Print Story Primer.
By technician (Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 04:34:55 PM EST) (all tags)
What would you include?

He's twelve years old, has lived in northern California his entire life, and is nerd-smart.

I'm making a very small book for him. It has advice, admonitions, info, field guide stuff, the sort of thing that is mostly useful.

What should it include? I won't mention what I already have; I want ideas without filters.

[edit: I can't believe that I wrote ten years old initially...he's been twelve for a while now]

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Primer. | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 hidden)
This is to give him now? (n/t) by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 04:41:17 PM EST

Nope. by technician (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 05:20:42 PM EST
I plan on giving it to him when he's fourteen or fifteen....right around the time his brother started needing a whole lot of guidance.

So it needs to be mature, not pandering, and not cheesy. Masculine is OK.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm... by Metatone (4.00 / 4) #5 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 06:31:23 PM EST
- Always look for/try to understand the system that is creating the situation.

- You are not your compulsions. Don't deny them all, but don't give in to all of them.

[ Parent ]
Include a condom by duxup (4.00 / 2) #12 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 10:53:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe 10 is too old for fairy tale wisdom by ana (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 05:00:55 PM EST
but you could do a whole lot worse than Instructions, by Neil Gaiman. 

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

good question by clock (4.00 / 7) #4 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 05:25:42 PM EST
...more after i think a little...

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

always carry a pocket knife. by duxup (4.00 / 2) #11 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 10:51:15 PM EST
 Oh good job, you just got the kid kicked out of school and possibly branded a sex offender for life!
[ Parent ]
Doesn't make the advice less sound by clock (4.00 / 3) #13 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 11:34:33 PM EST
Bruce Willis could have ended the first Die Hard movie in 10 minutes if he'd had a pocketknife. You can take that to the bank!

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
That would have been boring though... by duxup (4.00 / 1) #20 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 02:52:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
adolescence is brutal by georgeha (4.00 / 3) #6 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 07:57:58 PM EST
and your most together seeming peers are also suffering it's brutality.

Don't miss a chance to reach out to someone, that chance may never come again.

The Ranger Creed by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 07:59:52 PM EST
aka; Rogers' Rules

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

I can only keep track of the nephews' ages by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #8 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 10:06:21 PM EST
because they were born in 2000.

things I wish my teenage self knew by clover kicker (4.00 / 8) #9 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 10:06:37 PM EST
  1. ladder theory
  2. avoid oneitis
  3. Being smart is nice but don't overvalue it. Smooth people go farther then smart people. Smart without work ethic is useless.
  4. Schoolwork gets diminishing returns. There's a place between being a nerd and a stoner where you work hard enough to make good grades but still have time to enjoy yourself.
  5. Highschool might be fucked up, or it might be fun, but don't obsess too much because at the end of grade 12 that chapter closes forever and you essentially start life over from scratch

almost forgot by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #10 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 10:14:48 PM EST
EncourageForce him to learn to play the guitar in his early teans. There is no downside to being able to play the guitar.

[ Parent ]
In speaking from experience by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 2) #17 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 01:27:02 AM EST
There are two I can tell you from personal experience. The first is carpel tunnel. The second is you'll get scars and have no feeling in the finger pads. Neither one is conducive to a good sex life.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
^ THIS-ITY THIS THIS THIS by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 11:54:01 PM EST
Where in THE FUCK is my time machine!?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Top five things I would have told myself by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 3) #15 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 12:12:42 AM EST
  1. Be nice to everyone you meet. They may not be nice back, but you never know when something like a smile will come back a hundredfold.
  2. First thing every morning and last thing every night, remember how great it is to be alive. The day may have sucked, but the alternative is unthinkable.
  3. "No" is not the end of the world. Get used to hearing it and moving on.
  4. Always have a backup plan. And another plan behind that one.
  5. Scale is important. Know how big the world is and where you stand in relation to it.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

Here's some things I wish I had known... by atreides (4.00 / 3) #16 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 01:01:09 AM EST
Violence is never the best solution, but, when properly employed, is a possible solution.

Everyone lies. The innocent do it so they won't be blamed and the guilty do it because they have no other choice.

Keep walking, even when you don't know where you're going. When you figure it out, you'll be that much closer.

Just because a behavior is undesirable doesn't mean it's unwarranted.

If she (or he) doesn't like you, let it go. Someone else will. If you don't like her (or him), be kind, but be firm.

Life is slow suicide unless you read.

Ask your parents and grandparents lots of questions. One day you may need to know something and they might not be around.

Those who speak probably don't know. Those who know probably don't speak.

Assume people are stupid when you need them to be smart and smart when you need them to be stupid. And when in doubt, bet on stupid.

Try not to be a cynic if you can.

Lastly, if he takes nothing away from all of this, remember these two quotes because neither is wrong:

"The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation." -Benjamin Disraeli

"A witty saying proves nothing." -Voltaire

That is all.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

Dunno by Scrymarch (4.00 / 6) #18 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 10:38:55 AM EST
Choosing to skip learning a second language is like choosing to cripple yourself. Life in a number of countries is structured in a way that conceals this to twelve year olds.

Distinguish schooling from the exam passing game.

Know what your time is worth. It makes the cash poor thrifty and the cash rich efficient.

Learn how you lie to yourself. What do you do that you don't enjoy or have another purpose for? Movies are great, but why did you watch another one of those? This is hard.

Listen to how your body works and how it fails when it fails.

The scientific method us yours by birthright, no white coat required.

Know the shape of the theory in the distance, like mountains that change the time of sunset.

Know when you get lucky. This is hard.

Society is now built to extend childhood to 25. Competence and self-ownership is the only way to shorten this.

Yep, this has pretty much devolved into Polonius.

Iambic Web Certified

Or maybe by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #19 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 10:59:22 AM EST
Scratch all that and go with a copy of Kipling's If. Sexist and from a suspect source but I still don't know a better way of putting it. And the sexism isn't so obvious cause he's a bloke.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Polonius by Kellnerin (4.00 / 6) #23 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 10:13:30 PM EST
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be" is still excellent advice. Which is to say: Help out your friends anyway, but only to the extent where it wouldn't bother you if you never saw the money again.

While I'm here ...

Learn to detect when someone wants attention only for attention's sake and give them none, either positive or negative. This applies to Internet trolls as well as people who have developed strange and incorrect ideas about you in real life.

You notice change most when it's sudden, but things are actually changing all the time. Every so often, think about whether things have gotten better or worse, and whether you want to do something about it.

If you ever encounter a PDF where the margins are unbalanced between the odd and even pages, that's because if you print it on both sides and bind it like an actual book, you need to allow extra space on the inside margin for the "gutter." This will probably never be of practical use to you, but sometimes obsolete knowledge is cool.

"Plans aren't check lists, they are loose frameworks for what's going to go wrong." -- technician

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And on change.. by infinitera (4.00 / 2) #24 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 10:29:28 PM EST
Don't look for what you think you want (or should want), look for what makes things better.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
I liked by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #25 Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 08:55:45 AM EST
TE's idea that Polonius is giving the advice Will would liked to have given Hamnet. But he's also being a bit of a pompous arse, like all advice givers can be, and maybe how Will feels, giving this advice to no-one in particular, or maybe just diluting the sting.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
A good printer by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #26 Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 10:33:32 AM EST
will let you add your own gutters.

[ Parent ]
indexical uncertainty by Alan Crowe (4.00 / 3) #21 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 04:17:20 PM EST
You can learn a lot by just looking. Other peoples lives are all around and you can see their choices working out for good and ill. You can see the lives of people at school, your parents, aunts, uncles, older nieces and nephews. The people at school have parents, aunts, uncles, older nieces and nephews and you meet some and hear about others.

You can see further, though less reliably by reading news and watching television. Novels are interesting, telling a little of what life is really like and a little of what novelists like to write about and a little of what makes a good story. Biographies are less interesting, being more realistic than novels, though they have their own skew towards commercial publishing's idea of who lead an interesting life.

You can see further, and more reliably, by consulting official statistics. Do you really have to be careful on ladders and roofs? You can go to the CDC website and get actual numbers for injuries in falls.

History offers you a disorganized pile of facts about the world. Should you follow and charismatic political leader with a rough followers and a dangerous side? If you read history with a sympathetic imagination you can see young people doing things that seemed like a good idea at the time but ended badly.

It looks as though there is plenty of information available to young people and it should be straight forward to avoid screwing up. Unfortunately there is a snag, which I'm calling indexical uncertainty.

Suppose that you are brought up in a hard drinking family. The ordinary way of understanding is that you can recognize this and see that it works out badly. Choosing to drink less than the example immediately available is obviously correct. That is the ordinary way of thinking and I think life is harder than that.

When you look around you see other people lives from the outside and you see your own life from the inside. These are different perspectives and the nature of the difference is hard to understand. Somehow you must learn the nature of the difference and calibrate yourself.

It is human nature to think that one is normal and average. You have only one instance of your own inner life and that is where you set zero on you inner calibration intending your inner coordinates to have zero-mean. If your own family is actually boringly normal that works out OK.

Let's go back to my example of growing up in a hard drinking family (I don't understand my own life and family so I'm not drawing on it here; this is a naive hypothetical.) You feel miserable because your father gets drunk and shouts at you. You accept that as normal. You look outside and you see school friends with hard drinking families and school friends with T-total families and school friends with moderately-drinking families (which I'm going to call the normal ones).

Your own inner experience is normal by calibration - you don't have anything else to go by. So you incorrectly slot you own family into the moderate-drinking/normal/average category. That is an error and because of it various things will not line up and will not make sense.

You can look at a school friend from a hard-drinking family and see him drinking as much as his father and advise him against it, but it is advice that will mysteriously fail to get through. And he will look at you and see a school friend from a hard-drinking family and advise against drinking so much. However, you will think this is just retaliation against your own advice, which he rejects. You think that your own family is normal and that your own father drinks the normal amount.

The key anomaly is that you think all the children in all the normal families are miserable because their father gets drunk and yells at them. But if a young person is miserable it is hard for him to know why. The anomaly could be rephrased as: you are miserable and think that all the children in all the normal families are miserable too.

Review the logic: one assumes that ones own family is normal. One assumes that ones own inner life is normal. The key anomaly is that the normal children have different and happier inner lives than you do, but you do not have access to other peoples inner lives, so you cannot discover that you are mis-calibrated.

Many people have a big relevation/re-evaluation in their lives when they get to 18 or 21 and circumstances such as national service or going to university, where they have no friends, throws them into intimate contact with people they have not chosen. Stuff starts coming out, about how it was different for other people. Every-one starts from the assumption that their own childhood was normal. For some this is confirmed. Others learn different.

Many of us grow up in a mis-calibration bubble, thinking that our lives are normal and mainstream when they are not.

Standard advice to young people emphasizes the importance of breadth of experience. However, trapped inside the mis-calibration bubble, the idea of experience gets taken the wrong way. If one thinks that ones own life is normal and if in addition it is actually abnormal and unhappy, the unhappiness will encourage you undertake a journey. Driven by unhappiness your journey will be a journey away. Away! But away from where?

It has to be a journey away from where you think you are, not away from where you really are, because you don't know that.

To go back to the hard drinking example. If you knew you were are hard drinker, there is an obvious direction. Go towards moderate drinking. If you think you are a moderate drinker you could decide that perhaps you are mis-calibrated and are actually drinking heavily and should cut back or, equally likely, you could decide that perhaps your life is too boring and sober and you should cut loose and not worry about the occasional lost weekend. Thinking you are normal, you are apt to strike out in a random direction, and if happens to be the direction of your actual excess, problems will be compounded in nasty ways.

From the false starting point of thinking one is normal one takes the notion of broadening ones experience as a journey towards extremes: where else can you go if you start in the middle? The actual point of broadening ones experience is to discover normal, ordinary, and happy. It is a journey away from the extreme towards the middle, but it has to be phrased in terms of a general exploration because the person undertaking the journey thinks that they are in the middle already and the point of the journey is to make the surprising discovery that the middle is some distance from the starting point.

I plan on printing this out by technician (2.00 / 0) #22 Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 06:13:59 PM EST
and pasting it into the book.

[ Parent ]
Hm by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #27 Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 03:09:37 AM EST
12 year old smart me would probably have felt vaguely insulted by such a manual (ah, the pride because of the falls). I guess theres distance or something involved so you can't just drip feed it?

Exactly. by technician (2.00 / 0) #28 Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 12:14:35 PM EST
It'll be hand-written and illustrated, sort of tongue-in-cheek but filled with useful info, and he's several thousand miles away. It's going to take a while to get together, so he won't get it for a couple of years.

[ Parent ]
Every teen by garlic (4.00 / 2) #29 Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 03:13:59 PM EST
Every teenager thinks they know everything. I thought it, my Dad thought it, and his Dad thought it. And as a teenager, you know a lot of things. You're like at the beginning of adulthood, so you should. But there are plenty of things you don't know due to experience. It's ok, it's how the world works. But there are times as a teenager that you'll make a decision that adults with experience would advise against due to their experience, not to their nature as spoilsports. It's pretty easy to ignore their advice. You can learn your lessons the same way they did, the hard way. Or, you can try to take some of their advice with the understanding that they're just trying to make your life easier. There's plenty of chances for you to learn things the hard way, and no way for adults to stop you. But mostly we'd like to help ease you into it, instead of making some of the mistakes we made. You'll think, the world is different, it was never like this for them. In some ways, that's right. In many ways, it's wrong though. Growing up and learning how to live goes through many of the same stages, whether it's the 1600s, 1900s, or 2000s. So sure, you don't need adults telling you what to do, and it's the same thing those adults thought when adults told them what to do. But know that the advice is coming from a place trying to help you, instead of trying to control you.

Primer. | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 hidden)