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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Saturday February 09, 2002
07:38 PM


[ #2743 ]
Dear Log,

So twice in the past week I've seen things on PBS which basically imputed that to be between the ages of 11 and 20 is a pathological neurological condition. It was all just a scientismic replay of the laughable "superpredator" pieces of a few years back. We know about those teenagers and their brains! They must be hopped up on the video games and glue and date-rape drugs, and plotting a school shooting while pregnant!
If being young makes you mentally unstable, okay, compared to what? The peppy sagacity of menopause? The steadfast maturity of a midlife crisis?

Personally I say that the problems associated with being young are mostly caused by the position of young people in society: If you're young in the US, you're required to spend all day in school, an environment that blends the intellectual ambience of a Post Office with the social milieu of jury duty; your chances of getting any feeling of accomplishment from what you do in school are about zero; you can't make a living; you pretty much have to live with people you probably have very little in common with -- i.e., your parents; and you're pretty effectively segregated from people who aren't your age and who could just possibly provide a broader perspective on things (like your niggling perception that life sucks)
That circumstance sounds to me like a very effective recipe for neurosis. I mean, it's no coincidence that when you ask people to describe their most recent nightmare, it will often start out "I'm back in school, and...".

But since I've mentioned societal age segregation, I'll note a ray of hope: Open Source software communities are often very age-integrated -- you'll find people 13 to 63 at tech conferences. It's still not exactly a Benneton ad -- black people and women are quite rare in open source. But at least it's an environment where a clueful person of any age can dive in and actually start hacking, given a few pointers in the right direction -- I've seen it happen!

(The argumentative/contrarian voice in my head says that behind the concept of "clueful" there are all sorts of shared cultural values and experiences. To the degree that that's true, I'm not sure what to do about that, tho.)

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  • Brent Dax has done an absolutely incredible job on Parrot so far, and Zach brings us the tinderbox. Brent is 16, and Zach 13.

  • you pretty much have to live with people you probably have very little in common with -- i.e., your parents; I went to a boarding school from the age of eleven and only really saw my parents at weekends. Although it was a dreadful experience for the first two years (until I was thirteen, and for reasons which I and others were able to remedy as we got older) I'm now very glad that I remained as the final five years were fantastic. This was essentially because I was living with people I liked and

    • I've always wondered if psychological problems are a result of having too much free time, or only become noticeable when there's too much free time.

      You are what you think.
      • Back in the days where people worked 13 hour days, they were nuts anyway. It'd just show up as good old-fashioned child abuse, wife-beating, and people drinking themselves stuporous 24/7.