April 26, 2013
Crisis: On "American Averages" - 3

1.  "Everything We Do in the Bathroom"
2.  "Family Life"
3.  "Work Life"
About ME/CFS


Yesterday, I wrote about why I regard the book "American Averages" a good book, and today there is about a third more quotations and citations, with my comments interspersed.

Please note that most of the time I am quoting only a part, sometimes a small part, from the section I quote from.

And there also is an endnote, in which I explain there is to be one more.

1. "Everything We Do in the Bathroom"

First, a little about the bathroom. I do not know how stable this is over time, but would guess most of it is fairly stable.
Give us this day our daily bath. One third of the water used by the average American household is for bathing. Ninety-eight per cent of adult Americans bathes at least 2 or 3 times a week.
My guess is that the proportions increased some, but not much.
Shower vs. baths. Given a choice, 4 men in 5 usually take baths. Among women, half baths, half shower.
This is, in fact, a considerable difference between men and women. (And one thing that makes this harder to compare with Europeans is that there are fewer baths there.)
Henry, I need the bathroom! Most people who take showers say they're out of the shower within 10 minutes.
Personally, I take some 15 minutes, and do it every day.
Boy, girl, rubber duck. (..) After age 5, youngsters generally take baths only with siblings of their own sex.
And to understand this better, below age 5 this is not so. My guess is that at that young an age children are not much interested in sexual differences.
We almost left this stuff out of our nice, family book. (..) A child of 8 to 14 years old tinkles 1 3/4 to 3 pints a day. (..)
As you get old, you pee a little less. (..)
  The average child defecates from 2 to 5 ounces  a day. An adult on an mixed diet gets rid of 2 to 9 ounces. The typical vegetarian defecates 13 ounces a day (..)
If that holds, I am still not an old person.
Sure it's unnatural, but men like it. Of every 100 women 15 or older, 84 shave their armpits and 68 shave their legs. (..) Of every 100 women between 15 and 44, 98 shave; of every 100 women 45 or older, 70 shave.
This is a bit odd, indeed. Also, at this rate this is probably something women do to look like a woman.
Twenty weeks before the mirror. The average man has 15,000 whiskers on his face, according to Today's Health Magazine; 30,000 according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In either case, he spends about 10 minutes a day shaving. That's 6 hours a year, or, for the man who shaves 55 years, a lifetime total of 3,300 hours - 138 days.
The main reason to extract this - and contrast the pictures that were taken in the second half of the 19th Century! - is that having a beard is not being popular. Also, it's only since the arrival of the safety razor - the Gillettes - circa 1900, that this became quite feasible.

2. Family Life

Next, the first of two quite large sections - note that in the original, the Family Life takes 41 pages, and the Work Life 50 pages: You really get mere snippets.
Love pays off. (..) the wives most dissatisfied with their marriages were those who married for other reasons than love.
I am quite willing to believe it. Then again, as we will see, love is not a very certain guarantee either.  
Roomy houses. The typical American has 2 rooms for every person. That gives us the most spacious accomodation in the world.
Quite so.
Family size. The average American family consis of a husband, a wife and 1 kid under 18. It's been that way for years.
Again, I am quite willing to believe it, though I think this is down from when I was a kid, in the 1950ies, and it will probably be down a little more.
Where the time goes. Here is a composite day of the average employed person in America.
                                        Employed men  Employed women
At the main job                        6 hrs, 7 min      4 hrs, 45 min
Hanging around the workplace            19 min              14 min
Commuting                                    42 min             30 min

Cooking                                          8 min             48 min
Doing the laundry                              2 min            27 min
Other household chores                     29 min     1 hr., 26 min
Taking care of the kids                     12 min             29 min
Eating                                   1 hr., 29 min     1 hr., 12 min
Sleeping                                7 hrs, 43 min    7 hrs, 47 min
Personal care                                  59 min    1 hr., 17 min
Study                                             9 min             5 min
Religion                                          7 min             9 min
Here I have only listed a choice, from a considerably wider set. I note that "Hanging around the workplace" is rather different from "goofing off" (or - more likely - there is no consistency) and I note especially the times given to "Study" and "Religion".
Time alone. The average working man or woman spends six hours alone on the typical work day. The average house wife spends 6 hours, 40 minutes alone. (..)
  Working men spend less than 3 hours with their families, on average, and only half an hour alone with their kids. They spend over four hours with their coworkers.
   Working women spend an hour with the children, and housewives spend almost 3 1/2 hours alone with the kids.
In brief, adults spend a lot less time with and on children than children think, or at least than this child thought (though I think this is the typical reaction).
Whom we talk to. When asked to recall the interesting conversations they had had the day before, married people mentioned only a third as many with their spouses as with other people (..)
  Women mentioned interesting conversations with their children just as often as with their husbands.
   People who work talk mostly with their colleagues.
My reason  to select this is mainly to stress the awfulness of it: Your Significant Other has little of interest to say, and the same holds for your colleagues:
What we talk about. Women talk more about other people than anything else. (..)
  Working men talk about work more than anything else (..)
  The news? Rarely talked about.
  Between 40 and 60 percent of the respondents could not recall a single interesting conversation with anyone on the day before.
I agree most of my colleagues were not very interesting, but even so... but then my memory might be better. Or I may have had somewhat more interesting jobs.
Who really cares for the kids? Eighty per cent of the time, Mom does. (..)
  Dad is with the kid only half as much. But only 29 per cent of mothers said that they had more helping from him.
My guess is that this is stil more or less the same. (And see Custody.)
How our lives changed. The average American eats faster than his parents of grandparents. He or she spends less time doing housework. He or she travels more, spends more time with the kids. He or she spends less time reading the paper and magazines and books, and less time just visiting. (..)
  Television, by far, was the biggest instrument of change in family patterns.
And this has "progressed": By and large, the TV is most to most. (I don't have a TV since 1970, but then I must be very odd.)
Portraits. In an average year, every other American poses for his portrait. For every portrait shot of fathers posing alone, there are 34 of portraits made of their daughters posing alone.
Calculating back that is (Father : Daughter) = (1 : 17) personal pictures per year. I have no idea on the present frequencies, which are bound to be much higher, but the tendency of proportionality is very probably much more similar.
Paymistress. In 2 out of 3 homes in the United States, the wife pays the bills.
As my parents had it, in the 1950ies.
A nation of castle owners. Seven out of 10 families in the United States own their homes.
This is quite unlike as it is in Europe, and indeed renting an appartment is less expensive. Also, at least part of the existence of the current crisis is due to the existence of debts on mortgages.
Don't call me; I'll call you. One Bell System subscriber in 5 has an unlisted phone number.
As in fact I am, I think nearly all my adult life.
Parents are a sour bunch.  (..) the average childless couple is healthier and happier than the average couple with children. The couple whose children have grown up is happier than the couple still raising kids (..)
As indeed I am willing to believe - but then again, the lives are rather different.
Why some houses smell like lemon groves. Two thirds of Americans use air refreshers (..)
A habit that - outside of toilets - I have always thought pretty sick.
The older wife. Fourteen wives in 100 are older than their husband.
Meaning 86 out of 100 are as old or are (most probably) younger. I think this is still the case, and I find it a bit odd.
Good night, dear. Good morning, dear. The average American husband and wife converse with one another 20 minutes a week (..)
The left out bit refers this to the Washington Post, but in any case most husbands and wives do not have much to say to each other. Which is at least a bit odd.
They call them battered wives. One of every 26 American wives is beaten by her husband, at least occasionally.
I have no idea how this is at the moment, though I guess it is at least as bad.
Hi, dear. Eighty-five per cent of married couples say their marriage has worked out OK.
Well, OK... but then there is this, which only grew worse:
100 women, 51 divorces. (..) if current trends hold, for every 100 women now in their 20s who marry
      38 will get divorced
      29 of the divorcees will remarry
      13 of these will get redivorced.
The brief summary is that your marriage - especially your first - is, more likely than not, to go to pieces, badly.
Custody. In divorces, Mom gets the kids 9 times out of 10.
This is still the same.

3. Work Life

Here are selections from 50 more pages:
The raw numbers. Of an average bunch opf 100 Americans, 25 males and 16 females work. Of the 59 who don't work, 27 are 15 or younger, 9 are 65 or older, and 23 are between 16 and 64.
Which means 23 percent do not work? Well, yes... but then quite a few of them are women, and also a part is in university or college. And these days, apart from the influence of the crisis, more women work.

Then again, here is something that at least improved:
Full-time work; half-time pay. Full-time women workers earn, on average, 57 per cent of what full-time men workers earn.
The situation is not as bad as it was... is about the best that can be said about it.
Time to change jobs. In 1978, the average American worker had been on the same job for 3,6 years, down from 4,6 years in 1963.
I have no idea how this is now.
Shorter hours. The average work week in the United States declined from 60 to 41 hours in the first half of this century, but has declined more slower since then.
I think about 3 to 5 hours less, but then women work much more, and the pay has not risen much at all, so over all - it would seem - the situation hasn't improved.
Cops. There is 1 policeman in the United States for every 200 people.
That's rather a lot.
Housework. The average family in America spends 10.5 hours a day, 7 days a week, doing house work - everything from giving Fido a bath to writing a check to Visa.
Take care to notice this is the family, that on average consists of 3 persons.
It's a good job, except for the work. The average house wife says the best thing about it is that she's her own boss, and the worst thing about it is the work involved.
Yes...BUT (1) your wage-labor job will be a menial job, in 19 out of 20 cases, and (2) you will have someone else as a boss, and (3) who will be directing you to do things you do not want to do.

In brief, I am against making more women into wage-slaves because this is what is supposed to be good for them.

Now for some better news:
Less work and more pay. The average American man works 41.1 years of his life, a little less than he used to, and jas 28,1 years of life without work. The average American woman works 22,9 years, a good deal more than she used to, but still has 38,7 years without a job. (..)
Everyone gets more days off. Nowadays, the average American works only 40 per cent of all the days of his or her life. In 1925, it was 60 per cent.
Note this is really quite a lot better.
Working free. One American in 4 over age 13 does some volunteer work. In the course of a year their free labor is the equivalent of 3.5 million people working fuill time.
Actually, this wasn't much, and is bound to be less.
The boss made me do it. One of every 4 working American says that he or she has to do things that go against his or her conscience.
Personally, I'd phrase this differently: 1 in 4 indicates that they do things for pay that they rather would not do without pay. (That is, even now my guess is that people are, by and large, not living as slaves do. Then again, I agree there is a lot of leverage.)
Their own boss. In 1948, 19 per cent of American workers were self-employed (..) In 11978, only 8 per cent were self-employed  (..).
This I consider a set-back.
An artists' work, if you can get it. Only 1 stage actor in 20, 1 movie actor in 17, and 1 popular musician in 9 can find enough gigs to work full-time at her or his profession.
This suggests something else, that also seems to be the case: Artists also are people who much crave applause.
I'd prefer a quiet, air-conditioned office with a nice view.
One working American in 3 finds the conditions at work unpleasant.
I think this still is the case, or is worse.
The pay is good at city halls. (..) for many jobs, city governments were far and away the most generous.
And it is the same in Holland: better pay, better pensions, and more perks.
Goofing off. The average American worker goofs off for 45 minutes a day - nearly 10 per cent of his or her time at work.
(..) Workers earning over $ 1000 a month waste twice as much as those earning a quarter as much.
As I have pointed out - see Where the time goes - there is a not so minor inconsistency. Then again, this is to be expected.
Inventors are optimists. (..) the chances that an inventor who checks a patent will make money fro0m his idea are betwen 1 in 1, 000 and 1 in 10,000.
As with artists, there seems to be an additional incentive to make an artist or inventor, apart from some talent...
Longer retirements. In 1940, the average man (..) enjoy 5 years, 8 months of retirement.
  By 1970, the average man (..) could look forward to 2 1/2 more years of retirement.
Indeed, and the crazy thing is that these days they are, quite radically also, downgrading this, by increasing the pensionable age.

And in this context, consider the following prediction:

Three days of a week. The average American may be down to a 4-day workweek by about 1990, at least in major industries.
   So says Delphi Forecast, which based its predictions on forecasts of industrial experts.
The reason this did not happen, is mostly ideological - as if (much!) more work will improve this. (No, it will not.)
Just treat me like him. One woman out of every 9 feels discriminated against at work. Within that group, only a third consider it a big problem.
In fact, these are numbers based on the 1970ies, since when rather a lot got changed.
I'm too smart for this. One of every 3 workers feels overeducated for his or her job.
Again, I have no idea whether this is the same.
Moonlighters. One average, 5 out of every 100 workers have a second job. That rate hasn't changed much over the years.
In fact, this changed rather a lot, it seems, in considerable part for ideological reasons.
The bachelor works too. One of every 3 American workers is single.
I included this to draw attention to the class of bachelors. I think there are more, but I also think more of them in fact live together.
Work and the immigrant. The Labor Department says the average immigrant to America catches up with the earnings of native-born workers within 13 or 14 years, and from then out-earns the native-born American.
  "These ideas are nor surprising," says a government report, "given the fact that many immigrants have already demonstrated unusual courage, motivation and energy simply by moving to a strange new homeland.

Finally, I excerpted this because I said so already in 1970, though I also agree the whole category of immigrants has been created out of falsified motives in Europe.

Endnote: Actually, this is all I could do today. I really walked too much yesterday. I'll have to see how it is tomorrow, though for the moment I am satisfied I could do this much.

So let me once more reiterate why I do this:

(1) I want to have a fair summary of the conditions of life I grew up in, more or less, for they are considerably more similar than dissimilar to those of the US, and also

(2) to have a fairly stable background of basic facts of my life, and the life of most other persons in Western Europe and the US,

at least for the years from 1968-2008, or from 1971-2001, roughly, as a sort of backdrop of many things I have been saying in this Nederlog, that now has been going on more or less continuously from 2004 onwards, and is, therefore, in its tenth year now.

And as I have been saying and explaining, "American Averages" does this quite well for me, also considering that it is in fact mostly about the 1970ies, that more or less continued, at least till 2001, and possibly till 2008, when the crisis started.

In any case, I do not know a better book that did this, and there is to follow at least one more excerpt from the last third.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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