April 21, 2006, 1:05 am
The "Matrimonial Market" in 1935. I came across the following
little debate in the Ann Arbor News (March 27, 1935):
Is Grade B Spouse Better Than None?
"Is it better to have an indifferent husband--a sort of second-class
instead of first-class husband, so to speak--than to have none at all?"
asked a girl of a group of married women.
"Now," she went on, "I am financially independent. I have interesting
work that I enjoy doing, that fills my time and makes me feel that I am of
some use in the world. I am not in love and no Prince Charming has ever
ridden down my street. But I am wondering if I am making a mistake in not
marrying because I have not found my ideal and whether it wouldn't be
better to marry some ordinary man whom I merely like and respect than to
be an old maid."
"No. A thousand times no," cried one of the women to whom she was
speaking. "A man can put up with a make-shift wife, ut a woman has to
have the husband that she craves, or else marriage is cinders, ashes and
dust to her. It doesn't matter so much to a man whom he marries because
his life is lived mosly out of the home and his thoughts are filled with
outside interests. His hopes and ambitions and struggles and triumphs and
failures absorb him. But a woman's life is centered in the home. If she
doesn't find her happiness there, she doesn't find it anywhere, and the
core of a woman's happiness is always the husband who is her heart's
"Of course, many women do marry their opportunities when they can't get
their preferences. They take the men they can get when they can't get the
men that they want and they live miserably and scrappily ever afterward.
To this class belong the bored wives who yawn in their husband's faces and
who always want to step out somewhere of an evening; the complaining wives
who consider themselves martyrs because they have to keep house and rear
children; the lazy wives who never think it worth while to make their
husbands comfortable, and the whining wives who always tell you wnat
brilliant careers they could have had if they hadn't got married.
"Marriage is full of sacrifices for a woman even at its best, an the
only thing that justifies it and makes it worth while to her is for her to
have married her own particular tin god that she can spend the remainder
of her life worshipping. Believe me, there is a lot of peace and happiness
and comfort in single blessedness and in having your own individual
pocketbook and latchkey, and a woman is a fool who trades these off for
anything short of the very best the matrimonial market affords."
"I don't agree with you at all," said another woman. "I think that
almost any sort of husband is better than no husband at all. Marriage is
the vocation to which God has called women and they are only content when
they follow it. A woman's life without a man in it is an unflavored dish,
flat and tasteless. She has to have a husband to pep it up, to give it
"Why, a woman even has to have a husband to cook for to put any punch
in her housekeeping. It doesn't seem worth while to her to get up a good
dinner unless a man is to help eat it. Three-fourths of the widows and
old maids live on a tea-and-toast diet or something they can get out of a
"And women have to have husbands to dress up for after they begin to
get to the time when corsets are a burden and a kimona looks good to them,
to keep them from getting sloppy. And they have to have husbands coming
home at night to put a point to their days, even if they know they are
going to be grouchy or about as conversational as store dummies. For it
is better to have somebody to quarrel wiith than nobody to speak to at
"Then, of course, there is the matter of money, and nobody can deny
that a husband is a mightty handy thing to have around the house when
bills come in, even if he isn't exactly the hero of your girlish dreams.
Maybe he isn't all your fondest fancy painted, but is is somebody to stand
between you and the world and you don't have that gone feeling that you
used to have when you wondered what would happen to you if you got sick or
lost your job.
"Furthermore, most married women are better taken care of than they
could take care of themselves. It would take many and many a long year's
work to get the average women to the place where she could have the nice
little home and the car that she marries, if she had to earn them
....Posted by Lawrence Kestenbaum —
April 20, 2006, 10:11 pm
Barbara Bauer and other "Literary Agent" Scammers. Via Making Light, we
learn of yet another little fraud subculture, in the form of "agents" who
rip off authors while pretending to find publishing deals for them.
There's a list
of 20 worst agents [link updated 5/26/06] from Writer Beware,
None of these agents has a significant track record of
sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually
no documented and verified sales at all (many sales claimed by these
agents turn out to be vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale
is made, whether directly, by charging fees such as reading or
administrative fees, or indirectly, for "editing
See also Writer Beware
and Preditors &
Teresa Nielsen Hayden published
the list and then, like some others, she received
a cease and desist threat from one of the notorious scammers,
Barbara Bauer. Since exposing and ridiculing scammers is also an interest of mine, I am happy to
support Teresa by linking to the sites she recommends on this.
These scam "literary agents" remind me of the Manutius "publishing
house" in Umberto Eco's novel Foucault's
It was more than just a vanity press. With fake, glossy "literary
magazines" and staged book signings and social events, Manutius lulled its
authors into an expansive belief in their own importance.
Then the publisher would quietly let slip to the author that the book
wasn't selling as well as hoped, and all those newly printed volumes would
have to be pulped unless, ahem, someone came up with the money to
buy them all...
....Posted by Lawrence Kestenbaum —
April 17, 2006, 3:45 pm
From the Clerk-Register. Today's message to my staff.
Not long ago, I received a copy of a recent article
[subscription site; click "cancel" on password dialog to see citation]
sent by our Public Defender, Lloyd Powell. "Thought provoking," he
The article describes the unhappy tendency in schools, organizations,
and workplaces for specific individuals to become identified as
scapegoats, leading all the others to gang up against them, usually over
vaguely defined offenses or problems. The targeted person may be
ostracized, or even humiliated, in an attempt to isolate them and drive
them out of the class or club or office.
I'm sure all of us have seen examples of this phenomenon in our own
experience, whether we have taken part in it, been victimized by it, or
Once again, I am reminded of the old Jewish parable that Heaven and
Hell are exactly the same - except for the way the inhabitants treat one
No one deserves to be mistreated or harassed. And everyone loses when
the tone of a social environment degenerates into ugly scapegoating.
But you can be part of the solution.
When you come to work here in the Clerk-Register's office, or really in
any office, part of your job is to get along with your co-workers, to
treat every one of them with courtesy and respect.
Perhaps there is something you dislike about one of your colleagues.
That's inevitable in any group of people.
But here at work, it is your responsibility to put that dislike aside,
and treat the person as a valued member of your team. Focus, instead, on
what you like about them.
If someone in your office has a behavior that annoys you, quietly take
it up with them directly. Don't gossip about it to other staff.
Perhaps you feel that a co-worker has wronged you in some way. If so,
you should try to find it in your heart to forgive them. Do you really
want to spend the rest of your work life seething at the person at the
Each one of you took a solemn oath to "faithfully discharge the duties"
of your position.
"Faithful," that is, not just to the details of the work you do, but to
the integrity of the office and the work environment.
"Faithful" means showing courtesy and respect every workday, not just
to our customers, but to our co-workers.
Let's take that oath seriously.
....Posted by Lawrence Kestenbaum —
April 13, 2006, 10:44 pm
Lisa Radtke. Just one week ago this evening, I attended the
honors banquet for the Political Science department at Eastern Michigan
University. I was the guest speaker, and I talked about the world of
politics and my own experiences in it.
Lisa Radtke, a 23-year-old graduating senior, was one of the honorees,
as president of the Public Administration Club. She stopped at the table
where I was sitting and chatted with us. I was impressed with her.
One of her professors wrote:
She was in my 100 student introductory class perhaps 3
years ago and stood out in my mind as energetic, animated, and engaged.
Very sweet young woman. It was nice to continue to know her as an
advanced student in our department, and the work she did ... on the Public
Administration Club really made a nice contribution to the
The following evening, Lisa Radtke was shot
and killed by her own mother.
Here are some of the headlines in local media:
The causes of this senseless tragedy are not hard to find. According
to the Ann Arbor News:
But as [Lisa] Radtke's future came together, police and
family members say her mother's life was unraveling.... Sharon Radtke,
56, had lost her job as a legal secretary in February and was having
trouble making ends meet. With the job went her health insurance and
ability to afford medication for depression that had been prescribed for
her a few years earlier.
[Sharon Radtke] suffered from depression and had taken
medication until her insurance ran out, and she couldn't afford the $200 a
month for the pills....
Here, in other words, we have a person with mental illness who was
apparently helped to maintain an even keel through medication. After the
job disappears, her life comes apart. Unmedicated, increasingly agitated
(e.g., "she was getting more devastated all the time"), and in distress
over the prospect of becoming homeless, she kills her beloved
I supppose technically Sharon Radtke might have been eligible for
Medicaid. But the devil is in the details, and poor people are served
slowly and badly. Continuity of medical care from private insurance to
Medicaid would be difficult under the best of circumstances, and
impossible for a person under emotional and financial stress.
Needless to say, this wouldn't have happened under the kind of
comprehensive health insurance system that exists in nearly every
industrialized country besides the U.S.
UM law student Kurt
Hunt has links to almost two dozen bloggers who wrote about their
memories of Lisa Radtke.
....Posted by Lawrence Kestenbaum —
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