I haven’t looked at the weather yet, so I’m not sure if the forecast is that the groundhog will see his shadow tomorrow or not. It is snowing here outside Philadelphia, as it has been a lot lately. I managed to get in a run this morning before the bulk of the flakes came down, so that’s good.
A few random notes…My order of women’s magazines from February-March 1963 showed up this week (from PastPaper.com). I also have a pile of women’s magazines — the same titles — from February 2013. I’ll be writing an article next week for City Journal comparing the two. I love studying old magazines, as they’re a great way to compare what has changed and what has not in the lives of normal people.
I finished reading Jonathan Last’s new book last night, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting. The book is on declining birth rates in countries around the world, why that happened, and what the implications might be. I’ll write a full review next week. On the plus side, he uses time diary data and notes that modern dads are basically the equivalent of 1950s and 1960s moms in terms of interactive time spent with children. I also laughed at this gem: “There’s no getting around the fact that if you have carefully ordered your life in such a way as to provide the maximum amount of pleasure for yourself, children won’t just change your life. They will utterly and completely destroy it.” Of course, there are always some issues when books on the problem of declining birth rates are written by men, and while Last tries to be careful, some hints at a certain worldview slip in. So there’s a lot to unpack there.
I’m also hoping to read Helaine Olen’s Pound Foolish soon and review that here. Olen has been getting a fair amount of media attention for her book pointing out the folly of much personal finance writing. News flash: lattes may not be the reason for all financial woes. Olen also apparently interviewed people at a Dave Ramsey seminar, and her takeaway is that many were not in debt for reasons that involved living high on the hog. The usual story is more of people living close to the line, and then not having the cash reserves to deal with a crisis (usually medical, or a job loss).
And as for the title of this post…my awesome readers! I sent an email out to a portion of my email list (mostly people who’d asked for the time tracking spreadsheet) offering time makeovers and got a great response. Many people emailed me a little bit about their lives. All I can say is that it confirms for me what I wrote in my City Journal article on self-help (“The Paperback Quest for Joy.”) People who read self-help books already have their acts together. They value discipline and achievement and read books that they think will hone their already incredible lives.