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Specialization is for Insects Take 2
May 25, 2006 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Let's see if mefites like Jeff Cooper's list better than Heinlein's: What should a young male of 21 know, and what should he be able to do? There are no conclusive answers to those questions, but they are certainly worth asking. A young man should know how this country is run and how it got that way...A young man should be computer literate and, moreover, should know Hemingway from James Joyce. He should know how to drive a car well... He should know how to shoot well. He should know elementary geography, both worldwide and local. He should have a cursory knowledge of both zoology and botany. He should know the fundamentals of agriculture and corporate economy... He should know how to manage a motorcycle. He should be comfortable in at least one foreign language, more if appropriate to his background... These things should be accomplished before a son leaves his father's household.
posted by 445supermag (69 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
These sound less like things every young man should know and more like things Jeff Cooper happens to know.
posted by justkevin at 5:31 PM on May 25, 2006


You had me until the motercycle.
posted by Megafly at 5:36 PM on May 25, 2006


Why does this read like an Onion advice column?
posted by bardic at 5:39 PM on May 25, 2006


Sounds like an AskMe in disguise -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

/ Looking forward to the thread
posted by LordSludge at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2006


his daughter Lindy harvested a very nice barren-ground caribou, also with one shot, from her Mannlicher
posted by IronLizard at 5:42 PM on May 25, 2006


[this is GYOB]
posted by zenzizi at 5:42 PM on May 25, 2006


I am disappointed that the proper identification of Superman action figures of various ages did not make his list.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:45 PM on May 25, 2006


I agree justkevin, it's the things that promote his own worldview. If one did, in fact, know those things, and just those things (and given the time it would take to acquire some of them, that wouldn't be far from the case), it is not beyond creditability that one would come to have a world view like Cooper's.

Best would be to know 'em all, and a lot else besides, for balance, but few of us can encompass all that. If one were very dedicated maybe, but dedication is exclusive: being dedicated about some things implies the necessary absense of dedication towards many other things.
posted by JHarris at 5:48 PM on May 25, 2006


These sound less like things every young man should know and more like things Jeff Cooper happens to know.

LOL. Manage a motorcycle?
posted by delmoi at 5:50 PM on May 25, 2006


Shit, I better get moving.
posted by danb at 5:51 PM on May 25, 2006


He should know how to fly a light airplane.

That's absurd. While light aircraft traning isn't really that hard to come by, it's very rare for people to get it.

He should be well qualified in armed combat, boxing, wrestling and judo, or its equivalent.

How about knowing how to get out of a fight?
posted by delmoi at 5:53 PM on May 25, 2006


Oh and why is it so important for us to be familiar with two particular early 20th century authors?

Heinlen's list is much more sensible, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 5:55 PM on May 25, 2006


Why would I need to know how to shoot? Or control a motorcycle? Kthnx.
posted by fire&wings at 5:55 PM on May 25, 2006


"fly a light airplane"?

Clearly a joke. Or senile ramblings.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:55 PM on May 25, 2006


How about...

...be registered to vote?
...know when to walk away from a fight?
...know how to balance a checkbook?
...be respectful and honorable towards women?

Oh, and...

...be completely off of Prozac?
posted by nlindstrom at 6:06 PM on May 25, 2006


Man, shoot a gun? And yes, Heinlein's is much better, imho. I'd have to add "be able to think critically and research things on your own".
posted by eurasian at 6:10 PM on May 25, 2006


"Let's see if mefites like Jeff Cooper's list better than Heinlein's: What should a young male of 21 know, and what should he be able to do?"

Let's not.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:13 PM on May 25, 2006


I was just thinking the other day that it's time to reread TEFL. Thanks 445supermag.
posted by haikuku at 6:17 PM on May 25, 2006


why is it so important for us to be familiar with two particular early 20th century authors?

The whole thing seems like it was written 100 years ago.

Drive a car well? Manage a motorcycle?

No digg.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:17 PM on May 25, 2006


A young man should know to always pull out.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 6:18 PM on May 25, 2006


"had me until the motorcycle"
I think you should be able to drive anything thats put in front of you - now not expertly maybe, but not crashing right away. And most things really aren't that hard to learn the basics, even small airplanes.
posted by uni verse at 6:18 PM on May 25, 2006


I see nothing in there about knowing how to bring a woman to orgasm. Thus, this list is terminally flawed.
posted by jokeefe at 6:25 PM on May 25, 2006


Is this something I would need a gun to know about?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:29 PM on May 25, 2006


He forgot "wrestle with a puma", "tame an alligator", "fight bad guys", and maybe "defeat communism".
posted by ori at 6:30 PM on May 25, 2006


That's it ori, write out the entire list you got there. It's what any god-fearing america loving american would do, in an americanly way, of course.
posted by eurasian at 6:36 PM on May 25, 2006


I feel like there's a joke I'm not getting. Huh?
posted by ninjew at 6:36 PM on May 25, 2006


Both lists are utter rot. A young man should know how to cook a shot of heroin, fist a man without wounding him unduly, read Latin, strip and reassemble a Ford Escort Mk I engine, calm a troubled wombat, cook al dente pasta to the satisfaction of an elderly Italian lady, recite the colourschemes used on each and every Prince album cover, rouse the proletariat to revolution, identify an Eames chair by year of production, speak fluent Welsh, humourously inflate a corpse using a foot-pump, rig an election, shuck an oyster and perform an impromptu promenade performance of the Scottish play single-handed. FACT.
posted by jack_mo at 6:58 PM on May 25, 2006 [8 favorites]


jack_mo writes "calm a troubled wombat"

Can we please make the rest of this thread about wombats? Here is a picture of a wombat in snow! He's a short-legged, muscular quadraped!
posted by mr_roboto at 7:04 PM on May 25, 2006


Shit. I totally fucked up that last comment. She's a short-legged, muscular quadraped! I wish I had learned to quickly and accurately determine the gender of wombats on sight before I had left my father's household.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:18 PM on May 25, 2006


He missed off the part about:

'He should know how to service the sexual needs of an older gentleman. Lets be clear now, we're not talking about any pansy, homosexualist affection here. All young men should aspire to be married. But they should also be skilled the finest Greek martial sexual traditions of servicing their military mentor's battlefield bedroom needs.'

But perhaps that was implicit?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:21 PM on May 25, 2006


The only problem with your wombat is that she doesn't look all that troubled. You think maybe she'd already been calmed by a well rounded 21 year old man?
posted by michswiss at 7:42 PM on May 25, 2006


jack_mo's list is the best one evah. I shall print it out and pass it onto my nineteen year old son.
posted by jokeefe at 7:58 PM on May 25, 2006


I have all of those things down except the motorcycle although I'm guessing that I could probably do it with a good set of wrenches and a week or two of down time... how hard can a motorcycle engine be.. that said my father died before i ever left his house and I am largely self taught... why that patriarchal image of what a son should be able to do?

By this token should a daughter be able to cook a tasty tart, knit a warm sock, embroider a decent bible prayer, wet nurse a teething infant, tend the fire, and clean the house?
posted by sourbrew at 8:02 PM on May 25, 2006


Don't forget she needs to know how to make a good sandwhich, sourbrew.

Personally, I'd just be happy if 21 year old males knew when to stop drinking.
posted by Talanvor at 8:10 PM on May 25, 2006


... be able to efficiently learn new material, to learn to adapt to new situations, to be an effective teacher...

(that is, in addition to what eurasian said)
posted by porpoise at 8:11 PM on May 25, 2006


Obviously Guns and Ammo has yet to put out its list of things writers must know in order to put together a coherent paragraph.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:13 PM on May 25, 2006


Er, you forgot Poland?
posted by illovich at 8:20 PM on May 25, 2006


The spirit is great, the specifics are crap. I think the real message is that the young should seek to know as much as humanly possible in as many different disciplines as possible. On that score, I can't agree more.

Though I will agree about the guns and cars bit. When society is doing well, we're surrounded by machines that can kill us and those we care about; the only thing that changes when society isn't doing so well is that more machines fit into that category. At the very least, everyone should know how to drive safely and how to safe a gun.
posted by Skorgu at 8:51 PM on May 25, 2006


#22: Make violent love to a mountain lion.
#23: Master proper pay-off etiquette con Mexicali policia.
#24: Learn that friendly people are not always your friends.
posted by rougy at 9:15 PM on May 25, 2006


He should know how to fly a light airplane.

Hmm, yes, I'm sure the Dept. of Homeland Security would love it thousands of young men suddenly started training to fly light planes...
posted by Zinger at 9:24 PM on May 25, 2006


Talanvor: first sensible item on any of these lists.
posted by abulafa at 9:41 PM on May 25, 2006


Jeff's list: Check, check, uncheck, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, uncheck, check, check, uncheck, check, check, check. 20 for 23. But it took me 36 years, do I still get a cookie?

And I'm positive I read this exact same Gunner's Guru 7 or 8 years ago.

I didn't do as well on Heinlein's.
posted by fenriq at 9:46 PM on May 25, 2006


A man should know how to turn over a kilo, balance his checkbook, hack pr0n sites, defeat Super Mario Brothers with one life, brew a batch of pale ale, navigate using dead reckoning, incite a riot, walk away from a fight, pick a fight, draw a realistic-looking picture of a wolf with charcoal, go to work with a hangover, prove the formula for the Fibonacci series using mathematical induction, woo a bitch, hitchhike across the state of Oregon, perform CPR, recite Shakespeare, recite Monty Python, play "Come as you are" on the guitar, milk a goat, talk his way out of a speeding ticket, make substantial improvements to the BSD kernel, plant a garden, change the master cylinder on a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, flirt with a stripper, date a stripper, mollify a girl's angry ex-boyfriend, break up with a stripper, drive a stick shift, curse in at least three foreign languages, escape from angry foreigners, brew a ristretto espresso with plentiful crema, perform a slam dunk, perform first aid, perform a wedding ceremony, articulate a philosophy, get in a knife fight with a hooker, and make a humorous and completely facetious list of things a man should know how to do.
posted by mullingitover at 10:10 PM on May 25, 2006


Nope, Heinlein's list just works better.
posted by FormlessOne at 10:39 PM on May 25, 2006


What should we really know before we're 21? I didn't know much of anything, looking back on it. I could shoot, hunt. Drive a car, motorcycle. So what?

I think, when and if I have kids, one of the things I want them to learn very early is that they are in control of their lives.

Kids are conditioned to go somewhere they don't want to be and do things they don't want to do from about the age of five.

That's the one cycle I'd like to break if I ever had a little one.
posted by rougy at 10:55 PM on May 25, 2006


He should know how to fly a light airplane.

Light aircraft? Nuh-uh.

He should be able to pilot an XB-70 under the Golden Gate Bridge at at least Mach 1.8. He should know how to program a 747's autopilot to fly blind through the Rocky Mountains at 11,000' while he makes sweet love to, well, whoever it is he makes sweet love to. He should have flown a Spitfire down Broadway at 150' and landed it on the Verrazano.

He should also, of course, crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and hear the lamentations of their women.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:11 PM on May 25, 2006


Really, why would a 21 year-old need to know how to be a man? Especially now when we've got teh internets. It is so much cooler to be in touch with one's inner child...
posted by c13 at 11:46 PM on May 25, 2006


21. What is 21? The year we could drink legally, and be repulsed by the offerings? 21. "I'm an adult now, dad." 21. What do you mean I can't bring my 5-foot water-cooled double-dragon bong into residence hall? I'm a physics major! I know reality!

So much of what we have to learn is who to control an internal response to an external stimulus.
posted by rougy at 12:51 AM on May 26, 2006


So much of what we have to learn is how to control an internal response to an external stimulus.

"Who" to control is just...so conservative.
posted by rougy at 12:52 AM on May 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


By this token should a daughter be able to cook a tasty tart

No. A daughter should be a tasty tart.


Oh, and...

...be completely off of Prozac?


What do you have against treating depression?
posted by Bort at 3:42 AM on May 26, 2006


#46 Know when to hold 'em
#47 Know when to fold 'em
posted by Optamystic at 5:16 AM on May 26, 2006


This list is much funnier if you read it like Alec Baldwin trying to seduce Cabin Boy.
posted by Optamystic at 5:19 AM on May 26, 2006



This list is much funnier if you read it like Alec Baldwin trying to seduce Cabin Boy.


I personally imagined it being read by Dwight Schrute from (NBC's) The Office. (Wouldn't work as well with Gareth Keenan, unfortunately)
posted by pinespree at 5:38 AM on May 26, 2006


#48 know when to wank 'em
posted by nofundy at 6:55 AM on May 26, 2006


Personally, I'd just be happy if 21 year old males knew when to stop drinking.

At 35, right?
posted by staggernation at 7:34 AM on May 26, 2006


Curiously, having grown up on a farm before moving away to de big city, I DO have a pretty good grasp of most of both these lists, though not the light plane flying. My geography is passable, but I definitely would expand the list of authors to include at least one woman and, of course, the English Romantic poets.

But before I left my father's household, I possessed many of these skills, and others related to what I consider more practical pursuits of living, raising and keeping food, and securing hearth and home.

I've often wondered at my fellow city dwellers who seem incapable of even simple things such as fixing appliances or landscaping their yard. Before I was 18, I was fully capable of raising livestock, building a shed, transplanting trees, birthing calves, fixing fences, milking cows, butchering chickens, or repairing a tractor. While I don't do these things every day any more, the early experience gave me complete confidence that I would be able to tackle just about anything. Plus, skills like these require improvisation, reasoning, and planning skills which are useful in anything one does.

I'd recommend a few summers on a real farm for most young men and women. Do them wonders.
posted by mooncrow at 7:43 AM on May 26, 2006


Optamystic: Alex Baldwin tried to seduce Canteen Boy, Cabin Boy was a movie that didn't even have Alec Baldwin in it. If you dddon't know this you better be under 21 or not a male.
posted by I Foody at 8:22 AM on May 26, 2006


Optamystic: Alex Baldwin tried to seduce Canteen Boy, Cabin Boy was a movie that didn't even have Alec Baldwin in it. If you dddon't know this you better be under 21 or not a male.
Know it? I've got a pirated version of that snl skit on my laptop that I compulsively force people to watch.
posted by 445supermag at 8:29 AM on May 26, 2006


Be perfunctorily curse at a head of cabbage.
Know how to groom a South African Lower Antilles Porcupine, with a toothbrush.
Hotwire a bulldozer.
Know that credit card debt is bad.
Do a 180 off a halfpipe with either a skateboard or a pair of rollerblades, and have a vehement opinion of which of the two are better.
Know instantly and grin uncontrollable when a fellow man makes the lightsabre sound.
Know how to flirt without beiing creepy.
Have one movie which you quote incessantly from (suggestions, "Princess Bride", "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", "Battlefield Earth").
Written a position paper on the latest innovations in Optical Switches, and howthat impacts your company's bottom line.
Have considered your manliness at risk becuase you use an electric shaver, or conversely if you use a big ol slab of metal.. either way, have considered cutting your facial hair with a Bowie Knife a la Crocodile Dundee.
Have learned the good guy doesn't always win.
Know the term "drop the clutch", and use it at every opportunity.
Ride a black bear like a horse, just like the merry go rounds do it, naked, while singing "I'm Henry the 8th I am" at the top of your lungs.
Not have instantly thought of the scene in 'Ghost' when I mentioned the last item.
Speak or write in either Gibberish or Pig Latin.
Have a passable impression of The Govahnator.
Know someone who calls America, the States.
Formed a very strong opinion of which country has the best national anthem (it's Russia).
Know the left hand portion of playing said anthem on a 1884 Pipe Organ, backwards, whilst imitating a one handed man playing for his life in a Nazi bar or a ruffian infested Old West Saloon.
Have one thing you instantly come to emotional defense of (i.e. Natural Selection).
Read one smug book, that is , a book you can name or quote from when you want to feel smugly superior to others (i.e. SlaughterHouse Five, Atlas Shrugged)
Have felt the complete bewilderment of having to 'look under the hood' of your car when something goes wrong.
Play bocci at a semi-professional level.
posted by eurasian at 9:49 AM on May 26, 2006


terse, not curse.
posted by eurasian at 9:50 AM on May 26, 2006


Except for a few things, the Cooper list sounds like he's saying that a young man should have a decent education. Which everyone should, whether they're male or female. Oddly enough, there's a whole *industry* dedicated to educating people.

I'd add that one of the most important skills I've picked up is meditation... I'd add that a young person should know the basics of a few religions, and also be able to meditate in a traditional fashion. Meditation as a practice, or skill, is very useful. Meditation as an intellectual excercise (i.e. reading a book or two so you "understanding" meditation) isn't that useful. Meditation is a great tool to explore emotions--if you don't understand your own emotions, then the skills on the list aren't going to help you much).

I might add some more artistic skills, like play a musical instrument, draw and paint, or act in a play.
posted by webnrrd2k at 11:15 AM on May 26, 2006


"I might add some more artistic skills, like play a musical instrument, draw and paint, or act in a play."

That's a great point. To me, all my friends who were musicians always seemed a little happier than the average person.
posted by rougy at 1:20 PM on May 26, 2006


Cooper responds:

"[One may ask] what degree of competence I feel is necessary. When I say, "manage a motorcycle," I do not mean motorcross, but rather the ability to get from point A to point B with safety on a two-wheeler. When I say "comfortable in a foreign language," I mean the ability to make one's way on the street in an environment in which English is not the primary tongue. When I call for the ability to manage an airplane, I mean the ability to take off and land in a propellor-driven airplane with some degree of security.

"The point is that a young man of 21 should be able to cope with the world around him in a general fashion. One of the measures of his ability to cope should be his ability to educate his son...To set one's goals high is not an unreasonable position. That is what parents are for. It seems to me that the important thing in life is the production of outstanding people - whether we can do it not. It is the attempt that makes the struggle worthwhile."
posted by slackbp at 2:09 PM on May 26, 2006


Read one smug book, that is , a book you can name or quote from when you want to feel smugly superior to others (i.e. SlaughterHouse Five, Atlas Shrugged)

Telling people you've read Atlas Shrugged is a good way to make them think you're an idiot.
posted by delmoi at 2:13 PM on May 26, 2006


"I've often wondered at my fellow city dwellers who seem incapable of even simple things such as fixing appliances or landscaping their yard."

Mooncrow, I hear you. I never knew many city-raised folks before college, and kind of resented my isolated farm upbringing. Then, in college, I saw so many examples of the lack of the kind of practical knowledge farm kids take for granted. I still remember one of my rich friends trying to hook up a chain to the bumper (not the frame) of his fancy new Camaro that was stuck in a snowbank. No, I didn't let him go through with it, but I was amazed. I remember thinking, "well, maybe I DID learn something growing up way out here".
posted by primdehuit at 2:35 PM on May 26, 2006


Not to knock Vonnegut, but I don't think too many people will be wowed by one's having read Slaughterhouse Five, either.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:38 PM on May 26, 2006


Optamystic: Alex Baldwin tried to seduce Canteen Boy, Cabin Boy was a movie that didn't even have Alec Baldwin in it. If you dddon't know this you better be under 21 or not a male.

Who said I was talking about a fictional scenario? Them Baldwins is freaks!
posted by Optamystic at 5:27 PM on May 26, 2006


I saw so many examples of the lack of the kind of practical knowledge farm kids take for granted.

On the other hand, farm kids fresh into the city won't know the intricacies and niceties of city living that kids brought up there take for granted. The city-knowledge is more likely to be social than technical, but still.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:35 PM on May 26, 2006


A young man should know how to make hippies to use side door. (Lure mit picture of buddha and tinkle of bells, push through side tür. By any means nécessaire.)
posted by Pock Suppet at 6:02 PM on May 26, 2006


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