Monday, December 14, 2009

Smells Like Good Parenting

A study about how clean smells promote moral behavior has been making the news lately. The study showed that in the presence of clean scents (like Citrus Windex), people are more likely to be fair and kind. This piece of research, along with much other situationist social psychology, raises interesting questions about freedom, our understanding of ourselves, and ethics. But to my (limited) knowledge situationist findings have not been fully exploited in the child-rearing realm.

One of our jobs as parents is to do what we can to help our children be good. A lot of parents worry about being too lax or too strict when it comes to their kids' bad behavior. We ask ourselves: Should I spank? Should I give the kids a time-out? Should I just ignore the bad behavior? Should I let them out of the dungeon? And so on. It really can be a puzzle as to what the best strategy is (check out this helpful menu of options).

But wouldn't it be great if we could stop bad behavior before it starts? Does situationism hold out that promise? If we make the air smell clean, paint the walls blue, hide dimes in strategic locations around the house, flash subliminal messages of kindness various times throughout the day, etc., and all of this has salutory effects, have we thereby improved our parenting?

One objection is that it is manipulative, but I just don't know how strong an objection that is here. Not all manipulation is objectionable. The host of a party will do a lot to encourage festivity at the party, such as decorating, adjusting the lights, putting on music, etc. That seems alright. Furthermore, it seems like parenting by necessity involves a lot of manipulation, at least in the technical sense, insofar as parents try to get arational beings to "choose" in the way parents want them to (e.g., you rub your tummy and say "ooooh, this mashed squash tastes so yummy yummy don't you want some? Here comes the airplane, open the hangar door!").

Another objection is that the effects won't last. You'll get good behavior when the situationist stimuli is fresh, but in the long run we won't have made our kids good. Again, I don't know about this. Isn't there something to be said about the old Arisotelian idea of becoming good by doing good? I suppose that in the end that is an empirical question. On a related note, I'd add that there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with getting kids to do good things for not-so-right reasons (such as bribing them to come to the ballet with a promise of ice cream afterwards), with the aim of them eventually doing these things for the right reasons (coming to the ballet because they have learned that it is beautiful).

Perhaps I am giving away my million dollar idea, but with a bit more research and some marketing, perhaps one day we will be purchasing "Good Behavior in a Box TM" (dimes not included). Is that something we should be looking forward to? Of course, how you answer that question may depend on whether your kids are behaving today, along with other aspects of your situation.

For more on situationism, see The Situationist blog. If you need to relax, just stare at this.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

That Time of the Year

It's that time of the year when kids start asking their parents whether Santa is real, and parents start seeking out advice on this matter. This blog hasn't seen much activity recently (sorry), but I just received an interesting comment on an old post about lying that illustrates how parents' use of lies to create a magical world for their child can really be frustrating to the child, and can interfere in genuine closeness in the relationship the child has with his or her parents. Read the comment here.

UPDATE (12/21/09): The folks at PEA Soup have taken up the discussion of the Ethics of Santa.

FURTHER UPDATE (12/27/09): Are you kidding me? Some kids just do not ask this question.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Sorry about the long break between posts. Philosophy Dad has been busy with philosophy and with being a dad, and hasn't had much time for blogging. I hope to pick up the pace again soon. But in the meanwhile... I came across a recent review of a book on ethics and metaphysics. This is a combination of topics that I've always been interested in, as I don't quite buy Rawls's "independence of moral theory" argument (though perhaps some experimental philosophy like this piece will turn me around on that). In any event, I was reminded of an animated video I saw a while back that cleverly combines the topics. Searching for this video, I remembered that it was called "To Be." A side note here folks: if you want people to be able to find your stuff on the Internet, don't give it a title consisting solely of two of the most frequently used words in the English language. I mean really.

Well, I finally found the video. Cartoons can be a fun way to share complicated philosophical ideas with kids. This one has to do with the question of personal identity over time. That is, in virtue of what are you the same person you were ten years ago, or when you were a child, or when you were born? Of course, your qualities have changed since then (you're taller, you don't think vinegar is gross, you only pick your nose in private, etc.) But you are in a fundamental sense one and the same person: we wouldn't be mistaken in saying that you are older today than you were last year. There's much more here. A lot of work in this area involves fun thought experiments involving brain transplants, fission, and teletransportation.

The cartoon, by animator John Weldon, makes use of the teletransportation idea in an amusing and effective way. But be warned: small kids may find it a bit frightening.

Here it is:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Five Year Old Refutes Plato

Plato famously held that no one intentionally and knowingly acts wrongly. People do act wrongly, Plato knew, but such acts were always the result of ignorance of the good. If people knew what was good, they would act rightly. For Plato, there was no such thing as akrasia.

#1 is five years old. Like all five year olds, he is perfectly behaved... for a few minutes each day. After one bout of misbehavior involving pushing his younger brother we had a little chat.

PD: "Now was that the right thing to do?"
#1: "No."
PD: "Do you know what the right thing to do was?"
#1: "Yes I know. Not push him."
PD: "That's right. So if you knew what was the right thing to do, why did you push your brother?"
#1: Because I wanted to.

I suspect the Platonists are not convinced.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Every once in a while I'll plug a favorite children's book that makes for a good discussion of an interesting idea. I suppose it is appropriate that today's book post follows a post on what everyone is doing, for it is about not doing what everyone is doing.

Folks, let me introduce you to The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. This book follows the remodeling exploits of one Mr. Plumbean, who is the victim of a seagull who drops an open can of orange paint on his house, leaving the eponymous splot on his roof. His neighbors consider Mr. Plumbean rather unlucky. Perhaps, unlike your blogger, they have not personally known the pleasure of seagulls dropping other things from the sky, and having such things land on their heads, but I suppose that is beside the point.

Mr. Plumbean lives in a neighborhood that looks like its homeowner's association got its training under Mao. All the houses look the same. I once lived in a homeowner's association. Mine was comparatively liberal. For instance, it would allow us to paint our homes any color we wanted, so long as that color was some shade of beige. Anyway, Mr. Plumbean's neighbors become increasingly frustrated with his failure to de-splotify his house. The splot doesn't match his house, and it makes their "neat street" not-so-neat, they complain. Mr. Plumbean says he'll do something about it, and boy does he. By the time he is done, his house looks like the aesthetic love child of Peter Max and Jimmy Buffet.

During and after Plumbean's remodeling, one by one his neighbors have a sit-down with him to convince him to see things from the neighborhood's point of view, and implore him to conform to the neat look of the street. Somehow Plumbean turns the tables on them, and the next thing you know, those same neighbors are creating the houses that look like the houses of their dreams. My dream house isn't among them (alternative sketch here) but that is okay. I guess I have weird dreams.

Mr. Plumbean's tale is that of an individualist liberating himself from the shackles of conformity, and showing others that they can do so, too. Anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of a zoning board will love it. Yet I suspect that there are a few folks out there who might bristle at Plumbean's reckless disregard for his neighbors wishes, or at least their property values. (This was someone's dream, after all.) Should Plumbean be allowed to build his house any old way? What about the pet alligator on the front lawn? Plumbean is clearly the hero here. But that doesn't mean we can't use the book to have a conversation with our kids about whether being oneself just means doing what one wants to do (it doesn't), and whether certain contexts are just not right for self-expression--even if we cheer when Plumbean has succeeded in turning his freakishly neat street into a neatly freakish one.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


How many times have you told your kid not to do something by asking, “What if everyone did that?” You know, something along the lines of “No, you may not pick a flower from the garden in the park,” or “No, you may not leave your empty juice box on the sidewalk,” or “No, you may not repackage subprime mortgage backed securities as AAA-rated CDOs” – What if everyone did that? The point of this question is to convey to your child that unless everyone could do the act in question, the act shouldn’t be done. Call this the universalistic prohibition.

Now how many times has your child tried to persuade you to allow her to do something by appealing to the fact that everyone is doing it? “Can’t I go to the party? Everyone is going” or “Come on! Everyone else’s parents let them have one!” Of course, this is a practical version of the
bandwagon fallacy. Call it the bandwagon appeal. The bandwagon appeal usually fails to move parents. The thing is, it is the logical response to what kids hear from parents quite often, namely, the universalistic prohibition. After all, if everyone is doing X, then everyone could do X. And if everyone could do X, then the condition laid out by the universalistic prohibition is met.

What is the typical parental response to the bandwagon appeal? Perhaps something like the following: “And if everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?” Here, the idea is that one shouldn’t do something just because everyone else is doing it. If everyone is doing the act, we cannot infer that the act is permissible. Yet with the universalistic prohibition we are saying that we can infer from everyone doing an act that the act is permissible. So are we contradicting ourselves?

No, for two reasons. (Boring paragraph warning.) The first, I think, is that parents intend for the universalistic prohibition to set out just one of several conditions a potential act must meet before it is permissible. So, to show that everyone is doing X is only to show that doing X meets only one, but not all, of the necessary conditions for a permissible act. Another condition might be, for example, that X does not contradict the family’s values, or that X is "age appropriate," etc. The second is that when parents set forth the universalistic prohibition, it is usually not in the Kantian sense (of whether the aim of the act is realizable in a world in which everyone acts in the same way), but more along the lines of negative universal consequentialism, that is, that one should act only in ways that wouldn’t have awful results if everyone did it. When a child says that everyone is doing X, that is compatible with the results of everyone doing X being truly awful, in which case the universal prohibition would not actually be met.

Even though parents are not contradicting themselves here, that doesn’t mean they aren’t making a mistake. Indeed, it may be that the kids are more right than the parents. For it’s unclear that universalization is even a necessary condition for the permissibility of an act. If everyone wanted to become a professional philosopher that would be awful. And not just awfully annoying. We would all die. Well, we’ll all die anyway, but we would die a lot sooner, since there would be no farmers, doctors, police, or air conditioning technicians. Nonetheless, we'd all agree that it is permissible to become a professional philosopher (except parents who insist on business school for Jr.)

Further, if there is anything to that whole Wisdom of Crowds idea, or more sophisticated arguments about disagreement, the kids may be onto something when they alert us to what everyone else is doing.

My kids, though, are still not getting a PlayStation.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Why do humans sleep? Scientists may not know the answer to this question, but I do: it's because we're tired. Especially the parents.

I suppose, though, that that isn't the "why" the scientists are after.

Let me try again. My explanation for why humans sleep is something that will make sense to most parents of newborns, and indeed it occurred to me as I tried to get a baby of mine to go back to sleep one night.

My explanation is a simple evolutionary explanation. It may ultimately be question-begging, but don't let that deter us. So here goes. The traits we have are the traits our evolutionary ancestors had. These ancestors are the ones who lived to be old enough to reproduce. Not everyone lived to be that old. Some children died before they were physically mature enough to have babies and pass on their traits. Now suppose that "back in the day" there were two kinds of infants: those who slept a lot and those who did not. Other things equal, which would be more likely to survive? Yeah, parents, you know the answer to this question, and you know the why, too. Dare I say it? Very well. Parents need a break. Babies are lots of things (saccharin here), but they are also time-consuming, ear-splitting, arm-tiring, shower-shortening, laundry-producing, plan-ruining, conversation-interrupting, etc., etc. pains in the asses. Parents who did not get a break from their children because their children did not sleep would, I submit, be more likely to suffer from baby-rage and kill their children. These children would not grow up to reproduce and pass on their non-sleeping ways to subsequent generations. The children who were most likely to survive were the sleepers. The sleepers procreated and passed this trait on down the line to us.

So why do we sleep? In short, because our parents would have killed us if we didn't.

P.S. In assessing the above claims, please keep in mind that I am not a scientist, philosopher of science, or baby-killer. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Lying

I thought I’d post a follow-up to the Santa is a Tool post in light of some other posts that have been brought to my attention. Rob A. pointed me to a post by Steven Law. SL would “happily lie” about the existence of Santa Claus, and presents six arguments in favor of lying to children. As I said before, I am not an anti-lying absolutist. Yet I did not find any of SL’s arguments at all persuasive. Here they are:

1. “Educational Fibbing.” SL says that if we lie to our children, they will become good at detecting lies, which is a valuable skill to have. While it is true that we want our children to be good “truth-detectors,” this goal does not require me lying to my children. Our world is full of lies and liars, devious deceivers, fallacious reasoners, and so on. My children are lied to or mislead by others and this will continue for the rest of their childhood. They (or we) can investigate and learn from these lies just as much as they can from lies told by me to them. By letting others do the lying for me, I do not risk the downsides of having lied to them myself. (I’d add that SL’s example of educational fibbing isn’t quite lying—it is more along the lines of a practical joke, or pretending. To lie is to intentionally and knowingly state a falsehood with the aim that it be believed. Joking around about fairies in the garden shed, so as to elicit an immediate refutation from the hearer, is not lying.)
2. “It makes them happy.” Yes it does, at least in the short term. And for some, even in the long term. But plenty of other activities and interactions that don’t involve lying make children happy, too. I agree that if X makes your child happy, then that is a reason to X. But that reason has to be taken into account along with other considerations, like the negatives that accompany lying to your child. Since there are non-lying alternatives that may produce even more (and more lasting) happiness, why go the lying route?
3. “Gives them an appreciation of what it’s like to be a true believer. Even after the bubble of belief has burst, the memory of what it was like to inhabit it – to really believe - lingers on. The adult who never knew that is perhaps kind of missing out.” I’m not sure how much value knowing what it is like to be a true believer has. Perhaps it is helpful in dealing with true believers? In any event, life presents plenty of chances to be fully convinced of a thesis, only to later learn that the thesis is false. Every academic field and nearly all non-academic professions provide opportunities for developing confidence in a belief, as well as the tools to later overturn that belief. Indeed, some might say that the history of science best exemplifies this.
4. “Fun for adults.” This is only a very weak reason for lying which I believe is overwhelmed by countervailing considerations, along the lines of lack of trust. Also, do we really want to convey to our children that it is permissible to lie to innocent others for the sake of our own pleasure?
5. “Useful for controlling behavior.” This is the main reason the Santa myth persists, I think, in conjunction with #4. At best this is a temporary measure, most effective in December. The message it conveys is that the reason to be good is to get a reward. This may be your view—indeed this is the functional role of heaven and hell—but it is not mine. I do not think that egoism is the correct account of morality. We have reasons to be good even if doing so isn’t what will get us best rewarded.
6. “Protects children from upsetting or damaging truths.” Well, I don’t think this applies in the Santa case. (Plenty of non-Christian children grow up undamaged, despite the fact that they never believed in Santa.) In talking about other things, such as deaths, injuries, or terrible events, it is not clear that lying about them is better for the child. Is a child better off thinking that Spot is in doggie heaven instead of the truth (that he is in hell for crapping on my Persian rug)? I will remind readers that there are non-lying alternatives to telling the truth: remaining silent, being vague, changing the subject, saying that you don’t want to talk about it, or delaying the conversation.

So I don't think SL has given us any conclusive reasons to lie to our children.

Just today, at Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan says that it “is terribly important to lie to our children.” The thing is, what DM defends is not lying at all (something he admits an editor of his pointed out to him). As I said above, to lie is to intentionally and knowingly say something false with the aim that it be believed. To joke that the sun is 20 feet away (one of DM’s examples of “lying”) is not a lie at all. If, after hearing this, your child became hysterical with fear about the impending solar-terrestrial collision—that is, demonstrated evidence of having believed you—that would be the exact opposite of what you intended.

another post, DM defends lying about Santa. His defense is largely an extended version of SL's #1. In any event, lying about Santa is quite a different animal than joking that “monkey lungs” are for dinner. When DM says the latter, he has no expectation that he will be believed. But when he tells his child that Santa exists, I suspect he not only expects that he will be believed, but that that is the point. So don’t be moved by the acceptability of monkey-lung playfulness with our children to endorse lying about Santa.

One possible defense for DM is to say that when he tells his kids that Santa exists, he actually does not have the aim that they believe him, and thus it is not, on the standard definition, a lie. Rather, it is a kind of test or critical thinking exercise. (Whether this justifies it is another matter.) He could support this interpretation of his own acts by reference to his satisfaction when his kids discover for themselves that Santa does not exist. He could go further by saying that were his kids to still believe in Santa when they are 15 years old, he would be very upset by this. At that age, he does not intend his children to believe him when he says that Santa exists. The problem with this is that up until the age at which he can reasonably come to expect his children to discover the truth about Santa, he is indeed lying to them. When they are too young to figure out that Santa does not exist, DM cannot intend that his falsehood elicit that response (one cannot intend what one believes is impossible). When they are that age, he is indeed lying to them.

DM advances his own reason for lying to children, distinct from the ones that SL offers. DM writes: “Many nonreligious parents, in the admirable name of high integrity, set themselves up as infallible authorities. And since (like it or not) we are the first and most potent authority figures in our kids’ lives, turning ourselves into benevolent oracles of truth can teach our kids to passively receive the pronouncements of authority.”

Hold on a minute. My general refusal to lie to my children does not imply that I am infallible or an oracle. This is because sometimes, not lying to my kids means that my answers to some of their questions is “I don’t know.” Or, “It could be X – let’s find out.” Or “What do you think?” Or even, “Yes I know, but I’m not going to give you the answer.” There is no necessary connection between a failure to lie and aspirations to (or impressions of) omniscience. Indeed, honesty and fallibility go hand in hand.

UPDATE: Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon has a related Santa post entitled "Santa Claus is for Parents."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Wait for it" Photo Update

In case you didn't believe me, here is some photo evidence that these billboards exist. There are variations, too, keyed to various career choices. How many fewer engineers do we have as a result of this ad? And I can't decide whether we are more or less safe because of this one (click "see full size image" at the top).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Need to Know

As a normal adult (you’ll have to take my word for it), I have a right to privacy—at least that is what many people believe. I’m not talking about a legal right (though I have that, too). Rather, I’m talking about a moral right, say, the kind of thing that makes it wrong for a guest in your home to sneak a peak in your diary / medicine cabinet / dungeon, etc.

While I have this right to privacy, I was not born with it. It seems silly to talk about a newborn’s right to privacy. So when did I get it? And why? More generally, at what age do children acquire a right to privacy? In particular, I am interested in the child’s right to privacy against his parents.

I am led to these thoughts by an incident a few months back, when #2, barely three years old, insisted on closing the door while using the toilet. The boy gets credit for good manners, but I wanted to know why. “I want privacy!” he said. This is lingo he picked up from his older brother, of course. But is he entitled to privacy? Is his five year old brother?

Yes, says the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to the U.N., “child” means any human “below the age of eighteen years.” The privacy of such children is protected by Article 16 of this Convention, which states that “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.” And furthermore, “The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Can we look to this quasi-legal document for moral guidance on the question of a child's right to privacy against his parents? No, because this document is about “arbitrary” interference with a child’s privacy. A right to privacy is partial at best if it only protects someone against arbitrary interference. What about non-arbitrary interference? That is usually the kind of privacy at stake within the family. If I end up violating my children’s rights to privacy, it won’t be arbitrary. To the contrary, it will be because I have their best interests in mind, and I’m concerned about their capacity for looking out for those interests.

It might be helpful to say a bit more about what a right to privacy is. This is not very easy to do, but for a start we can say that if someone has a right to privacy, she has a right to be free from the coerced or involuntary disclosure of certain facts about herself (coerced = “tell me or else,” or general threatening environment; involuntary = spying, searching). Ultimately we would need to specify at least two things. First, which facts? And second, against whom is this right to privacy? Because answers to the second question may vary with answers to the first, it may make more sense to speak of a person’s rights to privacy.

Note that a person’s right to privacy can be violated even if she is not thereby harmed by the violation. Even though some violations of privacy can lead to harm, they needn’t, and it is worthwhile keeping "privacy violation" and "harm" distinct. Acts that constitute privacy violations that are also harmful can be objected to on grounds of harmfulness. Since even newborns have certain rights not to be harmed, even they are protected from such privacy violations. But this is not the same thing as saying that the newborns have a right to privacy.

As I said, I’m interested in the privacy rights children have against their parents. I’ve also said that newborns don’t have rights to privacy. Why? It is not because they can’t assert their right, or complain when it is violated. Rather, it is because they cannot take care of themselves in any way. Because they cannot take care of themselves, they have no right to keep information about themselves to themselves.

As children grow up, they come to be able to take care of themselves, in two important ways. First, they come to understand what it means to take care of themselves. In the jargon, they come to have a conception of the good. Second, they get better at managing themselves and the world, such that they think and act successfully in realizing their conception of the good.

As children are better able to take care of themselves, parents are relieved of some specific duties towards their children. (I don’t have to literally put food in #1’s mouth, for example; he is just fine at doing it himself.) As parents are relieved of these duties, they no longer need the information required to perform these duties. Since they wouldn’t be failing in their duties if they lacked this information, to obtain such information from their children coercively or involuntarily would be to violate their right to privacy.

So here is a proposal for an account of the moral right of privacy children have against their parents. It comes in the form of a necessary condition of a privacy right. To make things “easier” to read, I’ll use some abbreviations:

C = child

R = right to privacy

P = parent

F = some fact about C

Let’s call it the “Need to Know” account:

A necessary condition of C having R against P in respect to F is that the successful execution of P’s duties in respect to C do not require that P knows F.

One reason this works is that we have a good sense of what P’s duties in respect to C are. A full version of the Need to Know account would need to spell those out, along with an account of what it means for a child to sufficiently "take care of himself."

Additionally, there may be other necessary conditions of a right to privacy besides Need to Know.

Is the Need to Know account generalizable as a necessary condition of the right to privacy outside the parent-child relationship? Comments, counterexamples, etc., welcome.

Creative Engagement with Children Conference

I came across word of an upcoming conference on "creative engagement with children." I don't know much about the organizing group,, but the list of suggested topics for the conference looks interesting, and the fact that it is being held at Oxford speaks in its favor. The deadline for submissions is Friday, February 6th.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


How safe should we strive to make our children? To simplify matters, let’s ignore that there may be different kinds of safety and just suppose that degrees of safety lie along a simple continuum. At one end of the continuum is “completely safe,” where risk of injury and death is as close to zero as possible. At the other end of the continuum is “dead.” Clearly we want to avoid the latter. The question is how close to the former we should aim.

Here are some reasons why we ought not aim to make our children “completely safe”:

it would consume time, effort, and resources better put to use pursuing other goods for our children. Sure, I could spend time lining my children’s clothes with bubble-wrap. Or, I could use that time and energy to have fun stomping on said bubble-wrap with my kids.

our children would miss out on a number of other goods were we to try to make them completely safe. Road crashes are the top cause of unintentional injuries in children. Pursuing complete safety would mean never traveling anywhere by car, except to avoid something even more dangerous than car travel. “Sorry, we can’t go to the [school/museum/playground/ice cream shop/pool/grandma’s]. Ever.”

some activities that are risky may be valuable, such as, I don’t know, walking outside. Or learning to swim.

risk-taking can be pleasurable, even thrilling. Isn’t that what makes slides and roller coasters so much fun?

if we deprive our children of exposure to danger, we deprive them of one of the best ways of learning how to exercise judgment in the face of danger. In short, making them less endangered may make them less safe. Of course there are ways to overdo it.

I think we all accept these points when we think about them. We may talk about keeping our kids “completely safe” but we don’t mean that literally (except David Benatar, who would like us to keep kids completely from harm by not bringing them into existence). So what do we mean?

Perhaps we mean that we don’t want to expose our children to danger if it isn’t worth it. So we do some ill-informed cost-benefit analysis on the fly to judge whether the probable benefits of some activity outweigh the probable harms, or rely on rules of thumb that themselves are presumably ultimately justified by appeal to some kind of cost-benefit analysis. Yet these analyses are hard to do, and it is unclear that we are doing them. Would the value that I and my kids get from all the trips in the car this year outweigh the badness of the one in 20,331 chance each of us has of dying because of an accident during one of them?

There is a sense among some that nowadays we are overprotective of our children. We are certainly more protective of them, in some ways, than previous generations were of their children. (And less protective in other ways: for example, many of today’s parents let their children view things on television that would horrify previous generations of parents). I haven’t looked for any research on changes in how safe children are, or how dangerous the world is for children, or how much time and effort parents are putting into keeping their children safe. I suspect these descriptive investigations are difficult enough. Adding normative questions on top of all this makes things very tricky.

Clearly, this is just the tip of the iceberg (the steep, slippery, and hypothermia-inducing iceberg—keep away!). If nothing goes awry, I’ll be revisiting this topic in future posts.