Tuesday, 28 February 2017

By on February 28th, 2017 in personal, science kits

09:16 – It was 41F (5C) when I took Colin out this morning around 0700. It’s currently up to 52F (11C), with today’s high forecast in the mid-60’s. Tomorrow evening, a blizzard moves in, with a light dusting of snow in the forecast. Barbara is volunteering at the Friends of the Library bookstore this afternoon, but the rest of the week we’ll be working on science kit stuff.

Several comments recently about anniversaries. I’d be interested in seeing a comparison of the marriage habits of deplorables versus progs. My impression is that deplorables tend to marry when they’re 18 to 30 years old, and stay married for a long, long time, while progs tend either to not marry or to marry and then soon divorce. That’s a gross generalization, of course, but in my experience it tends to be true. Not that there aren’t deplorables who are divorced, particularly some who married young and divorced soon after. But many of those later remarried and stayed married.

Last night, Barbara mentioned a conversation with a friend whose soon-to-be-16-year-old son is giving her fits. The other night, he climbed out his bedroom window and was gone all night, out with friends. They didn’t do any really bad stuff, except they decided to go street racing. As she was telling me the tale, I thought “boys will be boys”. Turns out, the friend’s husband had exactly the same reaction. He’d done the same kind of stuff as a teenager (as had I), and he said every guy he knew had done the same kind of stuff. It’s just being a boy growing into a man, but women don’t really understand.

It’s what boys do and have done throughout history and across cultures. It’s what happens when pubescent boys are exposed for the first time to a flood of testosterone. It makes them grow faster, taller, bigger, stronger, and much more aggressive. They become young warriors, in other words. That’s a couple million years of evolution in action, and there’s nothing societal pressure can do to change their behavior.

The problem, of course, is that those changes are also responsible for the very high number of accidental deaths among teenage boys. Teenage boys feel immortal, which again is just part of preparing them for their role as young warriors. If you’re going to face a man with a sword or spear who’s intent on hacking you to pieces, you damned well better feel immortal or you’re going to turn and run. So teenage boys are programmed not to turn and run, even when that’s the rational course of action.

For the last hundred years or so, teenage boys have been proving themselves to themselves and their friends by driving like maniacs. The problem is, they really are as good as they think they are, almost. Their vision is the best it will ever be, as are their motor skills and reaction times. What they utterly lack is experience, and that’s what kills a lot of them. And it’s also why every parent of a teenage boy is terrified at the thought of them out there driving like a maniac.

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37 Comments and discussion on "Tuesday, 28 February 2017"

  1. nick flandrey says:

    Yep, climbed out of windows many times.

    Street racing and cruising, and generally hanging out with other groups of young men are all hazardous activities. When I think of all the shit we did, and survived, I’m sometimes gobsmacked. When my dad said “nothing good ever happens after midnight” he was speaking from experience, but young men are too full of themselves to recognize that.

    There have been several modern pop-sci writers who recognize the need for proving one’s self, and for a distinct transition from boyhood, to manhood. They have advocated for some sort of right of passage in modern times to help with that transition.

    One difference now is that with pervasive surveillance, self documenting, and the culture of overshare, and the persistence of data, there is no way to escape your past. Young kids make mistakes. They do stupid things. If they survive them, most learn from the experience and move on. How do you get past your stupidity when it’s available 15 years in the future for anyone who cares to look?

    There will have to be a social solution eventually, perhaps a kind of social statute of limitations…


  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The key is to give them dangerous things to do that risk getting hurt, but not getting hurt badly or dead. Let them do man things. I suggested to Barbara that since her friend’s son is very interested in hunting already, she should encourage that. She should learn to clean and cook squirrel and rabbit and game birds. After all, a man’s role is not just to fight enemies, but to go out and kill food. A mighty hunter has as much prestige as a mighty warrior.

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Come to think of it, so does a mighty farmer. Providers and protectors are both critical to any society.

  4. Miles_Teg says:

    I don’t like the idea of boys going street racing. I don’t care if they get themselves killed, but they could and do kill others.

    The dangerous stuff I did as a kid was climbing around on the roof of the family house. That’s about all. Nowadays I wouldn’t dare get up on the roof; I’d end up in the morgue. I let tradesmen who are 30 years younger do that.

  5. August Pulpo says:

    There seems to be only one(1) recent study (2014) on Red State/Blue State divorce rates: https://contemporaryfamilies.org/impact-of-conservative-protestantism-on-regional-divorce-rates/

    Why are divorce rates higher in religiously conservative “red” states and lower in less religiously conservative “blue” states? After all, most conservatives frown upon divorce, and religious commitment is believed to strengthen marriage, not erode it. Even so, religiously conservative states Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third highest divorce rates in the U.S., at 13 per 1000 people per year while New Jersey and Massachusetts, more liberal states, are two of the lowest at 6 and 7 per 1000 people per year.

    (1) Pretty much every article in a quick Google search referenced this study.

  6. IT_Pro says:

    For your statistics, my deplorable self has been married to the same woman for 37 years as of last December. We got married when I was 25.

  7. MrAtoz says:

    Mr. IT_Pro, you definitely are a deplorable. Congratulations! And many more!

  8. Greg Norton says:

    Married at 29, almost 20 years ago.

    Street racing now is a lot more dangerous than when I was a kid in the 80s. Thanks to the oil “shortages” in the late 70s, most of the cars that we had access to when I was a teenager were under-powered, even new “sports” cars, unless the owner put a lot of time and money into a project.

    I remember four cylinder non-turbo engines, 3000 lb Camaros and “Bandit” TransAms being delivered stock from the factory with 200 HP, and Mustangs built on the Ford Fairmont chassis losing compression at 50,000 miles. I don’t wan’t to say “dark ages” since we knew better was indeed possible, but the situation was pretty grim.

    Back when I first saw “Back to the Future”, we laughed when the Delorean hit 88 MPH. Pure Hollywood magic — no way was the unmodified car capable of that with all of the emissions gear installed. Its why the Delorean, wunderkid creator of the GTO, had to resort to selling cocaine to keep his car company alive.

  9. nick flandrey says:

    @august pulpo,

    those states are also at extreme ends of the poverty rate– AL and AR being in the top few for poverty rate, and MA and NJ being in the bottom few. also at opposite ends for education.

    I don’t know how strongly it correlates with poverty rate, or someone’s ranking of conservatism, but I’d bet poverty and educational level have something to do with it.


    added- they also sort the same way for percentage of blacks, although the differences are smaller. (relevant as blacks have a higher divorce rate than any other ethnicity.)

  10. nick flandrey says:

    Married 11 years in april, first and only spouse, same for her. Married late, I was 40, she was in late thirties. No prior kids.


  11. nick flandrey says:

    And I find this statement problematic for a number of reasons:

    “A third explanation offered before is that the dominance of religious conservatives in the South reflects a regional culture that also promotes relatively high rates of interpersonal violence – factors that destabilize marriage. But while high rates of violent crime do increase divorce rates, Glass and Levchak found that a careful analysis of variations nationally reveals that this explains none of the association between religious conservatism and divorce.”

    The first bolded statement is an assertion with no factual citation. And the second mistakes (or miss-states) correlation for causation.


    added- I see that later it does acknowledge that it “is indeed explained in large part by the earlier ages at first marriage and first birth, and the lower educational attainment and lower incomes of conservative Protestant youth.”

    But it still tries to blame religiosity despite that “It turns out that people who simply live in counties with high proportions of religious conservatives are also more likely to divorce than their counterparts elsewhere. ” WHETHER OR NOT they are religious…

    Much more likely that those same counties are poor and ill-educated.


  12. DadCooks says:

    I guess I was lucky when I was growing up. My parents did not put any “restrictions” on me. They felt it was better to know that I was out at all times of the night rather than having to sneak behind their back. I had a bedroom in the finished basement that was virtually sound proof and on the opposite side of the house from the other bedrooms. There was also a convenient basement entrance. Many a “girl friend” had an enjoyable night in my “stud pad”. Sure better than the backseat of the car, which Mom and Dad let me use whenever I wanted as long as I returned it with a full tank of gas.

    Adding to the statistics here, I married at 25 and this coming April we will be married 42 years. So for now I’ll claim the record for length (quit giggling @OFD). I led a pretty wild and promiscuous life prior to getting married, but I have been good since taking our vows.

  13. Paul says:

    Married at 20, for 51 years now. You would likely consider me a prog.

  14. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    How so? Do you support Clinton or Saunders or BLM?

  15. pcb_duffer says:

    I never did the street racing thing. For one thing, I didn’t have a vehicle, and those my parents had (Chevy Suburban and Olds station wagon) simply weren’t capable of such things. Secondly, my dad was such a fantastically bad driver that I had learned better long before I got behind the wheel. It didn’t help to grow up in a tourist town, where I saw every possible manifestation of bad driving before adolescence. I’ll add that of all the stupid, low level criminal things that my friends & I did do, none of them were documented for all the world to see. We would have reacted to a camera like the gangster in the wedding scene in The Godfather.

    Oh, and I’ve lived 52 years so far but have failed to get married. I happen to be an unrepentant heterosexual who has been rejected by every woman with whom I’ve tried to have a serious relationship.

  16. Clayton W. says:

    My shame: 2 time loser. 1st time young and dumb, lasted 7 years. Second time she got Pancreatic cancer, maybe (She definitely had a port and lost her hair. Her family thought some or all of it was made up). She survived, the marriage did not.

    Actually considering going to bat a third time. Scared to try and fail.

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  18. DadCooks says:

    In this day and age, one word of advice: prenup

  19. RickH says:

    Married at 24. Will be 42 years this upcoming October.

  20. Miles_Teg says:

    None of my cars have been sports cars, the most illegal thing I’ve ever done is 170 km/h in an 80 zone. Good way to get killed, I agree but I’ve had several near misses while driving safely and within the law, due to the idiocy of other drivers.

    Unfortunately, never married. When I was 16 and bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have a girlfriend my sister said I had no chance of escaping marriage. But I did. Looking back I had quite a few chances but never took them. Sigh.

  21. Miles_Teg says:

    Lawyer friends in Oz say that prenups are completely useless.

  22. Paul says:

    “How so? Do you support Clinton or Saunders or BLM?”
    I consider myself financially conservative, socially liberal. Held my nose and voted Clinton, would have preferred someone that didn’t run but haven’t the faintest idea who that would be. Sensible regulation has a place, I really enjoy that air and water quality have improved in my lifetime.

  23. lynn says:

    Married at 21 for 35 years now. She was 23. I’ve given her permission to hold a pillow over my face when sleeping if I piss her off too much. Am still alive so she has not done it. Yet.

  24. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, I’m a libertarian atheist, which pretty much defines financially conservative and socially liberal. But there are lots of deplorables like me. I didn’t much care for either candidate–not surprising since Trump is moderate left and Clinton lunatic-fringe left–but I voted for Trump because he’s a lot less likely to get us into another war.

  25. lynn says:

    Got an interesting story from a friend last night. He was working at a Pemex refinery over Christmas with some others engineers. The first day they drove into the refinery, there was a bunch of guys standing around the front gate. The gate guard would not let them in until they had “talked” to the guys out front.

    The guys out front were waiting to get jobs. They said that the gate guard would not let the engingers in until they paid them $50. So they paid them the $50 and the gate guard let them in.

    My friend complained to the operations manager and he said that he could do nothing about the guys out front. But he said to bring $20 worth of tacos and the guys would let them through. And they did that for the next four weeks.

    I can hardly wait until the USA becomes a third world craphole like Mexico.

  26. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Geez, Lynn. All you have to do is drive to a bad part of Houston and you can see that up close and personal.

  27. Dave Hardy says:

    Teenage male years: Class clown often, skipped skool a lot, drank beer and wine and smoked doobies and dropped acid countless times; went to rock concerts and commie demonstrations in Boston. Took my dad’s Plymouth Charger out a few times late at night and got it to 120 on Route 128, “America’s Technology Highway,” and back then there was virtually no traffic at that hour of the night. Now it’s almost as heavy as the day traffic. And the summer after graduation me and a couple of other guys hitch-hiked out to the Berkshires and hung out in the woods for a while, dropping more acid and washing it down with Budweiser, the “King of Beers.” Steel can tall boys back in them days, too. Almost got laid several times and today I thank my lucky stars none of those teenage assignations were ever fully consummated. Yikes.

    Teenage years working for Uncle; I’ve told many stories here about that already so won’t bore anyone; but I was just 17 when I enlisted and had to get both parents’ signatures, which, incidentally, they couldn’t do fast enough. Same deal for my dad when he was 17 at the end of the Good War. A whole shit-ton of stuff happened to me and with me and because of me over the next four years and I was out with an Honorable Discharge at 21, rank of Sergeant (made it at 19).

    First marriage was at age 35 and it only lasted seven years; college tennis star with a double major in Economics and Philosophy, who worked four part-time jobs all through college and then worked full-time after we were married while going to evening law school for four years. We had some good times hiking and x-c skiing around MA and NH and visited Mordor and the White House, Supreme Court, Smithsonian, etc., etc. Also The Wall, where I experienced a kind of blackout and couldn’t see anything I was so filled with violent rage, and actually shaking. I got out of there fast and probably scared the shit out of my little wife and nearby visitors. So anyway, she ended up getting a clerkship with the appellate division judge in NJ and we ended up moving down there before I’d finished my MA in English. That lasted about three years and then she dumped my worthless ass and I moved back to MA, living with brothers for a while and back in IT at EDS. (I’d earlier worked at DEC, and there were a bunch of DEC “refugees” at EDS when I was there.)

    Married for the second time in 1998 at age 45, and wife was 43 and we’ve been together, through some very heavy times, for 19 years come this August. (actually together for a year and a half before that). The two kids are hers and we did not have any of our own. Son is now 31 himself and has been married for six or seven years, with three kids. Daughter will be 25 in June and hopefully finishing her BA at McGill by the end of this year, with a double major in music and languages. Wife allegedly told her that any grad school is on her dime; we shall see.

    Overcast and 50 here today; 56 tomorrow, and then it will drop down to 30 and then 17 on Saturday. Maybe some snow flurries. Only three more weeks of winta! Yeah sure. Then it’s Mud Season. Maple syrup production looks very good and we’ll grab a few gallon jugs of it at some local sugar shack.

  28. lynn says:

    Geez, Lynn. All you have to do is drive to a bad part of Houston and you can see that up close and personal.

    Not at a refinery entrance. Refineries are national treasures in the USA and highly guarded. If you stand out there, they will interrogate and move your butt somewhere else. Forcefully if needed.

    Except for union strikes. Those are special situations.

  29. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I was referring to the craphole aspect.

  30. lynn says:

    Oh yeah, 3rd ward in Houston is definitely the third world now. And is spreading. And the University of Houston is smack dab in the middle of that mess. Don’t be caught out there at night.

  31. OFD says:

    For Turd World ‘hoods in New England; to be found in some areas of Boston, Springfield, Worcester, Providence and Hartford, i.e., the major cities. Avoid cities.

    I was a street cop in Worcester and in the summer I’d see some pretty wild-ass chit going down, with various gangs, the local residents, and about fifteen nationalities and ethnicities and races represented. On a typical July 4th-period weekend there would be a haze of firecracker and gun smoke over parts of the city, and maybe only seven or eight patrol cars out on the midnight shift, what with lotsa guys taking vay-cay and personal time off. I’d drive past gangs of Asian kids fighting gangs of Latinos with car antennas and bats, or intersections where piles of furniture, tires, and rubbish were on fire while the locals danced around it all with the deafening jungle beat music and whatever booze and drugs got them going. I’d wave and keep on driving. Total anarchy out there. And usually at least one or two bodies to pick up the next morning and crowded hospital ER’s.

    And that was back in the 1980s!!! Think it’s gotten any better now?

  32. CowboySlim says:

    One of the BIG lies: When telling a story….”to make a long story short” …. don’t you know that it is just getting started.

    In contrast to one above, here is my autobio:
    BSChemEng, 1962, NU; married to only wife one week later, also 1962 NU, BSNursing
    Move to SoCal next day to start Aerospace job and wife part time at local hosp
    Two children, MS & MA at Cal State Univ Long Beach
    Retire from same company after 45 yrs, 2007 (aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, rockets, no chem eng)
    Wife pass away one year ago, big C
    Two teenage grandchildren, both A students college bound.

  33. Klide says:

    On Pournelle’s site in a post from Mike Flynn there’s mention of a Babylonian tablet in cuneiform…

    “My favorite was one written by the prime minister of the city-state of Mari, who noted that the young men of the city had lately taken up the new-fangled two-wheeled chariot of the northern hill barbarians and would race them up and down the main drag of Mari. He concluded that he did not understand the obsession of youth with speed. Drag racing in the Old Near East. “

  34. CowboySlim says:

    I remember that song: “…we’re the Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers #1!….”

  35. DadCooks says:

    WRT fast cars: My Dad had connections at Ford so we were able to special order “options” that were not available to the general public. In 1966 my Dad ordered a Ford Galaxy LTD with a Police Interceptor engine and all the other related accoutrements. Looked like an everyday family car, until you started it and heard the most wonderful throb out of the dual exhaust. Even though it had an automatic transmission it was a special version of the C6 that was designed for the Police Interceptor engine. I never lost a challenge. The only thing my Dad noticed was that the tires seemed to be wearing faster than expected. BTW, the lead mechanic at the Ford Dealer loved that car and kept it tuned to the T and taught me how to do the tune-ups.

  36. Greg Norton says:

    Oh yeah, 3rd ward in Houston is definitely the third world now. And is spreading. And the University of Houston is smack dab in the middle of that mess. Don’t be caught out there at night.

    Travis County in the Austin Metro area, but starting to creep north along I-35. Fortunately/unfortunately, the northbound progress is stopped by a mini ghetto just south of Round Rock where the Dell and HP Enterprise slave labor H1B employees live.

    Also — Austin/Bergstrom International. I grew up flying out of Tampa, and I had grudging respect for Portland’s airport. I couldn’t believe it at first when I learned ABI was less than 20 years old.

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