by Belle Waring on May 3, 2007

I have been meaning to write an update to my post of last month. When I skimmed the first accounts of the captured British sailors’ time in Iran I was under the impression they had been subjected to full-on mock execution, of the Dostoyevsky type. That is, told they were going to be executed, lined up and blindfolded, etc. Reading more I learned that it was more of a confused situation (still very alarming, no doubt), in which they were blindfolded and cuffed and could hear weapons being cocked. So, not actually torture (and some people pointed this out in the thread at the time.) It was scary as hell, no doubt, and I hope I’m never in that situation, or at least that, if I am, John Derbyshire is there to rush the armed soldiers and bite their throats out. I’m still ready to go nuclear, though, and I actually learned a lot reading that not-flamewar comments thread.

On the other hand, I thought that the comments to Kieran’s post on Megan’s difficult situation were unusually useless for the most part. This from John Quiggin was good, though:

One thing that’s struck me is that in most respects, the age at which life events happen is increasing. People finish education later than they used to, take longer to establish themselves in durable relationships, have a longer life expectancy and so on. But fertility has effectively gone the other way, with earlier menarche matched by a reduction (at least in perception) of the maximum age for childbearing – it used to be thought of as 40 or so, but Megan’s post mentions 35 as the critical birthday and awareness is increasing that fertility declines after this age.

If the range for having children is narrowed, in many case to 25-35, it’s not surprising that the risk of missing out becomes substantial. While there are no easy solutions, the obvious stuff like family-friendly working arrangements is only going to get more important over time.

I wonder whether the solution to this problem can be medical (extending the child-bearing years). I can imagine a future in which women freeze their eggs at 18 and then have children at 40. The technology would have to be both more effective than it is now, and much much cheaper.

I really never had the experience of lusting after the possibility of having children. I was always confident I would have them (rightly, as it happened, but not sure I had a sure basis for that belief). When I was young, I thought I would have children pretty early. My mom was 22 when I was born, and I thought that was great. I don’t think I would have made a good mother at that age, although I think a fetishization of what being an upper-middle-class mom means in terms of time investment etc. may lead us to think kids are harder than they are. This is not to deny that they change your life radically, but I just now was about to write that I would have been a disaster as a mom at that age, and that probably isn’t true. People muddle through somehow. At any rate, I’m certainly a better mother now. Perhaps more importantly, I’m involved with someone who’s a much better father. (By which I mean not that he’s more important than me, but that improvements in me combined with a poor father candidate might still add up to worse parenting.) I got married in my 20s and got pregnant for the first time at 30; not early by any means in the grand scheme of things.

At the same time I have many friends my age who don’t yet have children or a serious partner and I worry about them. I’ve never talked with them about this feeling, because I think people get enough pressure from their family; they don’t need their friends telling them to hurry up with the babies! Still, maybe I should try to raise the issue in a way that wouldn’t seem judgmental. I have one friend who I know is sad over it; she loves her neices and nephews and I know she would be a great mom, but will it happen?

It’s silly, too, to talk as if this is just a problem for women. I have a male friend in the same position, and I worry about him too. I think the gates don’t clang shut with the same finality for men, but being a much older father, and having a much older father, can be difficult things too. It’s hard to imagine solving this problem by means of everyone agreeing to have children at 20 and then go on to more life stuff afterwards. Extended childhood, extended adolescence; these are good things, things made possible by our wealth and our life-extending technologies. Having children is a huge part of a sucessful life for most people, and that has to fit in somewhere. There shouldn’t be anything shameful in the feeling Megan expressed.



CJColucci 05.03.07 at 5:18 pm

Apparently, my gates clanged shut some time ago, for non-age-related reasons. But by the time I discovered that, age had become an issue when considering whether to adopt. The age at which any kid we might adopt could beat me in driveway basketball was already low and promised to get lower. If you can’t beat your 12 year-old, you lose an awful lot of paternal authority. Retirement and college expense are a bad mix. By the time the kid might want to join me in a law practice, I’d be a doddering old fool well past my Matlock years.
I can only imagine how much worse it is for women. As a man, for most of my life I never actually wanted kids, I just assumed they’d be part of my life. I can fall back on a rich set of culturally-approved alternatives to male parenting. Women have far fewer options.


Ken C. 05.03.07 at 6:53 pm

“On the other hand, I thought that the comments to Kieran’s post on Megan’s difficult situation were unusually useless for the most part. ”

You’re welcome.

Indeed, this was an overlooked stunning insight:

“While there are no easy solutions, the obvious stuff like family-friendly working arrangements is only going to get more important over time.”

I don’t recall this being a specific problem raised by Megan, as it happens.

Seems to me that at least two radical changes would be very helpful, though not necessarily for Megan: for academics, an overhaul in the tenure process, so that it doesn’t penalize people with kids that they want to raise, and not just visit; and in general, to encourage/demand/force that men have something approaching an equal responsibility for childcare. One kind of such encouragement would be to view childcare as an enjoyable, worthwhile job, and not shitwork. Another kind of such encouragement would be for women to marry “down” economically: in that case, the common situation where the parent with the lower income quits working would favor the mother.


Michael Bérubé 05.03.07 at 7:46 pm

The age at which any kid we might adopt could beat me in driveway basketball was already low and promised to get lower. If you can’t beat your 12 year-old, you lose an awful lot of paternal authority.

Perhaps, but I can assure you it doesn’t work the other way around. I had my first child when I was 24, not that I was prepared for or capable of taking care of a child or anything. Fourteen years later, I beat him and one of his friends in a game of one-on-two bball by the unlikely score of 21-0, and I didn’t gain any extra authority points for it. Nick and his friend Kaleb just kinda slouched away, disgusted with themselves. I assured them that this was the only time in their lives such a bizarre thing would happen, but they just gave me a look. (And, indeed, within two years Nick could beat me solo without too much trouble.)

The lesson was clear: if your parental authority hinges on driveway basketball, make sure the final score is something more like 21-17 or -18. Because it’s a fine line between establishing legitimate parental authority and inflicting a spirit-crushing defeat.


abb1 05.03.07 at 7:47 pm

I can imagine a future in which women freeze their eggs at 18 and then have children at 40. The technology…

What nonsense. One word for you: outsourcing.

…The twinkie wives […] who have their eggs fertilized by their husbands’ sperm in a laboratory, creating embryos for implantation in the wombs of surrogate mothers who are paid to manufacture children for delivery in nine months, since why on earth should any wife whose husband is worth a billion or even $500 million have to endure the distended belly, bilious mornings, back cramps, not to mention a cramped social life, to end up with her perfect personal-trainer-sculpted boy-with-breasts body she has spent thousands of sweaty hours attaining, ruined…


American Citizen 05.03.07 at 7:54 pm

Parenting is a lot of work, the physical aspects of it are easier when you’re younger. Of course, the other aspects suggest waiting until you finish, say, high school. :) Also, the younger you start, the younger you are when the kids go away to college. My kids were born when I was 29 & 30, so I’ve taken a middle course.


Michael Bérubé 05.03.07 at 7:54 pm

Hmmm, there wasn’t any strikethrough in preview. Just hyphens before “18” and “crushing.” Oh, well.


Ozma 05.03.07 at 8:17 pm

To be fair to commenters — some of whom *were* mean (though I stopped reading after a while, so it might have gotten meaner than I am aware) — I think a couple of things were going on in Megan’s situation. Assuming she doesn’t have any basic fertility problems — and most women don’t, EVEN AT 35, calm down everybody — she’s got roughly one opportunity per month to resolve her “no kids” worry.

And so I think a lot of the meanness was actually directed at her other concern, a latent one about which I don’t think she was being entirely upfront, even with herself. Realistic chances of having a kid at her age? Pretty darn good. Chances of finding the permanent, supportive, life-long partner with whom she would most ideally like to raise that kid — at any age? Well, as is the case with everyone, male or female: the chance of that is somewhere way south of 100%. And so I think she was really phrasing her anxiety about latter, latent issue in terms of the former, manifest issue.

Because while it is acceptable to “want children” and for women especially to express some kind of mad hunger for the same, it’s really very easy to critique — whether it comes from men or from women — an insistence upon life-long safe happy partnership. From men, it sounds like a desire to be a patriarchal monster. From women, it sounds like the product of reading too many Harlequin romances. From gay men, it sounds like the adoption heteronormative standards. From lesbians, it sounds like …. well, from lesbians interestingly we sort of expect that desire, but it’s not threatening cause we also think simultaneously “ha ha. watch out for bed death!” I mean, almost everybody’s a cynic on that front. I’m not saying the expression of that desire inevitably merits cynical critique — I’m just saying the cynical critique is VERY EASY to bring to mind.

So, I actually thought a lot of the meanness was actually directed at Megan’s demanding, upfront, something else out of her relationships — not so much babies, which she could get via a whole range of means, as many people pointed out — but permanence and stability. Probably meanness is not the nicest way to react to that demand, but I think people’s complex misgivings about that demand explain a lot of why the reaction was not entirely “you go, girl!”


dsquared 05.03.07 at 8:24 pm

One kind of such encouragement would be to view childcare as an enjoyable, worthwhile job, and not shitwork

this might be a difficult sell, given the amount of actual shit involved. One might as well try to convince people that being a sheep shearer wasn’t woolwork.


dearieme 05.03.07 at 8:34 pm

Reject basketball, try cricket. You can still turn an off-break through the gate in your fifties.


Grant 05.03.07 at 8:40 pm

People should have kids at 20, and pass them on to their (40 year old) parents to raise. The kids’ parents can drop by as needed for basketball, while the grandparents handle the cricket, and the bills.


novakant 05.03.07 at 8:47 pm

Megan said ‘unappealing’ not ‘shameful’ – there is a big difference. I think meanness and bitchiness were pretty well balanced in that thread, maybe these things can be discussed in a less hostile way, we’ll see.


Bloix 05.03.07 at 9:02 pm

It’s a stunning fact that in the entire thread following Kieran’s post – and in the post itself – the words “birth control” were never uttered. Cheap, effective and available birth control is a relatively new phenomenon and we don’t really have the instincts or skills to deal with it.

Megan has apparently been involved, for perhaps fifteen years, in a number of serially monogamous relationships, more or less satisfying or unsatisfying, not secretive or shameful but public and accepted by friends, family, and colleagues, all of them premised on the unspoken shared agreement that sex would not lead to children. In her generation and social milieu, there is no stigma attached to any number of such relationships. That’s a kind of social organization that is only a generation old. In my generation (I’m 50), it was acceptable for a couple to live together openly but the idea was that you would get married at some point. And even then, some degree of parental disapproval – and potential disapproval from bosses, senior colleagues, and other elders, and the attendant pressure to marry – was almost a given. Now that I’m a parent my own children will face no such social pressure from the older (that is, my) generation. We are now forty years in to the experiment of generally available birth control, which means two going on three full generations have became sexually active with access to birth control, and the result has been a change in social mores to accept a limitless number of serial monogamous relationships which are not expected to lead to marriage and children. That is a new thing in the world.

Birth control means that something that was once almost a necessity is now a choice. And choice means the possibility of choosing incorrectly. The truly regrettable part of this is that Megan probably never quite confronted the fact that she was making choices when she did so. She likely had relationships with men who would have fathered her children – but she felt she wasn’t ready, or she found fault with the man in some way, or the stress of the relationship was so great that it seemed easier to let it go than to continue it. If Megan had been conscious at any of these moments that she was making a choice – a choice not to have a child – then perhaps she would have behaved differently. She might have been in a position to have a conversation with the man, or she might have been more forgiving or more open or less demanding or less stubborn, or perhaps if perhaps if her desire had been keener at an earlier age a relationship might naturally have developed along different lines.

I say “Megan,” but of course I don’t know Megan and perhaps what I am saying is wrong for her, or hurtful. But I do think that there are women who, because of the serial monogamy made possible by birth control, have failed to understand that they were making choices even as they made them – not because there is anything wrong with the women themselves, but because they are dealing with a form of social relationship that is new and still relatively uncharted.

One of the biggest problems that a woman faces is that relationships are romantic but marriage and parenthood are not. Most of us parents have relationships with our partners that are, to be kind about it, imperfect. We spend a great deal of time disgruntled with our partners, disappointed with our children, angry at ourselves, bitter at lost opportunities. Some people are not like that. Some – perhaps Belle is one – have truly extraordinary relationships. But most of us are ordinary, and we have ordinary relationships. If you are ordinary, and you demand an extraordinary relationship before you have children – and of course you want one – then you won’t have children.

Birth control has a tendency to make relationships into romantic fantasies. When the romance wears off, you break up. Traditionally, by that point you had a kid and you moved on – either to a more mature and loving stage of the relationship, or to a perpetual state of unhappiness, or to one of the many intermediate states going by the name of marriage. Birth control means that doesn’t have to happen anymore. So how do the Megan’s of this world – who like most of us are not so extraordinary that we can clearly see what we want and get it – how are they supposed to make the choice that is thrust on them by birth control?


leederick 05.03.07 at 9:11 pm

“If the range for having children is narrowed, in many case to 25-35, it’s not surprising that the risk of missing out becomes substantial. While there are no easy solutions, the obvious stuff like family-friendly working arrangements is only going to get more important over time.”

This is a solution looking for a problem. As John says, the problem is the age at which life events happen is increasing. ‘Family-friendly working arrangements’ are not going to solve this. The problem is not people being in a situation where they can undertake childrearing and deciding not to because the world isn’t family friendly. The problem is them not being in a situation where they can undertake childrearing, because it takes longer for them to establish themselves in the durable relationships which put them in that position.

Helping families doesn’t solve this, because the people with families have already solved this problem. If anything the extra burdens some family friendly policies would place upon those who are not settled, by providing benefits to those who have families at the expense of those who do not, would make this situation worse.


Ken C. 05.03.07 at 9:14 pm

“The lesson was clear: if your parental authority hinges on driveway basketball, make sure the final score is something more like 21-17”

Nothing like table tennis games with scores of 42-40, kid, until they catch on.

dsquared: “this might be a difficult sell, given the amount of actual shit involved.”

You’re a little too literal; plus, it’s no biggy until they eat solid food, and then potty-training is just around the corner. It’s a lot worse having a dog. But the childcare thing is a lot more than pregnancy and toddlers, as major as those are.


alphie 05.04.07 at 12:02 am

Useless comments?

A little perspective, maybe?

Over 10,000 children die every single day from diarrhea.

Megan and her Princess and the Pea mating sensibility is the type of “problem” that gives being a liberal a bad name.


SG 05.04.07 at 12:17 am

bloix, your whole comment was a big stereotype. People can do better than that, and the reason some people don`t is the same reason some people let themselves get fat on burgers – they just don`t care enough.

Mr Berube, have you tried kickboxing? In my experience it conveys an inherent sense of authority which no American sport (except perhaps, I`ll grant you, Ice Hockey – but isn`t that Canadian?) will ever hold. And you can pack the entire weeks` workout into an hour, if you are really keen.


Michael Bérubé 05.04.07 at 12:55 am

Nothing like table tennis games with scores of 42-40, kid, until they catch on.

Nick caught on about three years ago. Now our scores are down to 28-26, and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And Nick gets excited, too.

Mr Berube, have you tried kickboxing?

No, but I did see Say Anything. Does that count?


John Quiggin 05.04.07 at 1:05 am

As a way of cementing father-son dominance relationships, karate is pretty good until he has 20 kilos on you. Same as kickboxing, I guess, but without those wimpy gloves :-).

Coming back to the main point, cjcolucci mentioned adoption, but no-one followed up. I’d really be interested in a discussion of the problems surrounding adoption.


vivian 05.04.07 at 1:14 am

(Good try Belle, and so far the cranio/rectal ratio is much higher than in the earlier thread.)


SG 05.04.07 at 1:54 am

Hey John, who said anything about gloves? We`re talking about disciplining children here, right?

Mr Berube, I don`t know anything about Say Anything, but if you kicked the TV it counts. Maybe you should watch more Bush press conferences to facilitate this (though surely that won`t impress your son!)


roy belmont 05.04.07 at 6:15 am

Telling that a comment as compassionate and thoughtfully heartfelt as #12 gets dissed by the flighty and insipid sg.
It’s true this whole discussion, and our marriages and child-rearings, takes place within a social context that is brand-new, whose parameters are untested, that has as well corollaries that are not only proving themselves semi-dysfunctional in the short run, but are demonstrating a terminal velocity of heedless long-term damaging change that would, if it were intentional, be scarily malevolent; yet it’s the given within which all these musings occur. The world is not in a good state, and the way we live is why. Yet that’s where we court and marry, and bear and raise our young.
All this new stuff, untried, unproven, but all taken as how things are, appropriate, inevitable. Like cars in the street. Less than a hundred years old and the world is dying out from under us because of them.
And there it is right there – it’s not going to stay like this, no matter what we do. Of all the things that can be said, that’s undeniably true.
Gender roles that in their old configurations were necessities are now assumed to have changed irrevocably, because the conditions that necessitated them are gone. Assumedly forever.
It’s not that I agree completely with bloix, but the articulate sincerity she’s presented needs confirming. Especially contrasted with the compensatory sports-as-gender-assay pathology of berube and sg.


alphie 05.04.07 at 7:17 am

Out of curiosity, roy, could you pinpoint for us when the world was in a “good state?”


SG 05.04.07 at 7:17 am

Roy, call it insipid and flighty of me but I don`t intend to live my life as if the “Gender roles that in their old configurations were necessities” might still be needed. I live my life as if they were dead, buried and no longer on my mind. Until, of course, some concern troll pops up to remind me that really young people are oh so silly, and don`t they realise that they need to be careful with all these new-fangled inventions which will turn them into permanent teenagers? They haven`t, they don`t and they won`t, but thank you for categorising my determination to live my life differently to you so charmingly.


bad Jim 05.04.07 at 8:43 am

I can still see my brother on a motorcycle, with his firstborn daughter seated in front of him, both helmetless, she laughing delightedly, of course. They were fearless then.

Now I can’t even imagine him putting his putative, yet unborn, son into a carseat in his little sports car. Not when his mother is driving a Prius. There may be a minivan in their future.


Doctor Slack 05.04.07 at 2:26 pm

sg: People have trouble finding the Perfect Relationship because they’re Just Not Trying Hard Enough? Gah.

Roy: bloix’ comment is perfectly fine. Sorry to pick on you, but the “we’re killing the planet because we’ve abandoned the old gender roles” theme strikes me, by contrast, as making no sense whatsoever. Maybe you could clarify.


harry b 05.04.07 at 2:51 pm

I haven’t adopted, or tried to adopt, but have talked to lots of people who have, in the UK and the US, and across several decades (my entire sample). Here’s my completely anecdotal findings. When abortion was illegal, or very difficult, there were lots of potential adoptees, and adoption was a buyer’s market; it was relatively easy to adopt and adoption agencies were relatively uninstrusive, because they knew that some home was better than none. With the rise in abortion, and the rise in infertility, the supply of potential adoptees shrunk relative to the increasing demand from the infertile (and there were also, from sometime in the 70s, complicated issues about race-matching, which made it harder than it should have been for white parents to adopt black kids, though that seems to have improved a lot). The consequence: agencies are extremely intrusive, setting very high standards for adoption, and treating parents who want to adopt in a way that is sometimes very demeaning. Have a kid biologically and there are no qualifications needed at all.

I, too, found bloix’s comment helpful.

And I also had the thought ozma had at the time, about the direction of the meanness (and kieran made a comment implying something of the sort early in that thread). The meanness seemed no less obnoxious to me directed that way than it would have been if it had been directed at the longing for a child.

This is worse than michael’s anecdote. I’ve a friend much younger than me whom I’ve known since she was 4. We played ping pong a lot when she was around 10 or 11 (and I in my mid-twenties). At 12 we ended a very hard fought game (I’m not bad, actually, but she was suddenly brilliant) which she won by 3 points. She looked at me with daggers in her eyes, said, resentfully, “You let me win!” and stomped off. She was wrong. Lesson: you can’t win with teenagers whatever you do.


chris y 05.04.07 at 3:29 pm

Michael Bérubé @6: you should really get your colleagues on this site to publish a health warning about textile markup.


CJColucci 05.04.07 at 3:37 pm

I make no claim to any insight whatever on the emotional issues surrounding the “biological clock” problem except to acknowledge that they are real and serious. But even for those whose emotional needs can be satisfied by raising children rather than bearing them, through adoption, the “stage of life” issues remain. Adopting a young child after, say, 40, raises all sorts of timing problems — physical dotage, matching of expense and income cycles, and the like –to which I referred, admittedly somewhat facetiously, in my original post.


Matthias Wasser 05.04.07 at 3:45 pm

People should have kids at 20, and pass them on to their (40 year old) parents to raise.

This is a very sensible idea. It’s also never going to come to pass, since we’re almost certainly going to make people fertile forever before we change parenting expectations that much, but it would have been a nice path to take.

A related question – what if the expectation was dropped that our partners-in-parenting will be our partners-in-romance?


roy belmont 05.04.07 at 7:06 pm

Inasmuch as every prior state of the world can be said to have led directly to this one, and whereas this one, at this moment, is widely acknowledged to be a “bad” one, at least so far as it is not a “good” one, though of course any good any of us have known in our own lives is from this world and this one only, making it an ambivalent judgment at best – still, it can be said, rationally, if not honestly, that there never was a “good” state that the world could have been found to be in, because it all came down to here, now.
Sort of like the way no one can be condemned for “having destroyed the earth” or “having destroyed humanity”, because by the time it’s happened conclusively there won’t be anyone human there to accuse. Until or unless it happens it will always only be speculative, and vulnerable for that reason, and easily argued away.
That same logical train goes round and round its little track whenever someone tries to point to an earlier time as holding more of what’s to be desired in human existence, and someone else smirkingly or smugly points out that whatever point on the timeline you pick there were great gobs of awful things back then: slavery; plagues; ignorance; discriminations of various and virulent sorts; much lack of basic freedoms; short lives of long brutal toil.
People recoil in horror from the statistics of childhood mortality rates just a hundred and fifty years ago, yet calmly stare at the screen as the news flashes by that cars are killing more children today than anything else is.
One of the techno-chauvinists’ main bombards is the relative lack of disease these days, the awfully much higher death rates from disease back in the bad old days, longer life spans now etc.
This is presented as an inarguable good, because it is, in an atomized, consumerist sense. Just as someone who’s hungry getting a nice big meal is an inarguable good. Whether it is a universal good, however that might be defined, keeping in mind it can defined right out of the conversation, remains to be seen.
There are those who say, and with some substance, that there are too many of us now for the way we’re living, that the problems that rise toward us are inherent in those “good” things and how many of us there are enjoying them.
Bearing in mind that evolution’s where we got the brains to make things so much nicer, bearing in mind that evolution meant a certain volume in the death rate was required, bearing in mind that evolution as so constructed was not under our control, but rather we were forced to submit to those larger forces that shaped us and gave us the big brains and delicate quick hands we now employ. Some reflection might show the contrast between other times and now in a way that’s not quite so one-sided and easily dismissed.
Which is the mirror you seem to have missed on your way into the room.


Matthias Wasser 05.04.07 at 7:19 pm

Um, evolution doesn’t intend anything. It’s a name we give to certain patterns we expect to see for self-replicating entities. It’s not, like, conscious or anything, and even if it were, it wouldn’t particularly care about us.

But, uh, if you want to live with a higher model of the good than our vulgar, consumerist values like “longer lives are better” and “people should have autonomy in their major life choices,” feel free. I don’t understand how your particular African savannah gets internet access, but hey, whatever makes you happy.


roy belmont 05.04.07 at 9:44 pm

A. Old ways bad. List.
B. New ways good. List
All done.
Well, uh, there is the part about the old ways catalog being drawn from, you know, uhm, like thousands of years of events and experiences, cherry-picking only the bad, never acknowledging the good; and, uhm, uh, the new ways one being drawn from uh, what – 5 decades or less? And cherry-picking the good while never acknowledging the bad. Like the part where, uhm, global warming eats your, uh, family?
Your “vulgar, consumerist values” aren’t bad just because they’re vulgar and consumerist, they’re bad because they lead to the extinction of nearly everything but vulgar consumers, and even then…
I have no clear idea how you got intention and evolution put together from what I said, except probably that it was necessary to win the argument in your head.
What I said was evolution – key point – our adaptation to forces and pressures etc. outside our control, is how we got the big brain/quick-hand thing going. There’s a tacit assumption now that we have the wisdom and perceptivity necessary to direct our own evolution from here on out. It’s solipsistic, and has no substance but wish-fulfillment driving it.
Global warming would be the up-and-coming big rebuttal to that, but it has company, lots of it. You were given the African-savannah/rockets-to-Alpha-Centauri caveman/modern-man dichotomy by the same chauvinist assholes who gave you white-man-superior/brown-man-inferior. It’s an equally arrogant world-view, with racism replaced by something less identifiable, but just as bigoted.


Matthias Wasser 05.05.07 at 1:13 am

If global warming wipes out humanity, the industrial revolution may or may not have been worth it.

(Depending on whether one considers the lives of humans without shallow, consumerist perks like political freedom, being able to choose when to have children, and not being a subsistence farmer particularly more worth living than that of whatever other biomass would take its place. I’d prefer a smaller and happier human population to a larger and more miserable one, and I suspect so would you, so.)

But please do not act surprised that when you talk about the unsustainability of the current world-order and how the old ways were so much better in a thread about gender roles and the freedom to have children when one wants, and people suppose you to be channeling Harvey Mansfield rather than Al Gore.


roy belmont 05.05.07 at 4:07 am

Matthias- There’s a recursive path, where I say things, you misinterpret them, I reply to correct that, you misinterpret that, I reply again, and it goes on, spiralling every downward. Almost none of the sentiments or stances you’ve hung on me are accurate, or contained in what I said, and the little bit of argument you are making with what I did say is so filled with tropes and cliches I’m done with it. You keep presenting these binary choices and demanding things fit into them.
It isn’t linear, it isn’t binary, it isn’t a choice between grubby superstitious cavemen and super-clean rational hive-units. The contest isn’t between those stereotypes, it’s between lots of types of beings, competing for gene-space, just like always.

sg- There’s some pretty damning stuff available that points to people being turned into “permanent teenagers”, or worse, by advertising, which began marketing things to the so-called baby-boomers for the first time when they were in fact teenagers, who then began to think of themselves as special in that regard, and have now turned their learned and polished expertise on the next generations. So that ten year-olds are now a highly-prized marketing demographic. That I would find that Satanic, and its course hell-bound, shouldn’t be too surprising. The rest of your comment reads like cheap twaddle.

dr. slack- We’re “killing the planet” because of our heedless acceptance of personal gratification as ultimate life-goal, especially when it’s accompanying technological progress. When it’s drug-induced we condemn it, when it’s gained by pedal-to-the-metal acceleration, we celebrate it.
I’m not advocating a return to caveman days, or to patriarchal dominance on the family farm. I’m saying as clearly as I can that the bigotry leveled at those older ways of living is as pathological as racism or any other form of chauvinist prejudice.
The asinine conflating of all disagreement with the blind worship of technology into predictable Luddite cliches shouldn’t need clarifying, or rebuttal, but there you are.

Comments on this entry are closed.