donderdag 4 februari 2016

Don't Be A Social Justice Warrior

"But what are we to do?" said Susan...
"My dear young lady," said the Professor, suddenly looking up with a very sharp expression at both of them, "there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying."
"What's that?" said Susan.
"We might all try minding our own business, " said he. And that was the end of the conversation. 

C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Harper Collins Children's Books, 2001, p.58.

And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

(Scriptures quoted from this site).

Being a busybody is seldom attractive, however, nowadays it's promoted  as virtue. Do-goodism has become a religion of its own, we are all supposed to engage in campaigns to save the climate, Africa, women in third world countries, children in South America who don't go to school etc etc. There are whole missionary teams going to some obscure village to dig wells. I always wonder, can't men in those villages dig wells? Are Westerners supposed to be babysitters of the entire world? Do adults and/or wealthy people in those countries have no responsibilities to their own? And finally, why should I care?

The world would be a much better place if we just started paying more attention to the needs of our immediate family, neighbours and friends, instead of engaging in pointless campaigns to eliminate world poverty and inequality, or becoming a part of internet lynch mobs fighting an -ism du jour.  I believe that women especially are prone to this malaise of busybodism, hence this poem from 1906:

She's a woman with a mission, 'tis her 
heaven-born ambition to reform
the world's condition, you will
please to understand.

She's a model of propriety, a leader in
society, and has a great variety 
of remedies at hand. 

Each a sovereign specific, with a title 
scientific, for the cure of things
morbific that vex the people sore;

For the swift alleviation of the evils
 of  the nation is her fore-ordained
vocation on this sublunary

And while thus she's up and coming,
always hurrying and humming,
and occasionally slumming, this 
reformer of renown,

Her neglected little Dicky, ragged, dirty
tough and tricky, with his
 fingers soiled and sticky, is
 the terror of the town.

Author unknown, quoted from here.

dinsdag 2 februari 2016

Is There Really A Global Warming Trend?

My husband's company has its own weather station. Here are the yearly temperature averages for some twenty years:

1994      11.5                 

1995      11.4            
1996      9.6
1997      11.2
1998      11.4
1999      12.1

2001      11.2
2002      11.3
2003      11.2
2004      11.1
2005      11.2
2006      11.6
2007      11.7
2008      11.2
2009      10.9
2010       9.6
2011      11.4
2012      10.7
2013      10.1
2014      12.1
2015      11.1

Now the question is, does it look like a there is a warming trend to you?

vrijdag 29 januari 2016

Househusbands Aren't Sexy!

I realise it's Daily Mail and stuff, but still, this article about role switching within a family and the problems it created, is interesting to say the least.

In a nutshell, the lady used to stay home with the couple's four boys, which she partly resented because she felt her work wasn't appreciated. Then her husband's business underwent bankruptcy and they decided he would stay home from now on and she'd become a breadwinner. Yet, she isn't happy about this arrangement, either. Apparently, Mr. Mom just doesn't turn her on!

In her own words:

Watching your husband transform from the director of his own company into Mr Mummy is a huge turn-off. No wonder I'm not slipping lustily into my negligee every Friday evening, at the end of a busy week.

And another gem:

I realised with horror that I'd lost a sizeable chunk of respect for that man behind the door, the one with stubble on his chin and dressed in a scruffy, old pair of tracksuit bottoms, picking two-day-old lasagne off the front of a child's jumper.

I missed the one in the freshly laundered shirt, smelling of expensive aftershave. I missed being looked after.

The solution obviously is more feminism. And hiring a nanny!

While I think being a sole carer or sole breadwinner is tough, I hope, with the help of a good nanny, we will eventually find a balance that works for us both.

The poor husband isn't that optimistic, though, and keeps complaining that his wife lost all respect for him. His final warning to other fathers:

So to all the dads out there who dream of spending more time with their children by working from home, I urge you to think again.
Just as my wife always told me, if you want an easy life, stick to the office. And sometimes, the old ways really do work best.

You can read the whole article over here:

P.S. While I appreciate DM attempts to promote traditional sex roles, I don't think undermining the role of father (office is an easy part) is quite the way to go.

dinsdag 26 januari 2016

1950s Housing Conditions

The myth of 1950s as the "Golden Age" of the family persists. Of course, comparing with the present day there were relatively few married women in the workforce, about 20% vs 60% in 2009, yet what was the reason for it? I keep hearing claims that it was due to some uncommon after-war prosperity. However, in the year 1900 only 5% of all married American women worked. Was it because in the beginning of the 20th century folks were on average much wealthier than 50 years later? How comes a lower class man could afford for his wife and kids to stay home 100 years ago but he can't now?

I have noticed that a lot of people, especially Americans are basing their ideas of the times past on Hollywood productions. I've watched my fair share of vintage movies and I've noticed one thing: they nearly always feature an upper middle class household with all the problems they face. A wealthy husband having an affair with his secretary, spoiled college-attending kids mouthing off, a bored middle aged lady of the house with her fur coats whose problem is her housekeeper left her. That's not how most families lived.

Just a week ago I was talking with somebody on this very topic. The lady was telling me about her childhood. They were a family with 6 children, the father had a small business, the mother stayed home. All 8 of them lived in a house of 80 sq.m., with a small garden. It had a living room, a master bedroom and 3 small rooms where the children slept, one was so tiny it had no windows and it was pitch dark in there in the evening. Since they were with 1 boy and 5 girls, it meant that the brother had a bedroom all to himself while the sisters had to share: 3 in one room and two in the other (the dark one).

They had no TV and they had to rent a washing machine to do their weekly washing. The house still exists, though the inside walls were broken to create bigger rooms as it's been a fashion over here for some time. These types of houses are often put on sale nowadays as a "starter" or one person homes yet they had lived there with a family of 8. Something tells me that the current rate of married women in the workforce has more to do with high demands of the modern lifestyle than with any great wealth of the previous era.

zondag 24 januari 2016

War Time Menus

Here are two menus from Libelle No.1, 5 Jan. 1940.

First, a simple menu:

Sunday: Brown soup (no idea what it could be, may be a soup with brown beans?). Roast beef. Endive. Potatoes. Pear dessert.

Monday: Cold meat (apparently the leftovers from Sunday). Cauliflower. Potatoes. Rice pudding.

Tuesday: Cauliflower soup. Pork cutlets. Stewed leeks. Potatoes.

Wednesday: Ground meat. Cabbage. Potatoes. Chocolate vla.

Thursday: Split pea soup with bone (Google says it must be translated as a knuckle bone but I'm not sure. I think they really meant the sort bone one would use to make bouillon). French toast.

Friday: Vegetarian tomato soup (it was, after all, Friday). Shrimp ragout. Potatoes  in peel.

Saturday: Hutspot with brisket. Corn starch pudding.

The second one is for those more fortunate in life:

Sunday:  Vegetable soup. Beefsteak. Endive. Potatoes.

Monday: Pork chop. Savoy cabbage. Potatoes. Zwieback with berry juice.

Tuesday: Fried bacon. Himmel und Erde. Mini pancakes.

Wednesday: Ground meat. Cabbage. Potatoes. Chocolate vla. (yeah, it's exactly the same)

Thursday: Potato soup. Rice with currants.

Friday: Milk soup. Herring. Potatoes in peel.

Saturday: Sauerkraut dish.

I actually don't see that much difference between the two, and it's obvious that during the first war winter folks had to scrimp and save to feed their families. Yet many women were home!

donderdag 21 januari 2016

How It Should Be

Advice on hospitality and manners from the year 1940.

If you are giving a dinner, you present a drink to every guest who arrives. The dinner should begin strictly on time as folks will probably have hunger. So you don't have to wait for someone who is late, unless this someone is the chief person for whom the dinner is given. That's why it's an offence against propriety to be late for dinner!

If there are some circumstances which prevent you from coming on time, you should in all cases give a phone call to the hostess. When you finally arrive, you apologise to her, quietly take your place and pretend that nothing happened.

Aperitifs should never be presented in the same room with the dinner table. (Rather difficult to follow this rule in modern houses without a special reception room for visitors).

A good guest first greets the lady of the house and talks to her. Then he addresses others. He shouldn't try to monopolise the attention of the hostess since there are other guests, as well. The hostess herself should be available to greet her visitors. It's also her task to introduce those who don't know each other. Normally you first introduce the gentleman to the lady, unless he is much older or a famous individual. In other cases you introduce people of lower social status to those of higher status first.

When introducing people always use Mr, Mrs, or Miss. By young people we name their Christian name and surname, the same manner of introduction is also possible in informal company.

If you have a maid to serve the drinks (who doesn't?), it makes it easier for the hostess to give more attention to her guests. If you only have a kitchen maid, then it's more passing for the host to do it as presenting drinks (and cigarets) is more of a man's job. One should have a special table for the beverages and the glasses. The half-full glasses are then placed on a special tray and the maid will go around offering them to people. You can thus choose what you wish. (It's still normally done at parties when you have a catering by). However, if the host has to do it, he will first  ask his guests what they are wishing to drink.

If the dinner is given for a big group there should be a special buffet (in the same room) where one can order his aperitif and the maid will serve it. The hostess in the meanwhile should try to bring everyone into a positive mood, thusly she shouldn't all the time disappear in the kitchen or even show that she cares at all!

Then the meal begins. Gentlemen accompany ladies to the dinner table. Not just any ladies, mind you, but those who were shown to them as their table company. Everybody sits down and the dinner begins....

(to be continued...) 

According to the article in Libelle No. 1 from 5 Jan 1940, translation mine.

dinsdag 19 januari 2016

The Benefits Of The Classical Music

Here is an interesting article on the benefits of classical music.Apparently, among other things, it lowers blood pressure, relieves pain, helps against depression and even increases your IQ.

And, as the author points out,  classical music has always been one of the hallmarks of the upper class, the intellectuals, and the conscious!