Living near the ocean must suck the life out of people
Posted by aogSunday, 20 May 2007 at 07:07 TrackBack Ping URL

I don’t like to do ‘slice of life” style posts here, but the recent fascination with The Dangerous Book for Boys has forced my hand. I do feel sorry for those parents who feel they need something like this. Yesterday was the birthday party for Boy One, and the primary activity (multiple hours) involved the boys beating each other with these sticks —

We only had three incidents, the worst involving one boy ploughing full tilt in to a small tree protected (from deer) by chicken wire held up with big metal stake. Fortunately, he wasn’t bleeding anymore afterwards than he had been before, so after a bit of sitting out he was back in the fray.

I just can’t imagine the level of parental repression it would take to have boys that, upon seeing such an array, didn’t immediately grab a weapon and start swinging. I understand, though, because it can be quite difficult to let your kids do things you know may result in serious injury. But the alternative seems to be a cramped life hardly worth living. Of course, I don’t allow reckless activities but any normal activity has its risks (during the battle, two of the three incidents involved terrain, not the weapons). But in our padded, modern society, risk seems to have become one of those lower class, improper kind of things.

P.S. The small blue & greenish-white one is for Girl Three (aka Super Horsey Princess), who loves beating on brothers and fathers with it.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Brit Sunday, 20 May 2007 at 08:03

The Dangerous Book for Boys isn’t aimed at boys, it’s aimed at middle-aged men on a nostalgia kick.

Michael Herdegen Sunday, 20 May 2007 at 20:35

I think that there is societial value in raising boys who viscerally understand aggression. Uncontrolled aggression is bad for society, but so are wimps. (Assuming that there are barbarians outside the gates, of course, which is very true of today’s world).

Jack Diederich Sunday, 20 May 2007 at 23:14

This reminds me of a birthday party from the early 80s (I was maybe 10?). All the guests were boys so the games revolved around running, throwing, etc. The finale was a game of proto-paintball. Everyone was given a sock with a ball of flour at the end. Boundaries in the woods were set, captains picked teams, and we were off. At the end the hits were counted and the team with the lowest count won. Best of three games so we had a chance to adapt strategies between games. Good times, getting hit with a sock of flour stings but is at worst barely bruising.

Peter Burnet Monday, 21 May 2007 at 03:38

I think that there is societial value in raising boys who viscerally understand aggression. Uncontrolled aggression is bad for society, but so are wimps.

Michael, I’d like to see you try and reconcile that outrageous display of rank sexism with your call for gender-balanced quotas in government.

Yes, yes, I know. Public/private and all that. But I suspect one of the reasons why calling for quotas in government for women, blacks, aboriginals, the disabled, visible minorities, etc., etc. ad nauseaum, is so common is that most folks deep down see public service as perfectly suited to the dull, passive, unimaginative and mediocre and don’t think it matters much who is in the position.

Michael Herdegen Monday, 21 May 2007 at 05:15

Michael, I’d like to see you try and reconcile that outrageous display of rank sexism with your call for gender-balanced quotas in government.

Easy. Men and women are equal before the law, but they are DIFFERENT. Society fares best when it recognizes that, and maximizes the utility of each gender’s natural bent.

But currently, in America, we are NOT maximizing the input of women. That is what I’d like to see change.

In other words, there is a difference between “sexism” and “chauvinism”. Recognizing that people are different is not inherently discriminatory. Indeed, the entire theory of capitalism is based on that simple insight.

I suspect one of the reasons why calling for quotas in government for [various oppressed groups] is so common is that most folks deep down see public service as perfectly suited to the dull, passive, unimaginative and mediocre and don’t think it matters much who is in the position.

First off, the reason that I am calling for quotas is precisely because I believe that it does matter who is in those positions. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Second, in America, the vast majority of people are dull, passive, unimaginative, and mediocre, (which I can prove, based on polls and simple logic), and therefore the vast majority of people in public service also have those same qualities. Further, in America bureaucratic public service is seen as a safe but fairly limited career option, so vivacious, active, imaginative, and stellar people tend to go into other fields, where the rewards are greater for those who are very successful.

Also, since the vast majority of Americans possess the qualities that you mention, and since the vast majority of Americans and American businesses are successful, then therefore a government largely made up of such people could be expected to be reasonably well-run. So those qualities are hardly the Mark of Doom.

Third, are you aware that you just labelled women, blacks, aboriginals, the disabled, and other visible minorities as being especially noted for their dullness, passivity, unimaginativeness, and mediocrity? It’s exactly that kind of casual and unthinking discrimination that I wish would stop.

If you wish to protest that such is not what you meant, then that would mean that the named groups do not especially possess those qualities, which means that we OUGHT to want more of them in public service, to bring up the quality level of public servants, yes ?

Finally, you link to David’s essay on the subject, which means that you must have seen my response to him, proving that in America, women are discriminated against at the highest levels. However, the tone of your post seems to suggest that you are hostile to the notion of actively redressing that situation. My question to you is two-fold: Why do you think that the situation doesn’t merit change, and, if you believe that the status quo is fine, how could you oppose simply flipping the gender balance, so that 75% of the top gov’t officials are female? Afer all, turn-about is fair play.

Now, one might reasonably object that women are simply less-interested than are men in seeking appointment to public office, but that ignores the pernicious effect of expectations of a ceiling on accomplishment; why would reasonable, ambitious young women enter a field where they see that the top ranks are mostly closed to them ?

So, my proposal is simply to institute a paradigm of unlimited opportunity for females, and then see what happens. If women do turn out to be uninterested in running the gov’t, men can always pick up the burden again.

Peter Burnet Monday, 21 May 2007 at 05:59

Michael:

Never in the field of human blogging have so many profound legal, social and constitutional issues been ignored in one post. Hey man, are you planning to have yourself annoited Emperor-for-Life so you can conduct all these fascinating experiments in social engineering? I am particularly charmed by the suggestion we can entrench all these women in quota-protected positions and then suddenly say: “Sorry gals, but you just aren’t interested enough. We’re taking over again.”

I’m in a trial and out of commission for the next four days or so, but Michael, apart from your attraction to a top-down dirigisme that would impress the hardiest French leftist, your problem stems from admitting women have different natures than men and then jumping through hoops to avoid the conclusion that the sexes are better at some things than others (brute force excepted). But, for the record, I very much doubt there is much to choose between them im 99% of the public service.

Michael Herdegen Monday, 21 May 2007 at 07:24

Peter:

You seem to have misread my entire post.

Michael Herdegen Monday, 21 May 2007 at 07:28

For instance, if we do find enough qualified women to fill the vacant positions, under what justification do you believe that men could “take over again” ?

You also seem to believe that among the things that men are better at, is gov’t service. Otherwise, what’s the point about the “jumping through hoops to avoid the conclusion that the sexes are better at some things than others” line ?

Michael Herdegen Monday, 21 May 2007 at 07:31

Hey man, are you planning to have yourself annoited Emperor-for-Life [?]

Yes.

Michael Herdegen Monday, 21 May 2007 at 08:22

Also, America has a tradition of “social engineering” that stretches back to before the American Revolution.

Off of the top of my head, and in chronological order: The Declaration of Independence, the Federalists vs. the anti-Federalists, the American Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Jefferson’s ideal of the “yeoman farmer”, the Louisiana Purchase, abolition, the American Civil War, the Comstock Act and the Comstock laws, the “progressive” income tax structure, Wilson’s League of Nations, female suffrage, Prohibition, the New Deal, the Social Security pension system, the UN, the GI Bill, forced integration, the Federal income tax deduction for home mortgage interest, the civil rights movement, the War on Poverty, the Voting Rights Act, the Educational Opportunity Program, Title IX, CAFE standards for passenger cars and light trucks, America’s “war on drugs”… All “social engineering”.

While I don’t have the same grasp of Canadian history, the American stereotype of Canada is that you guys are even more committed to social engineering.

So simply calling equality of opportunity for women “social engineering” leads to a “yeah, so what ?” response. Otherwise, America would have had a King after the Revolution.

Jeff Guinn Monday, 21 May 2007 at 15:59

Meanwhile, back to the originally scheduled thread.

Ahem.

For my son’s recent birthday party (13th), I chopped 30 feet of 1/2” PVC into 3, 5, and 7” lengths, then threw the result into a box with with elbows, T fittings, and end caps.

The point being for the boys to build their own blow guns with which to shoot mini-marshmallows.

Which allowed a perfect outlet for all that nascent testosterone, but made putting an eye out nearly impossible.

Should anyone try this, though, keep the dog inside.

Canine projectile vomiting is not an edifying sight.

Do not ask me how I know this.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 21 May 2007 at 17:12

Haha, try mixing dogs and baby diaper containment failures. That’s up there on the “unedifying” list.

Yeah, the marshmallow guns are neat. Boy One does those at Cub Scout camp.

Bret Wednesday, 23 May 2007 at 12:18

I don’t know. I live near the ocean and the boys seem adequately aggressive.

The only difference is that their aggression seems to horrify their parents. And their teachers. One of my 5th grade daughter’s friends (male) got suspended from school for a bit of rough housing on the playground. Sure, there was a lot of yelling and perhaps a fist or two was involved, but come on! No black eyes, no marks of any kind! A 5th grader suspended from school? And if it was such a big deal, where were the teachers to keep things from getting “out of hand”?

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