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Mom’s and Prime Minister’s Questions

POSTED ON Mar 29th 2013 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Adult Beverages, Motherhood, Politics

From today’s Telegraph:

British mothers are called on by their children to answer more questions per hour than David Cameron does during Prime Minister’s Questions, averaging 23 to Cameron’s 22.

For the Americans, Questions to the Prime Minister, or PMQ’s, happen every Wednesday that Parliament is in session. The Prime Minister shows up in the House of Commons and gets peppered with questions by MP’s for half an hour. They are fun to watch and I’ve long wanted to import them to the US. Imagine the President having to stand in front of the House and answer questions from the opposition leader and any other member of the House. Not only would it require the President to have working mastery of the foundations of his policies and provide voters with a better understanding of those policies, but also, the questions asked might illuminate the character and competency, or lack thereof, of members of the House. Watch this PMQ scene from The Iron Lady,* and imagine the possibilities. (Of note, PMQ’s used to be more polite before the boys went after Thatcher. But anything goes when battling conservative women, anything.)

But I digress.

It seems that the UK Prime Minister, standing in front of the entire House of Commons gets fewer questions per hour than a typical stay at home mom (or dad). I can’t believe they took a survey on that, frankly. Any mom could have told them this (or that kids are the biggest driving distraction). In fact, the 23 to 22 questions/hour is too close to be true and makes me wonder if the survey counted repeat questions. As a friend mentioned, repeaters should at least double the mom average as kids, especially young ones, use repetition to learn, just like scientists, actually. ” I wonder if I get the same answer if I ask my question from the corner of the room? While mom is on the toilet? If I invert the subject and object? If I shout? If I whisper?…”

The comparison also fails to account for the fact that PMQ’s only happen once a week. Afterwards the PM can have his staff keep most things at bay while he has a drink in a quiet room to soothe his nerves. Better still, that staff can research and prep him on the answers. I get no lead time on—I kid you not, this was a real question from Calvin yesterday—’What was the most epic fail of the Illuminati in history?’ It was a test question, not a query. He had an answer and wanted to test my knowledge.

Those short fuses that you might have noticed that moms get at the end of the day? The post 5pm tweets that suddenly take on an exasperated tone and often mention adult beverages? We take  PMQ’s all day long.

 

*While searching for a good video clip of Thatcher during PMQ’s, more than once one of the top “Related Videos” was Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker.

17 Comments



  1. Heather said:

    I was fortunate enough to watch (you couldn’t hear) Question Period with Margaret Thatcher. The Opposition acted like a bunch of baying wolves. But Maggie did NOT waver. What a woman.

  2. Leslie Loftis said:

    I never got to PMQ’s while we were in London, not that Blair, Brown, or Cameron had Thatcher’s flair. BTW, I’m checking on the details because I thought it was done in the House of Commons, but the videos say the House of Lords.
    Tonight though, I’m having more mom PMQ fun, this time thanks to your comment about the Harrod Experiment. I didn’t know about the Don Johnson movie. Based on ari’s call for Lysol, I looked it up…while making dinner…when son can, and did, read the description while I was distracted. Due to friends with older brothers and bad information, we’ve recently given Calvin The Talk, so he understood the premise all too well. His reaction was, well, similar to ari’s but not anything he should repeat at school. I had to teach him a new phrase: “I’ll be in the hills with the rebels.” Versatile sentiment these days.
    Thanks you two.

  3. ari said:

    snicker:

    http://spectator.org/archives/2013/03/28/hillary-polygamy-polyamory-a2/1

    thank goodness it’s an April Fool’s Joke

  4. ari said:

    okay, from the earlier thread: Liz Jones- she’s for real? She really has no clue at all why people are not calling her? Who is she? She keeps alluding to fashion, power, editing, rock stars. She doesn’t mention doing any kindnesses for anyone- no Christmas cards sent out, no volunteering, no relations in good states of repair. The commenters all seem to know her, or know of her. Is that an artifact of British editing? Or is she small-ball- people who know her, will write in to her?

    The dinner at confirmation went off fabulously, and then the girls cleaned up thoroughly- sweeping, wiping down counters, putting things in containers and then into the fridge. I washed dishes, since that’s about the only thing I knew to do. I will say, they are all quite good advertisements for future wives. I will say fabulously, when what I meant was ” 30 minutes late” with nail-biting- 55 minutes from thawed, 1 hour, 40 minutes from frozen, for the lasagna. I arrived at church at, oh, 45 minutes before dinner was supposed to be served. They have a convection oven, which kept the kids from being sent home after cookies, soft-drinks and salad. and rolls. I did remember rolls.

    And, after serving them, I laid my head down on the table that the artsy girl in a black shirt was eating by herself, and began whining. She looked shocked- grownups don’t whine, in her world. I feel better knowing that the black shirt is just an affectation for art class. She was talking about Sea World, and how much she liked it. Normal, healthy, lovely. I knew her when she wore pink , and looked slightly intent and a bit lost most of the time.

  5. Leslie Loftis said:

    Liz Jones is for real. And she has no clue. Everyone seems to know her because she’s been a columnist at The Daily Mail for a long while and she is well known for over-the-top tone deaf writing. One of my “favorites” that I still intend to use, Mommy Bloggers Should Just Wear Burkas. I have more to say about LJ’s cherry picking of mummy bloggers, but Expat Mum dispatched her rather nicely.

  6. ari said:

    Okay, so looked her up some more, and poked around some more. Found an article about a lonely young boss who was crying out for a mentor. Which leads back to that Michelle Sandberg interview where she slags women MBA candidates: they keep asking about “what will this mean for me???” and “how do I get a mentor?” While the men were discussing real business,- ‘how does an e-commerce strategy translate across manufacturing platforms?” “Management strategies scaled up across the world?” and so on.

    Anyway, this young boss gets a job with “executive” in her title, and then creates this whole persona. She also desires a mentor. I’m so—–how do these people function? not just at work, but walking, breathing, chewing gum? She’s a boss. Ergo, she has two bits of experience. There are other people her age who are also bosses- or near enough. If she consciously goes out to meet them, formally or informally- each of their little two bits, added together, eventually reaches 100 bits of perfection. How can she not know this? And, she’d be part of the network of management that knows each other, and can refer each other when new opportunities come up. That’s pretty much the definition of an old boy network. It’s not some magical property of schools and dorms and stripey ties. It’s social decency.

    Anyway- you were asking about the “low- info party” bit. Austin had three busts and two booms. The people who remained in town were the ones who wouldn’t go home b/c they were smart and bored and wanted to stay in Austin. It was fairly easy to trip over extremely smart people obsessed about particular topics everywhere one went. Bruce Sterling, super-futurist visionary professor at some California uni, was just a guy in a black tee-shirt eating popcorn before the movie. The homely check-out clerk at Wal-mart is a bestselling jazz musician with a wild European following, working at Wal-mart to save enough money for the next album. Austin had low wages for years- I worked for a temp agency while pregnant, and I remember sitting outside the door of a recruiter , on the phone, saying “hey, people want to live in Austin. We pay them 25% less than anywhere else in the country, and they take it.” So an acquaintance who lived in a janitor’s closet and showered I’m not sure where, moved to Illinois, into an $86K starting+ bonus job- and yet, he wasn’t considered particularly brilliant.

    I think that’s part of why the University is so helpful to undergraduates now. They did a case study book- ” Building the Technopolis”- one of the big tenets was have a lot of young, half- degreed people doing low-wage jobs, so that when an innovation comes around, they can jump on it. That’s what happened during the tech boom, part one and two. Half my friends have half of a degree, but they are the smartest, oddest person, out of their small town. They don’t have warm, fuzzy memories about Baytown, for instance. Texas is the size of France, and Germany, thereabouts. The Renaissance, and the Englightenment, and the German Intellectual Renaissance- were one town in each country, where all the bright kids from the boonies were hanging around, trying to catch the next wave.

    Anyway, a few years ago, the Lege put in “top 10%” get to go to University. Well, since then, they’ve put in good dorms on campus, bired more tutors, built more bridge classes. It’s easier to live on campus, take classes, learn, and then leave. I think it’s on purpose- the grinds show up for four years and GO HOME. The Lege is high-fiving itself on how many graduate on time- but, again- they go home. They aren’t the mice that UTA wants to catch. The alumni association is doing all sorts of maneuvers to keep Austin and UTA home of the strange. Not Cali reprobate strange- innovator strange.

    Like, five bookstores closed on the Drag when the 10% classes came in. So, yeah, they are doing their classwork, but they aren’t doing anything not- expected of them. They aren’t changing the world. They aren’t getting excited about independent stuff. They are lab mice, not wild mice. It’s annoying, really.

    They are nice kids- really, really nice kids. We do ExploreUT each year, and the kids are adorable- but they aren’t stressed out crazy geniuses- which is what was around when I was there. I’d trust my kids with these people- not necessarily true, before. They’d make good employees. But that’s not what Austin cooked up before. Before that, Austin was the refuge for the people who dreamed up the Internet stuff, or SXSW, or, you know, even Roe vs Wade. It’s not popular- but it did change the world entirely- and it’s the only law like it in the world.

    My dad is really invested in being the smartest person he knows. He might have gotten over it, living in Houston, after his heart attack. But- I saw it in action. It’s boring. I’d rather be the person with the pocket-knife at the jousting match- I’m outclassed, but it’s way more interesting, all around. I’m not saying I suck- I’m over my head on purpose, most of the time- it’s about where I’m comfortable. I like being around people who are really, really good at what they do. It’s easy to do, in Austin. Or was, I don’t know- I’ve got kids. They do all the talking, these days.

    That’s also why we may leave Austin. They bought into that playbook you linked to – ‘the creative class’- thing, with the bike paths? The city manager who oversaw the busts, and not just the booms- retired. They hired some guy from California. He’s going on a spending spree, bond-fund spree. Unreal. Like he thinks “this time, it’ll work.” They also hired a Cali police chief, and a school superintendent from a failing students/ high-spending admin county. What made Austin work was that the loonies could only run non-profits, not the gov’t. Even the hippy mayors could count, before now. Even Will Wynn was hard-nosed about financial matters. The math teacher at the middle school totally had long hair and played frisbee golf, but he was crazy-demanding. He’d yell at the parents- not just the kids- for more work.

    They have this influx of people from Cali, more noticeable in the last six months. They all look like they don’t have bones. They look like they want to cry, all the time. Like refugees, not like pioneers. It’s sad.

  7. Leslie Loftis said:

    1. How do the young women executives not know about networking and opportunity? Because they often need to label the mentoring. It has to be a woman mentor. And once they focus on the sex of their mentor rather than the knowledge of their mentor, well then we get women looking for a mentor rather than business strategy. Look at the Meyer and her office nursery drama. Meyer is thinking of saving Yahoo (or at least thinks she is; men in her position wouldn’t ask for an office nursery, they’d have their wife take care of the child at home and would just miss a lot of the early years; Meyer wants it both ways, and so she will probably learn the truth the hard way). Meyer’s decisions focus on Yahoo!, but women are upset because she’s not serving the sisterhood. For them, it isn’t about the actual business, which is why they will never reach the parity they seek. They’ll suck the company dry trying to get there.
    2. For anyone else, the “low-info party” refers to an email discussion about housewives and non-uni people getting labeled as the low-info party when that is often the opposite of the truth. Ari, the half-degreed point ties in well with all of Instapundit’s points about the higher education bubble. Attaining the piece of paper, these days, is more about conforming, or even running off the debt cliff like a bunch of lemurs. Many get the degree, just go through the motions, to win higher earning power that increasingly doesn’t materialize. Whereas, the ones who are brave enough to opt out, to continue to educate themselves, those are the people with the independent disposition to innovate as the world changes. It’s cliche now, but Bill Gates was just such a dropout. In fact, someone had a list of top dropouts. The top three were: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Frank Lloyd Wright. It might take a second for the “wow” to sink in.
    3. Regarding Austin and the hipster culture (link here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/20/richard-florida-concedes-the-limits-of-the-creative-class.html), Austin, I know.”This time, it’ll work,” the battle cry of progressives. It amuses me, in a sad sort of way, when progressives think they are so cool and sophisticated even though they are as naive and gullible as people come, refusing to either learn what has come before or willfully ignoring history to make it work, “this time.”

  8. ari said:

    oh, SOS- the Save Our Springs ordinance. Which sounds local, right? Well, the main activists were also messing up Jim Bob Moffatt’s company in Irian Jaya, halfway around the world- grad students, under-grads and drop-outs bankrupted Freeport McMoran, or at least ham-strung it. Jim-Bob was in New Orleans, and about all New Orleans could do was shun him politely. He didn’t mind. The federal gov’t thought mining was great. The state legislature wrote laws specifically to jack up Austin, so we’d cave on environmental stuff.

    So it was possible to just get lunch at the Union between classes and sit at a table next to scruffy- from poverty, not squalor- students talking to some native someone or other, plotting how to preserve natural beauty, rather than serve a shoddily run corporation. I can’t claim to be cool- I wasn’t involved, but it was near. Or, the student who pulled a GDR flag out of his backpack- he’d just gotten back, and the wall had fallen. He wasn’t mourning the demise of a people’s paradise- he was happy for freedom. But- he’d been there. He wasn’t crouched in his ‘holler waiting for the com’niss to come over the hill.

    The Occupy stuff? Squalidly filthy, smelly, ignorant and ineffective? That’s contemptible. And yet, somehow, that was taken seriously? They’re jokes. Mostly, the ineffective dumbness gets me. And the moral rot. Texas is mostly conservative- that Atlantic article ” I got married young” was by a religious Texan- so most kids are coming from intact families. Gossip still stings. I mean, there was a student teacher at the kids’ elementary school. She told the class she wasn’t married to the baby’s daddy. The kids came home and told their parents- and then the parents showed up and told the principal that she wasn’t welcome at the school. They told her to her face, too.

    The Occupy Austin crowd mostly impressed me as kids who would have flunked out their first semester, back then. UTA worked to flunk 1/3 of the freshman and sophomore classes each year. They only quit when an actuarial firm said those 1/3 wouldn’t donate to the U that flunked them. They’d be tetchy about failure. The misery was all around- crowded dorms, terrible food, no tutoring, sneering professors, apartments in unsafe neighborhoods, low-paid jobs, at best, libraries with short hours, expensive study guides, textbooks written at a higher level of grammar than college students- on purpose!-they’d admit it!

  9. ari said:

    If I knew how to go through the motions (which ones? which ones are the right ones?) to get a degree, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t be in a financial panic- I’d get a degree. But I don’t know either of those things. My dad is brilliant- the only Nat’l Merit from his entire state, well-connected, well-degreed, and he was in thrall to debt payments for college his entire adult life. It would be fantastically nice to be qualified to apply for some jobs that require degrees. And to not have to sort of show that I’m not a complete retard, on a regular basis. A UTA p-chem BS would do that. I could be mouth-breathingly ignorant about how people work, and I’d still get a pass. It’s how BEhrenreich works- she’s a bench scientist, not an ahistorical whack-job, for instance.

    and, again, that “which motion”? I mean, I try. I was very spoiled very early- my freshman year, every teacher had written the research reports that the textbook was based on, or wrote the textbook. Even when I would take a class at community college- the instructor would be a grad student at UTA, writing a textbook. I went to UNO for a semester. It was a disaster. The professors were claiming they “knew the textbook.” Well, I knew the textbook author and was likely a beta- reader. The last round, when I finally gave up, the instructor at ACC, of all places, assigned a story, and asked for the theme. Well, I know the author- and he said the theme was “X.” I wrote that down, and the instructor told me I was writing nonsense. The author was trying to get his kid into a playgroup I’d started- it’s not that hard, just show up- but he was trying to get wife #2?#3#4? to take the kid- to a playgroup that is hard to explain- and an instructor telling me what a saintly, unworldly, guy this was really did not fly. Plain contradicting the author was just the icing on the cake.

    My friend had to explain that one is supposed to regurgitate the professor’s lecture on tests, not go do one’s own research, and then argue with source cites, even in English, even if the professor is……….you can fill in uncomplimentary words here…….I saw the “hide-bound” “regressive” linguistics texts my high-school friend marched through to pass a linguistics class. They actually learned those sound marks- the ones in dictionaries. They learned the map of where languages were- where they started, how they moved- all sorts of things. Of course, the book was linen-bound, foxed, old, dusty- but it had real information. I’d study that book, happily, and take what honest grade I could get- it had real information. When I went to take the same class at UTA, there was a trendy paperbound book with a trendy grad student saying ‘all linguistic pronouncements are equally valid’- and that things like diagramming sentences is retrograde. It’s really hard to memorize things that so vibrantly contradict reality, lived in the real world, and that cost $2,000- to hear and memorize. I mean, honestly, a kid spouting ebonics is not going to get a good job, anywhere. He might not even get a bad job. Diagramming sentences is learning the structure of communication, and it’s pretty much why UTA computer grad students earn 50% more than grads of the school right down the street- they can analyze and structure what they are doing, while the others are just piling up code. It’s the difference between architects and master-builders, vs the guy who plasters the wall.

    The engineering department, for a very long while, strongly advised its undergraduates to take math classes at ACC, to avoid that sort of nonsense. They also didn’t really encourage taking liberal arts classes until senior year, so you could, and I quote ” sleep through them.” The chem department said to put them off until senior year, so that they’d provide comic relief while you were doing your overnight labs, and really studying chem. They ranked the lib arts requirements at about Garfield – but one received credit for it. This is the department that timed its coffee breaks to stand and watch the women leaving the home ec building, because they were pretty, and they wore mini-skirts. None of them ever walked outside, and said hello to these gazelles of desire.

    The playgroup started when I met a mom online. She invited someone, and then wrote about it, and then someone else read about it, and advised a friend to show up, and so on and so forth until there were about 40+ mothers showing up once a week. They all tended to be high-flyers, which is why a mom would be intimidated- I’d be intimidated, six months in- and it didn’t have a manifesto, so it wasn’t easy to recruit- no ” sisters are doing it” ‘moms’n’god’ “cutesykidgroupw/ hr bylaws.” A few of the moms are writers, so I still bump into references to some birthday party my kids attended, in national magazines.

  10. Leslie Loftis said:

    Your chatting with a B/C student largely because I stunk at going though the motions. I once tried towing the professor’s line in a paper just for the practice of arguing the other side. Other than that, I went though the minimum of motions, reading the assignment but often not even running spell check on my papers. Now I wish I had done that if only to have sharpened my self editing skills. I devoured books when I left college because there was so much college didn’t teach. If I could go back an do it all again, I would have started my self study while still in school. It was almost a complete waste, but for getting me into law school, which I loved.
    Anyway, Hanson today, h/t The Transom:
    Nearly every week, I receive a letter from a former student seeking help in finding a job. The common theme is a sense that something in their education went terribly wrong. Most fear that their present indebtedness is unsustainable and that their degrees are almost superfluous in today’s economy. There is also a vague resentment that no one in the self-interested university honestly apprised them of the odds stacked against them….

    Those over 50, who mostly run the nation, have popularized something called “internship,” a non-paid or low-paid apprenticeship that might or might not eventually lead to employment, but that typically does not even pay the room and board of the worker in question. Fifty years ago such “jobs” would have been the source of labor unrest, as thousands hit the streets to argue that they were little more than indentured serfs, and their employers virtual feudal lords. Yet few complain today because these interns are largely middle class, and they have been told that obedience and subservience are just the sorts of traits that employers appreciate. In today’s liberal legal universe, a six-figure-salaried senior female executive can sue for vast sums over a sexist remark (something akin to the president’s recent quip that California’s attorney general was the best-looking such officeholder in the nation), while a penniless student or recent graduate who labors for free has no legal recourse.

    Rest here

  11. Vesta Vayne said:

    I had a comment on the post and got completely sidetracked by all the Austin/Cali stuff in the comment thread. I live in SoCal and we have a place in Austin – we aren’t all bad, and most of us have bones. I had to laugh though, it made me think of my dad, who lives in Georgetown. He gets so frustrated with politics in Austin, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him say “Well that wouldn’t fly in Williamson County!”

    Anyway, I would love to watch our president field unscripted questions every week. Can you imagine? It would be like getting fresh veggies after years and years of nothing but canned goods.

  12. Leslie Loftis said:

    Sidetracking, or tangental comment threads–I like them. Obviously.
    Re: your dad, it’s not just Williamson County. Raised, incredulous eyebrows when looking at Austin, it’s a state wide tic. Keep Austin Weird is their answer. (There’s also keep Dallas Pretentious. I keep toying with Keep Houston Working or just Keep Houston, but they aren’t quite right.)
    Fresh veggies v. canned goods, exactly. And ari and I have a few fave haunts. Tell us when you are in town. With advance notice I can probably drive over, especially next fall when all children start elementary. I’m gaining 2 hours a morning just losing the nursery dropoff.

  13. ari said:

    Oh, gosh, Wilco? Do you show up at holidays? Would you show up and Leslie could drive up, and there’d be coffee, and good enough weather, and it would be great?

    People splashed out of New Orleans by Katrina flooding looked less disoriented than the recent Cali immigrants. I’m not slagging all Cali immigrants- I’m saying that in the last six months- they don’t look right, they don’t sound right, and any other description. Seriously, even the employed ones at the local Costco sound like they are about to start crying right then, right there, as they are swiping groceries across the laser scanner. So, they are more functional human beings- they can read, they can count, they are employed, they could probably pass a drug test- but they all sound like they’ve just gotten up off the floor after being punched as hard as can be. The Katrina refugees that we got in Austin were illiterate pot-smoking, public- assistance types with few real-world skills. It’s saying something that the Cali refugees sound worse off than the New Orleans ones. I’ve seen both.

    As for kids: look, they are you, who is your favorite person, and your spouse, who is your favorite other person, shaken up, stirred, mixed, cooked and up and running around like a gingerbread man. If that doesn’t sound interesting, then you probably don’t want kids. And, you are in Cali- that’s not enough concrete to really get into kids as a hobby, according to City Journal. I had kids in a small apartment, with no backyard. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, ever.

  14. ari said:

    In case you were wondering, no, Santa does not load up the sleigh for one day. I’m riding around with the big box of mailed femininist awesomeness. It’s still in the box, still taped up, and it is like riding around with Christmas back there. I am waiting with anticipa-pa-pa-pation for Leslie to get here, to open up said box of awesome, from Heather, who is really Nutso- Super-Generous, like, unbelievably Generous.

    It’s a happy anticipation!

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