30 September 2008

Barak Obama "Only Knows How to Talk" But Real Men Need to Know More, Lots More

Most of us lack the type of voice that causes young women to faint, and celebrities to go insane. So we actually have to, you know, know things. If we want to rise above the lifelong incompetence of an ever growing graduating class of psychological neotenates, we had better learn about the real world we inhabit. How to see that things go right, and what to do if things go wrong. Here is a short list, the bare minimum:
1. Handle a blowout
2. Drive in snow
3. Check trouble codes
4. Replace fan belt
5. Wax a car
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
7. Use a stick welder
8. Hitch up a trailer
9. Jump start a car

Handling Emergencies
10. Perform the Heimlich
11. Reverse hypothermia
12. Perform hands-only CPR
13. Escape a sinking car

14. Carve a turkey
15. Use a sewing machine
16. Put out a fire
17. Home brew beer
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric
19. Move heavy stuff
20. Grow food
21. Read an electric meter
22. Shovel the right way
23. Solder wire
24. Tape drywall
25. Split firewood
26. Replace a faucet washer
27. Mix concrete
28. Paint a straight line
29. Use a French knife
30. Prune bushes and small trees
31. Iron a shirt
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper
33. Change a single-pole switch
34. Fell a tree
35. Replace a broken windowpane
36. Set up a ladder, safely
37. Fix a faucet cartridge
38. Sweat copper tubing
39. Change a diaper
40. Grill with charcoal
41. Sew a button on a shirt
42. Fold a flag

Medical Myths
43. Treat frostbite
44. Treat a burn
45. Help a seizure victim
46. Treat a snakebite
47. Remove a tick

Military Know-How
48. Shine shoes
49. Make a drum-tight bed
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup

51. Run rapids in a canoe
52. Hang food in the wild
53. Skipper a boat
54. Shoot straight
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
56. Escape a rip current

Primitive Skills
57. Build a fire in the wilderness
58. Build a shelter
59. Find potable water

Surviving Extremes
60. Floods
61. Tornados
62. Cold
63. Heat
64. Lightning

Teach Your Kids
65. Cast a line
66. Lend a hand
67. Change a tire
68. Throw a spiral
69. Fly a stunt kite
70. Drive a stick shift
71. Parallel park
72. Tie a bowline
73. Tie a necktie
74. Whittle
75. Ride a bike

76. Install a graphics card
77. Take the perfect portrait
78. Calibrate HDTV settings
79. Shoot a home movie
80. Ditch your hard drive

Master Key Workshop Tools
81. Drill driver
82. Grease gun
83. Coolant hydrometer
84. Socket wrench
85. Test light
86. Brick trowel
87. Framing hammer
88. Wood chisel
89. Spade bit
90. Circular saw
91. Sledge hammer
92. Hacksaw
93. Torque wrench
94. Air wrench
95. Infrared thermometer
96. Sand blaster
97. Crosscut saw
98. Hand plane
99. Multimeter
100. Feeler gauges _PopMech
At least men need to know how to do them and how to use them. Women might find some of those skills come in handy in a pinch, themselves. Most of us possess a lot more skills within our areas of specialisation, and hobbies. Many of the skills above can easily save a life--perhaps your own, or a member of your family's.

How does a child learn these vital skills? Childhood and early adolescence is the very best time to teach important skills for a lifetime of competence. By the time a child enters high school, he should be able to earn at least twice minimum wage, via well learned skills. By the time a child graduates high school, he should be able to earn 2 to 3 times minimum wage at least 3 different ways. By the time an adolescent has finished one to two years of post-high school training, he should be able to earn at least 4 times minimum wage, and be confident that he can do much better with experience, resourcefulness, and learned cleverness over time.

Our society raises children into ineptness, incompetence, and a worthless indoctrination into obsolete ideas that often hurt more than help. How much better if we were to train children in both practical hands-on skills, as well as important mental skills such as math, logic, writing, music, and creativity.

This is not a time in human history where we want to waste all of this human capital. It really isn't.

Update: Here is a full color photo version of the list with explanations for each skill, and some videos. Enjoy.

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Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

One of the best learning experiences I had was working at a place called 'Squid Roe Seafood', starting at the age of 16. I eventually earned about a $1 over minimum wage, but I was paid under the table. I never had so much cash in my wallet in my life. I learned about business (ideas such as proper margins to place of merchandise with limit shelf life), customer service, how to cook seafood (very helpful skill when convincing a woman to have dinner with you), clean fish, shuck oysters, and a endless other of little life lessons that help you grow up.

Plus earning real wages instead of depending on my parents for an allowance opened me up to the joys of liberty and pride in paying your own way (well.. not 100%, I was still living at home).

The public high school I was attending was actively campaigning against kids having after school or even summer jobs. "We would just spend the money on drugs" was the common refrain.

I guess that mindset won out. You really don't see kids mowing lawns, working construction, or even working retail that much anymore.

Wednesday, 01 October, 2008  
Blogger yamahaeleven said...


Three words to refute your argument:

Division of labor.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, 01 October, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

HILN: Yes. We protect our children to the point of complete ineptness.

Yama11: I am a great respector of Adam Smith. And thanks for reminding me to add him to my "Foundations" category on the sidebar.

Unfortunately for your case, disasters and other unexpected events happen to disrupt the normal order of society. What good does division of labour do you or your family when help is unreachable, or days away?

There is no substitute for basic competencies. We cannot all be Richard Proenneke, but walking around incompetent for when things go wrong, is not cute or even excusable.

Wednesday, 01 October, 2008  
Blogger yamahaeleven said...

Strong markets bring needed goods much faster to disaster areas than any other mechanism known. Of course a few basic competencies wouldn't hurt, like heeding advice to get out of harms way. If you spend all the time Al suggests on all the competencies listed, you may not have used your income producing capacity sufficiently to have the needed resources to either high-tail it away from impending disaster or to deal with the consequences of toughing it out.

This is the apparent paradox of the division of labor, we are all much richer and safer than any altruistic system yet devised. And much safer than a highly competent survivalist hiding in the woods.

Wednesday, 01 October, 2008  
Blogger yamahaeleven said...


Looks like I didn't notice it was you replying to my first comment, so in retrospect I'd have altered my grammar somewhat!

Let's look closer at the apparent paradox of division of labor and broad competency in regards to disaster preparation. Disasters fall into a few categories: lots of time to prepare, a little time to prepare, and no time to prepare. In all three cases, the individual who maximized their income generating potential will fare far better then the all around competent individual, as the first individual focused on a core competency and put more time into it then the all around guy could. Guess who is able to get an airplane ticket away from trouble, or get a contractor in right away to get his house fixed? Or compete for scarce resources? Even the competent fellow might need to buy something.

If you look at who suffers most in disasters, you will find a higher correlation between suffering and low income/wealth than you will with suffering and broad competency. That is not to say that there is no correlation between competency and suffering.

My suggestion is to choose one's competencies carefully and narrowly.

Wednesday, 01 October, 2008  
Blogger Julie said...

umm ... Women might find some of those skills come in handy in a pinch, themselves. ... like what? when a man is not around???

surely, teaching girls these skills as well as the boys benefits everyone.

... (oh, and for the record, as a female i can do pretty much everything on your list - except i've never driven in snow, but given that i live in Western Australia it's not something we ever get! and ... i've never run rapids in a canoe).

Wednesday, 01 October, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Of course, jigsaw. I favour teaching both girls and boys the competencies of the Garcia Curriculum (see Al Fin sidebar) which far exceeds the short list in this post.

Yama11: You make some interesting points. But you seem to think that acquiring basic competencies will prevent people from performing well economicall, or will somehow prevent markets from working.

The best time for learning basic competencies is in childhood, and the best people for teaching them is the parents. But if parents do not have basic competencies, they cannot teach them--and coincidentally pass up an incredible chance of earning their children's respect when the children are still impressionable and take their parents seriously.

The list above is actually a short list, and the time involved in acquiring basic competencies is minimal. Being afraid of adding to one's skills tends to magnify the difficulty of doing so in one's mind.

But again, the best time for learning the skills (many more than those above) is in childhood. The self-confidence acquired from owning these practical abilities will serve far better than the phony "self-esteem" nonsense being peddled by schools.

Thursday, 02 October, 2008  
Blogger yamahaeleven said...

Al, certainly people should have some basic competencies, however, our civilization is built on division of labor and the reduction over time of the number of competencies one must master to carry out their lives. The list you have should be, at most, half of what is there. Just look at the probability of someone needing to do any task requiring useful knowledge of these skills in their lifetime, it is near zero for most citizens of modern society, unless it is part of some pastime.

I agree that much to much effort is spent encouraging empty self esteem, but there are many avenues of achieving self esteem that doesn't involve banging a hammer. How much self esteem is a child to get from learning an obsolete skill? Children, and adults, need to know how to learn and apply what they learn quickly. Long gone is the mountain man who could meet his every need, and rapidly dissociating is the stable vertically integrated organization. They are being replaced by rapidly formed teams of personnel who rapidly learn the skills to be applied at one particular task at one particular moment, then disband to form another group to meet another challenge.

Thursday, 02 October, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Yama11: There is no contradiction between a broadly competent citizenry and a well-functioning market. Humans are not ant colonies, with ultra-specialised drones and workers and queens and so on. In human society, a working woman may also be a mother, a performer, a governor--or even a queen. People have the capacity to learn multiple skills, and to perform a wide variety of tasks.

That does not prevent them from specialising in one specific area to make a very good living. I have a number of medical colleague friends who are competent with either a scalpel, a keyboard, or an electric drill--to say nothing of a hammer or chain saw. We help each other out with a wide range of personal hobbies and projects, as well as charities.

The versatile teams that you briefly allude to are composed of individuals possessing a significant array of skills. Being able to work with others in a smoothly functioning team, is but one more competency.

Stupid people are not capable of as broad array of competencies as more intelligent people--granted. But in the next level of human existence, individual humans will become far more competent--not less.

It is not for you or anyone else to decide what is an appropriate cometency for someone, or what is an "obsolete" skill. Each person must decide that for himself.

Clearly we are arguing past each other's position, to a certain degree. You cannot be advocating for a mono-competency clonal society. Neither am I suggesting that each person must build his own house, churn his own butter, shoot or trap all his own meat (unless he lives in back country Alaska) etc.

The wonder of living in an affluent society is the huge amount of free time we have--when not on call. We can use that free time in any way we wish. For any given level of success, the more broadly competent one is, the more broad his choices in how to spend his time.

Friday, 03 October, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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