Friday, October 23, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

I find this stately, unusual “music video” to be a beautiful version of the song featured in yesterday’s column [“You Raise Me Up,” 4:35].

Gail Collins seems a lot more serious than usual in her October 16 NY Times column, “What Happened to Working Women?” Excerpt:
It’s incredible that we’ve built a society that relies on women in the labor force yet makes no discernible effort to deal with this problem. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, recently divided the country into 618 “family budget areas” and determined that in more than 500 of them, the cost of child care for a family with a 4-year-old and an 8-year old would exceed housing costs. Also, if you’re a working single mother with those same two children in, say, Buffalo, child care probably eats up a third of your income.
    And infant care is impossible. In most states infant care is more expensive than college tuition....
    ...Japan guarantees that mothers get 58 weeks of maternity leave, about half of it paid. In this week’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders said he was embarrassed that the United States was the only “country on earth” that did not guarantee workers paid maternity leave. This was inaccurate, since Sanders completely overlooked the situation in Papua New Guinea.
    Our current government policy requires that employers give new mothers 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This was based on a bill passed early in the Clinton administration. I remember well the combination of joy (parental leave!) and despair (three months with no pay?). [read more]

Bridge Bastei – Germany

“Something Not Rotten in Denmark” [Paul Krugman, NY Times] Excerpt:
No doubt surprising many of the people watching the Democratic presidential debate, Bernie Sanders cited Denmark as a role model for how to help working people. Hillary Clinton demurred slightly, declaring that “we are not Denmark,” but agreed that Denmark is an inspiring example....
    ...The Danes get a lot of things right, and in so doing refute just about everything U.S. conservatives say about economics....
    Denmark maintains a welfare state — a set of government programs designed to provide economic security — that is beyond the wildest dreams of American liberals. Denmark provides universal health care; college education is free, and students receive a stipend; day care is heavily subsidized. Overall, working-age families receive more than three times as much aid, as a share of G.D.P., as their U.S. counterparts....
    Describe these policies to any American conservative, and he would predict ruin. Surely those generous benefits must destroy the incentive to work, while those high taxes drive job creators into hiding or exile.
    Strange to say, however, Denmark doesn’t look like a set from Mad Max. On the contrary, it’s a prosperous nation that does quite well on job creation. In fact, adults in their prime working years are substantially more likely to be employed in Denmark than they are in America. Labor productivity in Denmark is roughly the same as it is here, although G.D.P. per capita is lower, mainly because the Danes take a lot more vacation.
    Nor are the Danes melancholy: Denmark ranks at or near the top on international comparisons of “life satisfaction.” [read more]
Only in Australia:

“The Funny Thing About Adversity” [Gérard DuBois, NY Times] Excerpt:
Does adversity harden hearts or warm them? Does experiencing deprivation, disaster or illness make a person more — or less — sympathetic to the travails of others?....
    ...One thing I’ve learned from studying morality over the past 20 years is that compassion isn’t random. There are always reasons for its ebb and flow....
    Our intuition was that surviving hardships in life would lead people to become more generous, kind and supportive. After all, if you’ve lived through dire straits, you’re all too familiar with the pain and challenges involved. You can more readily adopt the perspective of someone in distress — you can feel his pain — and thus are more likely to lend a hand.
    Scientific studies, however, typically favor the more pessimistic view. Adversity is associated with many types of negative psychological outcomes: anxiety, depression and, most notably, blunted emotional responding. It has also been tied to the beliefs that the world is not benevolent and that life is not meaningful. This seems like a recipe for a lack of kindness....
    In both studies, the results were the same. Those who had faced increasingly severe adversities in life — loss of a loved one at an early age, threats of violence or the consequences of a natural disaster — were more likely to empathize with others in distress, and, as a result, feel more compassion for them. And of utmost importance, the more compassion they felt, the more money they donated (in the first study) or the more time they devoted to helping the other complete his work (in the second).
    Now, if experiencing any type of hardship can make a person more compassionate, you might assume that the pinnacle of compassion would be reached when someone has experienced the exact trial or misfortune that another person is facing. Interestingly, this turns out to be dead wrong [emphasis ours]. [read more]
Limerick of the week:
The thick foam topper made her bed so tall
she had to be careful t’avoid a fall;
    still there came the fateful day
    when it happened anyway:
she plunged a yard and caromed off the wall.
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! "You Raise Me Up" music video. Gail Collins's not-so-funny moment. ​Germany's Bridge Bastei. Something sweet in Denmark. Roo rescue. What DOES adversity do to YOUR heart. How tall is YOUR bed?
        Admittedly, we recently put a thick foam topper on our bed. And to think that I'd already fallen out of the bed on a prior occasion. Now I sleep further away from the edge.... But I got a limerick out of it, at any rate. Not all bad.

    Hmm, how come no one of you out there (just where are you, anyway?) is helping me out by submitting a limerick from time to time? I still tend to compose them while driving, and my wife continues to get after me for it.