Archive for July 11th, 2010

Teaching, Parenting, Happiness, and Dogma

What popular activity leads to a statistically significant drop in personal happiness, drastically reduces leisure time, and decreases romantic satisfaction? Parenting, of course. We engage in other activities that are, in general, displeasing, but they are often a means to a greater end: We endure traffic or crowded public transportation to live in a neighborhood that better suits our lifestyle, or we work to earn money to sustain that lifestyle. That’s not to say that driving home or working universally reduce people’s happiness—but, when it does, it’s generally for a clearly more desirable end. Not so with raising children. Child-rearing or creation is supposed to, in itself, generate the sort of transcendental happiness that makes it all worth it. New York Magazine’s Jennifer Senior questions the dogma of parenting as a universal good.

Why is there such a dogma? Surely the reverence most religions accord to raising and bearing—well, sometimes just bearing—children plays some role. Maybe parents are aware of the negative effect of children on their happiness level, but merely follow the broader trend of embracing altruistic acts as the ultimate good—the epitome of which is committing most of your life to another human or two. But, perhaps something else not unique to parenting is at work.

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Top 173 Things in World History: #133. The Dutch-Spanish Rivalry

The best part about Uruguay being knocked out in the semifinals of the World Cup was that it guaranteed an all-European final, which pretty much guaranteed a final between countries that, at one point or another, fought each other in a war.

The special thing about the showdown in South Africa between Spain and the Netherlands,* though, is that this is a rematch of multiple wars. And it ain’t no rubber game: The Dutch are going for the sweep.

*Did you know that Holland technically only refers to two counties in the Netherlands? And that it really shouldn’t be used to talk about the country as a whole? But that the Dutch don’t seem to mind because they’re so agreeable? Also, where does the Netherlands rank in terms of countries that require “the”? Do they get past the United States AND the Seychelles?

It started in the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648), in which the Dutch revolted against their distant Spanish leaders because they were being taxed too much. Yawn. The Eighty Years’ War is interesting for only three reasons:

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