How Do You Read Books (and Watch Movies)?

I just picked up Tyler Cowen’s Discover your Inner Economist, and found that he has some rather unorthodox suggestions for how to get the most enjoyment out of reading books and watching movies. He argues that when it comes to these experiences, the major limiting factor is the scarcity of our own attention. Cowen’s approach? Quit early and often if something loses your interest:

When should we finish a book we have started? In this regard I am extreme. If I start ten books maybe I will finish one of them. I feel no compunction to keep reading. Why not be brutal about this? Is this book the best possible book I can be reading right now, of all the books in the world? For me at least, the answer is usually (but not always) no.

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I Hate Breastfeeding

(In a recent off-blog discussion, I mentioned how we’d never discussed childbearing or breastfeeding on our blog. Since I’m the only one of us who has actually born a child or breastfed (at least as far as I know), I figured I’d have to be the one to remedy that. So I pulled out a post I wrote last month but never actually posted anywhere. And at least one other blogger encouraged me in this, so it’s not totally my fault.)

Well, since it’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I’ve seen a number of posts about breastfeeding and how great and wonderful it is. Azucar even talks about the glories of nursing toddlers. So I felt the need to come out of the closet myself, and tell everyone the truth. I hate breastfeeding. Read More

In Praise of Feminine Language

A couple of months ago Idahospud favored us with a fascinating analysis of blogging genderlect over at FMH, which reminded me of a long-simmering desire to take a manly stand for womanspeak. (Oh, the androgyny.)

Every once in a while the Bloggernacle revisits the familiar critique of the stereotypical LDS woman’s inability to make a definitive statement. (The Sugar Beet did the definitive satire which, sadly, I can’t seem to find.) Periodically this alleged inability is bemoaned hereabouts, and there’s certainly something to the criticism. From time to time I have encountered LDS women who seem so uncertain of themselves, so timid, so petrified of offending that they are unable to take a stand or risk disagreement about anything. But I’ve known more LDS women who have no difficulty speaking their minds than I have LDS women who can’t summon the confidence to speak definitively. Passive-aggressiveness and backstabbing, sadly, seem able to coexist quite happily with discursive confidence, and seem also to flourish in a culture in which niceness is the supreme virtue. Read More

Friendship in Eternity

I recently read an article by Catholic ethicist Christine Gudorf which made some thought-provoking points about the expectations which get placed on families as a result of our late modern, highly mobile lifestyle. Because people are less likely to have communities and extended kinship networks to turn to, she observes, the immediate family ends up having to bear a great deal of weight: people are forced “to concentrate all their intimacy demands within the nuclear family, especially the sexual relationship.” The sexual relationship therefore becomes particularly definitive: “the cultural trend we see in late modern societies is not only the restriction of intimacy to sexual relationships, but also an understanding of sexual intimacy as the key to self-knowledge and sense of selfhood, and as the glue that bonds people together.”

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