Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


In regard to educational achievement, the use of the word minority by some in describing underachieving youth is unfortunate and misleading. By definition a minority is from a different ethnic group than the majority of the population. Uses of terms like different ethnic groups and race are equally unhelpful in explaining educational achievement and in the latter case simply false as there are no human races that can be identified genetically.
On the other hand in looking at educational achievement numerous studies have shown a correlation between academic achievement and the socio-economic condition of the family. A well to do immigrant family's child will usually do as well or better than a white counterpart from a similar class. Spain is a nation of hispanics but generally shows high levels of educational achievement. Obviously "hispanic" is not the problem or the virtue here, since this same group is said to do less well in the U.S. Within Spain, however, you will find differences based on socio-economic class. Similarly, within China and Japan, while these nations generally have high educational achievement, not all children do well simply as a result of being Asian and one will find the poor achievers highly clustered among the economically disadvantaged. To think rural Chinese will do as well in school as urban simply by dint of being Chinese is simply foolish and belied by the data.
Race is further not a construct which is correct when speaking of immigrants or ethnic groups like African Americans who have been present here for a long time. Genetic studies show no correlation between genes for color and those for other aspects of the human being including intelligence. Hence a very black person may have completely caucasian features as the Ethiopians do generally. Human coloring itself is a continuum as you will notice if you have the chance to go to Egypt. My own Italian American group was often said, in a time fortunately long gone by, to have "olive" skin, usually by those wishing to associate us more with the African continent lying to the south of Italy than with other Europeans closer to their kinship group. I will spare you some of the derogatory epithets of the epoque but fortunately or not we have been co-opted into the European group now, necessity making strange bedfellows for those who would still like to consider us an under class.
Genes other than color are also found to be dispersed throughout populations with varying frequency. The African population is said to have the widest dispersion of gene types, consistent with the theory that the human species has evolved out of Africa and hence populations there are the oldest and have had the longest time to evolve. Consequently geneticists find among the African population the greatest number of very intelligent people as well as unintelligent ones as compared with whites and Asian who have less time to evolve. These latter populations, presumably coming out of Africa and evolving later than the source group, have genetic dispersion closer to the mean for their respective groups and fewer outliers in terms of extreme intelligence or lack thereof.
So if school achievement is not explained by ethnicity and even less so by race which doesn't really exist within homo sapiens which is a single species with as many different colorings as bird feathers, what does explain it. Countless studies have shown that the economic well being of the family is highly correlated with school achievement. The drunken toughs of the English working class being as difficult to educate ast he immigrant "pakis" as Pakistani immigrants are derisively called there, not because of any genetic factor but because working class families simply have less time to read to their kids, help them with their homework or introduce them to the riches of the greater culture, few of which they had an opportunity to learn themselves. As the white working class moves up in socio-economic status as the immigrants take the lower paying jobs, they have more time and motivation to try and assimilate themselves to the middle class values of education and culture. This is what happened to my group Italian Americans and we did not become more intelligent as we moved up, in fact some may have even become less intelligent as they forgot where they had come from and what truly gave them the opportunity they now had. But this is a slight digression.
All these educational differences are not inevitable, however. Unless and until we have a more equal society there will always be disadvantged kids. Much can be done to assure though that they have equal or at least improved educational opportunity. Numerous studies illustrate the benefit of head-start, teacher training and other specially designed programs. The first step , however, is quite simple, recognizing that disadvantaged is not inferior. The may actually have values and skills that they bring to the table that you will need someday.
The nice thing about SOCIALISM is that we work with the talents that people have for their and society's benefit, instead of competing against one another in a vicious game of survival of the fittest, which obliges us to define somebody as less deserving than ourselves, if we don't want to fall to the bottom in his place.
Have a nice week.


Dink said...

Nicely done, SS!

I'll absorb and comment more later, but I totally agree that race/class are cultural constructs versus physiological ones. Even physical gender differences seem pretty minor when considering all the factors that determine personality and psychology.

Thai said...

What a great topic AND I get to play the role of critical critique!

Agree with lots.

Disagree with lots.

Some statements can clearly be challenged on fact interpretation alone (e.g. success of head start programs, etc... ) but again, it does get back to how you interpret the data (which is kind of a point Deb makes in another context).

Working like a dog but I will respond as I get a moment.


Debra said...

Since I belong to the ARISTOCRACY of those who do not work (!!!!), I have lots of time to critically read and comment, right ? (Well, the time that I decide to allot to reading and commenting, not someone else...).
I definitely disagree about the gender differences, dink. Thank God there are STILL gender differences.
Actually, what is pretty intriguing is that in my book, at least, in terms of education, ALL SOCIOECONOMIC CLASSES (I disregard race in this debate, it is not a determining factor...) ARE SIGNIFICANTLY LESS EDUCATED EVER SINCE MASS EDUCATION PROGRAMS CAME INTO FASHION.
I learned that in nice, rabidly republican (that's like in FRENCH republican, not the republican party, careful...) FRANCE, there is a small high school not too far away where the elites from the European and the African continents send their children. 10 kids to a class. Boarding school. Richly endowed. The best teachers in France, of course. Rarely inspected by Education Nationale. A real blip under the radar, and one that intends to remain discreetly under the radar, for obvious reasons.
When we have mass education with 10 kids/class, in richly endowed schools, with excellent teachers, then ALL of our kids will have a decent education. And, thus, they will be intelligent.
Until then, we are telling ourselves fantastical little stories.

SS said...


I agree generally but in my particular case we had 40+ kids in Catholic School and additionally I had to unlearn most of the Catholic Catechism which probably explains why I differ with Yoyo that another Judeo-Christian religion is particularly peculiar or dangerous.


yoyomo said...

A lot of the members of that other Judeo-Christian religion do unlearn and reject those problematic doctrines (assuming they ever find out about them in the first place). That probably explains why there are so few of them; after 4K years they should be the most numerous but from each generation there is an exodus of adherents who can't reconcile themselves to those problematic doctrines.

The problem arises from those that embrace the problematic doctrines with messianic zeal even if they are secular or avowed athiests like David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Moshe Dyan and the current foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman who has introduced into parliment a bill requiring a loyalty oath from all citizens (irrespective of their religion or ethnicity) recognizing the state as exclusively Jewish/zionist. I wonder if Senator Joseph Lieberman would object to signing a loyalty oath to the US as a white-anglo-saxon-Protestant nation.

yoyomo said...

Oh, before I forget; WRT not considering children members of any community until they are old enough to decide for themselves, that is what the Amish do. Church members have to be at least 19-20 years old and before they are allowed to join the church, young people have to leave the community for a year and live amongst the 'English' to see which lifestyle they want to choose for themselves after having gained the knowledge to give their informed consent.

Cottonbloggin said...


Beautiful! And concerning "skills you might need one day", it's odd to think that homeless people, drug dealers, Crips and Bloods are a rich and valuable repository of knowledge should Joe's apocalyptic vision pan out and become reality.

And I have a question. You say Socialism is a good thing because "instead of competing against one another in a vicious game of survival of the fittest" we work with the talents people have. BUT... how do we take the socio-cultural reality that exists around us today and change it FROM a world of competition TO a world of co-operation? in a pragmatic way?

I ask because I'm very much interested in the answer, AND because I think Thai is interested in the answer as well (though he sees it from the POV of the "tragedy of the commons")... and (since you wrote that last paragraph) I assume it's a question which tickles some part of your brain as well.


And @ Thai..

Yes. I change my mind all the time. But if the document is a living document on the communal manifold, why couldn't it also be a living document on the personal manifold? It's a creative solution I'm looking to find, so I see no reason why someone couldn't opt out if they so chose. OR. initial the clauses they agree with, and not follow the others?

Or... get away from the idea of SIGNING all together and say that IF you agree with the social contract, THEN grow (I dunno) an artichoke (because it's a hardy perennial, and is picky about the amount of water it needs). The beauty of this is that EVERY DAY you make the decision to water the plant and keep it physically healthy and alive. Or NOT. It then becomes a symbol demonstrating that the individual is still willing to maintain their commitment to society thru the very small act of nurturing a plant.

Although, that could have creepy Socialist Orwellian undertones..

"Joe, where's your artichoke?"

"I got hungry?"

"Joe, don't you remember what artichokes MEAN?"

"Yeah, but I got REALLY hungry!"

"Joe.. do you still BELIEVE in what we're doing here?"

"All hail the great artichoke, and the seeds of which came to earth to wash away all our sins?"

"Joe...Do I need to make a phone call?"

SS said...

@ Cotton

"skills you might need one day", it's odd to think that homeless people, drug dealers, Crips and Bloods are a rich and valuable repository of knowledge"

I couldn't agree more you really captured the sense of my phrase. I can see why Deb thought I might be you at one point. Flattered frankly, wish I had your calm but when all is said and done I'm happy being me which is why I have continued. Sort of like Nietzsche said when a man reaches a certain age his face is really his.

As to how we get to a more socialist society, my best answer, for now, follows. I am probably older than you, was a young adult - 20s in the late 60s and 70s - when socialism, hippy values and peace were all the rage. All that happened because of the war in Vietnam but unfortunately the roots were not deep enough to keep it going. It will happen again and is happening now because of the economic collapse. One doesn't need to be a visionary to predict that, the crumbling is all around and socialism along with other alternatives will rise as natural replacements. That is the deterministic side.

What we can do ourselves? Be non-competitive, the're is a beautiful article in tooday's Washington Post about how Andrea Jaeger threw tennis matches at the Wimbeldon finals and now has become a nun because she didn't have the competitive instinct and wanted to help others. Sort of Christian. She also gave away all her tennis winnings, a fortune. Remember the camel and eye of the needle! So be a socialist. Use the word, explain it to others, Americans now are repulsed and fearful of the word and have be twistedly taught this fear. How strange to feel afraid of cooperating! Your piece on the Iroquois nation was a marvelous example. Dink has created something here that I hope we can keep going and especially don't despair, Nietzsche says that all the fun is in the striuggle, if it were easy who would want it.

Thanks for asking!


Dink said...

@ SS,

I read your post again. The blasted self-fulfilling prophecy, eh? Tell a youngster who he/she is and they unquestioningly believe you. Tell them what anything is and they'll believe you. Very frustrating. BTW, my maternal grandmother's line is from Calabria so I'm a quarter "swarthy" ;)

@ Thai,

Working like a burro while Debra wanders various small European villages judging cheeses. Do you agree she has no mercy?

@ Yoyomo,

"to see which lifestyle they want to choose for themselves after having gained the knowledge to give their informed consent."

Now that's a confident culture/religion. But you really have to give Buddhism credit when there own founder openly states not to believe anything he says unless it makes sense to you.

@ Cotton,

"how do we take the socio-cultural reality that exists around us today and change it FROM a world of competition TO a world of co-operation?"

Capitalism has advantages for predators. Can the predators see the advantages of the herbivore culture? Many can; they'd be willing to sacrifice some of the lucre for the peace of mind knowing that there is less suffering in the world. But there'd have to be "buy in" and all the predators would have to lay down their arms at once so they wouldn't feel cheated. I think more than any other system, you'd have to have active citizenship ceremonies and punishment of rule breakers. To keep our innate inner predator pacified.

Debra said...

Re predators, agressivity and competition, the drums I beat :

This might make you guys laugh, but I feel that much of the exacerbated competition that is going on in our society is the result of a misguided idea of cooperation between the sexes, and the role of women in our societies.
I beat this drum often, because it makes MUCH sense to me.
If women COMPETE with men in the same places for the same jobs, then the name of the game EVERYWHERE is competition, because that is what we ALL (le tout) are supposed to do.
Abolishing meaningful differences in the name of ANY ideal is taking the short cut to ideological totalitarianism.
The BIG fight over Sarah Palin in the last presidential election, and the BIG fight in France over Maghrebin women being allowed/not being allowed to wear the veil are REALLY big fights to maintain totalitarian and libertarian ideas of equality of the sexes in Western society.
The role and place of WOMEN in our societies determines what place we want to accord to qualities that historically women were/have been seen to embody : tenderness, maternal instinct, sentimentality, passion, irrationality, to name just a few.
We are already moving away from simplistic ideas of women's roles. Over the libertarian left's dead body, true.
But we are moving away.

For the Christian question, I am NOT a Christian, as a think you all know by now. But I do try to live a Christlike life. At least this is what I tell myself...
And I really HATE punishment. It goes together with self-righteousness, stingeyness, and a lot of other negative things.
I think that it's time for us to be REALLY creative and find other ways to channel our negative impulses which are basically one of the greatest source of energy that we have.

Debra said...

Now that we've got this ball rolling....
How do I initiate a post here ?
Thanks for walking me through the steps, you guys...

Thai said...

SS re: head start

link (or (best I could do to get the actual data), the same link analyzed by someone obsessed with racial differences in the data).

And full day kindergarten also a feel good program and truly unclear if the benefits are justified by the costs.

In the endless discourse on nature vs. nurture, while it is always BOTH, it is still BOTH- don't discount nature one bit.

And I think the burden of proof is on those who think competition can ever be averted to prove their case.

Cooperation is a form of competition.

And Deb, you are of course correct, it was a little naive of the totalitarians to think they could successfully destroy in about 30 years difference that have stood for 50,000.

Cooperating diverse teammates (in this case man and woman) are always more effective than clones. Men pretending to be women and vice versa.

The key is just getting them to cooperate with each other in the first place.

And Cotton, if they get to opt out whenever thy want, how would that work?

I completely agree with you that the problem is a failure to get agreement on values. What I may not agree with you is that we will ever get agreement as I think it contrary to the laws of physics.

Or as Deb says, is a metaphysical problem.

Dink said...

@ Debra
"How do I initiate a post here ?"

1) Go to In the top left you'll see "Images" "Maps" "gmail". Click on gmail.
2) Click on the box that says "create an account". Make up something like "".
3) E-mail your new gmail address to
4) I will add you as a blog author. I believe that then e-mails you notification and you create your author password.
5) You sign in to SRC saloon (see top right) and wreak pixel havoc upon us.

@ All,
"successfully destroy in about 30 years difference that have stood for 50,000."

But are we sure about those differences and what went on millenia ago? I know a lot of really assertive females and a lot of nurturing males. I will grant that the stereotypical personality traits may truly be statistically higher in each gender (say 85% positive in males and 75% in females), but there is way too much crossover to be exclusively the domain of one gender (or race/class/etc.).

And in the animal kingdom... even among just the primates, there is a diversity of levels of male/female equality.

So as I understand it, females couldn't be pharaohs but they could be regents for underage sons. So Hatshepsut decided to be regent for a very long time. She even took to wearing a false beard that pharaohs wore. I heard her son's had an unfortunate habit of dying mysteriously when they came close to adult age, but the wiki didn't seem to mention that so maybe its intermillenial gossip.

Debra said...

Ha, Thai, I did NOT really CRITICALLY read through the full day/part day kindergarten debate, but I DID notice that one of the things that was NOT mentioned was whether the mothers worked or not...
That is a somewhat important variable to take into account, you know.
Although it certainly isn't an absolute indication of anything anymore...
Another point : the BIG effect of sending children to day care/kindergarten, etc is in the SOCIABILITY FACTOR.
And this is where Rousseau comes in...
Early socialization tends to produce a very different "individual" than not early socialization.
Depends on what kind of a society you want, right ?
Thank God those military psychologists are not TOO much in the pockets of our politicos.
Totalitarianism is only a heartbeat away when there are more than 6 b of us on the planet...

Thai said...

Dink: you are absolutely correct. I do not mean to be over generalized with my statement as I do not intend to mean where I think you are going.

@Deb re: moms at home.

I haven't read about this issue in a while (I have in the past and can find you some links if you are truly interested) but last I read up on it, as always, it was yet again one of those "it depends".

Let me see if the following generalization helps you think about the issue at all: the general lesson I have taken on the endless nature vs. nurture debate is "yes", they both matter. Think of them as independent variables in an equation where outcomes (O) = nature (A) + nurture (B) or


But this also means that IF you really can "fix" one variable, e.g. turn the variable into a constant, the other variable obviously becomes dominant in importance in deciding R. (understand this is a very big "IF").

So in a hypothetical sterilized world of homogenized education in a suburbia where nuclear families all have 2.4 children, a dog, a decent primary education and all good little boys and girls go to college at 18, etc... nature (A) becomes the dominant influence on outcomes (O) or

O=A (nature matters most)

Translated: "all your hopes of making a big difference as a stay at home mom are a lie in this environment".

So I am sorry to throw cold water on any illusions you might have, but this is a simple fact.

Indeed, it has been clearly shown now that for differences between two otherwise identical middle class white kids where one goes to Harvard and the other to a local community college, nature matters most.

And the main variable these kids do experience, peers, becomes by far and away the dominant influence vs. parents (so notice how tightly property values match school district quality in the US)

BUT (here is the big "but"), where and when environment varies greatly, environmental differences become the much more important influence outcomes are far more influenced by nature.


In this case stay at home moms matter greatly.

So the kids of a working mom (who is a partner at a law firm, etc...) will probably still go to a decent college even if mom does not read to them nor stay at home during their primary education years, etc... (Sorry I know it may not be what you want to hear).

But move to an environment which is very different from everyone else and the story is completely different.

As an aside, what is perhaps just as fascinating to me is how efficient the "filthy lucre" market really is for this kind of stuff.

For remember, "high quality" eggs (so to speak) are far more valuable (e.g. command a much higher price) than high quality sperm.

I hope it is quite obvious that one is simply much easier to acquire than the other.

So someone with high quality eggs (you have to ask yourself whether this fits you or not) might easily command as payment for her expensive eggs the high price of getting to stay at home and avoid the workforce, if that is what she wants... which kind of gets to Dink's point re: "dominant females", etc...

Be well


Debra said...

Thai, I think that you are one of MANY victims of the either/or mindset that is also troubling us these days.
Like it's always one OR the other.
As it turns out, I was neither a working mom NOR a stay at home mom.
You know, women who don't work can STILL manage to spend a phenomenal amount of time outside the home.
And when society has been dictating for as long as it has that staying at home is really a pile of shit for any woman with any brains, then, staying at home is ranked as anathema.
So... it IS possible to hash it out doing NEITHER, or shall we say, doing BOTH in a half assed way.
Which is probably what I did.
My eggs ? That's a laugh. I try to be MUCH more romantic than that, you know...
I'm waiting for Dink to respond so that I can hit y'all full face with my incredible French delusions/culture shock.
And Thai, let's question some of your assumptions.
Is going to college REALLY a sign of intelligence ?
I'm not so sure about that these days.
I'm counseling MINE to get their hands on some good, MANUAL skills (like Joe), because when the going gets tough, I'm not sure that what we're currently moneying as "knowledge" will be good VALUE. You know what I mean ? And of course the MOST intelligent people have really connected their hands to their brains. Essential.

Thai said...

Deb, remember, I am the who thinks education is a bubble.

As for intelligence, well, I think you are misunderstanding my point. Our brains are information processors, nothing more.

They either do or do not do a particular task.

Further, once our brain has become very good at one thing, it will be forever bad at others.

And while ideas like "g", e.g. some people's neurons (or glial cells) are probably better at processing many kinds of information than others (like a new Intel Core7 computer chip is probably faster than an older Pentium process), even this too comes at a cost (as faster processors require higher metabolic rates with corresponding energy needs and heat dissipation issues). Under the right environment, the Pentium would out perform the Core7.

And I couldn't agree more, college has some relationship to intelligence, but only some.

From a financial investment perspective, it is not at all clear today that people will do better going to college than they would have had they simply invested their college money and gone out into the work force.

Indeed, in many instances they are probably worse off.

As for neither work nor home, agreed. Posts get long sometimes if I don't simplify.

As for eggs: Sarah Blafer Hrdy, herself a member of the national academy of sciences and an all time heroine of mine, was the one who first introduced me to this field of research- the first book I ever read that explained the mind of a woman a way that made any sense at all.

SS said...

@ Thai,

"Further, once our brain has become very good at one thing, it will be forever bad at others."

Thai do you think that our brain has unused capacity that can be expanded?


Thai said...

Depends on how you define "unused".

If you mean that we can train ourselves to do things we once could not- absolutely "yes".

Of course you will have to stop doing whatever you currently do in order to focus on the new task/skill.

But if it is to do much more than all the current mundane things we all know people can currently do as part of the repertoire of human behavior, then the answer is most decidedly "no", our brains are too little as it is and in fact it would be very convenient if we had much much larger brains (but the metabolic requirements would be tremendous- remember, your brain consumes most of the calories you eat).

For you have to remember that our brains are made of a great many separate subsystems, and each of these must interact/cooperate/compete with other subsystems in very complex ways.

We have systems for sight, sound, emotion, though, memory, movement, etc... now remember that each of these systems has to talk with each other AND also simultaneously talk with the rest of our body.

So IF you are talking about the televised popular notion of "unused" regions of the brain (make great scifi flicks, etc...) , this idea simply very most definitely false and arose from incorrect ideas about the human brain.

Coordinating the smell of a particular person's sweat with the memory of a particular soccer game and the simultaneous idea that one should study the complex movements of another soccer player to successfully pass the soccer ball to a teammate to win the game, but do it entirely differently if it is a wet vs. dry field, is a very very complex action.

Whenever you hear ideas like "context means everything", think about the processing power required to understand very different meanings of the same two statements based on different facial expressions or different voice tones or different environment in which the same sentence might be spoken.

It is not that we have more than we need, it is that the human brain is not big enough as is.

Dink said...

@ Debra,
"I'm waiting for Dink to respond so that I can hit y'all full face with my incredible French delusions/culture shock"

I hope you don't mean you're going to disillusion me about France. The people seem peaceful and pleasure-oriented; these are good things.

BTW, both you and Thai have been given permission so just check your gmail and follow the instructions. I also figured out how to add Sudden Debt on a blog roll. God I love Google. My neighbor works for Google; I should go bring him some cookies in gratitude.

@ Hrdy,

Hot Damn! The male agents and female agents aren't programmed all that different; its just the boundaries are programmed different for each of them so they appear different. Change the boundary and the same agent can behave very differently. So what Hatshepsut was in ancient Egypt appear to be very different from what she would be in Salt Lake City in 2009.

No, the squirrel is twitching. I need to head back up the tree and eat cookies instead of bringing them to my neighbor. G'night.

SS said...

Female and hormones must influence the brain as would our motor properties, no? Giving very different results for those with different hormonal levels or sedentary as opposed to active?

SS said...

Should read female and male hormones - I had in mind different levels of estrogen, testosterone and perhaps others that I am not familiar with like adrenalin?


Thai said...

SS- yes.

But a neuron is a neuron.

Certain substructures will grow under the influence one hormone vs. another but not all substructures.

One can read too much into hormone issues as well.

In fact, FYI, with a few hormone injections, it is probably possible for a man to carry a child- the issue is where the placenta attaches. But if he were willing to risk his life by letting it attach to the liver, and the child delivered by laparotomy, he could birth a child.

Sex differences are real, but they can be over played as well.


Debra said...

dink, I promise I will try to not disillusion you about France too much. After all, my kids have survived the school system, my greatest gripe...
But the sleepy little town in Italy, well, that was PARADISE (for one weekend, of course...)
Thai, I sincerely recommend that you get your hands on the Pullman trilogy if you haven't read it yet.
Our brains are NOT just processors. I really HATE THAT METAPHOR.
We need to go all the way back and TRACE the etymological evolution/implications of the mechanicist metaphors.
To me, they are REDUCTIONIST theories designed to dumb down the incredible complexity of life forms.
When Freud came around, he revolutionized medecine, because he posited that there were things going on in the human spirit that could not be localized in a place in the body.
So... you can say that Freud's beliefs transcended materialist scientific ones, where to SEE is to KNOW, and where NOT TO SEE is NOT TO BELIEVE. (Are you following me here, Hell ?)
I suppose this is a form of war of the worlds, Thai. That we will never see eye to eye if you are a scientific materialist.
In the Pullman trilogy, Pullman gives a special form of knowledge to his main juvenile character, Lyra.
She "reads" the alethiometer. To do it, she MUST NOT concentrate her full attention on the task at hand, but MUST relax her consciousness in order to "see" the periphery. When she does not focus (like frontal cortex focus...) then the knowledge she has access to is richer, more complete.
We need to get back to that kind of knowledge.
And in my mind, the words that you are using, Thai, will NOT help us.

Thai said...

Deb, I've read the Pullman series.

Last time I checked, there is no alethiometer. I understand metaphor- in fact ALL language is metaphor at some level.

As for relaxing concentration in order to see larger patterns, as people do when they (say) meditate, we of the scientific materialist variety do understand this concept.

In fact, it is a very fractal concept, for it is quite fair to say that looking at the sum of things sometimes is greater than the parts (sometimes not; really depends on one's point of view).

Dink said...

@ SS,
I've always thought hormone levels were interesting factors. In the late teens and early twenties when the hormones are at the highest levels, the gender stereotypes seems strongest (i.e. males aggressive and overly self-confident while females weepy and full of self-doubt). Then the hormone levels start to settle down and there is some convergence. Don't trust anyone under 30 ;)

@ Debra,
"my kids have survived the school system, my greatest gripe..."
My French neighbor was appalled by the American school system. When her daughter was two she said that all kids should know calculus by the 6th grade. Now the kid is twelve and is bright, but I don't think has been taught calculus yet. But I think my neighbor would concede the daughter is happier than she was at that age.

Re: college. Man, I have such admiration and affection for so many of my professors I'd feel like a traitor to condemn college. But if I watched them for free on youtube and wasn't graded I'd probably still love them. But would I have forced myself to learn the hard stuff if I wasn't going to be tested on it? Or had to write a paper on it? Or there weren't repercussions for GPA? I don't think I had the maturity level to say yes to those questions.

Debra said...

Coucou, I DID it !
Thanks, dink.
I'll get back to you as soon as I have the time.
Cheers, all.
Hugs and kisses !!!!

Thai said...

Look forward to it Deb.

I had to smile as I read this NYT piece.

SS said...

@ Thai
"I had to smile as I read this NYT piece."

This is an example of pop science gone mad and I think highly cultural. Needs some work anyway before I buy in. While conservatives mostly a more strongly authority oriented there is the anti-governmental conservative strain which is very strong in the U.S. although traditional conservatives would tend to respect the government. Go figure.

Waiting for Godot (Debra in the case of a female Godot).


yoyomo said...

Another tidbit that may not fit SS' preferred conceptions. I wonder how German victims of WW2 would react if they weren't allowed to commemorate their tragedies because it would reflect poorly on the fatherland? Or Cherokees if they were told to forget about the Trail of Tears? Africans and slavery/Jim Crow?

Hmmm, seems only some transgressions are off-limits for any discussion; wouldn't want to bring up those 2K year old ideologies that nobody supposedly adheres to anymore.

yoyomo said...

correction: Africans s/b African-Americans

Dink said...

@ Yoyomo,

Separation of Church and State: good thing. Freedom of Speech: good thing.

I foresee some of Israel's citizens, probably the most educated and stable, getting frustrated and leaving.

@ Debra,

I have a friend who decided he was at wit's end and needed to tell a supervisor "The Truth". Of course, once the floodgates open you can't stop on one issue and you just unleash. He called it "And Another Damn Thing!...". We're all waiting for your AADT post ;)

yoyomo said...

"... getting frustrated and leaving."

That has already been happening for the past 20-25 years but it is illegal to compile figures for emigration out of Israel so only rough estimates exist for the number of Israeli expatriates. Because of the exodus of moderates, and especially the influx of hardliners (both religious & secular) from Brooklyn and the former Soviet Union, the country has been drifting ever further toward ethnic/religious fascism where ethnic cleansing is a topic of respectable debate in the knesset. Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, is an immigrant from Moldova.

Try to imagine a law passed in the US requiring Native Americans to celebrate the coming of the white man and their displacement and extermination.

yoyomo said...

I don't know if you remember about a couple weeks ago I linked to an article about the effects of the impoverishment of society and how cops might react to it. MISH has a depressing post on the topic, although to be fair it's not the cops who are most to blame in this case.

Thai said...

SS, you never shared with the rest of us: what has your little one decided?

Will it be Swarthmore?

SS said...

@ Thai

He's not at the decision age yet but I wanted to start collecting opinions and advice while I had such good people to tap. Thanks a lot.

I've added a post on the crisis to keep things moving along but I am really hoping you guys will blog, It is quite easy to set up and I am more interested in your thoughts than my own which I already know too well. Thanks.


Dink said...

@ Yoyomo,
"although to be fair"

I did see that on Mish (I look at his articles and then scroll through comments looking for Black Swan because that guy has an incredible resevoir of knowledge, but I don't comment there myself).

I'm the moral matrix guy on this issue so it actually kind of pleases me. I remember someone once expressing outrage that black crack dealers got longer prisoner sentences that white powder cocaine dealers. My response was that we need to give longer sentences to the white dealers; I do not believe that was the response the person was looking for...

yoyomo said...

I don't think society can afford keeping close to one million nonviolent drug users behind bars; from a strictly financial perspective it's too expensive but I also am a libertarian when it comes to substance use in private (no public intoxication). The War on Drugs gives the govt too much power. Countries like Holland are shrinking their prison systems for lack of inmates, that tax money will be put to better use.

Thai said...

On a personal level I don't think any drug use should ever get anyone in prison. And I don't have any problems with a few public drunks (actually, owing to my line of work I am on a first name basis with most of them in my community, they really are not so bad).

The issue is consequences, to whom and how much and it is around the issue of consequences that most people are dishonest.

The reason crack cocaine has such higher penalties than powder cocaine is specifically because of consequences.

Crack cocaine was the first "hard" drug to be very popular with women, and in particular, with black women.

And in a matriarchal society, where 80-90% of all household are headed by women and the dads have vanished, crack was absolutely devastating to the black child.

When congress passed the laws around crack, there was a lot of discussions on just this very issue and it was the leaders of the black community who specifically asked congress to make crack sentences tougher because of the disproportionately devastating effects it was having on black children- something that Jesse Jackson and many people like him remain dishonest about.

Now it is completely fair to argue whether the effect of this difference in sentencing has gone as intended vs. not doing it in the first place.

But I remember the debates very very well as I was a medical student working in LA Emergency Department in the 1980s when the Crips, Bloods and the crack wars were a very real daily occurrence and I clearly remember the national debates.

And fwiw, drug use in the black community, after years of a racist biased system of "punishment", is now lower for blacks than it is for whites.

So did the policy really fail?

People do like to re write history to their own version.

re: releasing non-violent drug offenders from prisons.

Releasing non-violet drug offenders people from prison (which I am personally very much in favor of) is way more "nonlinear" (e.g. complex) than most people understand the issue as it can just shift costs from one place to another.
It is not at all clear it will reduce costs like we hope it will.

Call a spade a spade.

yoyomo said...

Public drunks are gateway victims to a career in mugging. Some teen who may have never mugged anyone sees a passed-out drunk with a big bulge in his pocket and thinks "How hard can this be?" and the climate of criminality is enhanced. Non-violent drug users with problems can be offered help or supervision but I was referring to fully functioning members of society who happen to get caught up in the WoD. Releasing them will eliminate the cost of their incarceration and allow them to resume being productive and paying taxes; win-win, wouldn't you agree?

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

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