Saturday, May 18, 2002


I'm not praising, I'm not blaming, I'm just reporting the facts. But as to one item I can't help myself -- "'It dredges up stereotypes and issues we really don't want on the table,' said Jessica Keimowitz, director of college counseling at the New Jewish High School of Greater Boston." Really, Jessica? Is it really true that we don't like this particular stereotype? Tell that to our mothers . . . .

UPDATE: Reader Adam Bonin points out that the Wall Street Journal also wrote about this on April 29.

The WSJ article is accompanied by an interesting table ranking SAT scores by religious denomination. The fascinating factoid is that Jews are not at the top of the list. That honor belongs to Unitarians. Missing from the list are atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists. I wonder how those denominations would have done?

Friday, May 17, 2002

Fear of Speaking One's Mind

Great exchange among Eugene, Matt Welch, Eve Kayden, and others on fear of saying unpopular things.

Eve is right that one should focus on the topic of controversial remarks not on a controversial manner of speaking.

I agree with Matt who can't imagine why anyone would worry about saying something. I hang out with neo-traditionalists in NYC who actually say that they worry about such things. As both a neo-trad and a libertarian, I'm unlikely to worry about such things (libertarians never do).

SF author Robert Heinlein's leading character Jubal Harshaw from Stranger in a Strange Land said that he was twice as hard to push around since he was both a physician and a lawyer. That would certainly work. I'm in one of those catagories and certainly have the mouth. I note that the articulate are harder to shut up because others fear a tounge lashing.

Those of us lucky enought to reside in the US have a lot less than most (any?) to worry about in the realm of expression. Even ignoring the 1st, we have an advanced private economy where it is easy for anyone (no matter how deviate) to find a job.

The modern communications environment aids the deviate. While it's true that as primates we crave acceptance by members of our troop, we're not stuck with the small troop we're born into. Even if we don't move to the Big City to find others who share our own twisted vision, we can easily find them on the Nets and communicate with them. Thus social ostracism is much less powerful a control measure than it used to be.

Then since the 60's happened, the opposition can hardly argue that anything you say is violating sacred norms. Anyone who tries to make that argument can be dismissed with a chuckle.

"When I was born, smoking was a virtue and sodomy a vice." Since paganism, sodomy, bastardy, body piercing, and a whole list of behaviors, beliefs, and statuses which were once verbotten are now protected by law, anything goes.

I can easily list [next project] more than 50 things which would once have got one in serious trouble but are now perfectly OK.

Anyone attacked for their deviate behavior (calling for racist tax cuts, for example) can just say "Mine is merely an alternative life style. I understand they're even starting to teach it in the schools.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Car-impound law faces challenge: State court to review action when driver's license is suspended

Relates the sad tale of Washingtonians (the State of) who have their vehicles siezed when they are found to be driving without a valid license.

In the course of the story we find this bit of math:

Of the 178 fatality accidents the state patrol responded to last year, 15 involved suspended drivers. An estimated 340,000 of Washington's 4.2 million motorists are driving with suspended or revoked licenses.

As is usually the case in such matters, no one has done the math to see if these numbers establish that unlicensed drivers are significantly more dangerous than licensed ones:



The power of spreadsheets. So it looks like unlicensed drivers are about 4% more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than licensed ones.