I was in Russia in 1995 and I was struck by how proficient people were at things like violin and piano and gymnastics and a physics. I was taking violin lessons from a graduate of the Moscow conservatory. Her name was Tatyana Sergeevna Michurina. Passing a violin audition to get admitted to the Moscow conservatory is probably one of the most difficult feats known to man, and she did it and five of her students did as well. That’s like a gymnastics coach sending 5 athletes to the Olympics.
I would give Tanya gypsy pieces to play and she didn’t like gypsy music, but she was took my gypsy sheet music and made incredibly beautiful music with it, and taught me as best as I could learn. We would play duets and she would bring me to a higher level of playing
I am fascinated by high competence. I am fascinated by high performance people. We don’t have anything close to a Moscow conservatory in the West.
The same with ballet, gymnastics, math and so on.
Had I been able to stay, Tanya would have made a competent violin player out of me and I would have played in a Hungarian tanchaz or gypsy style ensemble in Eastern Europe Having my Visa run out and not having money to come back to Moscow was the great disappointment of my life. It was my rejection from art school moment I eventually gave up violin and and the beauty and hypnotic charm of the harmonic minor for calculus and physics, and the will to power
I came back from Russia that same year with one big idea. We Americans need high competence. We are pathetic dilettantes.
After Russia I came back and moved to the Boston area. I lived in a boarding house with an American trust fund guy, two Chinese men and a Chinese woman who was the wife of one of the Chinese men. One of the Chinese men was the chief artificial intelligence researcher at MIT, the other a PhD physicist at Harvard. They would tell me that white people invented science and it was a shame that there were no white American scientists at Harvard or MIT. These two guys were as impressive as Tanya, and math and physics is more practical and doable than becoming a gypsy violinist. You cannot self teach violin, but you most certainly can self teach math and physics.
So I gave up violin for math, and it was a good decision. But I only learned a few years ago the most important thing, and that is that it’s possible to teach yourself math physics engineering to a very high level with just books. You can be poor and live in a provincial backwater with no money for tuition or time to attend classes.
Living in an economically depressed area can motivate you to self study physics to a high level because you want to become indispensable and financially independent so that maybe you can have a family and live in a wealthy town where the people have higher expectations for themselves. When life is bleak, studying physics and working towards a better life is the most interesting thing there is.
The great MMA fighter Fyodor Emelianenko is from a bleak post industrial city called Donetsk. A bleak environment creates mostly hopeless losers, and a few great champions. You must make a choice. If you accept the default American lifestyle, you’ll be a loser. Tanya’s husband died a homeless drunk in Moscow and her older son was a heroin addict. Her younger son was her big hope. I hope he came out ok.
America is a post-Soviet state now. The middle is gone. You will be either a hero, or dirt. The champion, or an overdosed corpse found in your mom’s house.
Parenting is left mostly to mothers, who see their children as a nuisance to be pacified by screen time so they can get back to posting selfies. Screen time babysitting and lax parenting is a public health epidemic that leads to obesity, Idiocracy and addiction.
Bad parenting has plagued the USA for decades. Even Charles Manson was talking about child neglect 50 years ago, saying that he found the daughter of a rocket scientist rooting through garbage cans.
The solution is both parents stay home and do Robinson curriculum homeschooling. The actual curriculum is quite good, but the real strength of Robinson is training the children to teach themselves, and do math first thing in the morning.
American parents raise dullard TV babies and then expect expensive college to fix 18 years of shitty parenting. If it’s expensive it must be good, right?
The selfie moms using TV as a babysitter end up with children who never launch into adulthood. Thirty years later, their TV baby is still in mom’s living room, watching TV or playing Vidya.
Parents who frontload a good training up of their children have kids who are truly independent at a relatively young age. These trained up children go through a period of resenting their training up, but when they grow into young adults and experience success compared to their TV baby peers, they come to revere their parents.