, that’s endemic to the human condition. And, that there’s probably a way past it, but we’re going to have to smarten the hell up, and actually start looking at the nuts and bolts of how these things work.

              I’m still absolutely astounded at how little we really know or have bothered to try to understand about how things work down at even the micro-levels of things like Infantry squads. It’s no damn wonder we can’t put together viable long-term organizations, when we can’t even accurately describe how the hell to go about building decent small units consistently. And, the same problem exists across other realms of human endeavor: I defy you to show me where the hell anyone has tried to understand or even describe what goes on in even the simplest work unit in most of our organizations. How do you build an effective team in environments like mine working crews, or loading docks? We generally just throw things at the wall, these days, and rely on tradition and passed-on “institutional knowledge” that nobody seems to be able to actually capture or properly record and disseminate. We have to re-invent the wheel, with each iteration, and re-learn lesson after lesson.

              1. Two words: “bureaucratic entropy”. See also, “Pournelle’s Iron Law”. I can tell the larger a bureaucratic organization gets, the more it tends to promote people who are good at politicking and empire-building, not at their actual jobs.

          3. IQ tests have also been attacked for being culture-dependent. Back in the 1970s, someone came up with the BITCH-100, the “Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity,” to prove the point.

            I took it back then, just to see what it was about, and decided that it had little resemblance to the other IQ tests I’d taken. The BITCH, IIRC, was about street slang, street culture, and identification of black cultural icons, mostly celebrities. The other IQ tests were about reasoning – spatial, mathematical, reading comprehension, and the like. You did have to have a reasonable command of the English language to perform well, no matter your intelligence, so I suppose that’s some cultural bias right there.

            There have been other attempts at coming up with a measurement for IQ that doesn’t rely on language skills as a base. I recall some study was published, years ago, that showed a positive correlation between IQ and the speed at which the brain responded to external stimuli, but I wasn’t able to find it when I looked online.

          1. I hear you, but… I have to wonder what the hell is at the actual deepest, darkest roots of it all. You don’t find long-held cultural beliefs and features that don’t serve some purpose, or account for some actual conditions. The people, men and women, who held and enforced those values and mores in your generation were likely doing so out of some atavism, but there would still have to be something they were observing or experiencing that kept reinforcing that crap, or it would have been long since discarded.

            I think there’s been a bit of a pernicious effect, with regards to the distribution we see on the “IQ tests”, or whatever the proxies were for such back in the days before they were developed. Add in the usual confirmation bias where everyone remembers the geniuses and forgets the idiots, plus the fact that everyone thinks they’re smarter than they really are…? “Oh, of course most men are smarter; after all, look at the history books–See many women, there?”.

            All the while, of course, forgetting the different roles that men and women had to take in traditional societies, and that while there are more “genius-level men”, there are also lots fewer moronic women than there are men. If I remember right, the charts for male and female intelligence show similar numbers for averages, but the distributions are entirely different, in that there are way more women in the middle, and more males out on the edges of whatever the hell it is we’re measuring with these things. These are facts we’ve only recently quantified and measured, but the actualities are such that even our ancestors would have picked up on them through casual observation–And, made some entirely pragmatic inferences from. Given the conditions prevailing, those inferences were probably valid, but we’ve failed to adapt to the change in circumstances that mean we won’t lose our expensively educated and trained young women to early deaths in childbearing.

            Of course, now we’ve got the opposite problem: All too many of those young women we’ve extensively educated and trained aren’t reproducing themselves enough to even make replacement rate in most Western nations…

            1. Women while pregnant or going “through the change” judging by myself can do a good imitation of morons. That probably doesn’t help. Not all, and not all the time, but a significant number. And most women of the pre-pill days owuld be pregnant OR going through the change. (Not much after.) That alone might be enough.

              1. Yeah, that’s a factor I hadn’t considered, at all.

                Got to wonder what the hell that particular little “adaptation” is answering, back on our evolutionary backtrail. My mom’s theory is pretty simple; absent the memory “issues” and everything else accompanying pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy, she kinda suspects that it’d be “one and done”, if you didn’t have a mechanism that wiped the slate clean, so to speak.

                Never having given birth, I’ve got no idea if I’d be up for that experience more than once, but I do find myself wondering why so many women seem to utterly forget what the hell it’s like, in between iterations. Friend of mine’s wife has had five kids, and every time she went through it, she swore up and down she’d never do it again… Until the next time.

                1. I informed my husband mid-labor (pre-epidural) that I was not sure I wanted to do this again. I guess it’s encouraging that even in the moment I didn’t want to commit to any more definite objections. I feel like I was really whiny otherwise, though.

                  Still have some vivid memories, don’t know what they might be like in a year. At this point, I think I could handle going through pregnancy and labor again, and would hope to be as fortunate again, even if there are a few things I wouldn’t mind going differently. (I said I was whiny, not that it was objectively bad.) What I am less confident about at the moment is how I’d go about juggling an infant and a toddler. You know all those people who say they can’t get up because a cat is sleeping on them…? I think a second child might just have to put up with being stirred up more often.

                  I don’t think I was more scatterbrained than usual or otherwise mentally impaired during the pregnancy. I mostly stopped writing (strictly a hobby in my case) but that may have been just that I was taking on extra editing contracts and wanted my fun to be less demanding.

                  1. Everybody is different, and I’m told every pregnancy is different, too.

                    I actually wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they investigate and find out that there’s some subtle interaction going on between the fetus and the mother, in terms of signaling via hormones and so forth, more than we’ve found already.

                    I think it’s going to be very interesting what they find when we get to the point where we try to have artificial wombs. I’m going to lay long odds that without the interactions taking place in pregnancy as we’ve had programmed into our biology, that we’re going to see a lot of developmental and attachment disorders in the first kids. You may need to actually have some kind of bluetooth-linked device that communicates environmental sounds and so forth from the mother to the kid in the artificial womb, along with some kind of hormonal/cell signals. I don’t think it’s going to be quite as simple as we’ve imagined in things like Bujold’s work.

                    1. Definitely all different… that’s part of why I wanted to weigh in.

                      I think you’re absolutely right about it not being as simple as in Bujold’s stuff.

                    2. I actually wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they investigate and find out that there’s some subtle interaction going on between the fetus and the mother, in terms of signaling via hormones and so forth, more than we’ve found already.

                      I lose weight– like 20 pounds in the first two trimesters– with girls, and gained it for my one boy.

                      ‘s how I know the lost baby was a girl.

                    3. I’m going to lay long odds that without the interactions taking place in pregnancy as we’ve had programmed into our biology, that we’re going to see a lot of developmental and attachment disorders in the first kids

                      Do you remember those experiments with the monkeys and the “only biological needs,” “teddy bear for mommy and biological needs” and “human volunteer cuddling and providing biological needs” vs raised by mommy monkey tests?

                      The poor creatures with the nothing but food were psychopaths, at best. God help them.

                  2. On the toddler and baby:

                    It’s not as bad as you might think. The hardest part is the toddler wanting to help. (I’ve done it two and a half times, now– Princess to Duchess, Duchess to the Baron, and now the Baron with the Empress. Who is I guess technically a toddler, but is still doing a monkey walk so *I* don’t count it.)

                    The only additional brain-issues I had was either after the birth– pain meds– or from lack of sleep.

                    Otherwise, I actually noticed a lot more, and was a lot more cutting/decisive.

                    1. One of my nieces said about the new baby that the new baby wasn’t fun, the baby just wanted to eat & sleep. 😉

                    2. Note, all of my sister’s kids are now adults and living away from home. 😀

                    3. Have to work on self-discipline and time management, I think. I don’t want to shortchange either this child or a hypothetical sibling, and housework needs doing, but we also still need or at least could use some of my editing income. (And yes I am aware I’m very fortunate to have some ability to make money sitting at home under a nursing child, just still tending to worry if I’m balancing things wrong. Probably at least a bit. The paper is trying to take over the house again.)

                    4. … still tending to worry if I’m balancing things wrong.

                      You are, you will and mostly it won’t matter if you don’t get too out of balance. Kids can stand a great deal so long as the key requirements are met. Remember, resilience is among the most important things your kids need to learn, and they mostly learn that from Mom & Dad’s errors.

                  3. Oh, I’m a(n involuntary) c-section gal, but the second kid came early and they wouldn’t DO anything until my doctor arrived… when he was on vacation that week…. but they asked me if I was getting sterilized, BEFORE I got any drugs.

                    My husband actually grabbed my shoulder to keep me from jumping up and hurting someone, my response was such a vicious “no.” He knows my pride, and that I was screaming openly in pain, so he was seriously worried I’d hurt someone.

                    Yeah, it hurt, but… well, those dumb shits that talk about bias and hatred and such? And act like I don’t know? I wonder how often they can’t even go to the grocery store with only one kid and end up getting a lecture about “over population,” complete with an accusation that you want the person lecturing you to DIE when you point out that the UN recognized the stats are warped by people just not dying as early.

                    I can’t go a month. That’s not counting family and friends, or even the “oh, but what’s your Real job” stuff.

                    1. It’s one of my regrets in life that I finally found my wife when we were both old enough that we were only blessed once. All these younguns waiting until their career gets going before starting families will likely have only one or zero children. You ROCK! You two are doing yeoman’s work pushing back the fall of Western Civilization. God bless you.

                    2. Thank you.

                      Part of what helps on “bad” days– it’s all relative– is thinking about how every single one of my geek buddies are having trouble having kids.

                      The ones that are “pretty successful” at it have two. Most have none, starting with the couple where their engagement is what resulted in my husband being forced into association with me. (Guy proposed, got shipped out to Japan; picked the two least likely to get him drunk and with a hooker people to be liberty buddies. We ended up liking each other a lot.)

                      One friend actually asked me in tears for help; I pointed her to natural family planning stuff, and they now have two kids….barely.

                    3. Foxfier, when I was just starting to get published (short stories only) I got the interrogation at one of Dan’s office parties. “What do you do for a living.” “I’m a writer.” “Really, what are your books?” “Well, I sold but nothing has come out yet.” “So, that’s just your excuse to stay home with the kids and eat bonbons, right?”
                      … I let him live. It was hard, but I let him live. (This was when I was getting up at four am to have TWO HOURS to write before the kids started.)

                    4. I admit to cheating, and burbling about my Navy career like it’s still ongoing.

                      It’s easier for folks to be polite.

                    5. In all fairness – and I know it doesn’t apply to you – there are some ladies out there that claim they’re writers for the “status” but don’t produce anything.

                      That said, the most prominent example of such a fair creature that comes to mind is Damien Walters

                    6. The really, really freaking strange thing?

                      The tone of the conversation didn’t change between “oh, what an adorable baby you have” and “don’t you know about over-population” followed by “so you think I need to die to make room for your kids.”

                      It was kinda eerie.

                    7. “No, I think you need to die and make everyone happier.”

                      My patience for the loons who consider kids a disease is wearing kind of thin. Come to think of it, my patience with loons of all stripes is wearing thin,

  13. I know this has been harped on here before – but look at Eric Raymond’s article on Ethics from the barrel of a gun.

    The points made about changes in mindset living with carrying a firearm are also more broadly applicable to ANY life where constant attention must be paid due to life and death consequences of negligence.

  14. The fact that this is being done to the girls particularly by a generation of women who think they’re making it so girls “win” is tragic and scary.

    It’s typical Leftist thinking, though. Look at all the other groups that have been assisted to “win” in the past and see how much they were “helped” (i.e. hurt) in the long run.

    1. Leftist: We need more homeowners!
      Banks: There’s not enough people with good credit.
      Leftist: Then give mortgages to people with bad credit.
      Banks: Okay, if we have to.
      Fannie Mae: Hey! We can bundle bad loans as good investments!
      Banks: If you do that, we’ll loan to anybody.
      2008… Oh No Mr. Bill! It’s a world financial crisis!
      Leftist: You greedy banks! It’s all your fault.
      2014 Leftist: We need more homeowners! Let’s subsidise mortgages!

      1. I presume the recent reports of some 3% of the penalties assessed by DOJ on those greedy exploitative banks have been funneled into Progressive Activist groups, such as La Raza, come as no surprise to an evil, cynical old bear such as you?

        NEW OBAMA/HOLDER DECEPTIONS EXPOSED: Turns out the Department of Justice under former Attorney General Eric Holder used the power of government to force settlements on Bank of America, Citicorps and other financial industry titans that required them to make millions of dollars in contributions to “community groups,” including many that are political favorites of President Obama and advocates for more government regulation.

        Richard Pollock of the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group reports on a briefing Friday by the Cause of Action Institute and Rep. Sean Duffy, the Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on oversight and investigations. It’s bad enough that these big banks routinely collude with the government on regulation; here they are found submitting themselves and their abundant resources to serve the liberal political agenda.
        MORE: http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/234307/

        Cue poetry recitation of Gods of the Copybook Headings.

        1. I did notice it’s The Daily Caller not some partisan rag like NYT or WP that breaks the story.

      2. Pretty much – yeah, that’s how it happened. I will confess that I did get a VA mortgage for a nice little house with no down in 1995, so I guess that I did get some advantage from this uniquely ill-thought-out set of circumstances. But the house is small, I considered my income and what a mortgage would take from it, and I did buy in a neighborhood with appreciating values. I will pay it off in another five years, and never having been tempted to go into a second mortgage, because of all the hassle it would involve. Yeah, I’m lazy that way. I prefer a hassle-free existence. Deal,

        1. VA loans with no down were around long before the FHA insured loans with were invented. So, you were not a recipient of the misguided loan programs that the Democrats invented.

          What makes me crazy is what those loans did to neighborhoods. The house next to ours when we lived in town was purchased with no down payment by a family who could not afford to make repairs on the house when something happened.

          So, the teenage son ran into the garage door, the garage door remained smashed for the years until the house was foreclosed on. When that family left, they trashed a nice house – they actually took the gutter, bent it down and broke a window so that all rain water would pour into the house.

          They could never afford that house. But they were thrilled that Obama made it possible for them to live in it with their 6 children and grandma. It was a three bedroom house.

          I’ve never known anyone with a VA loan pull that kind of crap!

  15. … these are all statistical capabilities, which applied to real life mean very little, and applied to real humans are not predictive.

    As women tend to be bad at math, and women teachers especially so, the obvious consequences of this demand for an abstract intellectual grasp of just what statistics are expressing suggest a great deal about our society’s problems. When a person is indoctrinated to respond to a statement of statistical probability, such as “Men tend to have greater upper body strength than do women” with the non sequiter “that’s sexist” then any hope of reasoned discussion is lost.

    Of course, a generation taught “there is no difference between men and women but the world would be without war if women ran things” is pretty much doomed, anyway.

    1. Men *overwhelmingly* tend to have more upper body strength than women. Women drew the short straw on physique in a variety of ways, and that’s one of the most pronounced of them. And women being generally physically inferior is inevitable given the way that women’s bodies *have to* divert resources to prepare to divert even more resources to support growing and bearing live young. And low-tech pregnancy *still* has a scary chance of killing the mother or child.

      Reality sucks sometimes. Deal with it.

      Instead of being angry that life didn’t give us a fair shake, be glad we’ve acquired enough technology to make pregnancy safer for the mother, and for the child if Mom doesn’t kill him/her. And be glad we’ve acquired enough technology that upper body strength (and the like) isn’t a major part of earning a living in most fields. Your low-tech ancestress would be ashamed of her descendants’ whining about how life isn’t fair when they have it that good.

  16. So we’re going to wind up with a minority of Children of Martha being nagged to death and interfered with by a self-appointed majority of Children of Mary as they try to keep to bolts from spinning off?

    1. I’m having a sudden lovely mental vision of hiking my skirts (I went Edwardian today, complete with big hat), grabbing a one-inch wrench and chasing some shrieking SJW away from people who actually know what the h-ll they’re doing. *beatific smile* I like that image.

      1. *doffs hat* Ms. Red, the boys and I’d be mighty pleased to run the miscreant down for ya and hold ‘im. That way you wouldn’t have to worry ’bout spoilin’ that lovely dress, and with both hands free y’can get a proper two-handed grip on one ‘o them there BIG wrenches. *nods enthusiastically*

  17. A recent study reported that when coursework was made into games and challenges boys routinely outperformed girls. Searchengining for the article disn’t turn it up but revealed an interesting trend of reporting which tends to confirm this as well as Sarah’s assertion that schools are geared to “women’s learning.”

    Several articles from several nations over several years (in response to “boys outperform girls when games are made of the coursework” for the search term) report that boys do better at tests (challenge, competition) while girls do better at routine coursework (turning in boring BS assignments on time.) The articles also consistently report that there has been a de-emphasis on testing in recent years, a report consistent with my own anecdotal observation of arguments over grading here in the US.

    We suffer a regime which declares testing prima facie “unfair” if there is any statistical difference in results based on rather arbitrary division of participants. I suspect that, were we to analyse school performance based not on race or gender but upon the presence of two parents in a household we would find far different social policies being argued to address such disparate impacts.

    Frankly, I doubt our social compact could take the impact of such a recognition of the effects of government imposed social engineering.

  18. “Heinlein could only count as a mental parent”
    and even there he was touchy about the matter.

    That was my experience as well.

    Lots of people were influenced by RAH, but there was a subset of readers who took his writings as something more. RAH maintained that he wrote for the money, and that if anyone took his works as something more than entertainment, well then, that was on them.

    One theory holds that love is an involuntary response to virtue; there were those who loved RAH’s visions so much that they responded by undertaking to enact them. By the 1970’s, Heinlein’s bastard children came primarily in two types: those inspired by Stranger and those inspired by Harsh Mistress. An example of the former would be the Church of All Worlds, with the Windward Education and Research Center being an example of the latter.

    In the early 80’s, Asimov thought that RAH would be amused by what Windward was up to, and put me in contact with RAH. At that point, RAH was still holding to his position of not recognizing any of his bastards, but in the early 90’s, Virginia took a more inclusive view and granted Windward permission to quote Harsh Mistress at length in its newsletter Notes From Windward.

    1. Not sure where I fit (round peg in a tesseract hole), but just thinking out loud, The Door into Summer was my influence, with Time Enough for Love as serious inspiration. “Specialization is for insects!”

      1. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; Puppet Masters; I Will Fear No Evil… with everything else sort of following. My older son starts with Starman Jones…
        Younger son starts with Citizen of the Galaxy.

  19. “Gifts” and “Talent” don’t count for very much, in life. Overall, the most talented people I know in certain fields…? They don’t work dem fields, ‘tall.

    Why is that? I’ve often wondered, and the answer is, I fear, the one that one of them gave me, once: “It’s too easy… No challenge to it, for me, so I don’t give a damn about it…”.

    This was from a guy who could, literally, be picking up a musical instrument for the first time in his life, and be playing quality music off it in minutes. I watched this guy with a guitar, once, and he had every woman within range of his voice and the sound of that guitar gathering like moths to a flame, with undies in hand. He was that good, but… He did nothing, nothing at all with it.

    You could only get him to play when he was in the mood, and with the right amount of alcohol as a lubricant. The rest of time, he was indifferent to his talent. Dude was the despair of our unit’s amateur musicians, several of which had put together a decent little band. He played with them at the club, one night, and the results…? Spectacular. He had a voice, and a talent with musical instruments that had to be seen to be believed. But… Did he do music? Hell, no. It meant nothing to him. He could have had a musical career for the asking–The night he played with the band at the club, there were some higher-ups with the Army band there, and they were, to a man, ready to kidnap his ass and send him through whatever tie-in program the band has for getting trained people–I want to say that it was something like a scholarship to Juilliard, or something similar. They were interested enough that they had a Master Sergeant coming down from Frankfurt to interview this guy in the First Sergeant’s office, and try to pressure him. He had no interest in it whatsoever, and from what I remember, the deal was basically for a four-year scholarship to some program with a school like Juilliard, followed by four years with the band.

    His aspirations? Sergeant Major in a combat engineer battalion, somewhere, sometime in the future. Not really a talented guy, in terms of leadership or military skills, but that was what he wanted out of life, at that point. No idea what happened to him, but I’ve never seen or heard of him in a musical context, and believe me, if he had tried…? He’d have been a big one–He was a natural entertainer, and completely at ease in front of an audience. We’re talking what looked like Orpheus-level skills, from my perspective in the mid-1980s.

    You don’t go where your talents lie, usually; instead, you do what you find challenging and interesting. Things are too easy? You’re not going there, because it is that easy. I don’t know of too many people I’ve met who are “naturals” at things, and who also pursue those things as either vocations or avocations.

    I think there’s a sweet spot with what we like to do, one where we’re not so good at it that it’s effortless, and where it’s impossible for us to do at all. The stuff that comes easily? Nobody does that, beyond what they absolutely have to. The stuff that’s midway between there and “impossible”? That’s what we wind up doing, as vocation and avocation. No struggle, no challenge? No interest.

    1. Honestly, I can sympathize – owing to parental influence, I was good at science. Excellent grades in high school life sciences and in college, too, in the classes that I had to take. But I just wasn’t interested. It was something that I did because it was … I don’t know – good at because it was over the home dinner table? Science was in the air, so I just absorbed it and taken it as a given? I don’t know.

    2. My parents homeschooled after I turned 13 years old. Then they got tried of teaching us and both went to work. (I’ve talked about what happened during those days–) Anyway, when I decided to go to college at 18, my parents discouraged me severely. I didn’t need to learn. I had learned to read, write, and cipher by the age of 13. According to them I didn’t need anything else.

      Also– as they got older and stranger, they started telling us that higher education was following the devil. *sigh… I still wonder how I came out of there with an intact brain.

      1. … they started telling us that higher education was following the devil.

        Contemplating the effects of moral relativism so popular in Academe I think you have to at least consider they had a point. If only they had known that our colleges would eventually harbor safe spaces.

        1. Yes– now that I see what is happening now I can see the point. However, I was so thirsty for knowledge. I don’t hunger like that now– (cause I can read anything I want to read).

    3. I meant to say that I was really interested in science and electronics– but my parents had strict rules for what was female and what was male work… My father broke a toy car I bought– because I wasn’t playing dolls.

      1. That’s ‘effing delusional, right there… And, highly wrong, on so many levels. He broke something you bought yourself, because it wasn’t something he thought you ought to be playing with?

        People like that just… I don’t have words. I truly cannot countenance people who act like that, especially with their own kids. I would probably have resorted to violence, had I ever had the misfortune to witness that.

      2. I can’t imagine having a parent who thought that education was not necessary after learning the basics. Wow. That would have just killed my happiness.
        I guess your experience is proof that people can overcome a lot of weird parenting.

  20. My grandmother saw moon and mistress and asked my mom why she let me read silly moon maiden fantasies. Sigh!

  21. Sarah, I’m like you, in a way. I was reading at an adult level, by 2nd grade. Through HS, most of the classes were (too) easy. (I opened my H.S. Physics book _twice.); However, math was another story. I don’t “think” in Euclidean terms, my brain is “Non-Euclidean.” (Geometric proofs, *still* don’t “make sense to me.”) It wasn’t until college that I realized I “think a->d->m->s etc., not a->b->c->, like everyone else. U get same/similar conclusions, I just can’t explain how.
    I could also, by observation, “think” 3-5 times faster that “normal” people, and read at 3-5K words per minute, with 80-90% retention. Now, due to pain issues, I “operate” at about 10% of that.
    Due to a second, _consecutive_ bout with pneumonia (the first added a UTI) in 2 months, I’m at 1/2 of that speed. So, I know “odd.”
    I worked _twice_ as hard at CS classes, to be 10% better. That led to being told. “Based on your education (_3_ years of college, no graduate, and a *lot* of study/work effort), I’d rate you as having the equivalent of a Master’s Degree.” =8-0
    Now, I retain 75% of what I had, and can do 10% of it.

  22. “BUT the way in which they’re screwed worse is that they were raised with “self-esteem” teaching. ”

    Build-under project in progress. Teachers can give fake praise, but video games give you accurate feedback. I suspect that the schooling of the future will owe more to video games that today’s education establishment.

  23. On an abstract level, I regret not getting married and having kids. I wanted my Dad to be able to hold a grandson named after him. But given the reality of this world, and my personal history, I’m afraid it might be for the better that I haven’t inflicted this crazy world on a child (nor myself on a woman).

  24. Parents can be too hard on a child and give them no opportunities. When the lot of us (8) finally left the nest, we didn’t go back– Some of us have done really well, some of us have gotten really sick, and others have failed… But not a single one of us would go back.

    On the other hand, this indulgent crap has ruined too many generations already.

  25. Another thing about women and STEM in particular. Women are constantly indoctrinated on how hard they’ll have it getting a job and the discrimination they will face on the job. Was recently defriended on facebook by a HS classmate, a feminist sociology professor, valedictorian of my HS class. She posted that her daughter was soon to graduate from an engineering school with an engineering degree. Personal stuff, great, congratulations in order. And went on to make it political, pointing out that by survey all the women in the school feared for their future employment opportunities, and the difficulty they would have getting jobs… Well, a few years back, one of my sons graduated right about the 1/3 mark of his class, with another male friend close by in class rank. They had something in common. They were white, and a few years older then the other graduates, having spent a few years attaining the status of veterans. Every women and minority in their class was hired BEFORE graduation day and awarding of degrees. Regardless of class rank. They were among the last few in the class hired. Months after graduation, and to replace other new hires who couldn’t hack it. All I did was mention that, and say that sure, discrimination sure is a bitch, and she defriended me. Can’t understand why.

    He graduated 5 years ago. Is now in the top 5% income bracket. Didn’t start anywhere near there. Still working in the field. When this defriending occurred, I asked if if he was in touch with any of his female classmates. 6 or thereabouts. One is still working in the field. All of them had higher starting pay then he did. And great career prospects if they stayed. I sincerely doubt any of them left because of discrimination; I’ve seen o recent lawsuits filed.

    But first, being told all along your special and can do anything- when you’re not- creates problems when your lack of specialness runs into harsh reality. And being told you’re going to face all kinds of discrimination- when you’re not- creates a whole other set of problems. Because you’ll be looking for it, and imagining it’s there when it isn’t. And that will affect your job performance and happiness. In a bad way.

    1. I got to listen to a rant by a doctor, very senior guy, who was railing against Women in Medicine ™. He had an interesting perspective on it, in terms of the numbers involved–Per his research and calculations, a female doctor worked only about a third the man-hours over the course of her career that a male doctor did.

      His contention was that if we were going to put the numbers of women into the medical profession that we were, then we needed to be training 66% more female doctors than we were. And, he backed his statements with data he’d gathered from everything ranging from time in residency to lifetime work rates. Where the problems came in was when women started their families, compared to male doctors–The loss of man-hours was incredible, when you do the comparison. Generally, when male doctors start families, their “productivity” in terms of work hours actually goes up, because they’re trying to make more money, and then take more hours at their jobs. With female doctors, as soon as they start families, the amount of hours worked and patients seen drops markedly.

      I imagine that the same syndrome is demonstrated across most professions, and is the unmentioned elephant in the room whenever this issue comes up. You can’t square a circle, and trying to take Mom out of her role with her own kids simply ain’t happening, no matter how much the social engineers and others may wish to make it so. Most professions should be monitoring the longitudinal results on their membership, as they move more and more women into their fields. The AMA has controlled the production rate of doctors in this country for decades, so the results are more easily seen there. If we were being honest, an assessment of women in a given field as a “good idea” ought to reflect the necessity that we have more of them to cover down on the losses we face when they transition from “career” to “family”.

      Any attempt to suppress this stuff is likely to end in failure, because I can’t see any effective means of forcing women to work longer hours in their professions than they want, and I don’t see any other way to make it work, aside from increasing the numbers of professionals trained in a given field to make up for the losses due to attrition.

      1. His facts are right, and he’s correct there’s a problem, but his solution is wrong.

        We need to stop trying to manage how many doctors there are, just let people train for it if they dang well please, and the problem will solve itself.

        I’d love to be able to get a female doctor who has some understanding of child-raising– basically, the female version of my father-of-a-half-dozen pediatrician. (Love him! He pays attention— meanwhile, any female doctors I’ve had act like the fact that I reproduced, several times, removed any brain I may have had.)

        1. Ah, but the AMA doesn’t want that “let people train for it if they dang well please” thing, at all–They have a lock on controlling the number of doctors in the country, and want to keep it that way. And, the irrationality of their assumptions is something that’s not going to get examined until the manpower crisis hits. Which it will, if projections are valid, sometime in the next five to ten years.

          I don’t know that the gentleman I got this from had either an agenda or a solution in mind; he was merely pointing out some unpleasant facts of life that nobody seems to be interested in. When we’re leaching more qualified doctors out of the third world, and drastically loosening standards to create more of our own, we’ll find out whether he was right to be concerned. I think he is, though.

    2. I worked in the electronics/repair field for over ten years. I was usually the only female and was treated with respect. You make your opportunities.

      1. Absolutely. I was was one of only two woman in an ‘advanced technologies’ group of about 150 for 7 years. I did very well there, and only the youngest guys just out of school resented me -because I reminded them of their moms, and moms can’t possibly understand IT.

        But, I worked as many hours a week as the guys did (60 to 70 with lots of travel involved). I didn’t get into that field until I was in my 40s. It had nothing to do with my degree. It’s not that hard to remake yourself after your children are grown, but it takes a lot of hours to do it.

        1. Only female…um…. component level airplane technician, for months and months and years, and when at my second command there was another– it wasn’t any change.

          Got treated just fine.

          Only two guys treated me badly in a girl way, and one was just a poser-geek. (Like, he wanted to be a geek, but only managed the lack of social skills part. *I* beat him at Smash Bros, and I suck!)

  26. I once read a copy of “Women Like Us”, a study of the the first class of women Harvard MBA graduates. One of the most common experiences was the difficulty of balancing a career and a family. One or the other almost invariably suffered, and usually both did to some extent.
    It would seem obvious, however, trying to express approval of the full-time mothering career path is a quick way to get classified as a dinosaur and an enemy of all correct-thinking feminists.

    1. Women can have it all. Just not all at the same time. It is entirely possible to have a career once your children are in high school. At least it was for me.

      And now, I’m in another stage of life, another career started – it makes life interesting. I’ve experienced all kinds of jobs – from a child abuse investigator right out of college to retail management to stay-at-home mom to a career that did not exist when I was in college (IT) and now raising goats and selling their mohair and making yarn and artsy stuff.

      I feel bad for people who seem to think that they are stuck in one field for their whole life. They are not.

      And I’m nothing special. Anyone can do it. When I was 55, I was making 80,000 a year in a field I’d only been in for 10 years. Not too shabby in this part of the country.

      I’m 63 now, and I’m lucky to make $5,000 a year from my tiny micro business – but working so hard for about 20 years made it possible for me to do what I think I love.

      1. Very true. It seems to me that the best time for women to have children is when they are younger. Wrangling bundles of energy and trying to civilize barbarian savages is physically and emotionally demanding. For women to spend their youth and strength trying to climb the corporate ladder is, to my mind, an inferior choice. But when the children are old enough to fend for themselves, the possibilities for women can open up enormously.

        1. For that to be possible, they’d have to remove the stumbling blocks they put in for non-traditional leadership– I’m a total geek, and the only time someone did the “men… and women” thing to me I broke out in giggles, but I was still totally a Shop Mom given a chance, improving productivity beyond what I physically did– and make it so you’re allowed to hire for the job people will do, not the Check The Box Normalized job they’ll do.

          A who LOT of the issues of young men in the workplace (and thus young women) could be fixed by having a mom figure that is allowed to be a mom-figure.

          Hell, I was *younger* than some of the guys I was a mom-figure to in the Navy, it didn’t matter. They reacted like I was their mom (in all the horrible ways….) and it turned out well. I was the only one who could tell the drunk bastard to get to work on time and he’d listen, because having “mom” say it shamed him.
          Be back-stabbed me ever chance he got, but it worked.

Comments are closed.