Friday happenings

  1. One week from today we leave for vacation (Branson, MO). I have already halfway checked out!
  2. My Brother-in-Law's cancer has gone from bad to worse. Today he will undergo gamma knife radiation surgery to destroy 2 tumors in his brain. Next week, my Sister will be driving him to Houston (from Dallas) for chemo.
  3. Coffee with Larry N from work at 9:30
  4. Dinner with a couple from church tonight
  5. Tomorrow the Metro Women's Center's board retreat at our house
  6. Fall projects: painter is out repainting the posts by our front door and trim around the garage doors
  7. I have light programming projects planned for work today.
  8. My new glasses finally arrived and I hope to pick them up tomorrow.
  9. Article of interest: Don't Suffer the Little Children: A father of four explains the realist approach to parenting". Excerpt below
  10. Interesting website of the day: the New Pamphleteer. The author of the Opinion Journal article above has published "Raising Wild Boys Into Men: A Modern Dad's Survival Guide" which is available from the New Pamphleteer.


While some mothers and fathers stubbornly cling to the utopian beliefs of their childless years, the vision of humans as inherently sinful and selfish resonates with many of us who are parents. Nobody who's stood between a toddler and the last cookie should still harbor a belief in the inherent virtue of mankind. An afternoon at the playground is apt to make one toss out the idealist Rousseau ("man is a compassionate and sensible being") in favor of the more realistic Hobbes ("all mankind [is in] a perpetual and restless desire for power"). As a father of four sons, I've signed on to Mr. Sowell's summation of a parent's duty: "Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late."

The constrained vision indicates that world harmony and universal satisfaction are mirages. People are innately selfish, and they'll always desire more goodies. This means that tradeoffs between competing wants are inevitable. My wife and I therefore forbid our children to use the word "fair." Parents still in the thrall of the unconstrained worldview are prone to manipulation by their kids, who like little human-rights lawyers insist on fairness as an imperative. And don't get me started on the damage that an exaggerated sense of fairness and entitlement has done to public schools. In our house things are much simpler: That last piece of cake had to be divided somehow, and in this imperfect world your brother got the extra frosting. Deal with it.

While the unconstrained worldview teaches that traditions and customs are to be distrusted as holdovers from benighted generations, those of us with the constrained view believe it's good to make our children address their elders properly, refrain from belching at the table and wear clothes that actually cover them. Mr. Sowell noted that some benefits from evolved societal rules can't be articulated, because they've developed through trial and error over centuries. This reveals the sublime wisdom in that time-honored parental rejoinder: "Because I said so."

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