Re: Making All The Difference

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If you want to be cynical about it, moving your family to the end of a dirt road in North Dakota someplace is probably the best thing you can do for your kids in terms of college admissions. If they look academically respectable and they're from East Jesus Nowheresville, geographical diversity becomes your friend.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:24 PM
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Does it help at all to consider that what you think of as a happy childhood and adolescence is/was, historically, a complete and utter aberration? (I'm going to guess not, but hey.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:24 PM
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Also at that school they will have the opportunity to find out if they are a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a criminal, or a princess. OR ALL OF THOSE THINGS.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:26 PM
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In terms of a happy, independent life for your kids, mine are now freerange anywhere the subway takes them, and if they want sticks to play with, there are sticks available. So I'm all about the city life as freeing and empowering for kids too young to drive. But being trapped too far to walk from anyone else your age is good too, I suppose, if there are, I don't know, rabbits or something? Whatever you people interact out there in the wilderness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:27 PM
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I dropped a "with" somewhere in that bit of little-bitchery.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:27 PM
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``Three generations'', my grandmother used to say, meaning (partly) that it's always been a wicked task to come up with a childrearing-in-wealth strategy that didn't backfire horribly.

I went to what should have been, and was for many people, an idyllic combination: a public high school on a high-SES* ruburban island. Personalized attention out the front door, footpath into the woods out the back, daytrip to a R1 university possible on bike and transit. Me, I hated the society (liked the woods and the U). I became extra neurotic. It still makes me miserable to go back. This might just have been my weakspirited dislike of being so plain and uncertain among the lifelong golden children, but there were also some odd effects of the insularity and ... expecting everything to be perfect? Expecting that all risks can be offloaded?

*The last dirt farmers were being replaced while I was there. Sometimes the actual farmers got great windfall payoffs on the land, sometimes not.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:28 PM
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But being trapped too far to walk from anyone else your age is good too, I suppose

I am still benefiting from the strength and stamina developed by living miles and *miles* from the library and the movie theater, on the course of a race called the Chilly Hilly. Also, I could have learned to plink cans or jump horses well, had I been less timid and less of a reader. Either would have done me social good since (and both are good flow states).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:31 PM
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as going to good colleges, getting high-paying jobs, and feeling perfectly at home among those who feel entitled to run things.

I'm so upset with how this often means grown children scatter and everyone is separated by large geographic distances. I get that the rest of the world isn't as troubled by this. I'm so on Team GSwift, and largely because I want everyone to stay within driving distance.

I mean, I want them to feel free to move away, but to feel pulled back again.

I also know that my heart will be broken. But I figure if I have enough kids, one of 'em will stick around. It will probably be the difficult one, but whatev.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:36 PM
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As noted here before, I grew up pretty rich in competitive UMC and beyond schools, etc, and now live in a slightly more downmarket version of the world I grew up in. I've been kind of stunned by how intense things seem to have gotten around schools, education and status connected to education since I was a kid. It's not that people weren't assholes, just that no one thought you needed to worry about molding your child for maximum advantage should start at age 1 and be waged relentlessly for 18 years thereafter. And I don't think it's just that I was blissfully unaware; my parents are still around and shocked by how much things have changed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:44 PM
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I went to whatever schools in nothing towns with room to walk around, a creek in our backyard in one house! It was fine. I don't remember it as joyous. You grow up, you have nothing to contrast it with. Later on I gravitated to big suffocating urban areas with zero nostalgia for the town with the house with the creek.

On the other hand I don't think it stunted my progress in life in any meaningful way. My professional life is now at a screaming dead end but it has little to do with where I went to school. I think unless you're planning on doing the boarding school to Ivy to law school to Skadden track all that's really going to nudge them toward some-definition-of-success is that you were basically nice to them so they turned out functional and you encouraged them to be diligent in the things they do.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:44 PM
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Fancy schools don't give you grammar, obviously.

Part of 9 may be that the change was particularly strong in LA; it used to be that the traditional Hollywood/aerospace/real estate people literally didn't give a shit if you went to a super fancy college, and the UCs meant that you were pretty much guaranteed (if you were a reasonably bright middle class) a top level, competitive education and a shot at the UMC for cheap. But all that's long gone, and now we really do have hyper competitive preschools and moms who obsessively worry about the educational status of their third graders.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:50 PM
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I think about this sort of thing a lot. My current view is that above a certain floor, educational opportunities aren't really material. A non-dysfunctional school in a city of at least 50k ought to do it. After that, the kids are going to be who they're going to be.

Heebie, while I wish my daughter lived within a couple hours drive, she's really a lot happier where she is, right now, than she would be anywhere near us. (And shows no sign whatsoever of wanting to live even in the same time zone as where she lived from ages 2-22). My guess is that you'll find their happiness outweighing your sadness when your turn comes.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:50 PM
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My kids went to a selective public hs in Chicago, and both got substantial financial aid packages from good colleges in the Middle west. Their older cousins, who went to Ogged's school have done fine, but come from a wealthier nuclear family, and probably paid full price. And all their friends, judging from their weddings, are white.

Compared with mine, or even my wife's in N. Suburban Chicago a generation ago, their high school was a wonderfully nurturing yet cool place, the most diverse of the selectives. Instruction worlds better than mine was. They made close friends very diverse from themselves who come over to our house whenever my kids are home(my daughter's graduated, my son is a junior).

And the freedom of the city on public trans, that LB mentioned was key to their lives from the time they were about 12.

I don't know how reproducible this is. Their younger cousins will start HS next year, and we'll have to see.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:51 PM
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I grew up near there (somewhere MUCH, MUCH lower SES). I remember being astounded at the size and wealth of that high school when we visited for sports tournaments. It was like a different planet. The average ACT there was a 34 the year my high school's was a 22. I've never figured out why my parents didn't seem to care at all about schools, including where I went to college. (Short answer: they grew up in the golden years of public education in CA and went to Berkeley when it cost $30 per semester.) If I think about it long enough, I end up vaguely resentful that they were so oblivious to "things parents do for smart children."

The cynic in me says that the people who really run things are all at fancy academies on the East Coast, using "winter" and "summer" as verbs.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:53 PM
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I will say that the random local completely uncompetitive preschool, local public elementary school in a poorish neighborhood, and selective but not top end of the NYC public school system middle/high school is turning out great for us so far, and the kids aren't miserable, driven, or anything. I may have deprived them of their chance to rule the world, but I wasn't expecting that to work out anyway.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:55 PM
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Anyhow, the truth is that in the low-growth, high returns to capital world of the future, your "my kids will run the world because of their education" plan is a sad joke. At best they can end up as reasonably compensated, higher-end servants of capital, or erudite blog commenters.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 2:57 PM
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I've been kind of stunned by how intense things seem to have gotten around schools, education and status connected to education since I was a kid. It's not that people weren't assholes, just that no one thought you needed to worry about molding your child for maximum advantage should start at age 1 and be waged relentlessly for 18 years thereafter.

Wanna know how I know you're white not from an immigrant background?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:04 PM
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I've been kind of stunned by how intense things seem to have gotten around schools, education and status connected to education since I was a kid. It's not that people weren't assholes, just that no one thought you needed to worry about molding your child for maximum advantage should start at age 1 and be waged relentlessly for 18 years thereafter. And I don't think it's just that I was blissfully unaware; my parents are still around and shocked by how much things have changed.

The safety net is weaker now, inequality between classes has grown, inequality WITHIN classes has grown, any mistake can be tracked forever and penalized... this is the subject of Noah Smith's latest post.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:04 PM
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The thing is: Jammies and I are not 99th percentile of intelligence. I think we're probably 92-93ish. So if the kids go to a high school with a population of 5K students, there will be plenty of competition - enough to fill AP classes in whatever is offered. Enough that our kids realize that they're not the best and need to figure out what they'd like to do with their lives, because "being the best forever" will already seem off the table.

That and large public universities.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:05 PM
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I'm curious, but not enough to really look into it, how much has changed at Berkeley High. It's not a selective high school in the sense that there's only one in the city, but quite a few people would go from private junior high schools into the public high school. I didn't find it to be very inter-student competitive and there were a few people who did the heavy club-joining, student government, extracurriculars stuff. They didn't seem like bad people.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:06 PM
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Yeah, I dunno, look at my cousin: grew up in total poverty, mother in a weird minority religion, artist/poet alcoholic father shacked up (literally) in the woods with another woman, dyslexic, went to okay, but not amazing local public HS. And he got into a well-regarded SLAC, started his own non-profit based on his senior project, became a TED Fellow, and is married to a model/musician. He's not rich, by any means, but the govt. of Bolivia flew him down there to consult a couple of years ago. Not too many rich kids can say that.

And look at the kids I graduated from my best-in-the-city urban blight HS -- lawyer, professor, professor, poet/arts administrator, programmers, teachers, other varieties of professional. Shit, I could have gone pretty far myself if I hadn't wasted so much of my potential.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:07 PM
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when I think that my kids will fully inhabit the ethos of success in America circa 2014, I want to get far away from here, to the end of a country road, not quite as remote as our place in NM, but with space to go for walks, and play with sticks, and go to pretty good schools, and not worry about whether taking the harder Calc class will put their weighted GPA and class rank in jeopardy.

I really think this is a bit of a false dichotomy. It's all the same country (which, btw, contains lots of places way more remote than where you were in NM), with the same ethos of success. The local expression of it varies, and in the more isolated areas often ends up being "you automatically lose" rather than "you don't have to participate in this system."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:07 PM
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way more remote than where you were in NM

Where do you think I was?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:13 PM
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I'm assuming it was the place in the pictures you posted to Flickr.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:16 PM
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15 & 16 pretty much cover the relevant ground, I think. And at any rate there is zero guarantee that exposing your kid to all the right education, institutions & people doesn't end up awakening in her/him* a burning, unquenchable drive to become a highly unrenumerated cultural worker. Also as they get older you get to know your own kid's quirks and peculiarities, so that it becomes blindingly obvious he/she wouldn't be happy and is not cut out to be a mistress/master o the universe. Or maybe she/he is in which case perhaps you should actively undermine?

*abandoning Maoist spelling.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:16 PM
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20 It's not a selective high school in the sense that there's only one in the city

Wow. I would have guessed that city would need at least four or five high schools. (I also would have guessed the population was two or three times what it apparently is, though.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:20 PM
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I guess so! (I thought I'd posted from more than once place, but I can't remember.) That was...pretty damn remote. But it's a big country, and yes, you can certainly get more remote.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:22 PM
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19: I might well have turned down the fancier options (or wouldn't have wanted to spend my parents' money on it), but it would have been nice to have been making a more informed decision that I was. It's stupid to dwell on, but I'm always amazed when I meet folks who had such different opportunities. Like, summer programs? Huh? I, uh, played tennis in summer. Wait, where you went to college matters that much? Not just the GPA you end up with? I thought graduating from college was the big hurdle. It's a slog of realizing that at best, I'm oblivious about the easiest ways to be successful.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:22 PM
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I worry a lot less that my kids will succeed academically (they're doing great--only problem is that my oldest spends too much time reading in class to do her projects at as high a level as she's capable).

I worry much more about a) passing on my depression (genetic, die is already cast on that one) and/or b) having the entire goddamn environment collapse on them with a Mad Max style roving bands of cannibals society the result. I feel like I should be doing more with teaching them survival skills, stocking up on ammo, etc., but I'm too much a creature of my milieu to even know where to begin.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:23 PM
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And at any rate there is zero guarantee that exposing your kid to all the right education, institutions & people doesn't end up awakening in her/him* a burning, unquenchable drive to become a highly unrenumerated cultural worker.

There are many many families where the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. These families will be eminently successful in instilling in their children the necessary drive to optimize and maximize the hamster wheel. You poor shmucks, however, run the risk of having a weirdo kid who can't hack Wall Street because he can't get the hang of shmoozing and really wants to join the EPA, anyway.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:24 PM
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I'm too much a creature of my milieu to even know where to begin

Ravalli County, Montana.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:25 PM
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Buck has set up an archery range in our building's boiler room (I am so not kidding), which should increase our children's chances of survival in any postapocalyptic future requiring them to kill doormats with chickens printed on them (continuing to not be kidding) with a bow and arrow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:26 PM
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16 what Halford said or, WTF are you talking about the Global Warming apocalypse, or the wars and depression that will precede it by decades, is gonna get em fore they have a chance to be bitter failures.

...and feeling perfectly at home among those who feel entitled to run things.

I have never even been able to see those people. Can't imagine the restaurants, neighborhoods, cars. My boss's boss was just another flunkie at under $200k. $100k is outasight for us, and we waste too much at $80.

Maybe it will end badly, but life's been great so far.

Teach 'em reading's (or movies or art or helping others or whatever) better than fucking anything and social status is nothing but self-imposed pain. They'll be happy in a hut.

Until the nukes fall.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:27 PM
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I thought I'd posted from more than once place, but I can't remember.

You did, but there were enough domestic-seeming pictures from the one place to make it pretty clear that you lived there. And that place is not one that I, at least, think of as being particularly remote, but obviously I'm looking at it from a very different perspective.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:27 PM
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(I will say that basement archery is surprisingly entertaining. Hard on the arrows when you miss the target-made-of-doormats-with-chickens-on-them, though -- cinderblock apparently beats arrow every time.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:28 PM
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cinderblock apparently beats arrow every time

You need to upgrade to the dynamite-tipped ones a la Bo and Luke Duke.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:29 PM
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only problem is that my oldest spends too much time reading in class to do her projects at as high a level as she's capable

So, she's going to take over Unfogged at some point? Some time in the next 20 years she should be able to figure out how to monetize it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:30 PM
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Buck has set up an archery range in our building's boiler room (I am so not kidding)

How, uh, sharp are the arrows?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:30 PM
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We lived in C/ownP/int. It's 60 miles from the nearest Walmart/McDonald's/stoplight. I call that remote. Alaska doesn't count, man.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:30 PM
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37: God, if reading in class counted towards GPA I would have had an 8.0 (at a school that maxed at 4.0).


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:30 PM
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38: The boiler room is locked. It's perfectly safe, honest! A little insane, maybe, but perfectly safe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:32 PM
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39: Yes, that was my guess. Not particularly remote even by Rez standards.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:34 PM
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How many ounces is a clown pint?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:34 PM
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41: I was more concerned about stray arrows hitting other stuff in the boiler room. Like, say, boilers.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:35 PM
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Yeah, god Ogged. I can't believe you had the privileged temerity to call that remote.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:35 PM
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Oh, for crying out loud. I will not surrender my rural cred so easily.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:35 PM
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Oh, no, the layout isn't at all like that. Archery is in a big dead-empty room fifteen yards long. The actual boiler is through a door and down some stairs behind the archer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:36 PM
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47: Ah, good.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:37 PM
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I don't know how much has changed in the 18 years since I started Fancy Ruling Class College, but at the time there were enough students with a certain kind of background so as to constitute a type: children of boomer parents who had themselves gone to Fancy Ruling Class Colleges but who chose to settle in rural areas or otherwise lead bohemian lives detached from much conventional social striving. As a type, these students were usually more interesting, more grounded, and 'better' people than the median at Fancy Ruling Class College (even if one of them wrote a book part of which drew cultural lessons from how he was raised that the commentariat would almost certainly, in the aggregate, find insufferable).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:37 PM
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What I learned at aspirational but not actually Fancy Ruling Class College is that you should never, ever raise your kids in the NY suburbs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:39 PM
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I'm not disputing that 60 miles from a Walmart is extremely remote by the standards of most Americans. I'm just saying that there are lots of places, even in that same area, that are way more remote.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:39 PM
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48: Buck's weird, but not weird enough to be using essential building infrastructure for target practice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:40 PM
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Every time someone I know moves to the other side if the Caldecott tunnel because their kids turned 3 "and she/he needs a yard to run around in" I spare a moment's sympathy for the unholy amount of time and energy that kid will spend as an adolescent trying to get the hell OUT of the suburbs.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:43 PM
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there are lots of places, even in that same area, that are way more remote

True. Not many of them inhabited by white folks, from what I could tell. I'm glad we've reached comity on this, because I was reviewing my notes from all those scalping parties I attended.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:43 PM
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My guess is that you'll find their happiness outweighing your sadness when your turn comes.

This reminds me that I've been meaning to thank Smearcse for the gentile jokes in the Ted Cohen thread a couple weeks ago.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:44 PM
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Anyway, my point in 22 was that even in those places, remote beyond compare, American society and its ethos of success has a huge impact (mostly negative) on people's lives. You can't escape it, short of actually leaving the country or something.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:44 PM
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26: It's amazing how many students you can accommodate if you're ok with students not have desks for a few days at the start of the semester. Class-size was increasing rapidly when I went there. I think the freshman class had about 150 more students than my senior class, although attrition probably accounted for some of it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:45 PM
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Not many of them inhabited by white folks, from what I could tell.

Well, yes. Although there are occasional exceptions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:45 PM
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I guess it shouldn't be surprising, but there are McDonalds in a lot more places than Wal-Mart.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:46 PM
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It's really remarkable just how few remote locations there are in the Eastern US.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:49 PM
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even in those places, remote beyond compare, American society and its ethos of success has a huge impact

I'm not sure I understand, because this might be trivially true, insofar as the manifestations are so different.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:49 PM
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I was happy to break up with where I went to middle and high schools, but I'm glad we remained friends. And I can still see the merits in raising a kid in such a place. That said, I wouldn't want to raise my kids in that environment, and have made a conscious choice, on a couple of occasions, not to do so. But I don't think there's any evidence that I'm making the right choice, just the one that's less likely to make me more neurotic, which will maybe serve the kids interests.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:53 PM
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My go-to example of "remote" is the town where teo went to college, which I guess he would characterize very differently.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:53 PM
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Can I send my own budding Artemis/Katniss over to join in the archery sessions?

I don't worry about my kids "feeling perfectly at home among those who feel entitled to run things" - I'm pretty sure they (at least the girls) have already decided those people are wankers. But fucking hell, my kids are ridiculously awesome, and I'm pretty sure they will "make it" according to their own definitions of making it.

I dunno, I spent years as a hippyish home educator, listening to people just wanting their children to be happy. And I know that now there are plenty of people far more intense about the whole thing than I am. But I was happy when Kid A said she was going to apply to Oxford, and I said, "apply to my College!" and then I looked up the acceptance rates - which neither me nor my parents would have ever dreamt existed - and said, oh no, not there then, it's got one of the lowest rates in the university. It's hard not to get involved when I just seem to know more about the whole idea of school and university than my parents did.

25 years ago, when I was applying to university, no one's parents went with them for open days or interviews. Now, the vast majority of parents accompany their teenagers to open days, and a sizeable minority take them along to interviews. I'm very conflicted on this issue (not the interviews, just the open days).


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:53 PM
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Anyway, I'm on a plane, so it goes without saying that I gobbled the usual fistful of benzos. Maybe taking seriously anything I say isn't the greatest idea.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:54 PM
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one of them wrote a book

Isn't that one friends with someone here? Anyway, yes, that situation would be the best we could hope for; sometimes I wonder if I'm up for the more intensive parenting it would require. Maybe!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:55 PM
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61: It may well be trivial, but I'm thinking of things like how much education you need to get a job and the difficulty of jumping through those hoops for most people in those places. And obviously if you're a middle-class white person living in such a place for some reason and you want your kids to go to a good college, you're facing the same issues you would anywhere, plus additional difficulties from the isolation and lack of local opportunities.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:56 PM
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Also, I barely graduated high school and went to the public university that didn't ask to see my grades. Then I did reasonably well and got into a bunch of good grad schools, a path to what passes for success that I still think is available. Regardless, my personal history has made me much less uptight about my kids getting into the right college than my social set would suggest. As long as they go to college and do well, I'm sure they'll be as fine as the structural constraints that Halford and others have mentioned will allow.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:57 PM
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Ugh, I'm sending the kids to what's on paper the worst school district in the state, though obviously I don't believe it is. And I'd been hoping to keep them socially comfortable in the housing projects most of them came from, but it's gotten so dire there that I was actually a bit afraid for the first time when I stopped by last week. Their tuition will be paid at any state university, but I'm not sure if that's going to be the best thing for any or all of them. I'm clearly failing at certain (most?) parts of UMC parenting.

Also, my kid with a broken leg will not fucking stop walking on it and I know it's partly her spatial problems and that she honestly doesn't know where her body parts are at any given time, but that's making me feel much more failure-ish than not doing enough to help them fit in with the ruling class. (They do know that they eventually need good enough table manners to eat with the queen and that they aren't there yet.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:58 PM
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my kids are ridiculously awesome, and I'm pretty sure they will "make it" according to their own definitions of making it

I don't know how far the UK is behind the US down the hellhole, but this is part of my concern, that anything other than the standard definition of making it these days involves lifelong financial stress.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:59 PM
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I figure the environmental catastrophe and the resurgent aristocratic system are going to be the same thing, in practice, as society is reduced to resource-and-violence rentiers.

My plan: own watered land, nieblings willing to defend it and me in my dotage inherit. Family and chosen family are producing some excellent nieblings, too.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 3:59 PM
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My go-to example of "remote" is the town where teo went to college, which I guess he would characterize very differently.

I would actually agree that it's surprisingly remote for the region of the country it's in, and correspondingly annoyingly difficult to get to. Remoteness in the West is just on a totally different scale, though. (And that's not even considering Alaska.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:00 PM
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68: I was just thinking that this place (in response to 49) that this place really is unusual in terms of academic achievement; I'm not sure exactly how I ended up here with neither an elite undergrad education nor an advanced degree. And while I don't have kids, I suspect that if I did, because of that I'd feel the same as you.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:01 PM
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70 is true, but the only reasonable way to protect your children from the financial stress of the future is for you to have, right now, a shitload of capital which they can inherit. Which you have failed to do, so you fucked up. Letting them go to a high school that has good test scores and a chess team and a dance studio isn't going to make up for it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:02 PM
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the same ethos of success. The local expression of it varies, and in the more isolated areas often ends up being "you automatically lose" rather than "you don't have to participate in this system."

I am still not sure I've parsed this right; is it, in isolated areas, there's still exactly one definition of success and it isn't (seen as) possible?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:03 PM
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With ten years of doing other things and some periods of abject failure mixed in here and there, 68 basically describes me, too. Did growing up where I did allow me to weather the many false starts and failures better? Dunno. My wife grew up in the sticks and has been essentially much more motivated and competent at her life all the way along.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:04 PM
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is it, in isolated areas, there's still exactly one definition of success and it isn't (seen as) possible?

No, there are others, but to the extent that people want to participate in the larger American society (and they do), they have to play by its rules, which systematically disadvantage them.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:04 PM
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lifelong financial stress

? Literally living hand-to-mouth worrying about whether to be warm or fed? Or just keeping an eye on your bank balance and not being able to buy everything you want?

Clearly there are huge amounts of people who wouldn't be said to have "made it" but aren't destitute, so I don't really understand what you mean.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:05 PM
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63: I drove by there recently on the way to somewhere else and while I didn't leave the interstate I was on so I never drove out to the town itself, I'm going to say that it seems remote once you've been living on the east coast for a while. I didn't see any signs on the interstate warning me that there would be no services for 100 miles. Also, there's a McDonalds near the interstate with a grand piano so you know the whole area must be classy.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:05 PM
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Buckets of sympathy for the broken leg, thorn, hopefully right now my kid is looking at a perfect xray and handing in his crutches... It's been a long 7-8 weeks. Waiting for the text to say he gets to dance in class today instead of spending it on the sidelines in excruciating stretches. Probably shouldn't tell your daughter that some pretty rowdy dancing can be done one-legged on crutches!

I understand the most important thing to remember when dining chez or avec Brenda is to not make any moves on her wineglass until she has really & truly drained it.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:06 PM
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74: but if you imbue them with Castiglione and The Diamond Age from year dot, they might manage as attendant lords. (There must be a lot of more current pop culture references. The Office? Someone's {sociopaths, dupes, losers} analysis thereof?)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:06 PM
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68: CA barely graduated from ogged's high school, mostly due to that high school's habit* of expelling students that it didn't think would go to college.** Pump up the volume!

*One imagines this must have changed since the 80s.
**And then he went to a large public university in the midwest that accepted him on his ACT scores -- after his father forged his signature and applied for him. (He dropped out after fleeing town ahead of Johnny Law, but then ended up at SJC.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:07 PM
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I drove by there recently on the way to somewhere else

This is very difficult to do.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:07 PM
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Like I said, I didn't leave the interstate. It's an expansive definition of "by".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:07 PM
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There were some moments in high school when I got pretty upset with my parents over the whole college-planning thing, but it really wasn't their fault. They didn't really know anything about higher education; for them the idea that they could have a kid who would get a college degree at all seemed pretty ambitious, and they naturally assumed it would be at one of the local state universities. So we clashed a little once it became clear that I wanted to go elsewhere, and we were all too ignorant to know much about what financial resources were available for doing that. They would say things like "well, you could always go to U of L or UK and then get a graduate degree someplace like Harvard or MIT". Now that I've seen what graduate admissions is like at that sort of school, I'm sure that wouldn't have worked out, and my parents' attitude that "work hard and do your best" is all the advice you need to get whatever sort of job you want seems sort of quaint.

It was really only in my last year or so of high school that I was exposed to upper-middle-class types in more than a superficial way. I was really shocked that my high-school girlfriend's parents insisted that she couldn't major in the sciences like she wanted because it wouldn't pay enough, and demanded that she go into banking or law. They were chemists and collectively made probably four times my family's income, so the idea that they saw their own lifestyle as not nearly good enough for their daughter really weirded me out. Still does, although now I encounter that kind of attitude a lot more often.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:07 PM
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I drove by there recently on the way to somewhere else and while I didn't leave the interstate I was on so I never drove out to the town itself, I'm going to say that it seems remote once you've been living on the east coast for a while.

I think a useful practical definition of "remote" for various parts of the US is as follows:

East: Not on an interstate
West: Not on a paved road
Alaska: Not on a road at all


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:08 PM
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Somewhere between those, I think, Asilon. Hopefully someone else will give details, as I'm commenting while watching two kids in the grips of insanity.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:09 PM
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I will say that growing up in the area I did allowed me to meet a lot of really smart people who knew how to do things with computers that I couldn't have learned in school.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:09 PM
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Thanks, dairy queen. No crutches yet, if ever. No cast until Thursday, when the swelling will have gone down enough. She has a fracture or two right down at her ankle, and so we'll have to do another set of x-rays, which require their own restraints and drama, but at least once she's immobilized in a cast, things will be more secure.

I've been carrying her in a backpack, which I shouldn't since 60 lbs is past the weight limit and since it looks ridiculous, and I'm fairly sure some dude took a picture or us at the grocery store. I also wheeled the other two in the wagon for a mile or so yesterday while carrying her, and they're over 100 lbs. without considering whatever the wagon weighs. Either I'll break my back forever, or I'll get more muscular than ever before.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:10 PM
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84 -- even there, except for the Scranton to Watertown run (obviously important to the jet set and high finance), it's pretty difficult to do.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:10 PM
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The Dwarf Lord and I have taken `guard labor' as the reliable job path; if you can keep capital's capital together, they let you sleep in the vestibule. (Resting and vesting!)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:12 PM
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89: oy. Fingers crossed for muscular you and a walking boot for her (I broke things with my crutches as a kid and I was older, and trying not to.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:13 PM
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90: Man, Watertown is like the most depressing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:13 PM
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I don't believe in education as disability. It's bullshit that the elite wants to put over on you so you're happy to miss out. General education iz general; it's antifragile.

That said, do something with your hands too. Especially if you're a woman - or a UMC man - who are so often intimidated by materials, tools, and technology in the broadest sense.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:14 PM
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Nia is counting on hairstyling getting her far, and I suspect it's the sort of thing you can at least barter post-apocalypse.

And I'm whining about the broken-leg thing, but the cast should last less than a month and it could be so much worse.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:16 PM
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85.1: Want to trade for my father's advice? Don't go into physics; there are no jobs. (The only field where nepotism might work in my favor? Yep, definitely should avoid.) Don't go to UChicago, I hear it's really an awful place for undergrads. Oops.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:21 PM
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That said, do something with your hands too. Especially if you're a woman...

I thought we were moving away from that topic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:22 PM
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68 is my own pattern--2.1 out of HS--and I think not uncommon for intellectuals, especially boys who often have authority issues when of HS age.

Good performance at my local State U, followed by elite grad school.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:23 PM
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We're talking about Americans in America 2013, FFS, which is like talking about Brits bouts 1870 or Germans or Japanese circa 1890. Honknobbing among the elites, or for that matter most of the rest of us, gives only two choices:martyrs or monsters. Empire winning may be even worse.

And remember they pull the cannon fodder from the boonies. Schoolteachers got to preach the suicide pact or fall outaplace. Martyr or monster is your future.

Somebody ask me just had kids wants a good life i got two words:South America.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:24 PM
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I will say that growing up in the area I did allowed me to meet a lot of really smart people who knew how to do things with computers that I couldn't have learned in school.

Yeah, I do wonder sometimes where I would have ended up if I'd moved to Denver as I originally planned after college, instead of the Bay Area. Then I wake up screaming and count my blessings that I had the pure blind luck to find myself in a world-historically great economy at the dawn of an entirely new industry.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:24 PM
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I also remember that my school careers service advised everybody I knew to apply to a community college-equivalent, first of all, just in case. This was totally out of sync with the school, and everyone I knew. L/eah and A/my and I all got silly numbers of A*s but we were all told to plan for the worst. This is why I applied to universities that required 10-20 UCAS points less than I actually got.

May have been because they expected me and everyone I knew to fail and go to jail or become prostitutes (both were said). But one assumes they actually looked at the mock exam papers.

Hey...


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:27 PM
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which is like talking about Brits bouts 1870

no, there was no future in the UK in 1870. no. go on thinking that. it's all right sweetie. awwwwww.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:31 PM
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We're talking about Americans in America 2013

Somebody needs to turn the page on the calendar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:39 PM
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66 is me. The individual is a lovely one, with both a meaningful continuity to that book, and a good sense of humor about it. Most of his FB is pictures of giant mushrooms he finds in the woods.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:45 PM
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Several times in the late 50s and early 60s, Watertown was a weekend destination for our family. We stayed in a downtown hotel, on the square and loved it. I was captivated by what I took to be the American-ness of it, of the multiple papers at the newsstand, of cigar smoke and shoeshine, of the swooping sound of nighthawks outside our hotel window, of the way life didn't seem to stop at night. Ottawa was a provincial little place in those days.

Place will always have a certain magic for me, like I'd walked into the pages of Robert Frank's The Americans.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:47 PM
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I don't have a hell of a lot to add, other than that I looked up my high school in Wikipedia to make some boring on-topic comment and discovered that the year I was a junior escort at the senior prom -- walking girls up the red carpet while their dates parked the cars, except in a defiant act of genderqueeritude when I got to walk my friend Dave up the red carpet as his date Michelle parked their car, refilling the pretzel bowls after everyone had arrived -- 2 Live Crew played the prom, and I have no recollection of this at all.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:50 PM
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102: A future for monsters.

I am suddenly reminded of the UMC mother in the Band of Brothers episode "Why We Fight."

Or you could watch the last Miyazaki.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:52 PM
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The only career advice I remember my parents giving me is that I should consider the Coast Guard, as I needed structure in my life but wasn't tough enough for the other services. This advice is unbelievably unlike them, and doesn't seem very likely for me, but they remember saying it. (And are both ex-military, being just pre-Boomers so the last generation for which it was a kind of normal UMC path.)

Doubtless I was crazy-making annoying in adolescence and also not paying any attention to their more coherent advice, and also they were on the sad slow road to divorce and therefore bug-nuts. Still, odd.

Now funny in hindsight! And also I have liked and respected most of the Coasties I've ever known! One of them was at MSFT; when the blowhards got going about renting MiGs, our team would egg him into stories of flying helicopters around NYC in some rough years. IIRC, they had to fly under the bridges for safety reasons, and ruffians would drop car-batteries on them for fun, and this complicates that thing some helicopter pilots can do with restarting the rotors by falling.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 4:56 PM
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108.last autorotation

107.last Have you seen it yet? It was very good.

This whole conversation has me seriously depressed being in my forties and doing a change of career thing after having a very strange work history before and being in between jobs right now having just finished a master's in the field and now frantically applying for positions.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 5:12 PM
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But at least I got to the derp doge.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 5:20 PM
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I grew up with formerly hippie parents of state school educations who weren't particularly intellectual but were smart and liked Edward Gorey and Maurice Sendak and took us to Tanglewood one summer. They were drawn to people who had a certain amount of avidity and had a good sensitivity for what kinds of enrichments were valuable to my sister and me and which were sunk costs (hello, soccer league). We lived on the wealthier side of the border in a school district divided by class and politics, and I gathered that I lived in a slightly weirder and more liberal bubble within the boring rich suburb. My parents identified with The Big Chill but thought of it as a ripoff of Return of the Secaucus 7.

I had a fortuitous degree of continuity with my friends, as well, a good mix of rebels, nerds and theater geeks. I think the most important thing I got from my parents was the persistence, however haphazard, of their countercultural ideas. I knew we boycotted Saran Wrap because DOW made napalm; I knew my parents thought of the school administration as philistine bureaucrats; I pulled Abbie Hoffman's autobiography off their bookshelf when I was 13; I went to a hippie-dippie small-community alternative summer camp that oriented me towards my small-community alternative college. For a while it looked like I was going to be an anti-PC turd becauseĀ I grew up rich (enough) and white and no one was going to stop me from expressing myself but I got over it.

When I was at the weirdo college my dad took me on a road trip to the Grand Canyon and asked me if I'd thought about learning something useful so I could have financial security. That was always the lesson he'd always wanted to teach me but the lessons taught and the lessons learned were always miles and miles apart.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 5:21 PM
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My dad always wanted one of his to be the one who built the time machine used to travel back and kill Hitler. He was so disappointed none of us majored in physics.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 5:41 PM
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After looking up which Watertown, I see I did a subset of the Watertown Scranton route. At the interchange where I turned away from Scranton, most traffic and the fancier cars headed for Scranton.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 5:46 PM
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boomer parents who had themselves gone to Fancy Ruling Class Colleges but who chose to settle in rural areas or otherwise lead bohemian lives detached from much conventional social striving

Uh, hi.

It worked out fine for me, but TBH I think it's mostly because I had the blind good luck to graduate in '99 in a roaring economy. My first post-college job, entry level in the nonprofit world, paid $34K.*

It felt like a fortune to me, because I had the opportunity to live at home during college and took it, working three-quarters-to-full-time while in school, and graduating with $0 debt.

So on my lovely little $34,000 I saved like a maniac while living at home for another year (cooking and grocery shopping in lieu of rent) and was able to buy a house at age 25, before the bubble peaked.

Fifteen years later I make $61K, after a ridiculous year or two at $70K back before the recession. It puts me in the piddling end of the bell curve among my fellow alums, but they were all pre-something so I never expected to have anything professionally in common with them.

My s.o. was appalled recently when I said I hadn't had a raise in three or four years. I know all the structural reasons that I *should* care, but in all honesty I manage to pay my mortgage, my 10-year-old car drives just fine, I buy my groceries at the store people love to hate, I live on a tree-lined street within seven minutes' walk of the train...it's pretty darn nice.

*Yes all right I have no problem talking about money no really I don't no I don't think it's an intrinsic reflection of my personal worth as a human being huh must be how I was raised. YES, by liberal hippie weirdos.**

**Not really; my siblings think I'm weird about this too.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:03 PM
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12: the kids are going to be who they're going to be.

64: I'm pretty sure they will "make it" according to their own definitions of making it.

This strikes me as getting to a central issue: ideally, kids grow up feeling free to adopt the definition of success that best suits them. Think about how often we've talked about code-switching here; that's not just about switching between, or among, modes of behavior, but between conceptions of the good life.

70: this is part of my concern, that anything other than the standard definition of making it these days involves lifelong financial stress

As Asilon says in 78, this is probably an exaggeration. There's no reason a person can't make the median income (or greater) while doing something awesome and non-evil. You could do, say, this, which does this.

On code-switching: I wonder whether it's not much, much easier to learn down the socioeconomic scale, as it were -- to lower your financial standard for the good life -- than it is to learn up. Is that true? I'm not sure why I think that. If it is true, it might be best for kids to learn the upper echelon as a start. Suddenly I'm unsure of that.

Back to the original thought, in any case: maximizing the kids' range of experience would be essential for their code-switching abilities. They should learn how to properly hold a knife and fork, *and* learn how to start a fire, plant tomatoes, and work in solidarity with others who are doing the same. Send 'em to camp. Go camping. Move to Puerto Rico for a year. There is such a notion as right livelihood, that which is fulfilling. It's got to be decoupled from financial considerations.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:10 PM
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You guys had a bubble? We didn't get one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:10 PM
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Why am I full of white people with matches?


Posted by: Opinionated Puerto Rico | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:16 PM
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Why am I full of white people with matches?

They need to clear some space to grow tomatoes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:17 PM
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I heard whole bunches of New Mexico is basically empty.


Posted by: Opinionated Puerto Rico | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:25 PM
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It's awfully flammable, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:26 PM
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Topically, I went to a high school so small that it didn't even have calculus. I tried to take it as a correspondence course assisted by the math teacher, but I'm not very good at self-motivation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:27 PM
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116: Yep. It was pretty modest compared to most places (and WAY more modest than FL and AZ) but Southeastern PA did far more of one than Southwestern PA did, AIUI.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:29 PM
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Prices have increased quite a bit in certain neighborhoods, but there wasn't a pop.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:35 PM
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113: I was also confused by that (at first thought Watertown, MA), but then I realized which one idp meant. My father used to go salmon fishing near there, and it'd often be a stop up on our annual trip to go fishing on a small lake near the Rideau Canal. I can see the charm of that area, or that area as it was, and I guess I saw it as sort of the opposite--once we got there, we're almost to Canada, which is better in indescribable ways. (Except too many mosquitoes in the summer, but that's how lakes in the North Country work.)

If teo went to the land grant university I'm thinking of (my wife went there, too, and I spent too many weekends visiting), I don't think of that interchange is particularly close; it really is weird island among ruralness, and the rural lands change character as you go further north. Everything's either associated with the old canal line or the lake or the Adirondacks or the border, and their corresponding economies or former economies.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:41 PM
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Aaargh, crutches are gone but one more week of the boot and *two* more weeks of no dance. Poor guy.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:41 PM
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122: Yup. We even saw that in my corner of not-quite-SE PA.

123: They sure have. We're trying to buy and it's a little intimidating, or alternatively frustrating to look at what prices were like not too long ago.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:45 PM
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If teo went to the land grant university I'm thinking of

I did. Several other commenters did too, but I think it's especially associated with me around here because I started commenting while I was there.

it really is weird island among ruralness

That's a good description of the setting.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:45 PM
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127: Err, put the appropriate article in After high school her family decamped to two counties east of there, in a particularly unpopulated township. My sister-in-law got married a few months back and as we were staying at their house we decided to find a hotel for the wedding night. For kicks, we went to the one run by the college; it really is night and day comparing the upperclass/privilege/luxury/power/hippie-liberality (the last more in the town than the university) to the land-based culture not so far away. I do still sort of wish I hadn't been wait-listed there; I mean, half the people I know who went there are extremely unhappy with the experience and I love it (as I've only visited and it is absolutely beautiful sometimes), but, enh, they say the monocots have more chlorophyll when they're external to your experiences.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:51 PM
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I was happy to break up with where I went to middle and high schools, but I'm glad we remained friends. And I can still see the merits in raising a kid in such a place. That said, I wouldn't want to raise my kids in that environment

SOB


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 6:52 PM
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128 is true but the hippies are taking over the countryside as the collapsed economy looks to foodieism as a savior. There's a fancy restaurant in Trumansburg now.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:18 PM
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Archery is in a big dead-empty room fifteen yards long.

That's not very long, for archery.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:28 PM
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It's not long at all, no. On the other hand, it's what we've got -- it's not like you can go shooting a bow and arrow in a city park, unless you want to get into embarrassing conversations with irate policemen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:31 PM
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Or irate citizenry generally, come to think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:33 PM
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Doesn't your building have hallways?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:35 PM
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Not ones without doors opening onto them, no.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:36 PM
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Not randomly, no, of course not, but... none of the parks have archery ranges??


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:36 PM
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136 to 132.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:37 PM
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If the doors open inward and are across from each other, you can tie the knobs to each other and get some secure space.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:37 PM
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We'd have to go out to Queens for the nearest one. Nothing against Queens, my family are all immigrants from Queens, but it's a bit of a trek for a weeknight.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:37 PM
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But really the more important question is: what sort of bows are they using?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:38 PM
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From rooftop to rooftop isn't an option?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:38 PM
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Haven't the hippies always been interested in the countryside, or at least that part of it in the intersection of Tompkins County and Cayuga's watershed? And is the restaurant any good?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:40 PM
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141: If you're doing that you're only a step away from crossbow ziplining.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:41 PM
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Is this a bad thing for some reason?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:42 PM
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What about this? http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/willowbrookpark


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:42 PM
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I went to an extremely preppy, college-admissions-obsessed high school that was a 45 minute drive away from my house. I was miserable there, not least because the long drive away from most everyone I might have been friends with. I would have been insanely happier at the public high school within walking distance of my house, and would probably have gotten into the undergrad institution I ended up going to anyway.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:42 PM
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145: in what sense is that closer than Queens?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:43 PM
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145: Queens, I have no objection to going to, it's just inconvenient. But Staten Island? No.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:43 PM
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144: I'd imagine the NYPD frowns upon it because it is totally awesome.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:44 PM
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147: Closer to where? I don't know where LB lives.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:44 PM
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I feel like this archery thing should be bringing us closer to making iPhone atlatl a reality, but I'm missing a few intermediate steps.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:45 PM
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If I think about it long enough, I end up vaguely resentful that they were so oblivious to "things parents do for smart children."

I occasionally feel that was as well. I've decided that there's no point in worrying about it because the path that I've ended up has turned out to be reasonably satisfying (*knock on wood*), with a trajectory that differs in details, but is similar in shape to the one that Witt describes.

But I do feel like it's remarkable the degree to which the college/career advice that I got from my parents boiled down to, "if you are a smart, quirky person the odds are you're going to end up having to invent jobs for yourself anyway." I feel like the did a good job of raising me, and teaching me a number of skills as far as being a genuine and ethical person, but, still . . .

. . . this place really is unusual in terms of academic achievement; I'm not sure exactly how I ended up here with neither an elite undergrad education nor an advanced degree.

If anyone's counting, I also have neither of those (and unfogged sometimes makes me feel like that's unusual).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:45 PM
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Now it'd have to be doge atlatl anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:46 PM
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150: A small island off the coast of New Jersey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:46 PM
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150: RTFA. I feel like enough information is there that you could probably pinpoint the exact building with a couple day's effort.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:47 PM
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That's just hurtful, Moby.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:47 PM
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There is some archery in Manhattan, Kansas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:48 PM
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Now I want to know how far Witt's SE-PA youth was from mine. Ever compete in Forensics, Witt?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:49 PM
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Oh, I bet you could get down to about a 4x4 block square without much trouble, but I doubt anyone could pinpoint the building unless they're actually a neighbor.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:50 PM
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155: I've updated my stalker notebook with "LizardBreath lives in a building with a boiler. Probably on an island. Look for damaged chicken mats."


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:50 PM
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I'm unhappy that people use the same word for giving speeches as they use for finding out how dead people got killed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:50 PM
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I went to a good public high school, and I remember being upset in college because the kids from the prep schools had had the opportunity for better classes and so they had a leg up. On the other hand, I was a pretty miserable teenager due to all the academic pressure/parental insanity placed on me, and shiv was happy and unacademically inclined, and there's lots of different paths to a good life.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:52 PM
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146: In contrast, I went to a heavily college-admissions-focused high school that was an hour's drive away with no traffic and two hours in typical traffic, and it was great for me and I despair to think what would have happened to me if I had stayed at the local school. A major fear for my kid is that the local urban high school won't be nearly as awesome as mine was.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:53 PM
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We'll make it awesome, Nathan. Us and all the other nerds with kids who live here now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:54 PM
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On the other hand, it's what we've got -- it's not like you can go shooting a bow and arrow in a city park, unless you want to get into embarrassing conversations with irate policemen.

Oh you can't? YANKEES, sigh. Here you can hunt deer with a bow and arrow within city limits.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:57 PM
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I think not having a magnificently awesome high school experience can really be OKAY. it's okay.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 7:58 PM
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I wonder if LB has even checked the regs on bow hunting in the parks. She probably just assumed it wasn't allowed.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:02 PM
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There's wildlife, but I think people object if you shoot at skunks with a bow and arrow. I expect the skunks probably return fire.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:03 PM
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I haven't read through all of the thread, but I would like to register my willingness to help with archery practice chez Breath.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:05 PM
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I had a magnificently awesome high school experience but my friends and I only figured it out in retrospect. At the time everything was boring and stultifying and oppressive except, fortunately, each other.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:05 PM
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And actually ! That was sort a joke but if you find a hill with a target and no people I bet you shoot not yourself but children without getting into any serious trouble. Maybe there are no people where you live.


Posted by: a urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:05 PM
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Goddamn iPad.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:06 PM
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That's a hell of an iPad you've got there, urple.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:06 PM
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171 was supposed to say "too many".


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:08 PM
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Shoot children, not yourself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:08 PM
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Plus other misc. corrections.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:09 PM
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161: yeah if you figure it out explain it to me. as far as I can tell forensics just means attention to detail or something.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:10 PM
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People keep saying everyone here is so credentialed, and I'm seeing, not for the first time, how many took unconventional paths to get where they are. That saying--Fitzgerald?--about there being no second acts in American life sure doesn't apply to education.

And lots of people of various ages in this thread feel like their upbringing, or the one they're giving or gave their kids was good enough.

I mentioned the North Shore cousins upthread. These are genuinely educated and decent people; we all like each other. But our lives, and the lives of our kids are a marvel to them. The unsuccess, the financial insecurity seem like a nightmare to them, they know that whatever the advantages my kids have, and they've openly admired their freedom, not least to fail, they couldn't stand it.

Now my wife and I both came from Pocket/Weezily families, and that's what we raised our kids in. I was unemployed for 5 years in my early fifties, and my wife was an adjunct, a part time college instructor for part of the same time. I don't recommend it, but whatever toll it took on us, it doesn't seem to have effected our family dynamic as much as you'd expect. Some ridiculously happy memories come from that period, along with the anxiety. And we had time for our kids, and to be together. The kids have in recent years, while they have been in college looked forward to family vacations as much as we have, 4 closely-related adults in a small car.

I honestly think that lots of people lack the confidence that they'll be all right. They don't think they can raise kids in the city, they don't think they can live without security and success. We were born to it and raised in the conditions we live with, and I've come to think of it as a great privilege.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:15 PM
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Shoot not too many children.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:21 PM
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142 -- yes and yes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 8:44 PM
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I do still sort of wish I hadn't been wait-listed there; I mean, half the people I know who went there are extremely unhappy with the experience and I love it (as I've only visited and it is absolutely beautiful sometimes), but, enh, they say the monocots have more chlorophyll when they're external to your experiences.

We actually discussed this not too long ago. I was one of the unhappy ones, but Halford loved it. Take from that what you will.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 9:03 PM
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My L.A. suburb high school was fairly competitive and chock full of Berkley and UCLA bound asians. For for better or worse I resisted academic urges (and drove my parents nuts in the process) and graduated with a C average and a thirty something ACT score.

I don't regret not having my daughters in some ultra competitive high school one bit. Once upon a time I couldn't imagine myself not living in an L.A. or SF, maybe Seattle, etc. I came to realize I just need a city that's not big but big enough.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 9:39 PM
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My dad is a professor and I went to a prep school, and still I applied mostly to colleges we had no clue how we'd pay for, being unaware of the basic details of how "sticker price" relates to scholarships and what people actually pay, etc. None of which I got into despite a 1550 SAT, National Honor Society, president of Nerd Club, etc. So, don't imagine that if your parents were at a basic level of awareness they would have been working the system to get you on the fast track to Wharton.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 9:52 PM
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129: I mean what I said literally, that I wouldn't want to raise *my* kids there. My older boy is super sensitive -- or whatever -- and he wouldn't respond well to the pressure (much as I didn't respond well to it). But for my high-achieving friends, it was an awesome place.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 9:54 PM
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+t = meant


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 10:03 PM
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So you don't still mean it?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 10:05 PM
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There's wildlife, but I think people object if you shoot at skunks with a bow and arrow. I expect the skunks probably return fire.

I have been told by one with experience in such matters that as long as you shoot first, you can avoid the return fire by walking briskly away from the dying skunk. Never tried it, though.

That saying--Fitzgerald?--about there being no second acts in American life sure doesn't apply to education.

Or much of anything else, as near as I can tell. Outside of a very small set of American lives, it's pretty much nothing but second acts.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 03-31-14 10:49 PM
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there being no second acts in American life

Does anyone, ever, quote this except to proclaim how wrong it is?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:06 AM
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I imagine that bow-hunting of subway tunnel rats would make for good sport. You would probably need to pick up some night-vision gear.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:13 AM
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I imagine that bow-hunting of subway tunnel rats would make for good sport.

I'm not sure that bows and arrows would be much good against the giant alligators, however.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:39 AM
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And so we circle back to the arrows with the dynamite tips.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:42 AM
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That happened to Wile R. Coyote a bunch of times.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:49 AM
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Stupid middle initial.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:49 AM
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188: some people quote it to say how ambiguous it is. Does it mean, as most people think, that no one gets to reinvent themselves in American life? Or did he mean that American lives have first acts and (presumably) third acts, but no second acts - no complication between the introduction and the denouement? (The classic three act structure of 1) introduce character 2) put character up tree 3) get character down from tree).

The actual context is an essay about New York written in 1932, "My Lost City": " I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York's boom days." So even Fitzgerald didn't seem to believe it. And in the context he is talking about a second act in the sense of "the bit where all the grim stuff happens" - he's talking about how the Great Depression came after the Roaring Twenties.
http://www.nbu.bg/webs/amb/american/4/fitzgerald/city.htm


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:49 AM
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As far as "stupid wrong things said by F Scott Fitzgerald" go, it's well behind the whole "oh, you'd never get another major war happening in Europe, everyone's lost the stomach for it" speech in The Great Gatsby.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:52 AM
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Let's hope this kid doesn't end up at a lesser Ivy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:49 AM
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ogged whatever you do just don't raise the kind of kid who cries over a B- on a midterm.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:54 AM
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14% of applicants get into Cornell?! Safety school, indeed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:54 AM
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Coming late to the thread. For choosing a place to raise kids, IMO a lot depends on the personality of the kids. Kids who are introverted or particularly susceptible to take up what their friends are doing, for these kids I think a conventional nice neighborhood in the burbs and a school where the median kid cares about grades is beneficial.

That said, the barren wastes north of say Dempster will certainly toughen them up inside-- have the kids picked out their favorite emo bands yet? Is Liz Phair's old house a place people go visit? Maybe her autobiographical songs could be a kind of manual for how to grow up there.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:07 AM
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It's ok if he's crying over a B- because I broke his lazy fingers, right? It would be some kind of fitting justice for all the Ds and Fs I got if I had a kid like that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:08 AM
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Don't be a hurter, lw. Anyway, Dempster is in Evanston, which is a different school district, and much, much cooler and more diverse than where we live. We would have lived their in a minute if not for proximity to my mom and my wife's job. We do have friends who are raising their kids there, in an explicit "diversity is good" way, but they wound up pulling their kids out of the public schools, so that experiment didn't go quite as planned.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:14 AM
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the barren wastes north of say Dempster will certainly toughen them up inside

I'd say so.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:19 AM
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AISIMHB we were convinced upon moving to our new place that we would be greeted as gentrifiers, perhaps most especially by the neighbors who have lived in the house for fifty years. Until we figured out that the neighbors' daughter (who lives upstairs with her husband and two kids) teaches at HMS and the grandkids go to the tony-yet-urban prep school-of-choice for Camberville residents who can swing it and distrust the public schools.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:31 AM
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cooler and more diverse

Kidding. Not so diverse anymore, I think. Is Liz Phair's old house a thing? How about this place?

I guess that from my half-snobby, half egalitarian perspective, there are two risks-- First, for a kid to fit in too well, and become if not Maserati dude, the B+ midterm guy in a taupe baseball cap and convertible beemer in the other aisle. Second risk, of course, not to fit and consequently be unhappy.

IMO parents have less influence than we want to-- we can avert some disasters, obviously have the power to invite some disasters in, but it's a pretty coarse process. And seriously, Liz Phair seems OK, there must be other survivors also.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:44 AM
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I grew up in a very average to lower class city that happened to have a pretty big university where my parents were professors (a lot, though far from all, of my friends parents were profs too). I went to public schools that were totally integrated by race and class. Once my mom went back to work I had lots of time after school to play freely -- I grew up playing ball in the street (do people remember shouting 'car!' to break up a play? Very hard to imagine that today), wandering through vacant lots and patches of woods, walking a mile to school alone or with friends, taking the bus downtown alone, etc. In some ways it was a lot of fun, but it also had a lot of stress to it too. There was a lord of the flies element with the roaming packs of kids I played with, and in general some tension around risk. It's a mistake to think that free-range is stress free for a kid. I mean, you're little and you're exposed to lots of risks. I remember planning my walk home to avoid everything from particularly ferocious dogs to mini-gang type conflicts between different neighborhood kids. I was right in the middle of the pack, so I wasn't bullied but I wasn't dominant either, and I definitely knew that there were other kids who could beat me up if they wanted to. I think I was somewhat nervous/anxious as a kid, so that's part of it, but there just was a reality of risk out there. When I was ten or eleven years old alone waiting for the bus downtown, and the weird one-eyed homeless person was wandering around muttering, I felt my lack of size keenly.

I have a lot of good memories of my free-range childhood too, there was this sense of exploration and just the openness of things. But the bottom line is that I don't think kids are ever really *free*. However you do parenting, a kid is a small and inexperienced creature in a big and possibly threatening world.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:45 AM
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UCs meant that you were pretty much guaranteed (if you were a reasonably bright middle class) a top level, competitive education and a shot at the UMC for cheap.

I think of the California higher ed system circa the 1950s to sometime in the 80s (?) as one of the great social democratic creations, and its downfall as a real tragedy.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:48 AM
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We do have friends who are raising their kids there, in an explicit "diversity is good" way, but they wound up pulling their kids out of the public schools, so that experiment didn't go quite as planned

Just inside Chicago from Evanston we had a good local, although through the local school council we had to fight to keep it that way. My kids walked to school and came home by themselves when they felt like it; an afterschool program was just a matter of staying and then coming home. Just that locomotion, that autonomy was I think worth a lot.

It's true that my son went to a selective pre-IB program for middle school, where I did have to drive him, at least to the school bus stop, until his last year or so, when he started taking public trans. Both kids as I've said went to the same selective HS, in the South Loop, and were partaking of the art school scene going on around that location pretty early on. From 8th grade both predominantly traveled by themselves.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:49 AM
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Oh, one lesson that parents can and do teach, I think: Kids learn how adults get along with and think about their older parents from looking. So living near a parent and helping out will I believe have dividends, much more so than a coffee shop with an authentically pierced barista.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:54 AM
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UCs meant that you were pretty much guaranteed (if you were a reasonably bright middle class) a top level, competitive education and a shot at the UMC for cheap.

When I was applying to college in the late 80s, it was almost unheard of at my HS (public, but high average SES and very academically competitive) to leave California*. Stanford and Berkley were the pinnacle, UCLA was below that with USB a close 3rd. Santa Cruz was for weirdo hippy types who were reasonably good academically, & etc. The whole college ecosystem was in state. Even people who were admitted to Harvard, while they were flattered by the acceptance, never seriously considered leaving California.

Looking back now, the destruction of the UC system was just about to get rolling. My class got in just under the wire.

*I did, but I was definitely in the minority.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:09 AM
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You're obsessed with Liz Phair, lw. If I'd linked the list of alumni, it would have been stacking the deck; get the fuck out of there would have been the unshakable consensus. Julia Allison? Penelope Trunk? Don Fucking Rumsfeld? We've got you covered.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:10 AM
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We're undersupplied with evil graduates. One of the guys from Foreigner, that's pretty bad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:17 AM
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Oh wait, one of the fathers of strategic bombing. Hey! That's pretty evil!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:21 AM
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I have a feeling that the pattern, common on this blog, of poor-to-middling HS grades but very high Board Scores, followed by academic/intellectual success in college and after is very highly gendered.

I'm not saying no guys got good grades in HS. But a woman who followed the above pattern would be rare, I think.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:26 AM
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210-212: man, we had to make do with Marilyn Monroe (although she didn't actually graduate from my high school) and Jeff Bridges.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:35 AM
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At least according to wikipedia, my H.S. is pretty poor in famous alumni unless you count members of well known 80s bands.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:49 AM
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213: At the risk of self parody, I'll say that was me. Oh, my school was very relaxed about students with a philosophical objection to working, so my average stayed middling rather than terrible, but my grades weren't on the same planet as my standardized tests. Dr. Oops, who developed a philosophical objection not only to working but also to showing up, is an even better example. The world is not as consistently gendered a place as it seems.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:59 AM
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I got good grades in high school, but not by virtue of working hard. I don't really know what happened there.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:11 AM
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Josh: YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!! Marilyn Monroe went to my high school, which is not the same one. Also, Paula Abdul.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:12 AM
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Wait, Paula Abdul is a commenter here? Confused now.

Demi Lovato, talented singer of Let it Go was homeschooled.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:15 AM
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I said rare, not impossible and I was waiting for you. Anybody else?

And no guy should feel some sort of reverse intimidation because he happened to get good grades. Would have been ridiculously easy with a modicum of game-playing, as we all know.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:15 AM
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216.last: The alma mater of Dr Oops, oudemia, and helpy-chalk basically exists for the high school slacker who will deign to pay attention in class later.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:17 AM
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talented singer of Let it Go was homeschooled.

Of course she was. You can't very well go to a public school if everything you touch turns to ice.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:34 AM
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Arguably the DINOiest U.S Senator and the douchebag founder of overstock.com were both in my high school class. I even sort of knew them both.

But my h.s. doesn't have any genuinely distinguished alumni -- well, I guess that depends on your opinion of Giuliana Rancic and Spike Jonze.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:52 AM
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The world is not as consistently gendered a place as it seems

Believe me or not, when the pattern occurred to me I was struck by unfair it was. The possibility exists that most non-conforming girls give up on themselves or internalize their lack of success as determinative. I don't know what other slackers experienced, but adults who believed in my talent and told me so were necessary in my development, and I don't know how many girls got or get that.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:56 AM
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205 very well expressed and accurate. When on transit with my son since he began traveling by himself it has been clear that he is constantly scanning for alien kids, particularly in packs.

One thing that has made my own experience as a parent quite different gas been the intensity of the boy's interests. There just isn't any issue about range of extracurricular activities or what to do during vacations/after school. He's known what he wanted to do since he was just shy of four and despite being a pretty laid back person in general he's just got on and done his own thing. Doesn't address the anxiety ogged expressed in the original post, could in fact heighten it!, but trying to direct him otherwise from his inclinations would be so pointless that the end result is to simplify.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:58 AM
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I'm pretty sure I win the notable high school alumni competition:
Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Shirley Temple
Jason Collins (first out NBA player)
Eric Garcetti (current mayor of Los Angeles)
Sally Ride (first female astronaut)
...


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:04 AM
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218: And yet she appears in a yearbook from my school.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:04 AM
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226: how old are you? Also, you're unfairly double counting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:09 AM
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Um, A&F model, original Real World cast member and host of MTV's The Gr/i/nd was a year behind me. Then I think he hooked all his friends up with Br/u/ce W/e/ber so all the dudes I went to hs with were male models.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:09 AM
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229 is pretty great. I met that guy once. Not on "The Grind."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:11 AM
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Shortly before I would have started there, I moved from a few blocks away from New Trier to attend what the Twin Cities fancies its version of same, but we've got nothing remotely like the list in 210. I think Ric Flair might be our most prominent alum.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:11 AM
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222: I suspect that would leave you eligible for an IEP, but I haven't had to watch the movie yet and don't know what the least-restrictive educational setting might be for her.

My high school doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. I know I've told the story of the former mayor of the metropolis who was our graduation speaker, which was opposed by much of the faculty because she's not a college graduate and inspired a bunch of anti-abortion picketers who brought their graphic fetus signs to our graduation not because she did anything to make abortion easier while she was mayor (not that I'm really sure how she could) but because she didn't (presumably illegally) ban it or some shit.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:17 AM
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My high school has a wikipedia page, so I can tell you all that our only notable alumni are a mediocre MLB pitcher and the front man for an early-'00s one-hit wonder band.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:20 AM
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Most high schools have no famous alumni unless you count obscure professional athletes and local politicians.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:22 AM
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I did find out from the wikipedia page that my high school was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church. That's pretty awesome.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:23 AM
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The guitarist or bassist or something for The Scissor Sisters (ugh) went to my HS. That might be it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:28 AM
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--Some football players
--Michael Connelly (mystery writer)
--Chris Evert-Lloyd
--Billy Crudup
--Parris Glendening (former gov of Maryland)
--Steven and Chris Conrad (workmanlike Hollywood careers)


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:29 AM
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Is there a name for the English version of the Valley girl accent? Because I'm hearing it from a neighboring table and it's kind of excruciating.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:31 AM
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Essex girl?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:32 AM
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Among well-known classmates of mine (not alumni) (from two separate high schools), there's someone referred to in this thread, and two prominent convicted murderers. Also a Diffr'ent Strokes actor, but not one of the best ones.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:35 AM
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I mean, the classmates are alumni, I guess, but those are people that were in my class.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:39 AM
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But enough with this cryptic bullshit: It was "Sam," the least appealing character from Diff'rent Strokes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:40 AM
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Wikipedia has a separate list of notable people associated with my high school and I don't recognize 90% of the names on it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:52 AM
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243: If it's any consolation, they probably feel the same way about you.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:57 AM
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I haven't read all the comments here but I feel like how they grow up is going to have way more to do with your parenting than their schools. I grew up in an excellent public school district and did tons of activities and was a valedictorian and everything. But my parents were sorta helicopter parents and NEVER let me fail at anything, and were always helping me with homework and projects, and basically were a giant safety net (and really, still are). As I get older I wished they'd pushed me to be more independent and figure things out on my own when I was a kid because I'm in my mid30s and really just dealing with that stuff in the past few years. So: let your kids fail and mess up and deal with stuff on their own and they'll be fine.


Posted by: Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:58 AM
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Norm Van Brocklin and Ross Valory. Just try using both in a sentence unrelated to high shool.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:19 AM
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216/224

My initial impulse was to write "How does the blog know you're actually female?" But I couldn't find a second sentence that included scotswoman.

Audrey N/ffenegger lived in the very apartment that I grew up in after I moved out. The direction I always go with this is wondering what happened to the friends and acquaintances who have dropped off the face of the earth, and to think about the ones who died young.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:21 AM
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(I didn't know RV, but my HSGF's sister did. I've mentioned before seeing his band at a junior college auditorium, pre-Steve Perry.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:27 AM
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Dick Morris, Jeffrey Loria, Samuel Huntington, Das Racist, Thelonious Monk, and James Cagney all graduated from my high school.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:42 AM
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Ben Stein, Goldie Hawn, Sylvester Stallone.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:47 AM
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Melody from "Hey Dude" Ben Stiller's wife, and some football players who were maybe pretty good.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:49 AM
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Inventor of the RaspberryPi, E/ben U/pton. We also had the first hacker convicted under the Computer Misuse Act.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:50 AM
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Ben Stein, Goldie Hawn, Sylvester Stallone.

If you've had sex with all three, you win a prize.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:03 PM
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And that prize's name is: Ben Stein's syphilis.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:08 PM
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The subject of my HS has come up here recently among Columbusites. One hall of fame class sports star, who was already its most famous graduate when I went there 40+ years ago, and a number of minor celebrities. A number around my age look like interesting people, but I never knew them. The only one I knew and who might remember me is Erin Moriarty.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:11 PM
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254. Oh my god, was that you?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:17 PM
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My high school alumni includes two still living US Presidents. As well as Olivia Wilde, among others. Privilege is my middle name.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:19 PM
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Hmm. Two kinda washed up actors, one TV host, one notorious child-murderer, coupla basketball players, coupla state legislators, some other people of dubious prominence.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:39 PM
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257: You went to the same secret Soviet communist indoctrination high school that Clinton and Obama went to? Cool!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:40 PM
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205: When I was ten or eleven years old alone waiting for the bus downtown, and the weird one-eyed homeless person was wandering around muttering, I felt my lack of size keenly.

That was actually Odin. You should have asked for a boon.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:41 PM
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259: Secret Soviet communist muslim indoctrination high school. As seen on tv in "The Americans".


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:43 PM
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Teran Evans ('97), interior designer/TV personality
Teman Evans ('97), interior designer/TV personality
Meklit Hadero ('98), jazz and folk singer and songwriter
Craig Silverstein ('90), first employee of Google
Chloe Mann ('09), University of Florida Women's Volleyball player
Nancy Yi Fan ('11), New York Times Bestseller author

I knew Craig, sort of.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:45 PM
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My high school alumni include Randy Rhoads and Blake Lively. Also, Debbie Reynolds, Tim Burton, and Tootie from Facts of Life.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:51 PM
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Looks like the most famous graduates of my high school were Mitch McConnell and Pee Wee Reese.

Also, Wikipedia lists two graduates of my high school who are younger than I am as "notable alumni". I feel unaccomplished now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:51 PM
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264: I've got one who is 16 years behind me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:53 PM
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Oh, wait, four of them are younger than I am and notable. One a beauty pageant winner, one an actor, one a football player, and one who writes soundtracks for video games.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:54 PM
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The last of whom has a company called "Loudr". Get off my lawn!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:56 PM
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Yeah, dz, you cheating double-counter, when were you there? Mrs. K-sky strode those lawns (first combined class).


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:58 PM
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Edward Said, Neil Sheehan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Apparently, Uma Thurman was a senior the year I was a sophomore; don't remember her at all.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:59 PM
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I'm pretty sure essear is hinting desperately for someone to edit him in. I heard from a very reliable source that he was an inspiration for The Big Bang Theory!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:00 PM
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My high school graduated National Review writer Bob Costa, rapper Asher Roth, and a Miami Dolphin of some note. Maybe one of the guys from Warrant, too. (Checks Wiki). Ooh, and Gabe from The Office!

My crush on Olivia Wilde is based half on her uncle being Alexander Cockburn.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:01 PM
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The high school I graduated from just has 4 not-very-famous NFL players, one guy who played pro basketball in Finland, and a Bush administration aide. The high school I got expelled from does better, though it would still be a stretch to call most of these people famous.

Grace Han Wolf, '82, First Korean American woman elected to office in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Adam Falk '83, President of Williams College
Maya Ajmera '85, Founder and President of The Global Fund for Children
Matt Welsh (computer scientist) '92, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University and author of several books
Rhiannon Giddens '95, member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops
Scott Jacobson '95, comedy writer and four-time Emmy winner
Christina Hammock '97, NASA astronaut candidate of the class of 2013.
Hao Zhu '95, cancer researcher and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern.
B. Scott '99, Internet Celebrity, TV personality and blogger
Jud Bowman '99, President/CEO of Appia, Chief Technology Officer of Motricity


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:02 PM
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I was at a magnet school, so I might have some famous alumni eventually, probably in tech, but I know of none so far.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:05 PM
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(This thread is ageist.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:05 PM
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270: That's citable.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:05 PM
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Apparently the best my high school can claim is a couple members of the Fleetwood's. My son's does quite a bit better. And yet he's still a pretty decent and grounded kid, as are his friends.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:07 PM
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Ugh. Fleetwoods.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:07 PM
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Hey, I dated someone on one of these lists. Glad to hear he's doing so well!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:08 PM
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My school can claim two of the twelve Ron Johnsons on Wikipedia's disambiguation page.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:09 PM
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I'm thinking parsimon will be appalled by this thread as well.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:09 PM
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I forgot that one of my elementary and high school classmates went on to play professional soccer in Germany (and is on the notable alumni list). In fact she started seven years ago. What a slacker I am.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:11 PM
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278: CRAIG SILVERSTEIN!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:13 PM
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272: I know who Ad/am Fa/lk is from his early days of doing more important things research.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:13 PM
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Ron Jeremy and George Tenet were HS classmates.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:19 PM
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Oh my. Apparently my school also produced a particularly odious Republican hack.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:21 PM
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I have to say, back when I was considered famous enough for a wikipedia page, it wouldn't ever have occurred to anyone to tag my high school in the entry. And no one has done so for the legitimately famous guy who recently won a prize for a book. It's really just the epitome of useless filler in the bio of someone notable for something else.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:28 PM
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The drummer in Shakira's band, and a guy with a much more significant NFL career than I'd realized: 15 seasons, a Pro Bowl, and 28 career TDs. The former was 2 years behind me, the latter 2 years after.

I was fully expecting there to be no notable alumni. I've always advocated for opting out of the kiddie achievement race: give them resources they request/need (e.g. dense lessons or tutoring), put them in functional academic environments, and make sure they're not squandering their abilities. The middle class is just alright with me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:32 PM
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dense lessons

My kids are naturally dense.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:35 PM
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(286(b) not intended as a challenge. Also looking at wiki, I see that my grandfather's entry does not include high school, while his father's entry does. Someday some true wikigeek will write a program to standardize this sort of thing.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:36 PM
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I have a Watertown--NY, sorry about any confusion--memory from the early 60s that occurred to me this morning: American soldiers.

You'd see convoys on the roads, like the just-completed stretch of I-81. Overtaking the trucks, the soldiers would wave at you. I now know they'd have been from Camp Drum, now Fort Drum, and were on their way to and from their training areas in the Adirondacks. We'd also see them in town.

And they made a strong impression that has stayed with me. They seemed relaxed and light-hearted, like they were on a field trip or something. A lot of individuality and openness; you didn't need to be a European or Asian woman to get that appeal.

And their clothes and gear: loose fitting, olive drab--no camo then--huge boots. And their rifles were big and impressive--it was the M-14. They looked just like the plastic toys, "army-men" that were so common then.

The Canadian Army, which we'd see around Petawawa, made a very different impression. Much less friendly, meaner even. Their equipment looked different, their rifle was small. I now know it was the Fabrique National FAL, an assault rifle and more advanced than the M14, although it fired the same ammunition.

I guess hegemony was already doing its work.

I later served in the US Army, at the end of the draftee era. Same equipment, but a much darker mood. An M-14 was not romantic if you had to carry it, clean it or if you had to absorb the shock of its NATO round.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:38 PM
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228, 268: just naming alumni, not alumni who were there the same time I was. I would have thought that'd be clear from the fact that Shirley Temple was on the list.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:47 PM
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Camille Paglia!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:48 PM
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Oh, are we listing notable alumni that we overlapped with?
Here goes:


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:52 PM
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One time I met the cast of Veronica Mars.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:52 PM
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The short list of mostly local sports personalities on my high school's list will just make it easier for me to become the most famous. I figure killing everyone ahead of me on the list will do it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:57 PM
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Kill enough people, and it won't matter if they're on the list or not.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:00 PM
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263: one of the less-well-known actors from "The Facts of Life" was a year ahead of me. As was a dude who ended up on Baywatch" for a while.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:02 PM
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296 is true, but it really depends which people not on the list. I'll bet one could kill thousands of Rwandans without becoming more famous than the average local sports personality.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:06 PM
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Huh, actually looking at Wikipedia apparently we can claim a shit-ton more people than I realized. Including Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, and two members of the Germs. And Samantha Mathis was only 4 years ahead of me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:07 PM
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excellent public school district

was a valedictorian

Couldn't have been that good.

No, I haven't forgotten that you called me skeezy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:08 PM
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Okay I'm going down the list. Sports figure, theater actor I've never heard of, dude from Foreigner, some 23 year old asshole with a startup, corporate asshole, old writer, dude from Sha Na Na, corporate asshole, golfer, nationally famously hapless politician, nationally famously hapless politician's wife, baseball prodigy, author with much more famous wife, author I've never heard of, funny guy with cult following, strategic bomber, general, sports corporate asshole, documentary filmmakers, sports figure, funny guy with cult following, corporate journalism author something?, old-timey golfer, boxer, minor actor, minor (but good!) musician, minor sports figure, minor presidential aide, author I've never heard of, wrestling promoter (!), hollywood asshole, corporate asshole of some sort, genuinely very famous journalist, sports figure, sports figure. Meh?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:10 PM
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298: what if you killed them with a baseball?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:11 PM
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Well, the school that my dad went to, my brother went to, and I went to for my last two years of school, has a pretty impressive list, which apparently includes Daniel Radcliffe, Abbott (Flatland), Asquith (PM), Kingsley Amis, Julian Barnes, and my all time favourite has always been William Perkin, who invented mauve.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 3:22 PM
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Apparently that kid from high school who I once got high with out of a salsa-jar bong in his parents bathroom is now an actor with his very own IMDB page.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 4:58 PM
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Who doesn't have an imdb page, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:01 PM
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291: Nobody thought you went to high school with Shirley Temple, we're just curious because we have connections to that school.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:16 PM
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301: oh, oh. I like that one funny guy with a cult following.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:19 PM
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307: but not the other?! Aw.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:22 PM
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Wow, I would not have thought my high school had any notable alumni to put on its Wikipedia page. Turns out there's three of them, only one of which I'd heard of by name, the other of which played a supporting role on a TV show I watched.

I grew up in a medium-okay part of a crummy town. Parents both valued education but only to attain respectable middle-classness. My dad has a semi-Nixonian resentment of "Eastern elites" which combined with both my parents' fairly limited cultural horizons to basically rule out my seriously considering any college that had any kind of fanciness, and they discouraged me from attempting an academic career. My parents are basically the opposite of Unfogged commenters, and yet here I am.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:31 PM
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David Koresh?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:31 PM
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308: Aww. I'm not looking! I just know one off the top of my head. He wears a monocle! Where else could he have gone to school?!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:32 PM
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Col. Klink?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 5:38 PM
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Now I'm confused.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:32 PM
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Hogan's Heroes was a great show, not withstanding the fact that the star was murdered by somebody so creepy he could only be played by Willem Dafoe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:37 PM
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314: Jesus?!?!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:44 PM
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Just because Dafoe can hit levels of creep no one else can, it doesn't mean he can't play uncreep. He's just that good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:48 PM
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