Re: The 'Rithmetic of Reading and 'Riting

1

Look at any decent graduate science or engineering program: we're outsourcing education.


Posted by: anonymous coward | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 3:56 PM
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Cultural imperialist!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 3:59 PM
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It'd be awesome if we could regard education as a quality of life issue rather than a means of producing a specific type of "workforce." (I'm even skeptical about posing it in terms of creating a better democratic citizenry.)

Also, I'm pretty sure that depending on the situation, you want your workers to be as uneducated as possible.


Posted by: Zippy the Comment Frog | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:02 PM
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Hello, Stanford Institutionalism!


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:10 PM
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Cuba and the Soviet Union have/had some of the best educational systems yet.

I ran this past a middle aged Russian man and he agreed, saying it was because in Communist countries lots of geniuses end up teaching in high schools.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:13 PM
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1: I never really bought that story. We graduate tons of talented home-grown techies. They all have tons of opportunities, basically all of which offer more pay than grad school (and often better hours). No surprise they go into programming or consulting or something else with a bachelor's.

3: Better yet, education as a basic element of participatory citizenship.

I always figured educational inequity was the story. In the out-of-ptm's-hat model, economic growth depends on (amongst many other things) various sorts of innovation thought up by the brilliant or lucky, having a good enough workforce to implement that stuff and motor along, and having a good enough government. The latter two impose a floor on the normal education achievement, but it's not clear to me that having 50% geniuses gets you more growth than having 5% geniuses (or whatever). After all, somebody's gotta wash the dishes.


Posted by: ptm | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:23 PM
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Short version:

The explanatory task is simply to understand, much as in the previous era, why the complex and differentiated post-modern society does not create a completely differentiated set of research and training institutions to support its elaborated and specialized role structure. The core answer is that the post-modern society, like the earlier modern one, rests on a bed of cultural assumptions involving universalistic values, human empowerment, scientific knowledge, and rationality. The university--while inefficient at preparing people for specialized roles, in comparison to direct role-training arrangements--is extremely well positioned to support precisely such generalized notions. Students learn--and society itself learns--that all the specialized and professionalized roles of contemporary society are fundamentally based on universal scientific knowledge and rationality, and that with schooling, ordinary persons can be transformed to possess the relevant competencies. Actual role training is not the point-- if it were, the university would indeed weaken and fragment, and more efficient competitors would win out. ... The institutional point is that post-modern society, much like its modern counterpart, ultimately rests on faith in science, rationality, and human capability, much like religious understandings. ... The university, science, and rationalized knowledge together supply a symbolic infrastructure that sustains the status of individuals and states as what are now called "actors," and provides the basis for order in a globalized but stateless world. ... These insights provide the bases for a general explanation of one of the most central, but also most intellectually problematic, empirical observations in the sociology of American higher education. This is the finding that the extreme variations in resources and quality among higher-educational organizations often yield surprisingly modest differences in many social outcomes, with individual properties (abilities, intentions, and the like) held constant. The finding has a long history ... The finding seems very unreasonable to those analysts who see educational effects as resulting from the interactions and experiences students have in immediate circumstances. From an institutional point of view, however, the finding makes sense. The student has a role and an identity in what is really a national and global institution. ... The role and the identity thus have transcendent meanings: they are known by the student and everyone around the student, including all sorts of gatekeepers in society. An individual's opportunities and expectations are substantially transformed by becoming a college graduate, and this transformation is in good part independent of the particular college or particular student experiences involved. ... Thus, the particulars of one's university experience may show modest effects on one's life chances, but becoming a "graduate" generates very large effects on one's future life, and is known by everyone to do so. Naturally, a wide variety of intellectual and psychological effects follow. An individual who will experience all of his or her subsequent life course as a graduate is clearly a very different person from one who will experience life as a non-graduate. Where effects can be found on individual life outcomes is where higher education is itself stratified and categorically demarcated. American community colleges, for instance, have weaker positive effects on their graduates than four-year schools ... Higher education is, and has been, the central cultural institution of the modern system. Over many centuries, it links an ever-expanding set of specific activities, roles, and organizations to a universal and unified cultural core. And it defines categories of certified persons as carrying these linkages, and as possessing both the relevant cultural core and the specific authority and capacity to carry out the roles.

Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:35 PM
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6: I like how you brought up the citizenship angle as though I hadn't even mentioned it in my comment.


Posted by: Zippy the Comment Frog | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:41 PM
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Ruy Teixera and others have been putting out the idea that class is defined mostly be education rather than income. That is, people earning $30-60,000 a year are middle class if they've got college degrees, and working class if they're not. He also argues that people earning less that $30,000 are the poor, not the working class, and are mostly either non-white or have personal problems (mental illness, handicaps, addiction, etc.)

To him this explains the idea that Democrats are elitist and the Republicans populist -- college graduate people in that income group are much more likely than non-graduates to vote Democratic. The real elite ($60,000+) is mostly Republican, despite David Brooks.

Long ago a sociologist friend of mine explained that you don't ask why people go to college. Going to college is an institution, he said, and what it means if something is an institution is that you don't ask "Why?"

Trying to figure out who pays for education and why, and who benefits, is a tremendously messy task. Trying to link the payments intelligibly to the benefits is an even messier task. The system seems unreformable but I can easily see it lasting another century.

I think that relying on education to increase social equality is self-contradictory. Education defines stratification, bringing some people up and pushing others down. That's why grades and tests are given, nd why admission is selective, and why people are flunked out, and why some schools rank higher than others.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:51 PM
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6: Yes, talented Americans often prefer to go into finance or consulting after undergrad. But it's silly to pretend, as the nyt article does, that America's talent pool is entirely a product of America's schools. How many American companies were founded by IIT grads?


Posted by: anonymous coward | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:53 PM
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Literacy is important so that working people can read and write about anarchism. Math and science are also important so that working people can learn how to produce dynamite...PowerPoint presentations.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 4:53 PM
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A few years ago round where I live Toyota opened an assembly plant and explained that they chose Ontario over the other location they considered in the southern United States by saying they found it easier to train workers who knew how to read and who didn't need pictograms to explain how to operate the machinery. No joke.


Posted by: johnston | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:05 PM
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Countries with lots of smart people do better on average than countries with lots of dumb people. Similarly schools with lots of smart students produce better outcomes than schools with lots of dumb students. So there is an association between high performing schools and high performing countries but it is not cause and effect.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:06 PM
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8: Doh.


Posted by: ptm | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:08 PM
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13: Shearer, your tautology falls on its face given the example of the US. We have the biggest economy in the world and yet we're chock-a-block full of dumb people.

You don't need millions of smart people to be a success. Hell, look at our President, he's dumb as shit and still plenty successful.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:12 PM
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Shearer, banging the IQ determinism drum, posits a strange and (if you're American) wonderful world where all countries remain equally successful for all time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:12 PM
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11 covered it, if you delete the irony tags

Have we just been lucky the last few years because our economy has been based on selling homes to each other at inflated prices instead of making things? ...yes, for a weird definition of "lucky"

You been lucky? I done ok. The economy has pretty much sucked since the 70s, borrowing instead of producing, creating fake numbers based on finance and upward redistribution.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:32 PM
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7:I've had a book on post modernism open on my desktop since Thursday.

I would love to understand economic growth and development outside of a meta-narrative or whatever. Every econblog, and the Marxist blogs, I visit spend most of their time trying to understand growth and fit it into their models.

I would guess the consensus answer is "social institutions" with much argument about which institutions are more productive, all of course based on meta-narratives or totalities.

Maybe the pomo economics would say there can't be one economics for all, but to me that creates an opportunity for the neo-feudalists.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:46 PM
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Texeira counts the some college group as working class. Does that seem right to you, do they have less in common with people with degrees than with the high school only demographic?


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 5:56 PM
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Umm, to sum up and leave

This particular theory, however, hasn't been borne out by history.>/i>

I disagree. Goneril's 7 describes one condition of capitalist accumulation, the creation of liberal bourgeois institutions. MN's 11 describes a structurally later necessary condition, proletarian awakening.

The "historical theory" disproven probably fails because it limits itself to late-Capitalist economies, not looking at the developing & undeveloped world.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 6:01 PM
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Americans were living in awe of the Japanese "economic miracle" and assumed that it was made possible by a school system whose students consistently routed ours on all those comparative international achievement tests.

It may have had more to do with selling but not buying from foreigners...

Have we just been lucky the last few years because our economy has been based on selling homes to each other at inflated prices instead of making things?

...or it may have been the Tokyo real estate market that did it. Likewise, the United States.

How much of a link is there between an education population and the economy?

That was the selling point. If you were selling budget increases for schools back in the 80's (or the 90's) to bidnessmen what you said was that the economy wouldn't function without expensively-trained graduates. If you were a democratic socialist type trying to sell more money for schools to the mundanes, you'd offhandly mention that the Soviets had 11 billion scientists or something and wasn't it as shame, etc. etc.

The Russians, however, don't seem to have been able to utilize their graduates, either because they didn't have the structure set up to take advantage of them ('Comrade! Go do SCIENCE!' 'All I've got to work with are some sticks and a moldy ham sandwich!' 'Persevere in the face of adversity like the Great Stalin, comrade!'), or because their graduates weren't as well-trained as advertised. I'd bet on both of those. The economic numbers were always vastly over-stated, which sorta indicates that the large numbers of educated people did nothing to help increase productivity. Subtracting the Communism doesn't seem to have resulted in a huge intellectual flowering.

Meanwhile, in the US, it seems to take about 14-15 years to impart the same amount of knowledge/training (not the amount of education!) that it used to take 12 years to impart to an average student. At least to hear tell from the sort of people who post around here. But it's really hard to measure, which is kind of the immediate problem.

Or is it because the "badness" of our schools isn't a uniform mediocrity but instead extreme inequity?

And then there's that.

max
['I would say that the economy of the last few years has been somewhat fraudulent.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 6:02 PM
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15.1: Minne, the tautology is just that: as long as smart people are defined as those who produce an allegedly better economy, they are indeed smart.

Word from a recent issue of Harper's, an article by Kevin Phillips, "Numbers Racket", on 'Why the economy is worse than we know,' standard measures of economic health, in the form of unemployment figures, inflation and the Consumer Price Index show a highly distorted assessment of the health of the US economy over the last several decades.

This leaves aside whether even corrected standard measures are the way we should like to judge better outcomes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 6:04 PM
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pwnd! By Max's tag-line!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 6:07 PM
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7:I've had a book on post modernism open on my desktop since Thursday.

The Stanford Institutionalists aren't post-modern in their orientation at all, really. Rather, they take sort of social order (insofar as it exists) that as one of their topics, not as a mode of analysis.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 6:29 PM
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16

"Shearer, banging the IQ determinism drum, posits a strange and (if you're American) wonderful world where all countries remain equally successful for all time."

I didn't say IQ was the only factor determining economic success and even if it was, IQ is not evenly distributed among nations (see here ) so I don't see where you are getting the "equally successful" bit.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 6:55 PM
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15 22

"tautology"

The association between per capita gdp and average IQ is not a tautology.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 6:59 PM
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25: the "for all time" would probably be the key phrase, reading as a component of raw animal intelligence being apparently lately deprecated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 7:30 PM
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Is our population education?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 7:31 PM
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(Sorry, I couldn't help aiming low.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 7:32 PM
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29: what's miraculous is that it was still just sitting there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 7:37 PM
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James, That business about IQ and the wealth of nations sounds like the kind of nonsense that will turn your brain to mush. You would do better to consult Adam Smith on "natural talents" (from The Wealth of Nations)

The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not upon many occasions so much the cause, as the effect of the division of labour. The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, seems to arise not so much from nature, as from habit, custom, and education. When they came into the world, and for the first six or eight years of their existence, they were perhaps, very much alike, and neither their parents nor playfellows could perceive any remarkable difference. About that age, or soon after, they come to be employed in very different occupations.

Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 7:45 PM
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Bravo!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 7:52 PM
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The association between per capita gdp and average IQ is not a tautology.

Cause and effect on this could possibly run somewhat both ways, but it's pretty unambiguous that prosperity creates high IQs much more than high IQs create prosperity.

Me, I think it's all height - look at the correlation between height and prosperity. That pretty much demonstrates that tallness causes economic productivity. I think it has to do with being able to reach stuff on the top shelf.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:06 PM
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31: The reproduction of the relations of production!*

*I'm teaching Althusser this week.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:18 PM
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Shearer's point is modest and true, although people are predisposed to beat up on him as usual. Among industrialized capitalist countries, there are many correlations between educational outcomes and economic growth. If one simply views IQ as another educational outcome, as opposed to some inherent brute biological thing, then it makes sense to add it to the list.

Contra PF in 33, it definitely isn't "unambiguous" which way the causation runs -- it's quite hard to disentangle. My guess is some mutually reinforcing virtuous cycle.

The World Bank and others are investing a ton in primary and secondary education on the basis of these kinds of correlations, guessing that they are causal. The evidence is stronger for primary/secondary than post-secondary.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:29 PM
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P.S. one not only has the problem of what is causing what, but whether both educational and economic success are caused by some omitted third factor, like institutional stability. There's probably that too.

Anyway, Education is Good, say the cognoscenti, all educated themselves, and on this basis much is decided. I'll take the Education and Health Are Good consensus in international development over the Privatization is Good consensus of the 90s.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:33 PM
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once i did an IQ test out of curiosity and got a score 129, thought then that i could score may be a bit higher, +10 may be, if it was in my language
but that was not an official mensa test, just one of those sites with fun personality tests
so i don't know, especially, if they said that my spatio-calculatoro-mathematical abilities are higher than average and i kinda doubt it
what i think is that the environment dictates one's fate, if Edison was born in some place other than his own or another time, he would have been a different man and invented not an electric bulb, may be a wheel or a stirrup or a fire
what we blame our Great khan is that he dispersed all our people around the continent and depopulated the country instead of concentrating in the homeland for the sake of nation, and Khubilai, the traitor, finished the work making Beijing the capital, and if you have 1 person per km, i'm not sure how we were going to develop the modern industry etc
i was wondering why people are not commenting today as often as always, hope they are not terrorized by me and JBS :)


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:35 PM
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if one simply views IQ as another educational outcome, as opposed to some inherent brute biological thing

He isn't, though. He's saying the other good educational outcomes -- indeed, good non-educational outcomes, such as greater economic productivity -- are in part caused by the high IQs of the overall population.

I apologize if I'm misinterpreting him, but that really does seem to be the point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:36 PM
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he would have been a different man and invented not an electric bulb, may be a wheel or a stirrup or a fire

Or an electric fire stirrup, used as a sex toy. It's all context.

In re: Kublai, the dude was too busy decreeing stately pleasure domes and so on to really take the long view.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:38 PM
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If one simply views IQ as another educational outcome, as opposed to some inherent brute biological thing, then it makes sense to add it to the list.

To view IQ as "another educational outcome" is precisely to question its validity as a "scientific"/scientistic measure of something that is real, of something that has meaning above and beyond the parameters of that which is measured. Which is exactly what critics, but not so much proponents, of the concept are inclined to do. When it comes to IQ, most (almost all, I'd say) true believers really are talking about brute biology.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:47 PM
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7: Clearly something to it, but I have the same question with this I do with a lot of sociology -- how can optimizing behavior change institutions? How do they fight it out? In education, this relates to the question of how community colleges / University of Phoenix / distance learning might challenge traditional universities as a means of social mobility at some point. Also, the emphasis on static institutions leads them to I think underestimate the functional advantages of a university-type education where research and teaching are provided by the same institution.

One prejudice here at Unfogged is that many posters are likely to have fancy advanced educations but be somewhat dissatisfied with the results, otherwise we wouldn't be spending so much time commenting on the net.

37: another classic comment from read.

38: maybe, can't speak for Shearer. I do wonder if IQ is perhaps related to multigenerational stuff that is not simply a result of present schooling, but cultural habits engrained over generations. Kind of the extent to which abstract thought is woven into the fabric of the culture. Like, I think the Chinese are probably getting IQ benefits from two thousand years of Confucian educational norms, and Jews get present benefits from rabbinical culture. All that stuff affects child-rearing practices and what is valued. But anyway, speculation.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:53 PM
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the,
39 really, and attacking Japan to waste more people
and destroying the Empire
when i was there i met a student who told me that she was a descendant of one of the horde landed during the first attack, may be, just a legend
but it was so exciting to learn that there could have been survivors


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:55 PM
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42: well, keep in mind that a significant percentage of people in Asia are direct descendants of Ghenghis, so she probably was, sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 8:59 PM
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Completely off-topic, but does anyone have suggestions for where to buy inexpensive, but not likely to fall apart after one use, luggage in New York?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:01 PM
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Can you get to a Costco? If so, they have cheap luggage that apparently holds up reasonably well. Plus, they pay their employees better than most other big box retailers.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:09 PM
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Can you get to a Costco? If so, they have cheap luggage that apparently holds up reasonably well. Plus, they pay their employees better than most other big box retailers.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:09 PM
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Crap. Sorry, I just love Costco so much I had to say it twice.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:09 PM
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94: hey hey,, who who doesn't doesn't.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:12 PM
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.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:13 PM
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48 might make sense in about 44 comments.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:15 PM
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Jetpack's comments are like good wine: they need to age a bit to reach their peak.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:16 PM
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i bought a suitcase from the JC Penney's, they gave me discount 50%, a samsonite, looks durable enough
another samsonite suitcase, the big one i bought back home, i broke the lock the first day i came here trying to open it, coz the frame got distorted, i guess, during the travel and that together with the largest taxi charge in my life
i thought, like, this is ominous, but then i said to myself, may be all my future big troubles are resolved symbolically by this small nuisance or we say 'bartsad' in such a case
i mean i don't know how durable samsonite suitcases are


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:18 PM
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Read, does "bartsad" mean "nuisance" or does it mean "small incident that is a marker for larger issues"?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:20 PM
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There's a Costco in Queens, but if the online Costco luggage selection is anything to go by, I'm not sure it's worth the trip.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:20 PM
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Like, I think the Chinese are probably getting IQ benefits from two thousand years of Confucian educational norms, and Jews get present benefits from rabbinical culture. All that stuff affects child-rearing practices and what is valued. But anyway, speculation.

Oh, well, then. Don't mind me. If my "IQ" is low, I come by it honestly, since I come from one of the "stupid" "races." I'm just wallowing in the muck with the pigs, as usual, drinking whiskey and occasionally reciting some lines from Yeats. Naturally, I'm quite musical, if not very intelligent.

Seriously, PGD: you can't really be serious?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:22 PM
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Witt, it has the second meaning plus it's resolution


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:22 PM
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Also, completely OT, but I was shocked to read this :

Last year 133 women were killed in Basra - 47 of them for so-called 'honour killings', according to the Basra Security Committee. Out of those 47 cases there have been only three convictions for murder.

Have there been a lot of articles about honor killings in postwar Iraq, and I've just been oblivious? Obviously this particular one makes UK headlines because it's a 17-year-old girl with a crush on a 22-year-old British soldier, but for all the news about kidnappings, suicide bombing, and other violence, I hadn't grasped that murdering women for these sorts of reasons was so widespread in Iraq right now.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:24 PM
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I remember honor killings being reported on for a while shortly after the invasion, but the coverage seems to have faded even before general Iraq coverage seems to have faded.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:27 PM
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Isn't that what gorillas use?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:27 PM
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I'll be a little terse. Watchin' Peckinpah.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:30 PM
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60: speaking of honor killings. Which movie?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:31 PM
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I'm just wallowing in the muck with the pigs, as usual, drinking whiskey and occasionally reciting some lines from Yeats. Naturally, I'm quite musical, if not very intelligent.

Oh great, now we're going to hear about hardship from the fucking Irish all night. Way to go PGD.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:31 PM
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Pat Garrett. I almost watched Chushingura. I guess it's honor killing night here at the hacienda.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:32 PM
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But the Irish saved civilization during the Middle Ages. Surely that was a boost to collective IQ, distributed individually.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:33 PM
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50: come on, 'rithmetic is in the post title. Divide! Divide! Perchance to conquer.

Were I truly clever, instead of doubling the letters I would have doubled their ASCII codes and written the letters so indexed, but that level of unfunny incomprehensibility exceeds even me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:35 PM
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Educating monks is like giving your luggage to gorillas.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:35 PM
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66: Um, what?

I saw a monk on the subway the other day. Very unexpected. The robes always make me think of turmeric, even though the color generally gets described as saffron.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:40 PM
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65: The correct answer would have been 91.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:43 PM
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67: both post-apocalyptic sgnifiers, if A Canticle For Liebowitz and Planet Of The Apes are to be believed. Which, really, why wouldn't they be?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:44 PM
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One might say that the Irish monks who saved civilization didn't do as much transmission of DNA into the future Irish race as they might have. If one believed in that sort of thing.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:44 PM
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68: lies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:45 PM
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I'm sure they had plenty of nephews and nieces, IYKWIM.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:45 PM
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And we have the Irish to thank for spaces between words, or so goes the theory.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:46 PM
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I rish.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:49 PM
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If the Irish had really been smart, they'd have assigned one monk per scriptorium to write in all the spaces on all the texts. Think of the efficiency gains!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 9:51 PM
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Youse all hate the Irish, obviously.

Joe Humphrey, Bob Orme, Ned Murphy
and I,
We packed up our duds on,
the eleventh of July [that's a joke, of course, but please don't ask me to explain it].

I'm a jolly good fellow,...and the boys from the Chapeau will not be out-done. Up the Pontiac!


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:03 PM
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Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson just got married. I'm not sure how to interpret this in no-relationship-policy terms.

"By law, anyone whatsoever can get married for any reason whatsoever. But is that what you you want to do?"

"Everyone does it. Why not?"

"Marriage is life's way of telling you your life is over".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:13 PM
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"A heart-warming tale of two NYC burnouts who found each other".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:14 PM
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The triumph of hope over experience, Emerson. I'm surprised you're so hostile to Dr. Johnson, since the two of you have so much in common. The narcissism of minor differences, I guess.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:19 PM
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80

A Canticle for Liebowitz is really good. Has anyone read the sequels written by the guy's kid?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:19 PM
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81

One might say that the Irish monks who saved civilization didn't do as much transmission of DNA into the future Irish race as they might have. If one believed in that sort of thing.

But they could still influence the IQ of the future Irish race, as 41 points out.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:19 PM
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80: it is really good, and I've been glad to have taken the implicit advice given here to read it, but man, that is one bleak, Catholic, anti-intellectual worldview pervading that book.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:21 PM
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Kris plays Mr. Bonney plenty charismatic, and who wouldn't envy the way Rita looks at him when he takes her hand. No Irish hatred there.

Poe takes all the abuse. Each of the classic western character actors, as they get killed off in one set piece after another, goes out with more dignity than that corporate toady, but of course he lives and his kind come to dominate.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:23 PM
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Dr. J. was a feudal apologist of the first water and worst ilk. He also was a prescriptive grammarian and seemed to try to narrow people's interests by disapproving of things. Grumpy old men don't all like one another, oddly enough.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:25 PM
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If'n y'all'll 'scuse me ferabit, I'm agonna switch to Chushi.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:26 PM
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Fiat voluntas sua, Teach.

I can't even remember when I read it, so I don't think I picked up very well on the anti-intellectualism.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:26 PM
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if it wasn't for Dr. J's prescriptive grammarianism, the Nets wouldn't have bothered to change from "New York" to "New Jersey" when they moved to New Jersey.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:26 PM
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well, I guess that would be more his penchant for stickleria in general.

That old martinet!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:28 PM
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Boy, the Pirates are a really, really pathetic team right now. I feel bad that my team is whupping up on them right now. And I also feel bad that I can't go to any of these guaranteed Phillies wins.


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:31 PM
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Dr. Johnson wasn't prescriptive enough for the Warriors, apparently.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:35 PM
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what, do they play in a non-golden state nowadays?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:38 PM
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They play in a non-San Francisco city.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:57 PM
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so, they're not the San Francisco Warriors.

THIS IS A NONISSUE


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:59 PM
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it it should should go go without without saying saying,, but but I I love love blowing blowing goats goats..


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 10:59 PM
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As a distraction from the IQ nonsense, the hopelessly naive realism about the education system despite my efforts in 4 & 7, and the Hibernophobia, here is respected Texas urologist and vasectomy specialist Dr Dick Chopp.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 11:01 PM
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I was pressed with 7, Gonerill, in that it can't be easy to write a two (original) word comment that contains its own negation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 11:07 PM
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Pressed, impressed, repressed: who cares! Words are for stupids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 11:08 PM
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but man, that is one bleak, Catholic, anti-intellectual worldview pervading that book.

Anti-intellectual??

1) I have always wanted to tap the dirt off my shoes on the way out of somewhere. Like America. Like life.

2) It is my firm conviction that the reason SETI has received no signals is that 99.9% of all intelligent species kill themselves in 5-10 thousand years of civilization.

3) Considering 2, why should the monks bother to preserve the fruits of civilization at all? Can Sophocles redeem his culture, or the race after we burn up in some cannibalistic frenzy? Just the opposite, I think.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-26-08 11:43 PM
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Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 12:02 AM
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Texeira counts the "some college" group as working class. Does that make sense to people here; do they have less in common with people with degrees (you people) than with the high school only demographic?


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 12:05 AM
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I think it's fair to consider a substantial portion of the 'some college' crowd -- above 30, say -- as unsuccessful at moves up, or unable to prevent downward movement.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 12:10 AM
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Speaking of the end of humanity, am I recalling correctly that a movie was to be made of Riddley Walker?

I don't see any mention of it in the Wikipedia entry, but then who would believe anything you read there anyway.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 12:15 AM
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80: Has anyone read the sequels written by the guy's kid?

Have not heard of these, unless you are conflating them with a sequel (although it takes place during the cycle of the first book), Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman that was started by Miller himself and apparently finished by Terry Bisson (Bisson's interesting story on that here). I read the book, it was OK, not surprisingly a letdown after the first and not very memorable (I had forgotten, if I ever really noticed, that it was not only a work by Miller until I was reading up on it just now.) Miller was apparently quite the difficult man.

Florida, Lucius received a fan letter (an unheard of thing!) from Walt Miller, who lived only a few miles away. It praised his writing at some length. Then, at the bottom, it said: PS: This does not mean I want to meet you!

Another interesting note is that as crewman on bombers in WWII he participated in the controversial destruction of the Benedictine Abbey at Monte Cassino.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 12:24 AM
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102: I can find no credible mention of a Riddley Walker movie. Hoban himself adapted it for the stage, is that what you are thinking of? And it seems to be accepted that it inspired much of the story of the kids in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 12:47 AM
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103: Yes, that conflation happened.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 12:57 AM
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103: Messed up the blockquote a bit, the writer who received the fan letter was Lucius Sheperd, who lived within a few miles of Miller in Florida at the time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 1:11 AM
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zimbabwe has one of the most highly educated populations in Africa.


Posted by: bryan | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 5:37 AM
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108

Have we just been lucky the last few years because our economy has been based on selling homes to each other at inflated prices instead of making things?

David Harvey's The New Imperialism has quite a lot of discussion of the transition from economic growth based on expanded reproduction to economic growth based on fictitious capital [speculation, gambling, etc] and what he calls 'accumulation by dispossesion' [legal theft, essentially]. His take -- hardly radical -- is that US economy/financial system made that shift a long while ago.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 5:52 AM
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I wake up to discover that I am working class! Break bread with me, pencil-necked eggheads of the Ivory tower. Break bread and do shots.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 6:39 AM
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2) It is my firm conviction that the reason SETI has received no signals is that 99.9% of all intelligent species kill themselves in 5-10 thousand years of civilization.

3) Considering 2, why should the monks bother to preserve the fruits of civilization at all? Can Sophocles redeem his culture, or the race after we burn up in some cannibalistic frenzy? Just the opposite, I think.

Well, the last scene appears to offer a minor bit of redemption for the monks, who's project has been in it's particulars quite profoundly anti-intellectual, at least in the way intellectual life is traditionally imagined outside of the Catholic church. Mostly it's just a profoundly angry and pessimistic book, which I liked about it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 6:49 AM
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Texeira counts the "some college" group as working class.

That would include people unsuccessful in their attempts at getting a four-year degree, plus people with 2-year degrees, which are normally vocational or tech degrees. So I'd say yes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 6:56 AM
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I wake up to discover that I am working class! Break bread with me, pencil-necked eggheads of the Ivory tower.

I dunno, Sif. Does it have to Wonder Bread?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 6:59 AM
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I too am working class under the texeira definition, to my amusement, but there could be a cultural difference between Sweden and the US here.

The US some college crowd is quite big and the most republican. Who are these people, though? Small business owners? Southern baptist car salesmen? Life guards?


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:03 AM
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You seem to be trying to improve yourself, though. we really respect you for that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:03 AM
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112: no, hot dog buns are perfectly appropriate.

I realize I'm an outlier here, but of my techie friends, a large number don't have 4 year degrees, and I wouldn't particularly describe them as working class.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:03 AM
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111: OK.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:04 AM
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I do think pretty much everybody manages to take a couple college classes, so in the aggregate he's probably correct. Penetration of college, at least in terms of making at least a half-hearted attempt at community college, is pretty complete.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:05 AM
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Were I educated, I would rely less on "at least".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:05 AM
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You'd want a pollster to ask if most of their social circle have degrees or not. And their families while your at it. Free advice to any pollsters lurking.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:07 AM
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Tech was an area where, at the beginning, there were no formal programs and the best people were self-taught. Increasingly I think that people are being hired out of formal programs, though, and I've also heard that self-taught people are less likely to be promoted.

I do know one person who was hired right out of high school and was making six figures by the time he was 20. His parents pressured him to get a BS degree, though, and he did.

Bob Dylan was reported to be sensitive about the fact that he didn't have a degree.

Sociology etc. make generalizations about groups of including tens of millions of people, and not every unique snowflake will be properly described.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:11 AM
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120.1 and .2 are largely true in my estimation, and offer a piece of the explanation of why I went back to school (the other purely job related piece of the explanation is that a lot of the jobs people would fail to be promoted out of were (are) being moved overseas).

I also think tech is becoming marginally less of a startup culture, which culture tends to offer more nontraditional opportunities than large firms. It remains to be scene if it'll continue to be a sector where you can bootstrap so much of the knowledge you need in your garage or basement or whatever. That was a pretty unique aspect to the past few waves of tech boom.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:28 AM
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121.1: is similar to my take (and one of the reasons I did more degrees, although not the primary one)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 7:42 AM
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Adding to Teixeira's take, I saw something once showing that the more practical and vocational, and the less liberal-artsy a field was, the more Republican its graduates were. This was especially notable in nursing and teaching -- even though these fields tend Democratic and liberal, they're much less so than academic itself. (A lot of people also enter these fields for religious reasons, the way nuns used to.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 8:13 AM
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123: Here is a summary of the results from one 2004 election study:

Vote choice varies by college major: Support for Kerry was the highest among those majoring in arts and humanities (66%) and the social sciences (63%). Support for Bush was highest among those majoring in education (51%), the sciences (46%), and business (46%).

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 9:07 AM
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98.2) It is my firm conviction that the reason SETI has received no signals is that 99.9% of all intelligent species kill themselves in 5-10 thousand years of civilization.

That seems pretty arbitrary to have a firm conviction of. Would the five-to-10 rule hold regardless of average lifespan of a given species? Regardless of how long a year takes on their planet? And you seem to take for granted that the end is very near for humanity. To some around here, that's not a controversial statement, but to me and probably others, expecting not just cultural collapse but actual extinction within the next hundred years is needly pessimistic. (Although, admittedly, as far as interstellar communication is concerned, the collapse of civilization is about as bad as extinction.)

Maybe you should have said "... 99.9 percent of all intelligent species experience extinction or collapse of civilization in as many generations as humans have been civilized for until the present, plus a dozen at most." But I guess that's less readable, so never mind.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 1:43 PM
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Many cultures have survived for thousands of generations already and are still going strong. For example, the yeast cultures.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 1:47 PM
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126: Not intelligent.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 1:50 PM
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It is my firm conviction that the reason SETI has received no signals is that 99.9% of all intelligent species kill themselves in 5-10 thousand years of civilization have better things to do with their time than beam simple signals into space on the off chance that somebody will pick them up.

Fixed.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 1:53 PM
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127: Elitist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 1:55 PM
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128: Personally, I thought alien intelligence was doing the alien equivalent of screening calls with caller ID.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 2:04 PM
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Aliens have better intellectual filtration than to think you can get useful results out of an equation whose terms include "at least 1 'cos we're here", "at least as long as we've been here 'cos we dunno", and "the life of the universe".


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 3:34 PM
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To answer my own question: it turns out that Filene's Basement has some inexpensive luggage.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-27-08 5:51 PM
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