Impoverished Rural Chinese Also Smart

The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results from China outside of areas like Shanghai have finally been released. From the BBC:

China’s results in international education tests – which have never been published – are “remarkable”, says Andreas Schleicher, responsible for the highly-influential Pisa tests.

The Pisa 2009 tests showed that Shanghai was top of the international education rankings.

But it was unclear whether Shanghai and another chart-topper, Hong Kong, were unrepresentative regional showcases.

Mr Schleicher says the unpublished results reveal that pupils in other parts of China are also performing strongly.

“Even in rural areas and in disadvantaged environments, you see a remarkable performance.”

In particular, he said the test results showed the “resilience” of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds – and the “high levels of equity” between rich and poor pupils.

Schleicher attributes this to cultural differences, saying:

“In China, the idea is so deeply rooted that education is the key to mobility and success.”

and also:

… it’s a philosophical difference – expecting all pupils to make the grade, rather than a “sorting mechanism” to find a chosen few.

Ensnaring Men for Child Support

A rage-inducing Reason article:

When the government accuses you of fathering a child, no matter how flimsy the evidence, you are one month away from having your life wrecked. Federal law gives a man just 30 days to file a written challenge; if he doesn’t, he is presumed guilty. And once that steamroller of justice starts rolling, dozens of statutory lubricants help make it extremely difficult, and prohibitively expensive, to stop—even, in most cases, if there’s conclusive DNA proof that the man is not the child’s father.

Here’s how it works: When an accused “obligor” fails, for whatever reason, to send his response on time, the court automatically issues a “default judgment” declaring him the legal father. It does not matter if he was on vacation, was confused, or (as often happens) didn’t even receive the summons, or if he simply treated the complaint’s deadlines with the same lack of urgency people routinely exhibit toward jury duty summonses—he’s now the dad.

‘Angry Queers’ Vandalize Mars Hill Church

Because tradition morality is so offensive that old art must be destroyed:

A homosexual activist group calling itself “Angry Queers” claimed responsibility for smashing nine windows in a church known for teaching traditional sexual morality early Tuesday morning.

“Upon arriving at the church, we discovered nine separate windows had been smashed in with rocks, including two beautiful 100-year-old stained glass windows,” wrote Tim Smith, pastor of the Portland campus of Mars Hill Church. “We estimate the damage to be several thousand dollars.”

The vandals sent an e-mail to local television station KOIN-TV stating they took the action, because “Mars Hill is notoriously anti-gay and anti-woman.”

Why Do We Sleep? Well, Why Not?

Some scientists argue that the purpose of sleep may not be restorative. In fact, they argue that the very question “why do we sleep?” is mistaken, and that the real question should be “why are we awake?”. If you are safe and warm and fed, it is a waste of energy to be awake and moving around (and possibly getting into trouble). Far better, this argument goes, is to be awake only when you have to and sleep when it suits you.

I like that. Although I don’t see how it would explain why we need to sleep.

Why Pygmies Are So Short

More evidence for genetic determination of Pygmy height:

The data revealed height had a genetic component related to Bantu ancestry: The more Bantu ancestry an individual from the Pygmy tribe had, the taller that individual tended to be. One part of the genome, on chromosome 3, was especially important in this trait, the researchers said.

“We kept seeing a lot of them [these single-letter differences] highlight that region in chromosome 3,” Tishkoff said. “It just seemed like a hot spot for selection and for very high differentiation and, as it turns out, very strong association with height as well.”

There’s been a long-standing debate about why Pygmies are so short and whether it is an adaptation to living in a tropical environment,” study researcher Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania said in a statement. “Our findings are telling us that the genetic basis of complex traits like height may be very different in globally diverse populations.

Canadians Are Moderate for a Reason

Haroon Siddiqui praises Canada’s lack of ‘extremism’ on immigrants. It’s true that we don’t see the kind of right-wing parties and rhetoric in Canada that is seen in Europe and the US. This has something to do with culture and history (and our lack of free-speech protections), but more, I think, to do with the composition of our immigrant population. Replace all the East Asians in Canada with Muslims or blacks, and you’d start seeing something different.