Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Speed Blogging, 1/29/2014: On SOTU (Sorry), How To Have CEO Kids and the Frightening Outlines of Women

First, the SOTU speech.  I fell asleep before that started and so didn't watch it.  And then I decided not to write about it because the SOTU speeches of the past didn't much matter, even though I spent effort and time to analyze them.  Aren't you happy on my behalf?

Second, this article about how to bring up successful children:  The gist is to make your children like this:

It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.

Now, those children might end up really unhappy, because of that inner insecurity and because at the same time they believe that they are better than people from other groups.  But they have excellent impulse control so they will climb to the top of the social hierarchies!

Richard Kim talks back to the authors.   I still can't get over the idea that creating unhappy children is a Good Thing because they will be rich one day.  At least they can cry in a Rolls Royce, I guess.

Neither can I quite see how any of this would work if all racial and ethnic groups did the same thing, because the places at the top of the society are but few and getting fewer every year.  You might derange your kids for no good reason!

Finally, I'm not at all sure that the authors, Chua and Rubinfeld, have really looked at the data.  If certain groups of immigrants come into this country with high levels of education and other groups as refugees who have gone through hell and may not be able to read, well, their children might fare differently in the US, and you can't give that a nod and then just drive on holding your favorite parental-style theory.  And whether we have good data to distinguish the economic performance of Mormons from that of Protestants and Catholics, say, is something I don't know, but I wonder how much Mormons might help each other to get ahead and I also wonder what the data actually shows, once we standardize for all the relevant economic variables (education, location etc.).

Third, an American agreement with the fairly common idea that women are responsible for making heterosexual men think about sex:

A Southern Baptist pastor in Virginia has warned women in his congregation that they are sinning if their clothes allow others to see the “outline” of their bodies.
The Christian Post pointed out on Tuesday that HeartCry Missionary Society founder Paul Washer had posted the sermon to YouTube last week, where he says that God wants women to “adorn themselves with proper clothing.”
“That tells me that there is clothing that’s improper for a Christian woman,” the pastor explains. “That’s just logic.”

It's the same logic the Taliban used (and may still use) in Afghanistan:  The shape of a woman must not be visible through her burqa.

What about cardboard boxes (piled up high enough to cover all of me) with a periscope?  The advantage is that I could have all sorts of guns inside the box and nobody would know.  The disadvantages are pretty obvious.  But no outlines would be visible.

I have sometimes imagined what might happen if women had the ability to make themselves completely invisible.  You'd think that would be great for all the religious men who don't want to see women's outlines.  But then women could sneak into any place, without being spotted!  The horror of it.

I'm fed up with these arguments, because they take all agency away from men (uncontrollable beasts, men seem to be, in some religious thinking) and because my research into the question of women's clothing is that any amount showing, even if it is two eyes, would make some religious preacher tell us that women must cover up more.

This is not to argue that there should be no rules about what people wear, of course, just that the rules should not be so much more burdensome for women than in general.