Trailing clouds of glory


[A found poem, which I’ve taken from an article by Jessica Irvine, ‘Men can multitask too so time for dad to do the laundry’, Sydney Morning Herald, 15/4/2016, p. 18. The article presents serious multitasking research by economists Gigi Foster and Charlene Kalenkoski. The title is a well-known quote from William Wordsworth’s romantic poem on childhood ‘Ode. Intimations on Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’, the original context being: “Trailing clouds of glory do we come/From God, who is our home:/Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”]

Trailing Clouds of Glory

Men are better able than women
To keep up their production
Of the household commodity
At times when the child commodity
Also needs to be produced.

Women did produce slightly higher
Baby happiness, but not
To a significant extent. Men,
By contrast, were better able
To plough on, keeping baby
Slightly less happy, but sorting
More laundry to maximise returns
Under the experiment conditions.

Why would women care more
About a crying baby? One answer
Is that women are biologically
Wired to want to care for infants.

A second is that women
Were more inclined to reject
The incentive structure of the study,
Feeling a higher value
Should be placed on care
For children over laundry.

Or perhaps women are
Socially conditioned to fear
The approbation of others
If they let a baby cry.

Whatever the reason,
The researchers found women
Were more likely to prioritise
Childcare over other domestic
Tasks, making them less
Productive in the multitasking
Environment created.

Do men make better wives?

That depends, say the researchers,
On what you think the primary
Role of a ‘wife’ is: to maximise
Their children’s happiness
At any cost, or to most
Efficiently juggle the competing
Goals of child and home care.

Obviously, a crying baby
Should never be ignored. But
It’s very difficult to know
The consequences of keeping
A baby at an average Level 4
Happiness as opposed to 3.9

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on April 27, 2016.

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