Most Read Posts This Year

  1. The Problem With The Simple Living Movement
  2. Two Types of Self Esteem
  3. School Mission Statements
  4. When Parents Are Too Child-Centered
  5. What Engineers Get Wrong

Each was written prior to 2015. Meaning it’s time to step up my game this year. Thank you as always for stopping by. Most readers were from the United States, with Canada and the United Kingdom close behind. Most groovy of all, readers were from 139 different countries.

My two favorite Christmas gifts this year.

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Choosing to Be Different

A bright, personable, caring young woman in my writing seminar this fall said she had absolutely no interest in marriage because her parents had failed so miserably at it.

I felt no need to sell marriage, but her passionate rejection of it reminded me of how we often generalize from our experiences way too much.

Then I read this blog post, The In-Between Process, by an exceptional alumnae of my writing seminar. And this sentence jumped off the page, “I get to choose to be different, and I will be.”

As sociologists remind us, the vast majority of time we follow pretty damn closely in our parent(s)’ footsteps. As we see in her friend’s kitchen, some though do manage to “be different” by seeking alternative family mentors and friends.

Those of us fortunate to enjoy happy and healthy families should never take them for granted. Instead, we should look for opportunities to love and support those mired in troubled, dysfunctional families.

Paragraph to Ponder

From Tyler Cowen, “The Marriages of Power Couples Reinforce Income Inequality“:

Universal preschool, further experiments with charter schools, and higher subsidies or tax credits for children are among the policy innovations that might lift opportunities for children of lower earners. Even if those are good ideas, it is not clear how much they can overturn the advantage that comes from being a child of highly educated, highly motivated parents with lots of will and also money to spend on lessons, outings, travel and other investments in the future of their children.

The technical term is “assortative mating”. Read the New York Times marriage announcements for examples. In hindsight, I probably should have “married up”. My wife’s beauty blinded me to the fact that she rarely balanced her checkbook; planned to be a public school teacher; and owed more on her old, beat up Honda than it was worth. It’s a limit of the discipline that few economic models factor in “hotness”.

I suspect Cowen’s extrapolating from the present data too much. Sure assortative mating will continue contributing some to income inequality, but as I’ve written before here, academic achievement among female college students so dwarfs that of males that many female college grads will have no choice but to settle for partners with much more modest economic prospects.

No Men, No How

When you look up “privilege” in the dictionary you see my picture (same thing with “handsome”).

So it was only a matter of time until the universe started evening the score:

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Is this just the first salvo in a war against me and my fellow “non trans male identifying” brethren? If you see me cycling around town all by myself looking sad you’ll know why.

 

 

North Korea’s Abduction Project

From :

Kim Il-sung, in his 1946 decree “On Transporting Intellectuals from South Korea,” explained his desire to bring five hundred thousand people to the North to compensate for the mass exodus in the years leading up to the war. He envisioned an ambitious abduction project that would serve his regime while destabilizing other countries. It began with the South. An estimated eighty-four thousand South Koreans were kidnapped during the Korean War. For the first two decades after the 1953 armistice, the abductees were primarily South Korean fishermen whose boats had drifted too far up the coast. . . .

Kim Jong-il, who would go on to take over his father’s position, expanded the program outside the Koreas. He diversified and expanded intelligence operations, abducting native teachers to train North Korean spies to navigate the languages and cultures of Malaysia, Thailand, Romania, Lebanon, France, and Holland. Japanese nationals were especially sought after, because their identities could be used to create fake passports. . . .

People began to disappear from Japan in 1977. A security guard vacationing at a seaside resort two hundred miles northwest of Tokyo vanished in mid-September. A thirteen-year-old girl named Megumi Yokota, walking home from badminton practice in the port city of Niigata, was last seen eight hundred feet from her family’s front door. Dozens more went missing from other parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. A Thai woman living in Macau was grabbed on her way to a beauty salon. Four Lebanese women were brought from Beirut. A Romanian artist, having been promised an exhibition, was abducted. Some were lured onto airplanes by the prospect of jobs abroad; others were simply gagged, thrown into bags, and transported by boat to North Korea. Their families spent years searching for the missing, checking mortuaries, hiring private detectives and soothsayers. Only five of the Japanese abductees were ever seen again.