You Just Don’t Understand by Deborah Tannen

Deborah Tannen is a sociolinguist at Georgetown University who studies “genderlects” — the speech and conversational patterns that exist both between women and men, and also within same-sex communications.  She wrote You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation in 1990, and it explores an interesting way to interpret several types of common (often, explicitly stereotypical) misunderstandings that take place between men and women.  Her idea is that generally in conversation women are trying (perhaps unconsciously) to facilitate intimacy, building relationships through social connectedness, whereas men are attempting (also perhaps unconsciously) to negotiate a social hierarchy.

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Another way of breeding

More and more I suspect that short of some kind of existential catastrophe, in the near future the human genome is going to start getting re-written de novo every few generations.  This makes the already shaky argument for propagating my own personal genome all the more ridiculous.  Queen Elizabeth, for instance, in all likelihood carries exactly zero genes passed down to her from William the Conqueror, and that’s without genetic engineering.  Far more important today will be the ideas and technologies that are passed forward.  Add to this my deeply held belief that virtually all of the dangers and problems we face in the near term as a species, and a biosphere, stem from the enormous and rapidly growing human population (and it’s unending desire for material goods), and actually reproducing biologically becomes not only unnecessary, but morally dubious.

But there is still a powerful attraction to having kids.  To experiencing that kind of persistent mentorship, from the point of view of the mentor.  To watching, and hopefully guiding, another human being on the path to self-awareness, and an awareness of the world.  To having a visceral and deep connection to the future, through a person who will live in it.

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