Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thoughts on Society

What do women want?

Hmmm... how about a flat stomach, hard thighs and a tight... but enough about me. The real answer is probably jewelry. Rosslyn Smith touches on a number of issues including modern feminism, some common historical fallacies, families, fatherhood, and divorce. Its a very good read - despite a few editorial errors.

"For much of our history the majority of parents considered the best interests of their children to be more important than their own romantic fulfillment. Much of the historic stigma about divorce or attempting to raise an illegitimate child on one's own revolved around what was in the best interest of the child. Promoting the welfare of the child often involved behavior now usually considered hypocritical..."

"In the 1960s the idea took hold that it was not necessary for parents to sacrifice to maintain a stable marriage for the sake of their children. It was said to be better if the parents were completely honest about their own needs instead of going through the motions to keep a marriage alive. The assumption was that if each parent was made happier by placing their own interests first, the happiness of the child would automatically follow. There are several problems with this idea. First, in the absence of obvious physical or mental abuse, children simply lack the empathy to pick up whether their parents are truly happy or not. What matters more to their development is that both parents are there.... Second, a unilateral divorce tended to increase the level of hostility between the parents well beyond that which existed when they were going threw [sic] the motions of keeping the marriage alive...."

Ah... 'happiness'. Like "excitement' and 'fulfillment', many people seem to have inflated expectations which let them down. Friends of mine recently were divorced after only one year. The man was completely surprised, the divorce happened in one month, it was amicable, and there was no compelling reason for it except that she was 'not happy enough.'

Life isn't about being happy, you take what joy you can and pay for it with perseverance and effort. Perhaps the reasons I as a more or less agnostic find traditional marriage and religious precepts and the philosophies of the Founding of our nation more compelling than modern progressive thought is that humans are imperfect and imperfectable. Judeo-Christian theology and the principles of the Founders accepted this as fact and derived a sometimes stern belief system from it. Whereas modern 'progressive' or leftist ideology has a Utopian aura that if only we made the right rules and thought the right thoughts, people could be changed.

Bursting the Higher Ed Bubble

We've had a tech bubble burst, now a real estate and credit bubble burst, will the next bubble to burst be 'Education'? While costs rise, the monetary value of a college degree is declining, in part because so many college degrees are out there, in part because colleges and universities are falling down on the job of actually educating students in favor of political radicalization.

The last paragraph sums up my thoughts:

"Maybe tough high school exit exams would serve the needs of employers who currently insist on a BA not for its own sake but as proof that a student was not too lazy or aimless to get one. Indeed, it could be that when the job market attaches less value to a piece of parchment, universities will at last lay aside their often ugly political preoccupations and rediscover their true mission: the pursuit of knowledge as a good in itself."

High school diplomas are almost worthless. Quality and academic rigor of public schools has declined in recent decades. European students are at least 2 years ahead of American students when they start college and I am convinced that an 18 year old with a high school diploma in 1960 knew more about Civics, US history, the Founding of our country, and how government worked than college graduates today.

Growing old in America

Another from American Thinker. I really should buy a subscription from them. Its rather long and quite poignant, difficult to summarize. I will let the intro speak for itself:

I was sitting near a fountain in Old Town and an older man approached the penny-filled catch pond with an expression so earnest I might in other circumstances have easily confused it with reverence. He closed his eyes and held a coin in his fingers like a rosary. His lips moved but I heard nothing. After what seemed like a very long moment, he tossed his coin into the water, slowly crossed the small brick plaza and sat near me.

I had been taught to never ask a person what he wished for. But he offered.

"Know what I wished for?"

"No. I guess most people wish for money."

"They overestimate the power of it. No. I wished for this."


"To sit and talk to a pretty girl."

"I think I stopped being a girl a long while ago," I said and we both smiled. We talked for almost an hour. I found out where he had been born (Pennsylvania), what he did for a living (machinist), what happened to his wife (died of lung cancer five years before), how many kids he had (three, all of them in Pittsburgh), and that I could call him Mr. Garry (name changed). He spoke mostly of his boredom and his isolation, especially in comparison to the busy life he led when he was married, working, and raising a family. "You know why I like this place? Tourists like to talk."

When I finally had to leave, he rose and shook my hand in both of his. I could feel the bones in his palms. "Thank you," he said, nodding his head as if tipping a hat, and walked back across the plaza.

I called my mom after reading this article.

"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with." - Mark Twain