Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 2008

Another exceptional shave

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Honeybee Spa’s Floral Euphoria shaving soap, the Simpsons Keyhole 3 Best Badger brush, and the HD with a previously used PolSilver blade delivered a very fine shave indeed, with Booster Oriental Spice providing a fragrant finish. The Lady Gillette I included because I like it quite a bit and I thought with the HD in the photo to provide scale, you’d get an idea of the handle’s length: handy if one is shaving her legs. As always, click the image to enlarge, and click the enlargement to see actual pixels.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2008 at 7:59 am

Posted in Shaving

Sandwiches

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I’ve bought a few sandwiches at the supermarket deli counter, and today it occurred to me that it would be much cheaper to make my own—and that I should set up my sandwich operation to mimic theirs: containers for sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, sliced cheese, sliced avocado, mayo, mustard, and lettuce leaves, and those containers in a plastic basket I have so I can easily bring out the whole sandwich mise en place. I also got some sliced sourdough rolls for the bread, a chuck cross-rib roast to cook for filling, and of course I have leftover capon.

And, speaking of the capon, it was delicious, but indistinguishable (to me) from plain old roast chicken. It was larger, of course, and it was tender and juicy, but so have the chickens been since I’ve been roasting with the punctured lemons in the cavity.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Institutional memory

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Everyone makes mistakes, and some learn from their mistakes. Others, mortified by error, put the mistake from their mind and learn nothing. Glenn Greenwald points out that the NY Times falls into the latter group. His column today begins:

The New York Times Editorial Page, today, on poor U.S./Latin American relations:

[T]he Bush administration did enormous damage to American credibility throughout much of the region when it blessed what turned out to be a failed coup against Mr. Chávez.

Indeed it did.  But what the Times fails to mention, and is apparently eager to erase, is that “the Bush administration” was far from alone in blessing that coup attempt:

The New York Times Editorial Page, April 13, 2002 — one day after the coup:

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona. . . .

Early yesterday [Chávez] was compelled to resign by military commanders unwilling to order their troops to fire on fellow Venezuelans to keep him in power. He is being held at a military base and may face charges in Thursday’s killings.

New presidential elections should be held this year, perhaps at the same time the new Congress is chosen. Some time is needed for plausible national leaders to emerge and parties to reorganize. But Venezuela urgently needs a leader with a strong democratic mandate to clean up the mess, encourage entrepreneurial freedom and slim down and professionalize the bureaucracy.

That was one of the most Orwellian editorials written in the last decade.  The Times — in the very first line — mimicked the claim of the Bush administration that Chavez “resigned,” even though, several paragraphs later, they expressly acknowledged that Chavez “was compelled to resign by military commanders” (the definition of a “coup”).  Further mimicking the administration, the Times perversely celebrated the coup as safeguarding “Venezuelan democracy” (“Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator”), even though the coup deposed someone whom the Times Editorial itself said “was elected president in 1998″ and — again using the Times‘ own language — “handed power to” an unelected, pro-American “respected business leader, Pedro Carmona,” who quickly proceeded to dissolve the democratically elected National Assembly, the Supreme Court and other key institutions.

Worse still, the Times Editorial mindlessly spouted the administration’s claim that “Washington never publicly demonized Mr. Chávez” and “his removal was a purely Venezuelan affair.”  Yet less than a week later, the Times itself was compelled to report that the Bush administration “acknowledged today that a senior administration official [Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich] was in contact with Mr. Chávez’s successor on the very day he took over”‘ — a disclosure which, as the Times put it with great understatement, “raised questions as to whether Reich or other officials were stage-managing the takeover by Mr. Carmona.”

Four days after its pro-coup Editorial, the Times — once Chavez was returned to power in the wake of Carmona’s anti-democratic moves — returned to the topic of Venezuela, once again echoing the official line from Bush officials, who took to condemning the now-failed coup attempt.  The Times, while justifying pro-coup sentiments as understandable, proceeded to denounce that reaction without really apologizing for its own role in endorsing it:

In his three years in office, Mr. Chávez has been such a divisive and demagogic leader that his forced departure last week drew applause at home and in Washington. That reaction, which we shared, overlooked the undemocratic manner in which he was removed. Forcibly unseating a democratically elected leader, no matter how badly he has performed, is never something to cheer.

Despite that, the Times still expressed optimism about the coup, righteously intoning in the first paragraph:  “we hope Mr. Chávez will act as a more responsible and moderate leader now that he seems to realize the anger he stirred.”

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 10:24 am

Posted in Daily life, NY Times

A fun read from the Right

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Via Andrew Sullivan, this interesting post (dated 11 August 2008) on why Obama has no chance at all at getting elected.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 10:21 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

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More on Waitzkin

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I earlier blogged about Josh Waitzkin’s excellent book The Art of Learning. I just happened across an interview with Waitzkin that’s worth reading. It begins:

In this month’s issue of Psychology Today I critically examined the development of ability, the components of success, and the potential benefits of early delays (read article here). I mention different types of late bloomers. Sure, there is the classic late bloomer like Grandma Moses. But there are other types of late bloomers, such as the late-recognized bloomer, and the repeat bloomer.

Joshua Waitzkin is a unique example of the repeat bloomer. In 1993, Paramount Pictures released Searching for Bobby Fischer, which depicts Waitzkin’s early chess success as he embarks on a journey to win his first National chess championship. This movie had the effect of weakening his love for the game as well as the learning process. His passion for learning was rejuvenated, however, after years of meditation, and reading philosophy and psychology. With this rekindling of the learning process, Waitzkin took up the martial art Tai Chi Chuan at the age of 21 and made rapid progress, winning the 2004 push hands world championship at the age of 27. Compared to others in the field, this makes him a late bloomer in Tai Chi Chuan. What a transition–from child prodigy to late bloomer! Even though he may be thought of as a “late bloomer” in Tai Chi Chuan, he clearly didn’t bloom late.

After reading Joshua’s most recent book The Art of Learning, I thought of a million topics I wanted to discuss with him—topics such as being labelled a “child prodigy”, blooming, creativity, and the learning process. Thankfully, since I was profiling Waitzkin for my article I was fortunate enough to get a chance to have such a conversation with him. I hope you find this discussion just as provocative and illuminating as I did.

The Child Prodigy

Why did you leave chess at the top of your game?

This is a complicated question that I wrote about very openly in my book. In short, I had lost the love. My relationship to the game had become externalized—by pressures from the film about my life, by losing touch with my natural voice as an artist, by mistakes I made in the growth process. At the very core of my relationship to learning is the idea that we should be as organic as possible. We need to cultivate a deeply refined introspective sense, and build our relationship to learning around our nuance of character. I stopped doing this and fell into crisis from a sense of alienation from an art I had loved so deeply. This is when I left chess behind, started meditating, studying philosophy and psychology, and ultimately moved towards Tai Chi Chuan.

Do you think being a child prodigy hurt your chess career in any way?

I have never considered myself a prodigy. Others have used that term, but I never bought in to it. From a young age it was always about embracing the battle, loving the game, and overcoming adversity. Growing up as a competitor in Washington Square Park helped me avoid the perils of perfectionism—it was a school of hard knocks, and those guys always kept me on my toes for complacency. On this theme, I think losing my first National Chess Championship was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because it helped me avoid many of the psychological traps you are hinting at. That year, between ages 8 and 9 was one of the most formative periods of my life. I had felt my mortality, came back strong, and went on to dominate the scholastic chess scene over the next 8 years. On some fundamental level, the notion of success in my being was defined by overcoming adversity—and it still is.

The truth is that throughout my careers in both chess and the martial arts, I often knew that my rivals were more naturally gifted than me—either with their mental machines or their bodies. But I have believed in my training, my approach to learning, and my ability to rise to the challenge under pressure.

In general, do you see any disadvantages to being labeled a child prodigy?


Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life

Another exceptional shave

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A really fine shave today: Yardley shaving soap, the Sabini brush, and the Apollo Mikron with (i believe) a Swedish Gillette blade. TOBS Shaving Shop is a good traditional aftershave for the finishing touch.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2008 at 9:30 am

Posted in Shaving

Wise words from Scott Feldstein

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Go read.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Daily life

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Obama on his appointees

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Obama responds directly to criticism of some members of his team:

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 11:53 am

Obama speaks to us

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 11:46 am

TooManyTabs for Firefox

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I just installed TooManyTabs and it works great. I often have extra tabs hanging around for later reading—this little add-on lets me store the tabs for later with no memory penalty. Read about it here.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 11:38 am

Food and kids

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This, via The Eldest, seems like an excellent idea:

Driving on U.S. 40, shoving along with the traffic past strip malls, gas stations and drive-through restaurants, there’s no apparent reason to give Nuwood Road, landmarked by an auto supply store, a second glance.

But if one did turn in and hang a quick right, he or she would see what could soon become the linchpin for bringing wholesome eating to Baltimore City schools.

Tony Geraci, the system’s new food service director, plans to turn the 33 surprisingly rural acres in Baltimore County into an organic farm where schoolchildren will learn about healthy food and sustainable living, by digging in the dirt, planting seeds and watching fruits and vegetables come to life.

It’s to be called Fresh Start Farm, because, as Geraci says, Baltimore, with its disheartening poverty and obesity rates, needs a fresh start.

“If you walk through Baltimore and see the trash, that’s [the remnants of] what our kids eat,” the former chef says, speaking of the chip bags, soda bottles and fast food containers that litter city streets. “This is what these kids know. But they’ll see this farm and see that they can have their own little plant on their stoop at home. And that even in some burned-out neighborhood in the city, they can have a garden that will support life.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 11:35 am

Another look at Obama’s style

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Very interesting article in the LA Times. It begins:

As chairman of his party’s congressional campaign committee, Rahm Emanuel helped scores of current House Democrats win their seats. When Tom Daschle was the Senate Democratic leader, he funneled more than $1 million to a new generation of lawmakers seeking office.

Now, as key members of Barack Obama’s incoming administration, Emanuel and Daschle are using their clout to help build sturdy bridges between the White House and Congress, coordinating their plans well before Inauguration Day.

That effort could produce a remarkable result: Democrats may try to pass an economic stimulus bill before Obama takes office Jan. 20, and have it on his desk to sign immediately. Typically, a new Congress spins its wheels for weeks while awaiting the arrival of a new president after convening in early January.

“We don’t intend to stumble into the next administration,” Obama said this week. “We are going to hit the ground running. We’re going to have clear plans of action.”

To that end, emissaries of the president-elect are meeting with every congressional committee chair. Emanuel, who will be Obama’s chief of staff, has been dispatched to the Capitol. And Obama, who is running the transition from his home base in Chicago, has been working the phones.

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 10:06 am

Savory bread pudding

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I love bread pudding, and I love savory dishes. So this recipe by Mark Bittman looks good:

Savory Bread Pudding

Yield At least 6 servings

Time 1 hour, largely unattended

The pudding can also be varied by adding a pinch of thyme or sage, chopped nuts or cooked chestnuts, or about a cup of grated sweet potato or chopped scallions. If you want a pudding that tastes more like stuffing, just add chopped celery, onions, carrots and herbs. As for the bread, fluffy packaged white bread disappears; the crusts of crisp baguettes and peasant breads never become tender. Stick to long, wide inexpensive loaves, usually called Italian bread.

  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 6 cups dense white bread, cut or torn into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt and fresh black pepper
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces freshly grated semisoft cheese, like Emmenthal
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps

1. Butter or oil an 8-inch souffle or baking dish, and put bread in it. Combine everything but shiitakes, and pour over bread. Submerge bread with a weighted plate, and turn oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons butter or oil in a saute pan, add shiitakes and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Remove plate, and stir in mushrooms. Bake until pudding is just set, 35 to 45 minutes.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 9:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Thanksgiving question

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I wonder how many people dash to the supermarket this morning to buy a frozen turkey with the (incorrect) idea that they can thaw it in time to roast it today.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 9:56 am

Posted in Daily life

Top 10 food blogs

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According to the London Times:

TOP 10 FOOD BLOGS

1) Mexico cooksCristina Potter’s knowledge of Mexican food is matched only by her passion for her adopted home. The best starting point for anyone who wants to learn more about the varied cuisine of this extraordinary country.

2) Eating Asia – Robyn Eckhardt knows more about the food of South East Asia than anyone I have ever encountered. Check out a recent post on The Philippines for an example of superb food writing.

3) Silverbrow on food – The quirky journal of a man whose eating is restricted by the Jewish rules of Kashrut, the author still seems to pack away plenty of food and writes about it very well.

4) Grab your fork – All food bloggers should aspire to be as good as Helen Yee. Her wonderful website, mainly about Sydney is a daily read for me even if she is discussing places halfway across the world.

5) Chocolate and zucchini – Clotilde Dusoulier’s online presence remains the ne plus ultra of French food blogs and has been supported by the recent publication of books based on her experiences of shopping, eating and cooking in Paris.

6) Wine anorak – Jamie Goode’s unfussy approach to wine opens a mysterious world up to a whole new audience and his tales of travels in search of the best bottles are amusing and informative.

7) The boy done food – Featuring the exploits of food journalist, William Leigh, this blog could only be improved if he posted more often. When he does, it is well worth reading.

8) Refined palate – There are few people on this earth who can have eaten at as many fine-dining establishments as Liz Haskell and her husband, John. Every bite they take is captured in minute detail on her well-designed blog.

9) Cheese and biscuits – Although a relatively new contender, Chris Pople is slowly developing a distinctive and enjoyable writing style, which makes his blog a fun stopping off point with my morning cup of tea.

10) Eat like a girl – More like “Eat Like a Baby Elephant” as Irish ex-pat Niamh Shields shares delicious recipes on the few occasions she is not dining out.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 9:49 am

Posted in Food

Obama’s team

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I have noticed what I view as unwarranted concern about Obama’s picks. He’s going for knowledge and experience, and that necessarily involves people from the Clinton Administration. Obama is not a passive manager—he clearly is a take-charge, get-it-done kind of guy, and I don’t believe that his team wil have the lack of management and direction that the Bush Administration showed. In my view, the players in the Obama Administration will have clear directions and good monitoring. So I am mostly waiting for when Obama officially takes office to see what he’s going to do.

Joe Conason has a good article on this point. It begins:

While Barack Obama introduced the first members of his economic team, a wailing noise could be heard somewhere in the background. That was the sound of complaining liberals, who worry that the president-elect is already surrendering the progressive moment to centrists — the kind of post-election disappointment with which they are all too familiar.

Looking over the names of the new Obama appointees to important positions in the Treasury and the White House, critics on the left have dismissed them as “Clintonite retreads” or worse. According to this gloomy analysis, the incoming administration is poised to repeat the mistakes of the past rather than create new policy for the future, by staffing itself with economists wedded to old ideologies of deregulation and budget-balancing, rather than government intervention and public investment.

If resumes represented destiny, then there would certainly be cause for concern.

After all, most of Mr. Obama’s top advisers — notably including Tim Geithner, the new Treasury secretary, and Larry Summers, the new director of the National Economic Council — either served in the Clinton administration or have some other connection to Robert Rubin, the man responsible for “Rubinomics” when he oversaw the Treasury during those years. The combination of fiscal discipline and deregulation that bear his name, once lauded as the foundation of an unprecedented boom, seem not only irrelevant but wrongheaded. His reputation has been badly damaged, meanwhile, by the fall of Citigroup, where he oversaw a ruinous and seemingly reckless investment strategy.

Long gone are the days when a smiling Rubin appeared on the covers of the newsmagazines alongside Alan Greenspan, whose record as Federal Reserve chairman and avatar of laissez-faire economics is equally discredited. By now it would be natural for Summers — who succeeded Rubin at Treasury — to wish that everyone would forget his was the third face on those same magazine covers.

But when liberals point to Summers and other members of the Obama team, crying betrayal, they misunderstand the strategy behind those appointments. The most important thing to remember about the president-elect as he prepares to govern is that he takes the long view — and that he knows how to make a reasonable case for radical change. He has not taken one step back from the commitments he articulated during his campaign.

Indeed, Obama has steadfastly refused to scale back his platform of spending initiatives, from infrastructure to health care, despite all the tut-tutting commentary. Instead, even as he rolled out his team, he pledged a very substantial spending increase during the first two years of his term as the only means to prevent the recession from plunging into something far worse.

And his appointees will implement the Obama program, not only because that is what he tells them to do but because that is what they have come to believe is best for the country. Whatever Summers or Geithner or any of the other centrists on the new team may once have said or thought, they will pursue a course of massive counter-cyclical spending, public investment and strong new regulation.

Several of the significant figures chosen by Obama …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 9:35 am

Florence Nightingale, scientist

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Florence Nightingale turns out to be quite modern in her outlook, applying statistics to determine trends in causes of death and using the information to make significant improvements. There’s a good article by Julie Rehmeyer in Science News that includes some of her graphs and charts. The article begins:

When Florence Nightingale arrived at a British hospital in Turkey during the Crimean War, she found a nightmare of misery and chaos. Men lay crowded next to each other in endless corridors. The air reeked from the cesspool that lay just beneath the hospital floor. There was little food and fewer basic supplies.

By the time Nightingale left Turkey after the war ended in July 1856, the hospitals were well-run and efficient, with mortality rates no greater than civilian hospitals in England, and Nightingale had earned a reputation as an icon of Victorian women. Her later and less well-known work, however, saved far more lives. She brought about fundamental change in the British military medical system, preventing any such future calamities. To do it, she pioneered a brand-new method for bringing about social change: applied statistics.

When Nightingale returned from the war, she was obsessed with a sense of failure, even though the public adored her. Despite her efforts, thousands of men had died needlessly during the war from illnesses they acquired in the hospital. “Oh, my poor men who endured so patiently,” she wrote to a friend, “I feel I have been such a bad mother to you, to come home and leave you lying in your Crimean graves, 73 percent in eight regiments during six months from disease alone.” Without widespread changes in Army procedures, the same disaster could occur again, she worried.

So she began a campaign for reform. She persuaded Queen Victoria to appoint a Royal Commission on the Army medical department, and she herself wrote an 830-page report. Her stories, she decided, weren’t enough. She turned to William Farr, who had recently invented the field of medical statistics, to help her identify the reasons for the calamity and the necessary policy changes. He advised her, “We do not want impressions, we want facts.”

Under Farr’s tutelage, Nightingale compiled vast tables of statistics about how many people had died, where and why. Many of her findings shocked her. For example, she discovered that in peacetime, soldiers in England died at twice the rate of civilians — even though they were young men in their primes. The problem with the military health service, she realized, extended far beyond a few terrible hospitals during a war.

Furthermore, the statistics changed Nightingale’s understanding of …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 9:03 am

Bay rum

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Em’s Place Bay Rum shaving soap, which produced a rich lather with the aid of the Rooney Style 2. Shown are two Gillette Super Speed red-tipped razors: the aggressive Super Speed, which is just about right for me. The one in front is of US manufacture, the one behind it UK. You’ll notice that the UK version has a gap just above the tip. That gap is closed as the razor is opened and the tip moves up.

I loaded a new Wilkinson blade into the US red-tip and got a very nice shave indeed. Pinaud’s Bay Rum aftershave has more spice fragrance than the TOBS, which is closer to pure bay rum.

All told, a fine shave, and now for some coffee.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2008 at 8:56 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Duck for lunch (and dinner)

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I roasted the duck using the roasted chicken with lemon technique, just extending the times somewhat. Extremely tasty on a dark cold day.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2008 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Overparenting

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Interesting book review by Joan Acocella in the New Yorker. It begins:

We’ve all been there—that is, in the living room of friends who invited us to dinner without mentioning that this would include a full-evening performance by their four-year-old. He sings, he dances, he eats all the hors d’oeuvres. When you try to speak to his parents, he interrupts. Why should they talk to you, about things he’s not interested in, when you could all be discussing how his hamster died? His parents seem to agree; they ask him to share his feelings about that event. You yawn. Who cares? Dinner is finally served, and the child is sent off to some unfortunate person in the kitchen. The house shakes with his screams. Dinner over, he returns, his sword point sharpened. His parents again ask him how he feels. It’s ten o’clock. Is he tired? No! he says. You, on the other hand, find yourself exhausted, and you make for the door, swearing never to have kids or, if you already did, never to visit your grandchildren. You’ll just send checks.

This used to be known as “spoiling.” Now it is called “overparenting”—or “helicopter parenting” or “hothouse parenting” or “death-grip parenting.” The term has changed because the pattern has changed. It still includes spoiling—no rules, many toys—but two other, complicating factors have been added. One is anxiety. Will the child be permanently affected by the fate of the hamster? Did he touch the corpse, and get a germ? The other new element—at odds, it seems, with such solicitude—is achievement pressure. The heck with the child’s feelings. He has a nursery-school interview tomorrow. Will he be accepted? If not, how will he ever get into a good college? Overparenting is the subject of a number of recent books, and they all deplore it in the strongest possible terms.

Most of us have heard of people who pipe Mozart into their child’s room. In “A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting” (Broadway; $23.95), Hara Estroff Marano, an editor-at-large at Psychology Today, writes that Baby Einstein, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, will sell you not just a Baby Mozart CD but also a Baby Beethoven. Both are available on DVD as well, with the music supplemented by puppet shows and other imagery. These DVDs, Baby Einstein says, are for the three-months-and-older age group. Since, at three months, babies cannot sit up, parents will have to hold them in front of the monitor, and since these infants have only just learned to focus their eyes, it is hard to know what they will make of the material. (Nothing at all, Susan Linn, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, told the Chicago Tribune: “The baby video industry is a scam.”)

The DVDs are intended to provide you with a head start on the academic-achievement front, but there is also the environmental-hazards problem. Hovering parents, Marano says, see lethal bacilli on every surface. To thwart them in the supermarket, you can buy a Buggy Bagg, a protective pad that you insert into the front of the grocery cart before you put the child in. According to Buggy Bagg’s literature, this will guard against “viruses, bacteria, and bodily fluids” left on the cart. In a survey that Marano cites, a third of parents reported that they sent their offspring to school with antibacterial hand gels. Who trusts soap? …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2008 at 12:33 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

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