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.

A Return to the Motherland

IMG_0077When I get the energy to write about my program, my job, the end of finals, and my trip home–I will. Until then, this may –or may not– be the first in a series of “simple posts” about things I missed when I was away. Allow me to share a few short stories that illustrate what being home means.

Missed Item #1? My mother…& her vanity

Example 1-

After hours of sitting in traffic (no thanks to the tanker that blew up on the 60 forcing it to CLOSE) on the way home from the airport, my mom and I stop at the mall to try out a new restaurant that just opened. Although exhausted, I agree to check out one store with her after we finish eating.

-FLASH FORWARD 7 stores and a lap and a half around the mall-

Mom: Liane, can you hold my coat? It’s warm in here.
Me: Of course it is. You are wearing a coat in Los Angeles.
Mom: Yeah, but I look hot.
(She really did, though.)

Example 2-

Mom: Tomorrow is the Christmas program at my school. I don’t know what I’m going to wear.

Suddenly, her eyes hone in on me, narrowing…like a lion stalking its prey.

Me: What are you looking at?
Mom: Your blouse.

-FLASH FORWARD to my mom literally making me take my shirt off  and wash it in case she decides she wants to wear it tomorrow. She’s also wearing my coat.-

A toast, to beautiful women and the daughters that put up with them.

All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.  No man does.  That’s his. 
~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Mothers & Mother Nature on Rampage

I’ve been in Washington DC less than a week and we’ve had an earthquake and are now facing the possibility of a visit from Hurricane Irene.

It’s all over the news, I hear. I wouldn’t know– I don’t own a TV. I was surprised to hear it from my grandmother early this afternoon. Usually I hear these kinds of things from my mom.

Moms are funny. Case Study:

You can sit next to my mom and have a whole conversation just for her to turn around and say, “Oh, did you say something?”.  Yet if on the other side of a crowded restaurant a person says something about DC, it is like her bionic mom ears turn on and suddenly she will hear every single word. Or gruesome stories about death–the more heartwrenching, tragic and bloody the better. Mom ears only pick up information that they find useful, which is information that can be used to guilt-trip their children later.

I have a theory:

In Pokemon, the characters evolved from one form to another. So you start with this adorable creature……and it grows into this terrifying creature.

Evolution_of_Charmander

The evolution of the female ear:

  • Little Girls Ears– They hear everything and repeat it in adorable ways. Not much different from Little Boy Ears.
  • Girlfriend Ears– Capable of hearing and remembering things like your favorite food so they can make it for you. But this is where things get scary….
  • Wife Ears– Primarily function by hearing anything that could possibly be interpreted as flirting with other women. (related: wife eyes which cannot find their car keys or cell phone but aptly notice you checking out the waitress)
  • …then finally–the most dreaded–Mom Ears.

So I was surprised to miss on the usual paranoid rant that would my mom would give me about how she heard Washington DC was going to have a terrible hurricane and how once someone told her about this time where some girl was all alone and far away from her family and  [insert gruesome and terrible story-probably gory] and then she died. Alas, the day is young.

Still, I have to come to terms with the fact that something peculiar is going on with DC weather. As Dr. House says, there is no such thing as simply coincidence. Therefore, being the classic egocentric that I am, I can think of only a few possibilities of why these things are happening:

  • God is warning me (negative). There was thunder as the plane landed, an UNnatural natural disaster shook the city, and now a hurricane may invade my swampy residence? Maybe He’s sitting up there on his fluffy cloud saying “Hey girl, what more can I do then buy your ticket home?”
  • God is testing my resolve (positive). It’s my first time away from home by myself, I made it through the snowstorm the first time, now He’s looking down on me through those pearly gates and saying, “I just want you to know that you can make it through anything. If you make it through this first week, NOTHING can stop you, girl!” (I don’t know why these versions of God are a flamboyant gay man)
  • The world is ending. I have nothing to add.

For more information on Hurricane Irene click on this link

Clearly, it is extremely reasonable to believe that God would go through all the trouble of making these things happen JUST to give me a little life guidance.I can’t help it that he loves me more than he loves you.

A toast, to the end of the world.

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”
~Erma Bombeck (a new favorite by suggestion of a friend of my grandmother)

The Journey

the-hobbit_2422493bI’m going to begin by thanking all the people who helped me get to the airport this morning. To my mom, for giving me life and teaching me how to live it ever since. To my dad, for making my morning totally stress-free despite our natural inclinations for stressfests. To my grandma, for making me a whole pot of coffee even though I could only manage to drink one and a half cups (albeit large ones). To my grandpa, for driving me through LA rush hour and making me a PB&J so I have a little bit of home on the road. There are a million things I could thank them for, but there’s a few.

This morning was a blur. I slept fairly well considering my—well, considering my personality. By “sleeping well”, I mean two solid hours of sleep. Then I woke up and BLURRR and suddenly…here I am at the airport, an idle 4 hour wait before my plane begins to board.

As of this moment this has been the most hassled travel experience I’ve ever encountered. Although I typically maneuver two suitcases like a pro, today I feel the handicap of a lack of sleep and my cumbersome backpack, purse and pillow. I’m falling all over the place. The line for security was a nightmare (second only to the flight out of Dublin, which was hell on Earth). I’d decided, against my better judgement and prior travel knowledge, to wear my boots to the airport. Usually I go no-hassle and wear flip flops, but today I was that girl.

I’d already been suffering from an uncomfortable sweat for the last 24 hours which only seems to be getting worse and worse. So I get up to the scanner and I’m struggling to get my sweaty, semi-swollen feet out of my boots. My mother’s voice echoes in my head from earlier that morning, “Don’t you want to put socks on?” I could slap myself. In case there was any question about this over the last 22-23 years of my life, my mother is ALWAYS right about this kind of stuff (even if we ALWAYS tell her she’s wrong). As I’m writhing on the floor in an all out battle against my Calvin Kleins, I can hear a collective sigh out of the seasoned travelers.

I wanted to ease their minds and assure them, “I know what it looks like, but I know better—I swear. I’m one of you, truly. All I wanted to do was save a little weight in my luggage.” Was it worth it?? No, nope, not a bit. I motioned for the man behind me to move ahead of me, but he politely declined, “We aren’t going anywhere fast, anyhow.” Secretly, I think he was just enjoying watching me struggle with the suede beasts unrelenting in their attachment to my feet.

There was a moment where I thought I’d be stuck in Los Angeles, unable to pass through security and falling victim to my own vanity. It would have served me right. But, it worked out, as things tend to do. After hobbling down the line, pushing my four trays, I cursed myself, sat down on the floor and with a firm yank I finally pried my foot free of its fashionable prison.

Finally able to look at the security line ahead of me, I discover that instead of the usual metal detector, LAX has finally begun using the dreaded and highly contoversial body scanner. The women in front of me opted for a pat down, and were awaiting a female attendent. “It’ll be a few minutes,” the security agent alerts them.

I’ve been a little skeptical about the scanner, on one hand believing in the paramount importance of national security, on the other holding a strong libertarian belief in personal liberties. I know what David Morse is going to say about this, and so let me defend what I was about to do.

#1- In order to preserve national security, sometimes a minor “violation” of personal freedoms is necessary. There is a line, of course, a line between the reasonable and unreasonable restriction of freedoms. I believe in the power of the people to act as a check to determine for themselves which liberties they are willing to sacrifice. Blahdittyblahblahblah. It is obviously a very complicated issue which I’ve been weighing in my mind and I’m willing to admit that you (David) may be right, in fact, you probably are–but that brings me to…

#2- After the epic battle royale with my shoes, I was not waiting around in security anymore. The judgement of the 200 people waiting in line behind me (no exaggeration) was burning into the back of my skull. If that means that some lucky TSA agent gets a glance at my lady bits, so be it!

It’s amazing how quickly personal values get thrown out the window for something as simple as public humiliation.

#3- Last year, I had a particularly invasive pat down in Frankfurt, Germany by a very aggressive and masculine young woman. I’m talking under the bra and partial gynecological exam… I’m still trying to decide which is a larger violation.

 Update: As I was writing this David told me to opt out.
A) You are SO predictable
B) I fail.

Judge away public-at-large, I am at your mercy.

And so, as has become the custom, I leave you with a toast. After looking around the airport, I know who has truly earned this drink.

Here’s to you, TSA Agent who looks at the body scans, may the sight of naked travelers not force you to poke your own eyes out.

“If God really had intended men to fly, he’d make it easier o get to the airport.”
~George Winters