Monday, March 26, 2007

Woke up this morning ...

( myself a wait, that's the Sopranos theme song...)

Ahem. I woke up this morning to a thunderstorm. As occasionally happens, I found myself literally, physically unable (despite a big ol' cup of coffee, and eating breakfast) to wake up. Fine motor control? Nyet. Eyes focusing? Ne pas. Muscle tone? Halo.1

So I go back to sleep for an hour or so because frankly? That's the only thing that ever works. And as I'm downing my second mammoth cup of coffee, I check my newsfeeds, and it appears that my beloved Slate has an article on sleep.2

The character Mike from My Own Private Idaho (River Phoenix). We have one thing in common...and it's not hustling, smoking, or road-tripping with Keanu Reeves...

Well, the article doesn't tell us much we don't already know, or at least, much I already don't know. I've become something of an armchair sleep doctor (and seriously, that specialty needs a better name...I suggest hypnologist) since developing narcolepsy in undergrad. Still, I find the synchronicity amusing.

Also today in Slate, William Saletan mentions a new study (ooh, shiny!) about the damage daycare may do to young kids. It's brief enough that I'll cite the whole shebang:

A big study suggests preschoolers who get non-parental child care are more likely to become disruptive in fifth or sixth grade. Non-parental child care includes nannies, day care, and "anyone other than the child's mother who was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week." Caveats: 1) Kids who get good child care also do better on vocabulary tests. 2) The differences are small. 3) Parenting quality and genes are bigger factors. Conservative spins: 1) If you put your kid in day care, you're inviting the other kids to raise him, so they all become silly and disruptive. 2) Moms should stay home. 3) The problem will get worse as more parents dump their kids into day care. Liberal spins: 1) The study has no control group. 2) It doesn't adequately distinguish good child care from bad. 3) Kids who learn freedom and responsibility in good day care may be labeled disruptive by elementary-school teachers, because elementary schools treat kids like prisoners. 4) If you really want a generational disaster, try forcing moms to deal with kids all day on top of their paying and non-paying jobs.3

Now, I was a daycare baby from an early age (two single parents on opposite sides of the country) so I do take a very small and possibly irrational bit of offense at this suggestion. Which does not, of course, mean that it's untrue (I especially like Saletan's Liberal spin #3). Personally, however, I've always thought that daycare was an important step in naturally acquiring immunity, and in group socialization. I suspect that, as this NY Times article posits, there are a host of other considerations: the underfunding of the daycare system, the fact that the relationship is correlative as opposed to causative as the groups were self-selecting and there was no control group, et cetera. I think daycare kids are likely more prone to having to "fight" for adult attention, but suspect we are also better at entertaining ourselves. It's purely conjecture, of course, but that's what my common sense tells me.

Besides which, the whole idea that childhood is supposed to be some sacrosanct utopia, or that a happy child is mutually inclusive with a passive, obedient child, are weird Victorian remnants (thank you, Neil Postman). How about we work on feeding and educating all our kids before we start criticising the working poor for putting their children in daycare? ...Just a thought.

Finally, this morning I also found out that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Head of the Church of England, has stated that the Church is considering reparations for its part in the slave trade.4


How in heavens name would one calculate such a payment, much less figure out who should receive it? And how would you calculate the extent to which the public service of the Church should or should not mitigate such a payment?

And how would you reconcile the cheapening effect of paying meaningless "damages" with the immense spiritual and historical scars of the Atlantic slave trade?

Apologies, yes. Doing everything one can to ameliorate the situation of the descendants of slaves, of course, yes. But monetary reparations strike me as a tacky lose-lose situation. It makes me sad that the overly litigious greed of North American society has moved into international affairs.

  1. "Halo" means no in Chinook Jargon, my favourite language. I'm trying to learn it, or at least some of the vocabulary. I also don't think it's a pidgin as much as a creole, since my impression is that there are native speakers (i.e. those who speak it from birth--clearly there are Native/Aboriginal Canadian speakers).
  2. A few years ago, they also did an article on the narcoleptics pharmaceutical of choice:
  3. From
  4. Reported by the BBC, here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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- Norman