Babies on a Plane

I love people watching. There are few places that offer a better chance to observe human nature than an airport. It’s been a while since I shared an air travel story, so put your tray tables up, your seat in the upright position, and buckle up for a story from 10,000 ft.

My flight from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles requires a quick layover in Dallas, by far one of my least favorite airports. Mostly, I find that the whole “Everything’s bigger in Texas” thing also applies to the people sitting next to you on your flight. As I get to my seat, I’m elated to see I will not have to rub shoulders with my neighbor, but little did I know that my flight would be less than comfortable.

Just as the final passengers are trickling onto the plane, I notice an odd sound coming from the row in front of me—the sound of four distinct breathing patterns. I freeze. The plane is full, there’s nowhere to hide. I close my eyes and say a prayer for peace on Earth and peace within the heart of the baby placed on her Mother’s lap. My prayers go unanswered.

Within minutes, before we’ve even pulled away from the gate, the stale air of the cabin fills with a piercing screech that would shame

even the shrillest of banshees. It’s a sign of the times that the bouncing bundle lacking joy wants to play with an iPad. But wait—there’s another child flying with them, a girl between the ages of three and five. Like a broken record accompanying the baby’s squeals, the older sister begins repeating ad nauseam, “Mommy, you’re closing your eyes.” As if that was news to her mother. At that volume and with that much repetition, it’s news to no one on the plane.

And then, something happens that I could never have predicted, and yet should have expected. The baby’s shrieks have excited another baby a few rows back. They embark on what can only be described as an all out scream off. For each round, the blessed babes elevate their screeches just one pitch higher and louder than the other.

If I’ve ever been thankful for being childless, now is the moment.

I admit I was already pretty peeved this morning. I woke up at 5am after only a couple hours of restless sleep, hindered by a long-standing fear of oversleeping and missing a flight. My exhaustion was tested when the cashier at Dunkin Donuts poured me a coffee with cream even though I explicitly ordered a black coffee. I was too far down the terminal to turn back by the time I’d taken my first sip and realized her mistake. My coffee-addicted, lactose-intolerant body has not been handling the surprise well.

As the babies test their lung capacity (and their respective mothers’ will power), the captain announces that we’d be a bit delayed because the ground crew needs to defrost the plane. Something tells me this won’t be a problem when I’m leaving LA to come back.

Just as the diva infants begin to bring their war of wails to an end, a third baby chimes in. Rather than join his peers in eardrum shattering cries, our latest entrant opts for an onslaught of coos. It’s like baby acapella of the worst possible sort. I try to find a melody in the trio’s vocal eruptions. Alas, no baby Mozart’s in this group. To my dismay, it’s simply a continuous mix of dissonant tones. Maybe it’s a post-melody, post-harmony arrangement—seems perfectly plausible.

I remember one of the first flights I look as a child. At least I think I do, though I shouldn’t be held the accuracy of my recollection. My brother and I flew with my parents to Hawaii. We were on one of those big planes with the long center rows. Our parents seated us on the inside of the row—even then I felt suffocated. The flight felt endless, but we entertained ourselves with our shiny new Power Ranger toys. I can only imagine that there was some caffeine-deprived passenger wishing my own mother had decided against taking us along.

justin_babyairplane

Baby 1’s name is Dar. I pick up this information midway through the flight when her older sister rats her out for spilling popcorn. Her mother, like a pro, continues to chat to her neighbor as though oblivious to the clear and utter chaos around her. Older Sister alerts her mother that Dar is now eating popcorn off the floor. Mother continues to chat with her neighbor (how exactly the baby managed to reach the popcorn on the floor is beyond me).

The floor-popcorn distracts Dar enough to halt the screaming. A moment of silence, but I know this glorious break won’t last long. It’s just an intermission in a show I never asked to attend. I close my eyes, welcoming the possibility for rest. Just as I’m about to drift off, Baby 2 begins to sob, surely missing his or her new companions. I’ve never been so happy to hear that the plane has begun its descent into the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

Almost home!

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Update: New Study on IQ & Baby-lessness

Today, Thought Catalog published a post in a similar vein to my most recent blog. I thought I’d share. Also, this gives you some insight into my reading material.

The Barren Wombs of Smart Women
August 16, 2013 – Jim Goad

Smart-women-pregnancy-300x300statistical analysis from England suggests that a woman’s IQ is inversely proportional to her desire to breed. This, in turn, suggests that the world will grow dumber with every new day.

In his book The Intelligence Paradox, London School of Economics researcher Satoshi Kanazawa surveyed data from the United Kingdom’s National Child Development Study. Controlling for variables such as education and income, he reached the following conclusions:

  • With each increase of 15 IQ points, a woman’s urge to reproduce is diminished by 25%.
  • The average IQ of women who want children is 5.6 points lower than those who don’t want them.
  • Among all 45-year-old women in England, 20% are childless, but this figure rises to 43% among those with college degrees.

The paradox is that women who are measurably more intelligent based on IQ tests are dumber in terms of evolutionary survival instincts. Kanazawa writes:

If any value is deeply evolutionarily familiar, it is reproductive success. If any value is truly unnatural, if there is one thing that humans (and all other species in nature) are decisively not designed for, it is voluntary childlessness. All living organisms in nature, including humans, are evolutionarily designed to reproduce. Reproductive success is the ultimate end of all biological existence.

Kanazawa’s findings correlate with a 2010 Pew survey that found women ages 40-44 with a master’s degree or higher are 60% more likely to be childless than women who never graduated high school.

Kanazawa is widely known as a “controversial” researcher, which is coded speech meaning that his results cause significant discomfort among those who swallow the reigning cultural dogma. In the past he has faced disapprobation, ridicule, and even job dismissal for publishing studies that claim black women are less attractive than women of other races due to their higher testosterone levels, sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty is caused by low IQintelligent men are less likely to cheat on their partners, and attractive people are more likely to produce female offspring. He also wrote that if Ann Coulter had been president in 2001, she would have dropped nuclear bombs on the Middle East and won the War on Terror “without a single American life lost.”
But it is specifically his research on race and intelligence that causes his critics to dismissively snort that he is a zero-credibility genocidal wackjob who peddles junk science riddled with huge methodological flaws that raise the terrifying notion of eugenics that has long been debunked and discredited because of, well, Hitler and everything.

Paul Gilroy, a colleague of Kanazawa’s at the London School of Economics, says:

Kanazawa’s persistent provocations raise the issue of whether he can do his job effectively in a multi-ethnic, diverse and international institution.

In other words:

His statistical findings do not jibe with our cultural dogma.

Despite all the jeers and catcalls, Kanazawa defends his research:

The only responsibility scientists have is to the truth. Scientists are not responsible for the potential or actual consequences of the knowledge they create.

The most egregious blasphemy one can utter in today’s insanely stifling and repressive climate of intolerant egalitotalitarianism is to gently suggest that genetics play any role in determining intelligence differences and relative prosperity between individuals and social groups.

Yet (grab a hankie) that’s what the evidence suggests.

Despite the propaganda the media uses to try and blow out your eardrums, the scientific consensus suggests that adult IQ is roughly 75-85% inherited. But due to the currently taboo nature of this fact, Western researchers are unlikely to even suggest such things publicly without sacrificing their careers. The Chinese suffer no such ultimately dysgenic superstitions and are forging ahead in their attempts to crack the code. This might be one of the main reasons why the coming century could belong to them.

Further buttressing Kanazawa’s findings, global evidence suggests that high IQ tends to be negatively correlated with total fertility rate. J. Philippe Rushton’s r/K selection theory noted that parents who actually invested time and thought in nurturing their children tended to have fewer of them…and vice-versa.

Intelligent people have the reflective capacity to consider things such as whether they’d have the economic wherewithal to raise successful offspring, whereas dumber people tend to invest as much thought into reproduction as they do to defecation.  The end result is an increasingly dysgenic world—Idiocracy made flesh.

Western sophisticates claim that the world already has enough people, and many tend to see it as a matter of conscience to not breed. The problem is that hordes of Third Worlders suffer no such ethical qualms. Paradoxically, the pampered First World utopian ideal that the world should be intelligent, sustainable, and filled only with children who are wanted could backfire and create a planet crammed almost exclusively with emotionally, financially, and intellectually deprived Third World bastards.

This wasn’t the case before feminism came along to empower women and free them from childbearing’s oppressive shackles. It wasn’t the case until Big Brother morphed into Big Daddy and financially penalized the intelligent for reproducing as it gave handouts that encouraged cretins to spawn. It wasn’t the case during the Victorian Era, when it wasn’t considered so déclassé for wealthy and intelligent women to have children and when it’s estimated that the mean Western IQ was nearly 14 points higher than it is now.

The grand irony is that by failing to breed, this new breed of woman will breed itself out of existence.

Your Baby Freaks Me Out

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but unfortunately, I’m unavailable to babysit your newborn. Here’s why:

baby

The utter vulnerability of a baby completely terrifies me.
It* needs you, completely. They seem so fragile. Not just their physical soft spots and all that jazz, but they are at such a critical phase in their mental development. They are sponges. They have big eyes, and they watch everything. They are thinking, but they can’t speak. What if I say or do something and cause this pure little creature, immense, irreparable mental damage!? What if I crush it in its sleep like one of those prostitutes in the Old Testament? How could I live with myself?

What do babies eat?
Young children have all these crazy dietary restrictions…like they can’t eat honey. What if I forget? I don’t know what would prompt me to want to feed them honey, but it could happen.  Baby diets are stranger than Sylvester Graham’s eat-your-way-to-heaven plan. At what age can kids even eat solid food? What if they have an allergy you couldn’t know about until the baby has a reaction?

I don’t want to jinx myself.
I want to hold your baby. I know I have that look in my eye, I’m confused, scared, curious. I look at it curiously and it looks back at me, also with eyes filled with wonder and bewilderment. I want to hold it. It’s cute (maybe, maybe not), but as a child I remember one of my cousins saying that she didn’t want to hold the baby because she was “afraid she might have one.” Now I know pregnancy isn’t contagious, and I know where babies come from, but something about that image really stuck with me. Every time I hold a baby I have to hold back the urge to throw it to someone else and knock on some wood.

I’m convinced that my fear of babies has actually manifested itself physically. Brace yourself for an over-share! I’m certain, beyond any rational argument, that I have a retroverted uterus because my lady parts are so terrified of babies, they tilted themselves away from the outside world. Again, it’s not that I don’t want kids. They look like fun. They say the darndest things. Their little shoes are so cool. Not to mention, they provide a great excuse to buy dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Until that time comes, excuse me as I entertain myself with adult things like watching Real Housewives of Everywhere and going to Jimmy Buffett concerts.

*I know I called your child an “it.” I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t think it is a person, it’s just some kind of habit. I don’t know where the habit came from, but it’s there. Maybe I’m just “beyond gender”? Maybe I’m just more accepting of the fact that gender may not be based on your physical attributes, and that in some ways gender is really just a social construct. I’m respecting the fact that one day, your child may come to you and tell you that they are really a man trapped in a woman’s body. Or vice versa. Or maybe I’m just concerned that what I think is your son is really just your ugly daughter. They’re all bald and kinda smushy-faced anyways. Unless your baby is wearing a onesie that says “Male Genitalia Below,” I’m not sure it’s always safe to assume.