Aphorisms 08/2010: Babysitting Instructive?

BABY SITTING AS THE WORLD’S OLDEST PROFESSION, and other tales.

***

BORING AS A MACHINE: Oopss… I forgot to watch Obama making his Oval Office address on the Iraq war. I guess my subconscious agrees with my loud discourses on those who know what to say, because they are  reading it on their teleprompter. Instead I got distracted, mesmerized, listening to my baby continuous babbling as she watched pretty islands and world maps on the History Channel… Obviously a more genuine discourse, more prone to reconcile us to the honor of the human spirit.

***

WHAT THE TELEPROMPTER WILL NOT SAY: The last day of August, Obama read from his teleprompter solemnly. About the end of the Iraq war. Supposedly. End of the war, start of the occupation. The USA are keeping many enormous bases. What for? Official line being to keep the peace.

Under the French fourth republic, the Israeli defense ministry had an office inside the French defense ministry. Israeli nuclear weapons were developed, and tested, in common with the French. Don’t forget the French republic was Hitler’s deadly enemy, and did not rest until it persuaded Britain to join in attacking Hitler. Some talk a lot about conquering desert savages sitting on top the oil, whereas France had the will, and guts, to do something radical about Nazism, and its allies, Stalin and various American plutocrats. It was not straightforward, right.

In May 1967, the Israeli chief of staff visited France. Within weeks Israel attacked the Arab air forces (Nasser, Egypt’s dictator, having received false reports from the USSR, had been blockading Israel, and massing his army for attack; he was pre-empted by Israel, who destroyed enemy air forces, achieving air supremacy over Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, within the morning of June 5, 1967.)

De Gaulle, the French president, a prima donna peeved for some reason, and anxious to pose as the friend of the Arabs (which was his safe racist position, especially considering all that oil), decided to boycott Israel. That was a problem, because all major Israeli weapons were French. (Ways around were found, and Nixon was all too happy to help, soon after, and replace France in her own garden.)

Official visible French Israeli relations were not too good in the next 43 years. A summit in irritation was reached in Lebanon, when the French army, mandated by the UN, threatened to fire sophisticated Mistral missiles at the Israeli air force, if the Israelis persisted with aggressive overflights. The French Mistral is significantly faster than its American anti-aircraft equivalent. The Israelis decided to fly somewhere else, such as Turkey.

So what happened last week? Well, the Israeli chief of staff visited France, spending several days in various French army bases.

Think Iran. Think American bases in Iraq, a good jumping point. Think the French nuclear umbrella generously extended to the UAE. The French opened there their first new foreign basis in more than 40 years (40 years again!)

In other words: an attack on Iran is being prepared, or, at least, discussed. All what is missing, is a casus belli. The Iranian fanatics, anxious to buttress their dictatorship with some foreign aggression, are trying ever more to suggest some: an Iranian state journal just declared the French president’s wife a "prostitute", who should be executed.

***

KEEP THE RICH UNTAXED, OR ELSE… Latest noise from USA politics: all his hyper rich sponsors have turned against Obama, or so they want us to believe, because they suspect he wants them to pay more than the lowest tax rate in the USA, which they enjoy now. Actually the richest 400 taxpayers pay an average rate of 17% on their average 340 million dollars income (source: Geithner).

***

GENETIC VARIATION FROM SEX: I was reading in some scientific publication that why sex evolved is still a mystery. Whereas few things are clearer: sex allows to try all sorts of genetic combinations, as long as it is operating in conjunction with high infidelity. If one of these combinations is more successful at surviving, it will have a longer life, and, or, more sex, hence, in any case more descendants. Thus the trait will tend to perpetuate itself. This is a small variation of so called "Darwinian selection".

Whereas cloning would not allow the superior trait to appear to start with.

***

WITH DEMOCRATS LIKE THAT, WHO NEEDS REPUBLICANS?

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. [Lincoln, Gettysburg address.]

Government of the people, by the plutocracy, for the plutocracy, shall perish with the earth. And who has been controlling the Congress since 2006, and the presidency since January 2008? Well the alleged, self proclaimed demos-crats, those who claim to rule in the name of the people.

Geithner pointed out that the richest 400 in the USA had an income of 340 million each, last year, and paid an average tax of only 17%. After 4 years of control of the senate and the Congress, plus two years of presidency by the alleged, self proclaimed "democrats", this is pretty telling.

DEMOCRATS, OR DEMONCRATS? That is the question. Who is better? The enemy facing you with a lance, or the friend stabbing you in the back?

***

WHERE EVIL COMES FROM: Sometimes, it is not enough to do our best, it is necessary to be evil.

This is a slight modification of a statement of Churchill. This also something that men have known since ever, and ever. And in particular the leaders of civilizations. It is also part of what motivated Obama to go into Afghanistan, thinking he was very smart, as usual.

***

GANDHI, OR PACIFISM IN THE WRONG CONTEXT, IS PLAIN EVIL:

Gandhi meant well, in his context, the context he had in his head. But his context was bad, as seen by hundreds of million, from outside his head. Being dressed literally and figuratively in Hindu garb caused the rift with the Muslims. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslims, used exactly that argument, and it is correct. Jinnah had not engaged in civil disobedience, as Gandhi had… Until 1946.

Later, war of Pakistan (Muslim majority) with Kashmir (which had an Hindu Maharaja) started. Perhaps to prove he was still Holier-Than-Thou all, and that he was not an anti-Muslim simpleton, Gandhi insisted that Pakistan ought to be paid its financial part of the partition.

Gandhi went on a hunger strike to insure that, making a lot of people very angry against him. He was accused to not have done enough to prevent the partition of India and Pakistan. Gandhi’s assassin had plenty of time to justify himself during his trial, India being a democracy. The assassin explained very carefully that he acted against "Gandhi’s perpetual weakness" vis a vis Pakistan. After a first assassination attempt, from the same crowd, Gandhi himself admitted that the extremely highly connected assassins may have been right. Gandhi was despaired: his non violence had not worked. At deepest level. The philosophical level.

In biblical mythology, Satan was a fallen angel, but an angel nevertheless. Sometimes it is better to look evil in the eye.

Why? Because Gandhi was too much stuck inside his religious-nationalist Hindu box. It’s highly ironical since, as I said Gandhi meant so well; sustainability, ecology, caring for the small and poor, rejecting economic exploitation, dependency, and violence under all its forms.

Anyway, ten million people died, and it’s far from over. The same sort of forces being still at work.

***

WE CASH, THEREFORE WE CARE: President Obama informed us that "What I’m doing now with Malia and Sasha is they’re getting an allowance," Obama told ABC’s "Good Morning America.

"They’re starting to get old enough where they may be able earn some money babysitting. They’ve got their own saving accounts." Great, I happen to have an eleven month old of my own, and no baby sitter meeting my, and those of my spouse, exacting standards. It’s wonderful to do one’s own babysitting, but it takes a lot of time, teaching baby to not hit the delete button.

Babysitting is an American rite. It teaches (girls) that human interaction can be profitable in a sense that the IRS understands. Other countries are more careful with this. Why?

Other countries are typically modern versions of old civilizations. The USA, alone in the world in that regard, claims to not being attached to old civilization (hence the importance of the Bible, for the average American: it’s the only anchor they heard about). In any case, in other countries, it is understood that one has to be careful when teaching children what the ultimate motivator is.

Babysitting is a good idea, in some ways: it teaches altruism, empathy, the human condition. But babysitting-to-earn-money instills a supplementary metaprinciple: getting money is more important than any of the preceding. Look at the preceding statement of Obama. Its key concepts are: allowance… earning… money… accounts. All of this is enabled by babysitting.

IN THE USA, BABY SITTING IS VIEWED AS THE WORLD’S OLDEST PROFESSION. Trust Obama to teach the true values. Those dear to his dear "friend" the well named Jamie Demon (or something like that).

It is understood in older civilizations that money should not be taught to children as the ultimate motivator. Why? Because money, ultimately is power onto people, and it is important to teach tomorrow’s people that there are other ways to interact with other people. Many of these other ways are known to marmoset monkeys, and marmoset monkey societies could not work without. How can the USA function without mental capabilities necessary to keep marmoset society together?

It is going to be interesting to see what happens when a civilization which has been imprinted to unlearn what marmosets know is confronted to what money can’t buy.

***

Patrice Ayme.

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26 Responses to “Aphorisms 08/2010: Babysitting Instructive?”

  1. Roger Henry Says:

    By the laws of biology baby sitting would be the worlds ‘second oldest’ profession. In the words of Clarence, the angel in Frank Kappras “It’s a Wonderful Life ” We don’t need money in heaven! To which George Bailey replies, “Well, it comes in mighty handy down here, Bub!”
    Teaching children to exchange effort for money is preferable to teaching that money will come to you with no exchange of effort or work. We might argue what type of effort or work is acceptable to get money and judge others efforts un-acceptable to our high moral standards. However, to teach children that money comes with no effort on their part is to set them up for a very hard life.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Roger: Well, this is a valid argument, that money is the handiest thing, mightily used in the USA. Prepare them for greed or survival, they will need those.

      However, that argument has less weight in welfare societies. Actually UN law forbids to make children work. (The USA is one of 4 countries, with N Korea, Myanmar, and Iran to have refused to sign the international law on the rights of children.)

      There, in most countries, and, in particular in welfare states the emphasis is to use childhood for learning more added value skills. To give the example of France, the extremely highly competitive and stuffed French school system leaves no time for babysitting. What counts there are grades, grades, grades…

      Moreover, the tax structures, even in the USA, now assume that childhood, especially income wise, extends in the mid twenties, or more. So what’s the big rush? Stands assured that the Obama children will not know any foreign language. But that is a higher skill than babysitting (which everybody with children goes through…) Knowing more about foreign cultures would allow the USA to avoid the great war which is being readied. But, OK, that’s not the plan. Actually, it’s not OK.
      Even in the USA, to be able to earn one’s keep, one needs high education. That Obama, in practice the world’s richest man, who will soon have a family fortune in the hundreds of millions, thinks it is important to teach his girls that they should appear as if they were working, is another manifestation of appearances being deemed more important than reality. And gives the message that a job, any job, is more important than learning. Let me add that humankind, in its entirety has to learn the opposite lesson: WORKING WITHOUT A CONSCIENCE IS ONLY RUIN OF THE PLANET.
      Obama’s children ought to be taught that thinking is more important than following the money, like the shark follows the smell of blood in the water.
      PA.

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  2. multumnonmulta Says:

    P.A., you’ve said it all, nothing to add. We are a looong way from improving education, the mindset is so different from anything that works in education. We keep trying to improve the wheel, reinventing education. Have a look at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/education/01teacher.html and follow with the readers’ comments.

    Are you sure you can afford to educate your daughter here as opposed to, say, France?

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      multumonda: Excellent point, I have been worrying about that a lot, in the last few months. I would have said no problem four years ago (there are bilingual, French school system certified where I live). However, the situation has seriously degraded in the meantime. I have some good friends who are math teachers: they are so baffled by the degradation, they are left speechless. Another friend is a full physics professor with a chair at the world reknown University of California: he makes 75,000 dollars a year. Average salary plus non salaried compensation of average military US personel (many out of jail, and no high school education): about 123,000 dollars. (It used to be half of this or so, ten years ago.)

      Some senior friends whose parents were already US citizens, have told my spouse and I that we should understand things are changed, and staying in the USA, having a child, is not an option anymore (!) I have developped a fascination for the good city of Lausanne recently (it is only 3:30 by high speed train from Paris, and the time will go down as a new high speed line pointing at the heart of Switzerland is being built).
      PA

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  3. Roger Henry Says:

    Learning like earning requires work and effort. To not teach that lesson early in life is child is parental irresponsibility. Learning higher skills requires higher effort.
    You ask ‘What is the hurry?’ The hurry is because. as brain scientists have pointed out, the brain learns certain things more readily at certain periods of its growth. Languages are easily absorbed at ages 4 to 10 as that physical structure in the brain is growing. Later language learning is much greater chore.
    Memory development at this stage is also shown to facilitate learning capabilities at later ages. Thus the importance of musical training, multiplication tables, and memorizing and reciting poetry at ages prior to puberty.
    Your teaching friends are puzzled by the degradation of education in the US. It was unavoidable when we adopted the ethic that children must be protected from work. Learning is the greatest work they will do, it must not be postponed.
    One of the saddest changes in US culture in my lifetime is the evolution of the perpetual adolesence of the American male. Trained in our schools to be a creature that plays sports games, watches sports games incessantly and can think of no other subject than sports, recreation and alcohol, this creature is un-able to function in our society without the unending support of parents or a naive spouse.
    So, What is the hurry? It is because life is short, the world is large, mankind is complex, and to not be equipped to participate and experience if in the fullest possible manner is to be an abused child.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Roger Henry: well put. I do agree with the cultural devastation in many an American male, a strange mix of beer, wide screen TV, and unbounded fascination for steroid males in body armor running a tiny bit between commercials. I have such people in my own family, and as the years passed, our interaction has reduced to zero, before becoming strikingly negative, since alienation precedes aggression, just as the withdrawing sea precedes the wave.

      I was just pointing out that it is harder to learn to be motivated by more sophisticated instincts than greed, and that one should use the early years to encourage those delicacies. The rattlesnake knows greed, but not altruism. Teaching greed to the Obama girls should not be that hard: they are surrounded by some of the world’s greediest people.

      Obama supposedly bonded with Gibbs over “sports”. “Sports” as above: talking about it obsessively, an ersatz of culture. In any case, since the Obama girls do not necessarily know CPR, it may be a bit foolish (or child endangerment?) to leave them in charge of a child as Obama suggests someone does. True, he is in charge of the world, and that is somewhat similar, but even worse, so it goes with the general spirit of endangerment…
      PA

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    • multumnonmulta Says:

      Roger, if I may, scholastic learning is effort that has the added benefit of much higher and sustainable returns than most anything the regular youth can achieve through, say, babysitting. We f…ed up by making education fun (edutainment) and taking the edge out of it.

      Saying that whatever job a teen can get is better than schooling tries to make up for what we lost in the educational process itself, yet we never look for what is supposed to actually be there in the first place.

      As for character building and such, from my experience, anything in agriculture is so much better in the long run than commerce. Obviously, the immediate returns were in opposite order.

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      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        multumnonmulta: Well said. International organizations and governments work hard to make it so that children in the developing world go to school, instead of going to work. What is better than teaching through example?
        PA

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  4. multumnonmulta Says:

    If you can take the Swiss, that shall be a good choice. Alsace, I’m told, has its merits.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Switzerland has changed: They used to charge for water from the tap, and they still do, but now it’s starting to look prescient. They opened the floodgates of immigration, and now little Suisse has close to 8 million people. They are also entering the EU backwards: by 2015 or so, their will be no practical difference. They already had to approve the highly controversial entry of Bulgaria and Rumania (which is leading to a pan European Rom crisis).

      Because of the cultural power of modern media, French speaking areas have increasingly little differences between each other. For example Doris Leuthard (Swiss president) acts pretty much like a French woman (although she is Schweizerdeutsch). This is the same effect which tends to americanize large swathes of the planet. But, in Europe, it has meant, de facto, that Europe is increasingly behaving like a large France, rather than anything else (if you compare to the situations 50, 100, 200, and 300 years ago).
      PA

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      • multumnonmulta Says:

        Patrice, I found them morose and even aggressive. It might have been that casual tourists encounter mostly service people who are those immigrants you mention, but still, the atmosphere looked to charged. Unless you can pass as one of them, by means of culture, income or birth.

        In the end, whatever works for you!

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Multumnonmulta: The Swiss have the reputation of being groutches, indeed, and they vary from one valley to the next, let alone, canton to canton. Count me lucky, but, except for being charged tap water, I only have had good experiences in Suisse. Once a Scheizerdeutsch lady, by the foot of the Eiger, opened her gasoline service station in the middle of the night for me, so that me and my climbing partners could go home. Of course I am biased, since I have excellent memories of vacations in Zermatt, already by the age of 18 months…

          I do think that massive immigration and the opening of frontiers (Suisse is in Shengen, so to speak), have changed a lot of things, for the better, and they were already very good. I do think that the banning of minarets was an insult to esthetics, though. I have nothing against secular Islam, as long as they build beautiful mosques and pray to the Enlightenment ten times a day (same for Catholics). The mosques in Iran are amazingly beautiful.

          OK, the notion of secular Islam will have to be studied by Muslim scholars. Not that they have a choice…
          PA

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  5. Roger Henry Says:

    The rattlesnake knows greed, but not altruism?!??? How many rattlesnakes do you know with diamond pinky rings on their rattles? The rattlesnake knows neither. He knows only survival and opportunity. Ah yes, the parallel to to the human political personality. Neither to be regarded lightly. Both to be monitored carefully

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Roger Henry: The old “objectivity” asserted, without proof, that animals did not have emotions, following Descartes’ sneaky claim that animals were machines (hence so are people, and therefore god, I am led to suppose!)

      Verily, the simplest hypothesis was the exact opposite: since all humans (except plutocrats) have emotions, and humans are animals, all animals have emotions (except plutocrats). When I said venimous snakes knew greed, namely killing for no reason, except for the heck of it, as plutocrats do, well, I was pushing a bit, trying to be funny, insulting snakes. But some snakes are highly irrate and aggressive, and they will indeed kill for no reason (as they strike when other snakes would just slither away).

      Some reptiles (for example crocodiles) watch their egg nests. A form of basic altruism.
      PA

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  6. Roger Henry Says:

    I agree with you. As the study of animal behavior becomes more detailed and sophisticated many of the behaviors and motivations once ascribed only to humans are being identified in a wide variety of animal, insect and avian species.

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  7. JR Says:

    JR

    Une prostituée, la femme du Président de la France? La définition d’une prostituée est celle d’une femme qui fait commerce de son corps
    Ce n’est certainement pas le cas de Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, issue d’une des plus riches familles italiennes, les Bruni-Tedeschi.
    Jacques

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Ah ces Iraniens! Ils sont furieux parcequ’ils ne peuvent pas lapider tranquile (je suppose que tu connais l’histoire…)

      According to the Qur’an, as interpreted in Iran, a woman having sex without being married is a prostitute who ought to be lapidated. Thus Iranian Justice condemned a widow, mother of two full grown children, to be lapidated, Carla signed a petition in protest, and, according to the Qur’an, having had sex, as she obviously did, at some point, without being married, she is a prostitute, and ought to be lapidated too!
      PA

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  8. JMG Says:

    Patrice,
    My education must be outdated because I heard that prostitution was the world’s oldest profession. This helps to explain the presence of so many whores in Congress and so on. Lobbyists’ motives not in the least opaque.
    JmG

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Jeff:
      According to Obama, his girls have to learn, and EARN, from baby sitting first. So, psychologically, babysitting is older.Then, presumably, they can switch to more efficient ways to “make bread”, as the saying goes. But, first, babysitting, to learn that earning comes before learning…
      PA

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  9. JR Says:

    Mais le Coran, bien que parole immuable d’Allah, a été dicté bien après l’apparition du mot latin “prostituée” étymologiquement “se tenir devant” “pro-stare (forstate en Anglais?), ce qui signifie s’esposer pour se vendre. Tant pis pour le Coran, qui juge souvent après coup, sans possibilité de discussion ni de remord comme dans la religion chrétienne
    Jacques

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Ce que je trouve le plus siderant avec le Qur’an (“Coran”), c’est que tout le monde en parle, et personne ne le lit…
      It’s most amazing everybody talks Islam, nobody reads Qur’an. The Qur’an is, in places, literally hate speech…. But people say it’s a “sacred book”…
      There is discussion in Islam, but remorse is not a big part of it…
      PA

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  10. Patrice Ayme Says:

    To JR:
    Ah ces Iraniens! Ils sont furieux parcequ’ils ne peuvent pas lapider tranquile (je suppose que tu connais l’histoire de la petition signee par Carla Bruni…)

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  11. JR Says:

    Le Coran c’est insipide (ses chapitres, les Sourates, sont rangés par ordre de…taille) et comme de toute façon c’est la parole de Dieu, immuable, personne ne peut la discuter (pire que “parole …d’évangile)
    J’en ai lu mais je me suis arrêté en chemin!
    Les seuls qui peuvent discuter sur le message divin sont les Chiites, car ils peuvent superposer au sens littéral du Coran l’interprétation des Imans qui ont suivi.
    Jacques

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Ce que je trouve le plus siderant avec le Qur’an (“Coran”), c’est que tout le monde en parle, et personne ne le lit…

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  12. anonymous proxies Says:

    anonymous proxies
    Useful information, thanks a lot. Don’t usually leave a comment but I thought this was worth it.
    Gregg from anonymous proxies

    Like

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