Schedule Change: M-W-F

Hey guys, I’m sorry to announce that there is going to be an at least temporary schedule change to posting Monday-Wednesday-Friday.

Feel free to keep treating Wednesdays as “Open Thread” days, though of course you’re really quite free to pose whatever questions or conversation topics you wish on any day.

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6 thoughts on “Schedule Change: M-W-F

  1. I was wondering where the open thread went!

    In another post you wrote:

    By middle school, I’d latched onto an identity that I could reasonably fake. It wasn’t really mine, but it was close. I at least had the right facial features, and was legally related (through adoption) to some people from that part of the world, if you went back enough generations. This became my obsession. I studied the language. I saved up my allowance to purchase traditional costumes. I read histories and novels; devoured the music. I talked endlessly about my heritage, no doubt annoying the everliving shit out of everyone around me. (No wonder no one liked me.) I even dyed my hair to look more like my ethnic ideal and lied about my eye color….

    [Now] I look at my kids and wonder what sort of identity would make them happy.

    :nod: I used to want to be Irish. I never got so far as to lie about being Irish, but I learned a hell of a lot about Irish history, Irish literature, and Catholicism. (Which was a great education, so hey.)

    Reading Peter Frost made me realize how little family lore many modern North Americans have heard growing up. I grew up with all sorts of small anecdotes about ancestors’ lives, and had not realized not everyone did. For privacy’s sake I’ll give you an example from a book instead of from my own family:

    [Elizabeth Ann just tried to make her first pat of butter and made a mess.]

    Aunt Abigail laughed, took up the paddle, and after three or four passes the butter was a smooth, yellow ball. “Well, that brings it all back to me!” she said–“when I was a little girl, when my grandmother first let me try to make a pat. I was about five years old–my! what a mess I made of it! And I remember–doesn’t it seem funny–that she laughed and said her Great-aunt Elmira had taught her how to handle butter right here in this very milk-room. Let’s see, Grandmother was born the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. That’s quite a while ago, isn’t it? But butter hasn’t changed much, I guess, nor little girls either.”

    Elizabeth Ann listened to this statement with a very queer, startled expression on her face, as though she hadn’t understood the words. Now for a moment she stood staring up in Aunt Abigail’s face, and yet not seeing her at all, because she was thinking so hard. She was thinking! “Why! There were real people living when the Declaration of Independence was signed–real people, not just history people–old women teaching little girls how to do things–right here in this very room, on this very floor–and the Declaration of Independence just signed!”

    That kind of thing.

    My identity was small, though–basically just confined to my nuclear family. I didn’t have a name for it, and didn’t know what was common to most Americans and what was characteristic of my subculture. (For example, I was unaware of the existence of canned cranberry sauce until college. When people mentioned “cranberry sauce,” I thought they meant what everyone I knew ate–cranberries boiled down with sugar and water.)

    I’ve obviously only recently come to a better understanding of such distinctions, and I’m *very* happy to now have at least some semi-appropriate names for what I am–Yankee or post-Puritan.

    I once read an article by an immigrant’s child whose foreign travels made her put her identity into words for the first time, who then upon her return to the USA found the name for her identity: “blue collar ethnic.” Her description of her experience feels very similar to mine.

    So now I wonder: How can you tell the difference between “I finally recognize myself and want to share it with the world! Hooray!” and “I wish I were someone else and want to convince everyone I am”?

    (From the “I finally recognize myself and want to share it with the world!” department, Harriet Beecher Stowe: “Instances have often been seen in New England of men and women who had renounced every particle of the Puritan theology, and yet retained in their fibre and composition all the moral traits of the Puritans – their uncompromising conscientiousness, their inflexible truthfulness, and their severe logic in following the convictions of their understandings.” Haha yep. My SET bro Moldbug likes to scapegoat us and stuff–he doesn’t want anyone blaming the *other* half of his family–but he’s full of it. We all have our flaws.)

    So anyway, my one suggestion for helping kids is–little anecdotes about ancestors, if available.

    On that note: I always enjoy reading your descriptions of growing up as an adoptee. I always hope you’ll write some more about that.

    Some of your tweets etc. have made me think of remarks from children of two distinctive ethnic groups–or, indeed, the “tragic mulatto” trope. I see some similarities and, of course, some differences.

    Sometimes the child has enough characteristics of each parent that they don’t fit in with / aren’t understood by either parent’s group of origin. Each parent or group says “You’re just like [other parent/group]!” without noticing/acknowledging the ways in which the child is like them and hence doesn’t fit in with the other parent’s group.

    On the other hand, some of these kids grow up with only one parent/group. Even if they actually have about the same number of characteristics from each side, knowing the one side and not knowing the other tends to encourage a belief that they “would belong” if/when they met the other side of the family.

    My family has a couple different groups of “long-lost distant family” with these issues. We’re wrestling with when and how and how much to try to include distant family members when the resemblance is clear, but so are many ways they *don’t* fit in.

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    • Sorry for the late response; I’ve been trying to think of something worthwhile to say.

      Oh, man, I am super disappointed about this whole Syria business. How about you?

      Ireland was very popular when we were younger. People mass-decided that Ireland was “cool” and not tainted by all that nasty white colonialism and oppression and racism because they’d been oppressed by the English. (Meanwhile, no one seemed to really care that England has some interesting cultural/historical things going for it.)

      Nice quote. 🙂 Things seem a bit more difficult in the modern world because our lifestyles have changed so much from our ancestors’ and many of us have moved far from where they lived. Lots of people end up living nowhere near their families, raising their kids in basically novel suburbs with very little history.

      >How can you tell the difference between “I finally recognize myself and want to share it with the world! Hooray!” and “I wish I were someone else and want to convince everyone I am”?

      By being honest with yourself? Like, as someone who grew up in America, raised by Americans, I don’t really have a connection to Europe. Having an ethnic European identity was a lot of fun, but I wasn’t being honest with myself.
      Things can be tricky when someone doesn’t really fit in that well with the group they’re in–on a similar note, some of the trans people I know honestly don’t fit in all that well with their birth gender, but also don’t fit in that well with the one they are claiming membership in. So if you have to fight for membership in a group, or people in that group don’t really see you as a real member of that group, or you don’t actually associate much with people in that group, then that’s a sign that this might not really by your group.
      Sometimes, of course, people really don’t fit in all that well with any group.

      Sometimes I get the impression that people think adopted kids turnout neurotic messes constantly worrying about where they fit into the world (the relevant wikipedia page certainly goes on and on about it.) We really aren’t that much worse than everyone else; elementary school was a bit rough, but that was mostly due to bullying.

      Personally, I feel like I ended up with the cultural knowledge of one group and the ethnic background of another. My lack of cultural background can sometimes be disconcerting, but not really a problem, as I can always just ask.

      How are you?

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      • >Oh, man, I am super disappointed about this whole Syria business. How about you?

        Yeah, it’s disappointing. But we’re not at war yet. This is just one…damn unauthorized military action. (I’m living in the Dark Ages, so I dislike it when a president orders military action without a declaration of war from Congress.) It doesn’t have to lead to anything more. Most other countries seem to be congratulating us on our “proportional response”–meaning we’ve done enough and can stop now. “We said we’d punish the use of chemical weapons, we did, now we’re done.” This is a position we can take. And should.

        (Yeah I know, Assad probably didn’t even use chemical weapons, he just happened to hit an al Qaida stash. Too late to argue about that now, though.)

        I disagreed with the PNAC/FPI 20 years ago and I still disagree with them today. But they’re good at convincing people to listen to them. On Twitter you asked what memeplex could make someone think bombing Syria was a good idea. Well…

        America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.

        “What’ll we do tonight, Brain?” 🙄

        (That paper used to be on PNAC’s own website, but these days the account is suspended, thus the reprint on a weird website. The Scottish newspaper article on that website calls it a “secret” plan, but it was never secret. Remember when PNAC was circulating it in the run-up to the 2000 election?)

        >Lots of people end up living nowhere near their families, raising their kids in basically novel suburbs with very little history.

        …you’ve made me realize my bubble doesn’t include suburbs.

        I think David Hackett Fischer just assigned suburbs the typical culture of their most numerous immigrants. Do you think that works?

        Do people come to suburbs planning to build a community (hence a culture)? Or do they just sort of…live there and ignore each other as much as possible (as often happens in cities)?

        >By being honest with yourself?

        Sure, when it’s you! I meant when you run into someone *else* who is “talking all the damn time about” their heritage. 😉 I’m usually interested to learn about other cultures, so I tend to just…listen to the speeches. And take them…maybe too literally?

        >if people in that group don’t really see you as a real member of that group

        What about groups that are at least partly defined by rejection from, or in opposition to, another group?

        Like, the most “cognitively available” example here is of course Nazi Germany, where people who didn’t think of themselves as Jews were still defined that way by others and killed for it. But the same applies to gender–you don’t choose what gender you start life being treated as. And one could argue it applies to geeks too–some say geek culture is defined by a larger group rejecting you as “too geeky for us.”

        >Sometimes I get the impression that people think adopted kids turnout neurotic messes constantly worrying about where they fit into the world

        …you’re talking to a universalist, friend. I always assumed that adoptees became perfectly typical and comfortable members of their new family. I have since learned that life is not that way.

        Your posts (like this one) discussing how your personal experience gives the lie to that assumption are *important*–don’t sell them short.

        Whatever, bravery debates, etc.

        >Personally, I feel like I ended up with the cultural knowledge of one group and the ethnic background of another. My lack of cultural background can sometimes be disconcerting, but not really a problem, as I can always just ask.

        Thanks, this is exactly the type of thing I’m interested in!

        (Sorry to repeat myself but) originally, before it was overshadowed by simpler “level the playing field” arguments, the entire point of affirmative action was to get General American Culture to evolve in a direction where it’d be more congenial to Ethnic Background #1 even though it was originally mostly grown by, and hence presumably most congenial to, Ethnic Background #2.

        One of the people adopted by my close relatives grew up to disown my family. This did not prevent my family from silently keeping tabs on them, so I know that they’ve chosen a spouse and religion that are more traditional for their ethnicity. I can only imagine that this person’s choice to abandon our culture and immerse themselves in that other culture reflects a belief that the other culture is a better fit for their native personality.

        What about you?

        (There are also adoptees in my family who have *not* disowned us, so I’m not gonna generalize from one example or anything.)

        I first became interested in this issue for personal reasons, but I keep *writing* about it because I see it as an issue American society needs to address. You write a lot about “let people be with people like them / congenial cultures” too. Do you think the solution is just NRx? I think there might be too many dimensions on which people can vary for there ever to be enough different communities for all to fit in. There will always be some outliers, and the choice for each society is whether to allow for their comfort or not. If you don’t…I think that also reduces a society’s creativity/innovation.

        Personally I’m a HBDer, but not an NRx since I support democracy/federalism. I’m interested in what social rules and/or laws might help a community preserve harmony while still leaving room for the comfort of at least some outliers. What do you think?

        For a feminism-related example, the “solution” proposed by Anonymous NRx on SSC, that outlier women should just choose husbands who will “allow” them more freedom, will never work, at least not for post-Puritan women. (His other suggestion, “never marry,” might work but…carries quite some downside, for the society as well as the women.) (BTW, Harriet Beecher Stowe discussed this issue in Oldtown Folks in the subplot that quote is from. I have more to say on this topic but…not now.)

        Sorry this is so long. Seems like every time I try to shorten it, I just think of something more I’d like to say. :/

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      • Sorry about the delay in responding. It’s been a busy week.
        It finally occurred to me that most people probably see Assad as a dictator and automatically slot dictators into “bad,” and see the rebels as “pro-democracy” and so automatically slot them as “good.” ISIS isn’t an integral part of the rebels, it’s just a weird side-effect of Assad being an evil dictator who oppresses his people (we know he’s evil and oppressive because there are valiant rebels trying to overthrow him.)

        Whereas most of the people I talk to see things more through the lens that Assad is trying to stop groups like ISIS. He might not be “good” in some grand sense, (or maybe he is,) but he’s certainly better than ISIS.

        One of the things I think this shows is how much better terrorist groups are at adapting to changing conditions than states are. ISIS has figured out that you can terrorize people by running over them with trucks, while Assad is still bound by the rules of international law. ISIS makes music videos about torturing people to death, but so long as they don’t use “chemical weapons” in the process, that’s apparently fine. 😦

        I think David Hackett Fischer just assigned suburbs the typical culture of their most numerous immigrants. Do you think that works?

        Do people come to suburbs planning to build a community (hence a culture)? Or do they just sort of…live there and ignore each other as much as possible (as often happens in cities)?

        Sort of? I have a lot of Asian neighbors here in my suburb, and they’re still Asian-Americany. (Sometimes I sit on the porch and listen to the sounds of pianos wafting from the neighbors’ houses.) But I don’t think this is at all equivalent to living in China.

        I’m sure it varies by suburb, but in my experience, most people in suburbs don’t really speak to each other (the neighbors on one side have barely spoken a word to me in the three years they’ve lived here; I don’t remember ever even seeing one of my neighbors at the house I grew up in.) I used to try to be friendlier with people, but then some neighbors started using the HOA to settle disputes with some other neighbors, and since then I’ve been mostly avoiding people.

        I’m sure there are some good suburbs.

        Sure, when it’s you! I meant when you run into someone *else* who is “talking all the damn time about” their heritage.
        Oooh.
        Then I don’t know. I guess like anything, you just have to make a judgment call.

        What about groups that are at least partly defined by rejection from, or in opposition to, another group?
        Conversations get complicated with this kind of threading, so I’m going to attempt to make this coherent. I said one sign of not actually being in a group that you think you’re part of is if the established members of that group don’t think of you as a member. I had in mind the rather trivial example of an American who thinks of themselves as part of an ethnic group they’ve never visited and have no actual, appreciable connection to. Take people who claim to be Native Americans based on “my great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess.” If you went and talked to the actual Cherokees, they’d tell you that claiming to have one Cherokee ancestor does not make you a Cherokee.

        I think it’s a rather different situation when you spend your whole life in a culture, accepted by everyone in that culture as a good member of that culture, and then suddenly the standards change and people are trying to kill you based on something you never even knew about. In that case, I think it’s everyone else who’s wrong. (Just because people are sometimes wrong doesn’t mean that groups of people are always correct.) But I don’t I don’t think the German position here was based on identity so much as racial purity/ideas of racial superiority. So these people might be accepted as culturally German, but still carrying inferior genes.

        And I think since then, most Germans have decided that this was a pretty wrong idea and accept such people as Germans again.

        But the same applies to gender–you don’t choose what gender you start life being treated as.
        You know, I tend to think of identity as primarily something you do, rather than something done to you.

        Or perhaps, more like, in life, you find things you enjoy doing and people you enjoy being around. Maybe it’s flying airplanes or watching football or hanging out with your friends. Generally people like the sorts of people who like the same activities as they do. For example, I like writing, and I generally enjoy the company of other writers. By contrast, I don’t like watching football, and I don’t particularly enjoy the company of people who are really into watching football. I like science and generally enjoy the company of other people who enjoy science. Since I don’t feel very comfortable around most people, I’m sensitive to this.

        So I suppose the first conflict comes when there’s a disjoint between people and activity. Like, if you like the people who do X, but don’t really like X, or if you like doing X, but don’t like the other people who do X. For example, I know someone who really likes riding motorcycles, but doesn’t really like biker culture. Likewise, I assume you could enjoy biker groups without actually riding motorcycles. In both cases you’d obviously be kind of a marginal member of the “culture.” Things don’t have to be absolutes… But this is where people get in a lot of fights about “subculture X should be more accepting of people like me.”

        In the case of trans people, I certainly have some sympathy for people who don’t feel like they fit in with the gender other people see them as. It’s not like I really enjoy hanging out with other women, eating chocolate and talking about handbags. Most of my interests tend to be male-dominated (take the SSC community.) Still, this doesn’t make me male–I fit in with typical men even worse than with typical women. Ultimately I think this is less about “gender” so much as intelligence. Smart people enjoy discussing different sorts of things–in different ways–than average people, and when we think of stereotypically gendered activities, we think more about what average folks like than what people at the extreme ends of the bell curve like, because there are just a lot more average people than outliers. Most geeks/nerds are male, so I have a lot of male friends, but I still get along better (on average) with female nerds than male ones.

        I feel like there’s a similar situation with my trans* friends where they aren’t stereotypical members of their birth gender, but that doesn’t mean they’re into stereotypical things associated with the other gender, either. And honestly, we (society) should make room for people who are unusual or marginal or non-conforming members of a particular group without proclaiming, “Oh therefore you must be a member of the opposite group!”

        Or let’s talk about autist identity. Saying “Hey, I’m different from other people in this way, and here are these other people like me, and this explains why other people have been cruel to me during my life or why we just think about the world in different ways,” seems perfectly sensible, but I resist saying, “therefore something is wrong with me.” I don’t have a problem with me. (I’ve never been diagnosed with autism because it wasn’t a thing when I was a kid, but I’m familiar enough with the relevant internet subcultures.) My biological relatives act a lot like me, so among them I don’t feel like a weird outsider, I feel normal.

        One autism questionaire I read recently asked something like “Is the child pedantic?” Well, pedantic is a judgmental word. It implies that the person filling out the form dislikes the child’s behavior. What if a different person regarded the child as “accurate”? I feel very comfortable with the more nerdy, “autist” side of the family, (nothing like being eagerly informed of the latest developments in DNA research by people who don’t even know about my blog), while the normie side of the family tends to think of me as, for lack of a better word, pedantic.
        I am blathering but I hope you find something useful in there.

        I always assumed that adoptees became perfectly typical and comfortable members of their new family.
        Ah, well, I was thinking about the relevant wikipedia page, which has a long section on how adoptees are wracked by identity issues and blah blah blah. For the most part, most of us are pretty normal (at least when you control for the kind of people who end up getting adopted.)

        One of the people adopted by my close relatives grew up to disown my family.
        You have my sympathies; that sounds like it would be painful and unpleasant for everyone involved. I can also understand how it could happen. (Some people disown their biological parents, of course.) If you just don’t get along with these people–you don’t think about the world the same way, value the same things–they could be very hard to get along with. Most adoptees IME feel gratitude toward their adoptive families and so wouldn’t cut off contact even if they don’t feel like they fit in that well with them (myself, for example,) but if there are some major conflicts, I can see how someone just wouldn’t feel much of an emotional bond.

        Do you think the solution is just NRx?
        I guess it depends on what we mean by NRx.
        I’ve been reading a lot about group decision-making dynamics. Large and small groups each have their own issues, but small groups have the advantage of flexibility. A small group doesn’t have to articulate a hard and fast rule about who gets in; members can just use their judgment. A large group can’t do that; they have to have rules, which leads to arguments about what those rules should be and who gets in. So at the very least, I think it’d be a good idea to encourage the development of smaller groups which can be more flexible and less rule-bound, in order to make them more pleasant places for the people in them. Returning to Assad, for a moment, I think people are over-applying a rule that says, “democracy is good, therefore Assad is bad, therefore we should bomb Assad and help the rebels.” This is a case where a little more flexible thinking (and learning from past mistakes,) and an acknowledgment that different times/people/places need different systems, would be useful.

        Well, I hope that was adequate, and look forward to your thoughts in turn.

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