November 1, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 7:38 PM


Men Don't Mother (Jenet Erickson, October 26th, 2012, Witherspoon Institute)

Do mothers "father" and do fathers "mother" in the same way the other would do?

Canadian scholar, Andrea Doucet, has explored this question in her book Do Men Mother? Her extensive research with 118 male primary caregivers, including stay-at-home dads, led her to conclude that fathers do not "mother." And that's a good thing. Although mothering and fathering have much in common, there were persistent, critical differences that were important for children's development.

To begin, fathers more often used fun and playfulness to connect with their children. No doubt, many a mother has wondered why her husband can't seem to help himself from "tickling and tossing" their infant--while she stands beside him holding her breath in fear. And he can't understand why all she wants to do is "coo and cuddle." Yet as Doucet found, playfulness and fun are often critical modes of connection with children--even from infancy.

Fathers also more consistently made it a point to get their children outdoors to do physical activities with them. Almost intuitively they seemed to know that responding to the physical and developmental needs of their children was an important aspect of nurturing.

When fathers responded to children's emotional hurts, they differed from mothers in their focus on fixing the problem rather than addressing the hurt feeling. While this did not appear to be particularly "nurturing" at first, the seeming "indifference" was useful-- particularly as children grew older. They would seek out and share things with their dads precisely because of their measured, problem-solving responses. The "indifference" actually became a strategic form of nurturing in emotionally-charged situations.

Fathers were also more likely to encourage children's risk taking--whether on the playground, in school work, or in trying new things. While mothers typically discouraged risk-taking, fathers guided their children in deciding how much risk to take and encouraged them in it. At the same time, fathers were more attuned to developing a child's physical, emotional, and intellectual independence--in everything from children making their own lunches and tying their own shoes to doing household chores and making academic decisions.

As she evaluated these differences, Doucet wondered if fathers just weren't as "nurturing" as mothers. Their behaviors didn't always fit the traditional definition of "holding close and sensitively responding." But a key part of nurturing also includes the capacity to "let go." It was this careful "letting-go" that fathers were particularly good at--in ways that mothers were often not.
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Posted by orrinj at 7:29 PM


Wary of Future, Professionals Leave China in Record Numbers (IAN JOHNSON, 11/01/12, NY Times)

At 30, Chen Kuo had what many Chinese dream of: her own apartment and a well-paying job at a multinational corporation. But in mid-October, Ms. Chen boarded a midnight flight for Australia to begin a new life with no sure prospects.

Like hundreds of thousands of Chinese who leave each year, she was driven by an overriding sense that she could do better outside China. Despite China's tremendous economic successes in recent years, she was lured by Australia's healthier environment, robust social services and the freedom to start a family in a country that guarantees religious freedoms.

"It's very stressful in China -- sometimes I was working 128 hours a week for my auditing company," Ms. Chen said in her Beijing apartment a few hours before leaving. "And it will be easier raising my children as Christians abroad. It is more free in Australia."

As China's Communist Party prepares a momentous leadership change in early November, it is losing skilled professionals like Ms. Chen in record numbers. In 2010, the last year for which complete statistics are available, 508,000 Chinese left for the 34 developed countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That is a 45 percent increase over 2000.

Posted by orrinj at 5:03 PM


A Problem of Churchillian Proportions (JAMES ANDREW MILLER, 11/01/12, NY Times Magazine)

After one of the longest waits in publishing history -- more than 20 years -- the third and final volume of William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill, "The Last Lion," is finally about to arrive in bookstores. Manchester, who died in 2004, will not be among those eagerly awaiting its reception. The man with the most at stake is the co-author of record, and in fact the actual author: Paul Reid, who had never written a book before and whose specialty before he met Manchester was features for The Palm Beach Post. The story of how Reid, 63, was plucked from anonymity and thrust into the spotlight is not a simple understudy-replaces-star saga, and it's safe to say that Reid could not have imagined what a mixed blessing he would experience after accepting Manchester's invitation to co-write the third volume of Churchill's biography. Now he has emerged from the project in a kind of literary shell shock, knowing that if the book is a success, most of the praise will go to Manchester, and if it flops, blame will fall on him.

Manchester would have been a hard act to follow for even a much more seasoned writer. Back in the late 1970s, he began his biography of Churchill for what would end up being a $1 million advance. Then a writer in residence at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., Manchester was the author of more than a dozen major works, including "The Death of a President," the landmark 1967 study of John F. Kennedy's assassination, and biographies of Gen. Douglas MacArthur ("American Caesar") and H. L. Mencken ("Disturber of the Peace"). He was also an outsize personality, known for writing sessions that lasted as long as 50 hours and for turning out books at a metronomic clip.

Each Churchill volume took Manchester four years to write, but the second was much more difficult for him. Unknown to Manchester's friends, admirers and, perhaps most important, his publisher, Little, Brown & Company, he had begun to struggle with writer's block. For years, it had been what he feared most, telling at least one intimate, "I've been lucky so far." Then, in March 1985, Manchester confessed in a note his son found among his papers: "For the first time in my life, I have a writer's block. It is a real crisis. In the past three weeks, I have written exactly four pages. It is very painful."
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Posted by orrinj at 4:57 PM


Corporate burlesque : The case for stripping away the secrecy surrounding firms' finances (Schumpeter, Nov 3rd 2012, The Economist)

[A] school of thought dubbed "open-book management" advocates sharing all or most of a firm's financial data with employees on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. Widely promoted since the mid-1990s by the likes of Jack Stack, then the boss of Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation, a firm that refurbished diesel engines, and John Case, a management writer, open-book management doesn't just require bosses to shed their inhibitions when it comes to revealing numbers. It also involves teaching workers to read company accounts. Open-book managers devise scorecards and other tools that show staff how their individual efforts contribute to the bottom line. They also adopt profit-sharing schemes that let workers share some of the wealth they create. The aim is to persuade employees to behave like owners rather than drones.

The Great Game of Business, a training firm that provides advice on open-book techniques, estimates that at least 4,000 firms worldwide have embraced all or most of these ideas, while many others are flirting with them. One or two big companies, such as Southwest Airlines and Harley-Davidson, have dabbled with open-book management. Its most fervent adopters, however, are smaller private firms.

Since small firms are the most vulnerable during downturns, some observers expect to see books that were opened in good times slammed shut, as bosses try to stop workers from seeing just how bad things are. There is no scientific survey to determine whether this is true. But anecdotal evidence from the companies contacted for this column suggests that many have kept on sharing information during hard times. Some have given workers yet more data to chew on, for two reasons.

One is that transparency can calm jitters. For example, during the recent crisis King Arthur Flour, a Vermont-based flour company, drew up a contingency plan with four stages, the last of which involved lay-offs. At each stage, the plan spelled out clearly what King Arthur had to do to get back on track if it missed its financial targets. By sharing this with workers, King Arthur curbed wild and ill-informed speculation about the company's future. 
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Posted by orrinj at 5:36 AM


Letitia Baldridge's real mission (Steve Chapman, October 31, 2012, Chicago Tribune)

[M]ostly what I noticed is that she was not so concerned about etiquette rules as about considerate behavior.

She told me a story to illustrate how notions of acceptable dress had declined. On a transcontinental airline flight, she said, she was seated next to a young man who was not wearing a shirt. She expressed amusement, not scorn, and noted, "He was a surfer-looking sort, and he had a nice build." But she gave me to understand that in her chat with him, she had learned that he really didn't know any better and that she had gently given him the idea that the next time, he might do well to cover up a bit.

I was not surprised to read what she once told the Times: "There are major CEOs who do not know how to hold a knife and fork properly, but I don't worry about that so much as the lack of kindness."

Posted by orrinj at 5:34 AM


Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast (BEN MATTLIN, 10/31/12, NY Times)

My problem, ultimately, is this: I've lived so close to death for so long that I know how thin and porous the border between coercion and free choice is, how easy it is for someone to inadvertently influence you to feel devalued and hopeless -- to pressure you ever so slightly but decidedly into being "reasonable," to unburdening others, to "letting go."

Perhaps, as advocates contend, you can't understand why anyone would push for assisted-suicide legislation until you've seen a loved one suffer. But you also can't truly conceive of the many subtle forces -- invariably well meaning, kindhearted, even gentle, yet as persuasive as a tsunami -- that emerge when your physical autonomy is hopelessly compromised.

I was born with a congenital neuromuscular weakness called spinal muscular atrophy. I've never walked or stood or had much use of my hands. Roughly half the babies who exhibit symptoms as I did don't live past age 2. Not only did I survive, but the progression of my disease slowed dramatically when I was about 6 years old, astounding doctors. Today, at nearly 50, I'm a husband, father, journalist and author.

Yet I'm more fragile now than I was in infancy. No longer able to hold a pencil, I'm writing this with a voice-controlled computer. Every swallow of food, sometimes every breath, can become a battle. And a few years ago, when a surgical blunder put me into a coma from septic shock, the doctors seriously questioned whether it was worth trying to extend my life. My existence seemed pretty tenuous anyway, they figured. They didn't know about my family, my career, my aspirations.

Fortunately, they asked my wife, who knows exactly how I feel. She convinced them to proceed "full code," as she's learned to say, to keep me alive using any and all means necessary.

From this I learned how easy it is to be perceived as someone whose quality of life is untenable, even or perhaps especially by doctors. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:29 AM

How is that spelt?: An easy six-minute bread recipe for the ancient grain alternative (PHYLLIS GLAZER November 1, 2012, Times of Israel)

Higher in protein and B complex vitamins as well as simple and complex carbohydrates than wheat, spelt is also considered easier to digest due to its high water solubility, which makes nutrients more easily absorbed by the body. It also has a pleasant nutty flavor and is a delicious substitute for wheat in almost any recipe. I find it offers a lighter texture to baked goods than whole wheat flour. [...]

Quick Whole Spelt Beer Bread (Makes one loaf)

 3 ¼ cups whole spelt flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons molasses, silan or honey

1 ½ cups (340 ml) dark beer (unsweetened)

A little fine oatmeal or caraway seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 180°C (350F). Butter a 12 X 7 cm loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the beer into the molasses and gradually add to the flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until it has the consistency of a sticky dough.

Pour the dough into the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. Cut a 1 1/2 cm deep slit down the center, lengthwise (this will allow steam to escape).  
Sprinkle the top with a little oatmeal or caraway seeds.

Bake for about 40 minutes or more until the top of the bread is golden-brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let stand 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

"Healthy Baking Made Easy" by Phyllis Glazer
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