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Mr Schleicher says the unpublished results reveal that pupils in other parts of China are also performing strongly.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

The Strange Priorities of Ontario’s Human Rights Commission

Kathy Shaidle in Taki’s Magazine:

Even when they are supposedly sticking to their “housing and employment” knitting, the HRCs add to the discrimination, division, and social discord they pretend to ameliorate.

Last year, Ontario’s HRC declared that certain commonplace phrases found in online apartment ads were illegal. For instance, expressions such as “ideal for student” now constitute “age discrimination.”

But when a reporter brought over thirty “Muslim only” online apartment ads to their attention, the HRC claimed their organization was suddenly too small and overworked to prosecute these cases.

Self-Made Man

Norah Vicnent, Self-Made Man

Norah Vincent, a lesbian, dressed and lived as a man for 18 months. The resulting book—both insightful and sympathetic—is really a treasure. The chapter on relationships was particularly great reading, and will be much appreciated by manosphere readers:

Dating women as a man was a lesson in female power, and it made me, of all things, into a momentary misogynist, which, I suppose, was the best indicator that my experiment had worked. I saw my own sex from the other side, and I disliked women irrationally for a while because of it. I disliked their superiority, their accusatory smiles, their entitlement to chose or dash me with a finger-tip, an execution so lazy, so effortless, it made the defeats and even the successes unbearably humiliating. Typical male power feels by comparison like a blunt instrument, its salvos and field strategies laughably remedial next to the damage a woman can do with a single cutting word: no.

Mel Gibson vs Christopher Hitchens on Judah Maccabee

I love it. From an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg:

I mentioned to Gibson the Hitchens critique of Judah Maccabee. Hitchens argues, in essence, “No Judah, no Jesus,” that Judaism at the time (2,100 years ago or so) would simply have been swamped by assimilationist forces, and would have disappeared before the birth of Jesus. And if Jesus had not been born into a traditional Jewish household… well, you can figure out the rest.

“I can see where Hitchens is coming from, but he’s pretty puny in his thoughts, because he left out one vital ingredient,” Gibson said, “and that is that God can do what he damn well pleases! No matter what the Greeks did! And you know, he doesn’t bring that into consideration. I think he thinks that way because he might be an atheist. He’s an atheist, right?”

Why Are Creed and Nickleback So Reviled?

The question is prompted by Chuck Klosterman’s decision to hear both bands in one night—he doesn’t really seem to have an explanation himself.

Besides knowing that they’re supposedly awful, I’m not really familiar with these bands—I’ve never followed pop music. So I went and listened to a few songs, and the thing that struck me was how earnest both bands are (Klosterman does describe Creed as taking themselves very seriously). Each band seemed to have a song featuring the birth of a child, for example. There’s very little in the way of either posturing or ironic distance. I thought it was kind of endearing, but I can see how that would make them detested.

Although the Creed singer’s voice also seems kind of gimmicky.

Chuck Rudd also discusses the question.

Harvard Encourages Scholars to Publish in Open Access Journals

They say they can’t handle the publisher’s fees. Can that be true? Harvard is easily the richest university in the world, though admittedly they probably subscribe to a lot more than other universities do as well. Anyway, it’s a good sign.

It’s just a matter of time before the big publishers die off (or undergo considerable reform). Academics do the refereeing for free anyway, and publishing cost are now next to nothing. The real issue is prestige. Certain established journals have lots of it, so you want to get published in them so that you’ll be noticed. But that will presumably change over time. Setting up a reputable board and getting some university support is a good start, and the reputation will come. The Philosopher’s Imprint is already more than ten years old.

People Don’t Know Anything and It Doesn’t Really Matter

People are more ignorant than you can possibly imagine.

Fortunately, democracy doesn’t really require a well-informed public. Typically, someone thinks “I don’t like how things are going for me/for my neighbourhood” so he votes for the guy who isn’t in power. The result is that if enough people are unhappy, they get a new leader. That’s not such a bad arrangement: people aren’t necessarily informed about the system, the system is informed about the people.