Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is a Direct Response to Mike's Latest Blog

I typed it up in the comment box thingy originally, but when I hit submit it told me that it was too long. So it graduated from a comment to a post of its own... I'm such a proud parent. Which leads me to today's discussion:

Here's Mike's original post: http://selfstlyedgod.blogspot.com/2009/12/love-is-toaster.html

And here's the overlong comment:

I think you are greatly oversimplifying things. I mean, obviously when you start from a place of saying "parenting these days is bad and needs to be better" there's going to be a lot of oversimplification going on. I think, therefore, my problem isn't so much that you are oversimplifying as it is that you are misattributing.

I'm a lot of those things that you said. Specifically, lack of drive. But that's not my parents fault. No, the buck stops here. I'm screwed up in all sorts of ways, but there's very few things having to do with my development, or lack thereof, into a proper human being/adult that I blame on my parents.

To take a couple of the examples you used, buying an apartment and tying a tie.

I have no idea what goes into buying an apartment. I wouldn't know where to start. But I don't feel that I can blame that on my parents. I've never gone about doing it, and what were they supposed to do? Say "Okay, evan. One day you're going to need to buy an apartment. This is what you do..." Or did they just not play enough Monopoly with me as a kid?

Buying an apartment is one of those things that you just have to learn the first time you're ready to buy an apartment. Or, I suppose, if your parents happen to move while you are living with them and you sort of get a little bit involved with the process.

On to tying a tie. That's really... I mean, yeah... you're dad could have taught you to tie a tie, but... Okay, there's a line in The West Wing where the president is talking to his doctor who just had a baby, and he says that the guy's job is to provide food and shelter. Then he adds "You also have to teach her how to whistle. Her mother won't do that."

Obviously there's more to being a parent than food and shelter and whistling. Whistling is, strictly speaking, not a necessary skill to teach your kids. That's around where tying a tie is. It's a nice thing for a father to teach his son, like the cliche scene where the father and son are standing in front of the mirror and the father is shaving and the son has a razor with no blade and he's learning to shave. Sure, it's cute and whatnot, but seriously... you drag the razor across your face and the hair comes off.

Case in point: A couple years back I went to a job fair with my brother and Jim. Neither of them knew how to tie a tie, so I did the tie it on myself thing and then take it off and let them tighten it.

Let's remove Jim from the equation. My brother and I were brought up by the same set of parents, and I knew how to tie a tie but he didn't. Can you blame that on parenting not preparing us for life?

You know how I learned how to tie a tie? I needed to put on a suit one day and didn't remember how my mother had shown me to tie a tie, so I turned on Ocean's 11 and watched Brad Pitt do it.

Here's my point: Yes, it is important for parents to teach their kids things. Schools and friends and learning things just on the streets is not enough. But parents can't be expected to catch everything. Like tying a tie or apartment hunting, sometimes parents miss things and you just have to learn them for yourself. I don't think that I'm telling you something you don't know. I'm sure you didn't mean to say that you should leave your parents house at 18 a fully formed adult with all of life skills necessary for the rest of your life. The only reason I've taken this much time to respond is because 1) I felt like it and 2) When you write things like this I get the sense that you're really trying to say something and even possibly starting up on what could later become a thesis of some sort... like what you planned to do with the Outer Church thing.

A parent's job is to provide food and shelter, and to aid in your moral upbringing, more than anything else. By moral upbringing I mean the type of person you turn out to be. Mostly discipline and teaching the difference between right and wrong and how to treat people.

And how to, in a general sense, take care of yourself. If you leave the house and get scurvy then yeah... maybe the parents did something wrong in this area. But we're in a place now where there is a lot of blaming the parents for things. A lot of it is warranted. Maybe your eight year old shouldn't be playing Grand Theft Auto, and maybe it's your responsibility to know the sorts of things your child is exposed to and not let them be... but at some point people have to take more responsibility for themselves and not just blame things on their parents.

There are a whole host of things that parents nowadays are failing at, but I think it's important to correctly identify which things are really important and which things are superfluous.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time Spent Unwisely

My TV just turned off. In the middle of the Bulls/Cavs game. AT&T is awful.
Not that I really care about the Bulls/Cavs game. I was just waiting for the Heat game to start. But still… that’s no excuse. What is this only four streams can be used at a time bullshit anyway? It’s bullshit, that’s what it is.
There are things that I should be doing now. This is not one of the things. I really need to be working on No School for Wizardry, and ideally the next one as well. But I’m tired.
To be honest, I would have come out here to work on NSFW even though I’m tired. I just don’t know what happens next. This is a problem. There’s no one for me to ask what happens next, either. There’s not actually anyone who knows what happened last. I know things that are going to happen soon, I just don’t know what the next thing to happen needs to be. I know the thing after that, though.
I’ve also let myself get even further behind in writing. This needs to be remedied. It was nice having Lior down and seeing him every day he was here, don’t get me wrong… But it did eat into my productivity on this count.
However, Sunday was a very productive day. Looking back, no it wasn’t really. But it felt like it was at the time.
Lior proctored my first attempt at an LSAT practice test on Sunday. Let me tell you about it.
It’s a pretty hard test. Not that the actual questions are that hard, for the most part. It’s really the time that you need to take the test in that makes it hard. That’s a new thing for me. I’m accustomed to finishing tests early and then being bored while I wait for the rest of the class to finish, or in college for the next class to start. There are five sections in the LSAT, and I only finished two of them.
Happily, the two I finished were the last two, which I choose to believe showed that I stated to get used to the test at the end there. But that first section… that thing killed me.
The first section of the first LSAT practice test I took was logic games. Logic games are something that I’ve only ever sort of seen before. I’ve seen variations of the same general idea where you get all this information and then there’s a chart and you need to take the information given and fill out this big chart with it. Logic games are sort of like that, except they don’t give you the chart, and there are multiple correct ways of filling out the chart. Then the questions are along the lines of the possibilities that the chart can be filled out in a certain way given a new variable for each question.
It’s really hard to explain, though explaining it that way actually helped me to sort of understand what to do with these sorts of questions in the future. So, even though the description wasn’t good enough for you to know what the hell I’m talking about if you don’t already, it helped me some and so it was an overall success.
The point is though, that was the first section of the test that I took, and I realized roughly 2/3 of the way into the section that I was going about it entirely the wrong way, and I didn’t have time to go back and go about it correctly, nor was I really sure about how to correctly go about it. Taking that section first put my self confidence all the way down pretty much as far as it could go, and I almost gave up on the whole thing right there. Then when I couldn’t finish the next section either, I really almost quit.
This story has a moderately happy ending. As I said, I was able to finish the final two sections. And then when I scored the test at the end, it turned out that even with the horribleness of that first section I still got a fairly respectable 154 overall score. So I’m pretty confident that I can bring that score up a considerable amount. Of course, I’m also kind of worried that once I start to learn how to do those logic game sections I’ll find that the other sections I scored well on was just a fluke that I will be unable to recreate. But we’ll see.
So, that’s another thing I should be doing right now. Going over the logic games thing and learning a bit better how to go about them. But I’m not. I’m typing this stupid uninteresting thing.
I’m becoming more confident that I want to go to law school though. Seeing myself get that score with such abysmal training in at least that one section really gave me some more confidence. Now pretty much every day that I spend at work at Kohl’s I’m thinking to myself how much I’d rather be in some law class or even just practicing those logic games. So, we’ll see how that goes.
I feel like I should have more things to talk about here. It’s been kind of a while since I’ve posted. But I just don’t, really. There’s really not that much else going on, and there haven’t been any real interesting musings I’ve been having lately. I could talk about fantasy basketball, but that’s just not interesting to anyone not actually playing fantasy basketball.
Oh! There was that article that Emily sent me about how fantasy sports is like D&D. I don’t have a link to it, but it was stupid and wrong anyway. All of the comparisons were tenuous at best, and it really didn’t take the actual game into consideration. No matter how much obsessing over stats and talking about the game in geeky fashion around people who don’t care there is in both the activities, when you get down to it D&D is about sitting around the table with friends and roleplaying and making Princess bride references. Fantasy sports is just about the statistics.
Also, check out Garfunkel and Oates. I found them recently, and like them a lot. Not as much as, say Autotune the News… which just sticks in my head and I have to watch over and over again, but a lot nonetheless.
And I just want to point out to Emily that a lot of those songs deal with sex. And not in a particularly tasteful manner. But they’re funny. There are ways to make jokes about sex that are funny, and just doing “Hur hur… that thing you said could be a double entendre” is not among those ways. Sex jokes, like pretty much everything else, can be genuinely clever or it can just be juvenile. There is far too much of the latter and not nearly enough of the former. I could probably make an entire post on this subject, but the Heat game is starting and I just don’t feel like it.