I read a beautiful post about horrible horrible events here. I had an interesting experience, because I was confused about who wrote it. One of the
the same text has different meanings depending on who wrote it (you know context and all that).
I'm kind of slow, so I haven't fully grasped the fact that the Political Animal(s) aren't Kevin Drum any more (my hippocampus knows but I was reading on automatic pilot). This means I read the post assuming it was written by a man -- Kevin Drum.
Now I have a very high opinion of Drum, but I was struck by the compassion, sensitivity, and humility of the post, the immediate sympathy for the parent as well as the deceased child, the readiness to face the possibility that the author might do such a thing (there but for the grace of my child crying go I).
I was particularly struck by the immediate concern about the spouses of such parents and the realization (yes it's true) that this is a very different horror than the horror of being the forgetful parent. Odd, I thought that he is so deeply married that he automatically thinks "spouse" even when in the furthest hypothetical speculation imaginable.
Then I got to the end of the post and read "hilzoy." I felt sharp disappointment. Oh yeah nothing special here, the post wasn't written by an amazingly sensitive, compassionate humble (oh and wise) man. It was written by a woman. Nothing remarkable.
Now I don't consider myself a monstrously sexist, self hating male, or rather I didn't, but you got to admit that I have issues.
p.s. 12 out of 229 of the words in my comment on sensitivity compassion and humility are the word "I."
update: Mark Kleiman also wrote a brilliant post on babies left in cars dying from the heat. In it's own way it is as excellent as Hilzoy's post, but it is very very different. It is much briefer. It cuts straight to the policy proposal. Kleiman sees a problem and thinks of how to solve it -- and save babies lives and save their parents from horrible suffering. I'm sure he has as much compassion as Hilzoy, but he doesn't show it.
Kleiman links to Yglesias. Also excellent. Yglesias goes to the facts (a summary of the event and a photo). I get the spouse bit. The parent in question is a man. He is on trial for negligent manslaughter. Yglesias asks if putting such people on trial is an efficient utility maximizing policy. He is compasionate too, but, very much like Kleiman has an engineers approach. A policy question a problem to be solved. He is criticizing a prosecutor.
Now maybe I've only learned about Hilzoy, Kleiman, and Yglesias, but I don't think so.
two final thoughts.
I remember before the blogosphere when I couldn't read brilliant wonderful expressions of sympathy for all those who suffer, but made do with the sophomiric crap published by The Economist and The New Republic. I like the blogosphere.
2) I hate hate hate cell phones. I quote from Gene Weingarten's article "beset by problems at work, making call after call on his cellphone. "
I agree with Kleiman and Hilzoy that the solution is the $40 baby in car seat with ignition off lullaby alarm, but I really wish cars had a feature which made it impossible for the driver to speak on a cell phone.
Hmm a problem. A jammer in the stearing wheel ? No they don't work so great without jammers. I think the cell phone needs to cooperate. Two or three signals in the car makes it possible for the cell phone to figure out it is within reach of the driver and it refuses to work. It can be done. The cost sure wouldn't be $40 per system. The regulation is politically impossible