Birthrate

At times I wonder if pro-choice is a strategy. Industrialized countries tend to slow their birth rates. We don’t have to create giant families to work farms anymore. As people move into cities, life gets more expensive and harder to independently sustain. And, there is a still trying to be understood phenomenon where fertility drops as well*.

The United States is at the lowest birth rate in 30 years.

The fertility rate of 1.7 births per U.S. woman also fell 2%, meaning the current generation isn’t making enough babies to replace itself. The fertility rate is a hypothetical estimate based on lifetime projections of age-specific birth rates… If trends continue, experts said, the U.S. can expect labor shortages including in elder care when aging baby boomers need the most support.

man person cute young

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Policymakers are facing choices on whether to encourage American families to have more children versus for more immigration to compensate versus in allowing the economy to shrink.

More immigration from the poor nearby countries where people strongly desire to come here is antithetical to conservatives. These are not people who look like the mythical American, so naturally, conservatives are against this idea. This explains why the southern US border is such a battle ground why the far more porous and crossed and overstayed northern US border with a population who looks like the mythical American is fine.

Allowing the economy to shrink is great for solving things like pollution, deforestation, and production constraints. Why does the economy need grow other than increasing wealth? Wealth that accumulates to benefit the 0.1% most. However, not growing fast enough is what puts an economy into a recession or worse a depression. The leaders of our country are rated on how well they keep it growing and employers tend to lay off people at signs of a slow growth. And with automation taking jobs, we need to grow faster to sustain jobs.

Getting American families to use less birth control and eliminating abortions promotes more children being born. More children born could get the birth rate back up to the replacement rate. If the people who have more children resemble the mythical American, then that is the best way to ensure Americans resemble the country conservatives want. Of course, if those children are not the right type, then the country could end up looking wrong anyway.

* My hypothesis is we sense the crowding around us and lower our fertility to not create too many people. If the fertility rate is lower in more crowded cities, then that might confirm that idea.

120 bits a day for native language acquisition

Some researchers at U. Rochester and U. Cal. Berkeley attempted to estimate how much information a child learns to acquire a native language.

To put our lower estimate in perspective, each day for 18 years a child must wake up and remember, perfectly and for the rest of their life, an amount of information equivalent to the information in this sequence:

0110100001101001011001000110010001100101
0110111001100001011000110110001101101111
0111001001100100011010010110111101101110

Even at the lower end, it suggests the presence of mechanisms in the brain that help in language acquisition. I guess a question I have is what is the threshold for there not to be one? (The upper end is almost 2,000 bits a day.)

And we are talking about every bit here being new information.  Similar to the Five Books a Day post, these are NEW bits every day.

The amounts are staggering to me. And it strikes me how impressively children learn about the world, categorize the data, and synthesize it into information. The challenge as a parent is to ensure the child gets enough exposure to acquire all this data.

Ninja Brain

The Ninja Brain: Humans Can Prioritise Meaningful Sounds Even While Asleep:

Teenage mutant ninja turtles

Teenage mutant ninja turtles by Adrián Pérez

We often think of sleep as a chance to switch off from the outside world, leaving us blissfully ignorant of anything going on around us. But neuroscience research has shown this is a fantasy – we still monitor the environment and respond to particular sounds while we’re sleeping (at least in some stages of sleep) – a fact that will be unsurprising to anyone who has woken up after hearing someone say their name.

A better example is anyone who has woken up after hearing their infant moving around. Part of the sensitivity is making sure the kiddo is okay. She is snoring? Good. Cannot hear anything at all? Is she breathing? This assessment that everything is fine occurs while still sleep-addled, which to me is amazing. Most likely the movement means in about 10 minutes she is going to wake up.

Probably this was good for keeping us alive on the savannah. Lions are nocturnal (night awake) where we are diurnal (day awake). It would be good for us to be able to sense the noises of a predator possibly coming to hunt us.

Swallowing button batteries

Recently, I shared a funny story about doctors swallowing LEGOs for science. This is a darker story about children swallowing more dangerous things. The number of foreign objects swallowing deaths is up in part because of a proliferation of button batteries which stomach acids can rupture.

Kids under six tend to swallow things. As electronics have gotten smaller, button batteries have become more common to power them. Several hundred thousand kids are estimated to have swallowed something enough to warrant an ER visit. Thousands of cases are fatal.

The recommendation is to give the kid older than a year honey to help neutralize the stomach acid and take the kid to the emergency room.

Singing as a baby wrangling tool

brown rabbit

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I never thought I would sing this much. I mean Disney princess movies and musicals are not my interest. But, a fragment of a song works to calm the baby, so I do it. I prefer it to the authoritarian Dad Voice. I use specific songs during specific tasks. And she really likes certain ones, so I’ve settled on them. Some examples:

  • A bastardization of “Stayin’ Alive” that is “Stayin’ Dry” while changing the diaper
  • Old MacDonald when she is bored in the carseat or resisting having to wear clothes
  • Little Bunny Foo Foo when she wants Mama who is occupied (she anticipates my bonks on her head)

I’ve kind of gotten into a rut. I need to pick up some new songs. Please suggest your favorites.

The authoritarian magicalness of Dad Voice

There is that moment where you say the child’s name but an octave lower. It gets the child to pause and look at you. Really, the whole point right now is to create a pause long enough to complete corrective action. Once Fleur is older, we can look at using it like Adrienne Hedger demonstrates in her comic.

Back on an early date with the wife, we were with a group on a night hike. A mother called out a girl’s name who ignored her. I called out her name but in the Dad Voice. She stopped. And slowly turned around. I told her her mother wanted her. The guy behind me said he was glad his name was not the little girl’s.

I did not expect to be using it so soon. But, occasionally Fleur gets wiggly when I am changing a soiled diaper. The Dad Voice gets her attention long enough to get the next step when the sweetly cooing doesn’t.

Pleading? Ineffective.

Bargaining? She doesn’t understand yet.

The authoritarian name drop? It works.

It doesn’t make me feel great. But, I only pull it out when I really need to finish something important. Like, I don’t when she is just being active in a family space. Or about to eat a leaf or trash. Those get a normal distraction of “look at this” to get the second I need to get to her hand. I don’t want to acclimate her to this tool and ruin its efficacy.