Print Story In what furnace was thy brain?
By TheophileEscargot (Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 01:38:13 AM EST) Reading, Watching, Theatre, Listening, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care", "My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time", "Antwerp", "On Wheels". Watching: "A Late Quartet". Theatre: "Home". Listening: "Darkside". Links.

What I'm Reading
The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.

This book got a lot of attention a while back. Amy Chua is a second-generation Chinese immigrant, married to a Jewish lawyer turned academic. She tried a highly intensive parenting style on her two daughters, insisting on three hours music practice every day, as well as permanent high grades in school, at the expense of most socializing and relaxation. Both daughters became apparent child prodigies at their instruments, but the younger daughter eventually rebelled and refused to continue at more than an amateur level.

Chua is fairly stridently in favour of this parenting style, though she does have some misgivings. I suspect that she's taken it to extremes though. I doubt most Chinese parents sit with their children for three hours music practice per day. It's not clear to me why music in particular justifies it.

Overall though, an interesting book, which makes some good points about how children can benefit from some degree of parental pushing, and that self-esteem comes from earned success not over-praising.

The Last Psychiatrist had some interesting analysis here, (follow--up). Metafilter. WSJ article:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I've done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.

What I'm Reading 2
I read through Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care a while ago, and I'm slowly going through it again with Girl B.

Classic childcare book, originally written in 1946, but it's been regularly updated with the latest medical information. This version was updated by Robert Needlman in 2012, since Spock's not around anymore. My parents had an older version on their bookshelves, we all survived, and it's pretty cheap on Amazon so I got it. It seems to be very out of fashion though, Penelope Leach seems a lot more popular.

It seems to be pretty decent: factual and to the point with detailed information on breastfeeding, weaning and so on. The famous "Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do" opening now seems to be a bit undermined by the huge list of all the horrible diseases that will kill your baby afterwards. The Kindle edition is a bit US-centric, with information about US services and helplines and federal programmes and hospitals which aren't a lot of use here.

Overall, seems like a good book, but won't really know until the end of this year.

What I'm Reading 3
My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen. A kind of comedy/romance novel about a 19th century Danish prostitute who stumbles across a time machine leading to 21st century London. Light reading but a lot of fun, with some nice comic touches and engaging characters The publishers seem to be aiming it at the chick-lit market, but could appeal to anybody.

What I'm Reading 4
Picked up Antwerp by Roberto Bolano at the library. Short experimental novella written in a fractured style, apparently set in the underworld of the Costa Brava.

I didn't realize it, but this was the unpublished first novel by an acclaimed writer. To be honest, it's pretty awful, reads like a poor pastiche of William Burroughs, though it might work a lot better in the original Spanish if the prose is a major part of the appeal.

What I'm Reading 5
On Wheels by Michael Holroyd. Very short book by a biographer, with motoring anecdotes from his own life and his biographical subjects, including George Bernard Shaw. Warm and witty, reminded me of a modern Jerome K. Jerome, but very slight.

What I'm Watching
Saw A Late Quartet on disk. Drama about long-established string quartet, whose relationships are put under strain when one member is diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Liked it a lot. Feels like a very pure drama, all about characters and relationships. Has brilliant performances all round, especially from Christopher Walken, for once playing a warmly sympathetic character, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the second violinist.

The movie's a good example of why you don't have to have the end of the world to make a movie compelling. Well worth seeing.

Review, review, review.

Saw Home at the National Theatre. (Mostly) verbatim theatre based on interviews at a large London homeless shelter, with residents and staff telling the stories of their experiences. Also has some music, and a great human beatbox performance from Grace Savage.

Liked it a lot, though it's not quite as impressive as the superb verbatim theatre musical London Road which I saw there a while back.

Slightly hampered by the lack of plot, but the characters make up for it.

Review, review, review.

Darkside is a radio play by Tom Stoppard, based around the album "The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd. Interesting idea as characters from various famous philosophical thought experiments, like the trolley-problem switchman and a fat man thrown from a balloon, meet in an imaginary landscape. However it's a bit let down by sentimentality and preachiness at the end. Reminded me a bit of his play Rock'n'Roll, music doesn't seem to bring out the best in him. Not brilliant.

Socioeconomics. Disasters more likely to get relief if other news is slow, PDF, via.

Politics. Conservatives should be wary of reflexive hostility to left-wing prats defending our freedoms. The "political and administrative landscape in Britain has much in common with that of the former Soviet Union" New law could gag charities.

Articles. More about the destruction by Greenpeace of a Golden Rice crop. The strange case of rave-culture pulp-fiction. Why academic feminism is full of shit.

Random. 19th century calisthenics. Most 90s object. Tube tunnel factory.

Sci/tech. Ring of needles to allow radio signals around Earth.

Video. Thomas The Tank Engine Crash Compilation Hubble deep field. Raptor prank.

Pics. Soviet-era cable cars of Georgia. Thunderstorm.

< 2013 08 29 - Odds and Sods | Kill the lights and bring the music on down. >
In what furnace was thy brain? | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden)
Most 80s object by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:57:17 AM EST
That's actually a 90's object...

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Typo, fixed (nt) by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:21:01 AM EST

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
A time machine by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 08:05:52 AM EST
... seems to have stolen part of your dirty little review.

Perhaps it will appear in the future?

Iambic Web Certified

Actually by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:33:35 PM EST
There wasn't much more to it.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
re: academic feminism by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:19:51 AM EST
Theory and criticism are important to any principled enterprise. It's a fun rant, but it's a rant mostly against the modern academy, and doesn't actually propose a praxis of feminist disagreement. Should feminists not disagree with one another, then? The personal is political, I get that, but surely other levels can exist, despite the potential for conflict.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

snicker. by wumpus (4.00 / 0) #9 Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:47:08 PM EST
"Feminism is a war on patriarchy not a war between women." (couldn't find the html magic quoteblock).

I strongly suspect that what is holding up progress in evo-psych is that it will make it painfully obvious just how reproductively useful it is for alpha females to maintain the "patriarchy" and explain just why women are the foot soldiers of the anti-abortion movement and others.

I used to drop suggestions for Matt Ridley's The Red Queen, in hopes that it would hit the wall and some smart women would make it painfully obvious what was missing. The book details mens' and womens' goals in personal relationships and mens' goals with respect to other men, but is silent on womens' wrt other women. After pondering it for awhile, I suspect that nobody wants to be eaten alive for it.


[ Parent ]
Look at Tiger Woods. by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #6 Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:42:34 PM EST
Golf club tied to his arm at the age of 3 or so.  Always going to be golf prodigy.  Then his Dad dies, and the chain lets loose and hey look, he's human after all.

confession by R343L (4.00 / 2) #7 Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:54:18 PM EST
We haven't read any baby or birthing book in its entirety. I've read parts of "What to Expect When You're Expecting". We're taking classes thru our hospital. I suppose we should read a book at some point ... 11 weeks or so to go.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
WIPO by clover kicker (4.00 / 2) #8 Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 09:34:37 AM EST
Academic anything is full of shit, Sturgeon's law and all that.

Sturgeon's law is about 90% by lm (4.00 / 1) #10 Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:50:33 PM EST
So that leaves 10% of academia that isn't crap.

Although a friend of mine once asked me if you could apply Sturgeon's law recursively. That would certainly approach 100%.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Baby books by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 05:57:44 PM EST
Gina Ford's SS UberGruppenMutter's Ordered Nursery Room Contented Baby is worth a read.  On the whole there were about 3-4 ideas and techniques in there we were comfy with and effective.  YMMV.

Tracy Hogg's Baby Whisperer was the one that did it for us though; useful practical advice in there, especially the EASY method.

Also, make sure your bairn is checked for a tongue tie.  Even if Girl B is not planning on breastfeeding, it'll make everyone happier to have it sorted if present.  If she is going to breastfeed, it is essential to get it sorted soonest.

Baby books by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:29:12 AM EST
As others have said, most books you read will have an idea or two that works for you. Curiously enough, my two baby books were from the extremes of attachment parenting and Christianity-laced schedule-based parenting. Each book helped. When K was feeding every hour on the hour, eat-nap-eat-nap, at 8 weeks, the schedule book suggested that we set up an order of events: eat, play, nap. This started stretching the time between feedings without following the nurse's advice to "let her cry!", or the attachment book's advice to let the baby lead. If I'd let the baby lead in that case, I'd have been no good to her, exhausted as I was getting.

OTOH, we did a lot of wearing our babies, rarely using the stroller, straight out of the attachment books. I'm too much of a biologist not to want to maximize the tactile interactions.

And yeah, you're gong to get a lot of unsolicited advice.
"I honestly pity the stupid motherfucker who tries to talk down to iGrrrl" - mrgoat

Baby books by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #13 Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:20:26 AM EST
Most annoyed the hell out of me, ditto websites. One or two useful nuggets in among a dross of ideology, lifestyle and guilt peddling.

One I found least objectionable: - not exactly a what to do but a study with some interpretations.

not be the No. 1 student in every subject by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 09:51:07 AM EST
So that means you have 20-30 children per class that actually she would class as losers.

But somehow everybody can make it.

So lets say all children in that class follow her advice exactly as prescribed. At the end you have only one winner regardless.

Sorry but those books are dumb.

Life is complex and hard work is only part of the equation for success.

In what furnace was thy brain? | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden)