Thursday, August 22, 2002

Family&Culture File:

Michael Lewis, Slate
One of the many surprising things to me about fatherhood is how it has perverted my attitude toward risk. ... My emotions are [now] easily manipulated by cheap dramatic tricks involving the suffering of small children, and by the current media hysteria about what is in fact an ordinary rate of child murders. ... Small children are also a mood-altering substance with financial consequences. Their effect on the human mind is the opposite of Prozac. ... I am no longer as open as I once was to helping out people I don't know, especially when those people need a bath. Several times a week I have a vaguely hostile response to a stranger that I would not have had if I didn't have children—for instance, when I see a bum loitering in the park near our house.

Ellyn Spragins, NY Times
The idea of fathers raising a generation of sons who choose to be stay-at-home dads themselves is a lovely bookend to the long established trend of women entering the work force. But, as we've learned from that, few people can make such an important decision and find it's right for all occasions and all life stages. There's going to be more to this fathering story. So let's not push these men into a new category and call them Mr. Moms. Let's just say they're parents-in-progress, like so many of us. ...2002_08_11_nbiermafile_archive.html#80332086

Timothy Noah, Slate
The Times wedding pages are built on the false assumption that the weddings of wealthy non-celebrities constitute news. They're an anachronistic holdover from the days when newspapers carried "society" pages unabashedly celebrating even the most trivial events in the lives of the local (usually WASP) elite. In those distant times, it made a certain amount of sense. For one thing, America did not profess in 1940 to strive for the same degree of egalitarianism that it aspires to today. And on a practical level, newspapers—even the New York Times—were local institutions in communities that really were governed by relatively small, readily identifiable local elites. Today, Times readers and the distribution of economic and political power are more national and diffuse. It's no longer reasonable to assume that most Times readers have the slightest idea who these people celebrated in the wedding pages even are. So why do the wedding pages persist? Not because they convey news, but because the tiny number of people who are wealthy or influential enough to get their weddings written up would have a fit if this privilege were taken away.

Yesterday: Places&Culture

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