In “Our ‘Mommy’ Problem” (Sunday Review, Nov. 9), Heather Havrilesky points out that “motherhood has been elevated—or perhaps demoted—to the realm of lifestyle, an all-encompassing identity.”
But for many of us, “mom” is our job of choice. I am a graduate of a Seven Sisters college, emerging from four empowering years with a degree in politics and English, and the knowledge that I could do anything. And right now that anything is being a mom, raising three school-age children.
And yet while it is socially acceptable for a woman to work tirelessly as a lawyer, doctor, teacher, police officer or fashion designer or in any other profession, a mom, working just as tirelessly, has somehow sacrificed her own identity. Ms. Havrilesky stigmatizes today’s mothers as Facebook-posting, Pinterest-roving health nuts, “wrapped up in a big ‘Mommy’ bow,” but, sadly, she ignores the true beauty of this bow.
It is my choice to stay at home, so why wouldn’t I go “all in,” just as I assume that women who work outside the home go “all in” at their day job. Why is it viewed as somehow compromising my own identity? Personally, my sense of self is only enhanced as I navigate through the crazy day-to-day mayhem of motherhood. After all, I’m a mom. First and foremost, that’s who I am. It is my identity, and I wear the label proudly. No problem here.
JENNIFER TANANBAUM Westfield, N.J., Nov. 9, 2014
Note from KBJ: What could be more important—really—than bringing a child into the world, educating him or her, shaping his or her values and beliefs, and preparing him or her to participate in society? It is the creation not merely of a human life but of a person. That feminists have persuaded women that motherhood is beneath them is the greatest con job in the history of the world. Any woman who falls for it is a blithering idiot.
Here are the first three paragraphs of a New York Times report:
GAZIANTEP, Turkey—President Obama on Sunday confirmed the death of the American aid worker Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger who disappeared over a year ago at a checkpoint in northeastern Syria while delivering medical supplies.
The president’s midafternoon statement came hours after the Islamic State released a video showing a black-clad executioner standing over the severed head of a man it identified as Mr. Kassig.
Mr. Kassig “was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group,” Mr. Obama said in a statement from aboard Air force One that was read to the news media in Washington.
Wait! Didn't progressives make fun of Ronald Reagan for calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire"? Didn't they mock George W. Bush for using the expression "axis of evil"? Has Barack Obama come to his senses? What will his fellow progressives say? Will they apologize to Reagan and Bush? Stay tuned.
End-of-life care is receiving more and more attention in the media of late. The physician Ezekiel Emanuel, in a much-talked about essay in The Atlantic, announced that he will take no steps to extend his life once he reaches age 75, but he explicitly rejects assisted suicide. The surgeon and writer Atul Gawande’s latest book is about how medicine needs to rethink its approach to aging and dying.
Perhaps the moment is right for broaching the idea of what we might call prophylactic suicide: the decision of an elderly person to pre-empt the grim reaper and avoid the disabilities of extended life.
Organizations such as Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit, are campaigning for dignified terminations of life for those with incurable diseases. And with some success, since Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana have recently established the right to aid-in-dying. What I propose goes a step further, extending the right to people before they face terminal or debilitating illnesses.
With nearly half of people 85 or older suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, concerns about quality of life in old age are reasonable, even if opinions about what to do about the situation vary widely. However sane prophylactic suicide might be, getting assistance is illegal.
Yet a recognized right to assisted suicide for those over 80 would ensure a painless death and allow an elderly person’s loved ones to be there at the end. As someone who is 85, I know I would appreciate having that choice.
Probably not many people would use such an option, but making it legal would certainly prompt a much-needed discussion about what it means to prolong life without prolonging the capacity to enjoy it.
JOYCE APPLEBY Taos, N.M., Nov. 6, 2014
The writer is emerita professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.
While it is easy to feel bad for a landlord who cannot pay his bills on limited rent rolls, it’s hard to shed too many tears. The more usual situation is that the landlord cannot make a profit, or a profit competitive with other possible sources of profit. These are different situations. Yet, in none of these situations should the government be in the business of making sure that individual landlords can make money.
Buying property is an investment, and with that comes risk. If landlords aren’t able to support that risk, they should find another line of moneymaking. Why should they be able to ask the government to allow them to charge tenants more money in New York City, where a third of all renters already pay more than half their incomes on rent?
Better still would be to take housing out of the market altogether. Housing should be a right, not a commodity.
JOHN KRINSKY New York, Nov. 6, 2014
The writer is an associate professor of political science at the City College of New York.
Note from KBJ: This letter is proof that formal education is compatible with great stupidity. Would somebody please get this man an economics textbook?
I have a question for Apple geeks. I was trying to play Kiss Alive! this afternoon while riding my bike. As on any live album, the songs blend together. But all I could get the iPhone to do is to play the songs on the album, with annoying little pauses between songs. This destroys the continuity. Does anyone have a solution? Thanks in advance.
I can't remember whether I posted this, so I'll do it again. Several years ago, Michael Secrest set a world record with 1,216 miles ridden in 24 hours, which is an average of more than 50 miles per hour. He did it on a racetrack, drafting behind a truck. See here.
Addendum: Unless you're faint of heart, you might enjoy this as well.
I came within 1.9 miles of reaching my previous year's mileage total (3,756.5) this afternoon. I'll exceed the mark with my next ride on Monday. When I do, it'll be my fifth-best mileage year ever (in 34 years of riding). I'm on track to have my third-best year by 31 December, and next year, if all goes as planned, I'm going to have my second-best year. It's still cold in these parts, but not as cold as Wednesday, when the wind-child factor was in the 20s. Today, the wind-chill factor was 39º when I left the house and 41º when I returned. I had a great time. I solved a logic problem and entertained the idea of writing a biography of Benjamin Hodgson, who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
It is good to see an American president deal with China as a respected member of the international community, a position it has earned. It is also excellent to see a Chinese president take a responsible position with regard to global climate change.
Now if only the Republican Party would join the world in recognizing the threat global warming presents and join President Obama in taking appropriate action, we might all breathe a sigh of relief.
MARVIN A. RAPS New York, Nov. 12, 2014
Note from KBJ: Global Warming is a hoax, Marvin. Get a clue!