Wednesday Features Post
Things have been hoppin'–both for TWE and our glass. For TWE, the RSS feed appears to have worked well, increasing our "Visitors" count by over 40% immediately (there could be other reasons for the increase, but that one seems most likely). As for the glass, more hops can be drank, now that Eric Scheske's mother-in-law has arrived to help with the post-labor trauma of coming home to a house of six children plus a newborn. Tonight, Eric got home from work, ate dinner, grabbed some beer, and came to the keyboard. Most righteous. That doesn't happen often on weekdays, maybe once a week. It ought to happen about five times more often.
The mother-in-law's trip reminds us of Alexandre Dumas's description of the chains of marriage being "so heavy that it often takes two people to carry them, and sometimes three.” Dumas was referring to something else entirely, but it's apt for the occasion.
With ale in our veins, we present the 17th Wednesday Features Post.
The Childless Culture
For those who missed it in last week's New York Times: Fashionable cities are beginning to miss the children: LINK
There are great excerpts in this story. Most of them point to a basic fact: If people over-value material acquisitions, they will tend to frown upon children for the simple reason that children cost money and thereby take away material resources, either due to child-rearing expenses or reduced income.
Anyway, here are those excerpts:
"San Francisco, where the median house price is now about $700,000, had the lowest percentage of people under 18 of any large city in the nation, 14.5 percent, compared with 25.7 percent nationwide, the 2000 census reported. Seattle, where there are more dogs than children, was a close second. Boston, Honolulu, Portland, Miami, Denver, Minneapolis, Austin and Atlanta, all considered, healthy, vibrant urban areas, were not far behind. The problem is not just that American women are having fewer children, reflected in the lowest birth rate ever recorded in the country.
"Officials say that the very things that attract people who revitalize a city - dense vertical housing, fashionable restaurants and shops and mass transit that makes a car unnecessary - are driving out children by making the neighborhoods too expensive for young families."
"Nationally, the birthrate has been dropping while the overall population is aging as life expectancy increases. The problem is not just in cities. New figures released this month showed North Dakota losing more children than any other state.
"Scottsdale, Ariz., a fast-growing Phoenix suburb, lost 571 students last year. San Jose closed three schools last year and expects to close three more soon.
"Between 2003 and 2004, only six states had an increase in their elementary school population, the census bureau reported in March.
"In that sense, the United States is following Europe and the rest of the industrial world, where birthrates now rarely exceed the rate needed to replace the population.
"'If you took immigrants out of the equation, the United States would be like the rest of Europe,' said Phillip Longman, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a public policy research organization in Washington. He is the author of 'The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birth Rates Threaten World Prosperity and What To Do About It.'
"Mr. Longman said a decline in children not only takes away 'human capital' needed to sustain an aging population, but 'having fewer children really diminishes the quality of life in a city.'"
Further Commentary on the Childless Culture
Children are the most natural by-product of the most abundant product in the United States: sex. Yet we're not having many of them. Subject to the dubious salvation of immigration, we'll feel the crunch of weak procreation in our economy shortly, just as the Japanese have felt it. In the meantime, we'll feel the crunch in our parks and neighborhoods. Few things are better than sitting back with a big old bottle of wine on a nice Spring day, watching the children play. Fewer and fewer people get to do that any more.
“The worse a person is the less he feels it.” Seneca
The Real Sex Education
We think college educations are overrated and overpriced. They're glorified trade schools that preach excellence and teach crap. Their tuitions increase faster than inflation while their results decrease. We've been saying this for a long time. But we were also recently reminded that they've come to resemble whore houses. Vigen Guroian, in a recent issue of Christianity Today, wrote about the "dorm brothels," and not just in the sorority houses. Here are two excerpts:
"Still, in most American college coed dorms, the flesh of our daughters is being served up daily like snack jerky. No longer need young men be wolves or foxes to consume that flesh. There are no fences to jump or chicken coops to break into. The gates are wide open and no guard dogs have been posted. It is easy come and easy go. Nor are our daughters the only ones getting hurt. The sex carnival that is college life today is also doing great damage to our sons' characters, deforming their attitudes toward the opposite sex. I am witnessing a perceptible dissipation of manly virtue in the young men I teach.
"Nevertheless, my more compelling concern about this state of affairs is for the young women, our daughters. Since my student years, colleges have abandoned all the arrangements that society had once put in place to protect the "weaker sex" so they could say "no" and have a place to retreat if young men pressed them too far. And although even when these arrangements were in place, one could not always say with confidence that the girl was the victim and the boy the offender, the contemporary climate makes identifying predator and prey even trickier. The lure and availability of sexual adventure that our colleges afford is teaching young women also to pursue sexual pleasures aggressively. Yet, based on my own conversations and observations, there is no doubt that young women today are far more vulnerable to sexual abuse and mistreatment by young men than when I was a college student, simply because the institutional arrangements that protected young women are gone and the new climate says everything goes."
"I am prepared to ask whether America might not be lost because the great middle class was persuaded that they must send their children to college with no questions asked, when in fact this was the near-equivalent of committing their sons and daughters to one of the circles of Dante's Inferno."
A few from Robert E. Lee:
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it."
"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world."
"I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and have never seen the day when I did not pray for them."
"We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing."
Peenge: To complain in a whining voice. "If you peenge any longer young lady, I'll spank you."