Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday observations

For your reading today here are some random tidbits that don't particularly go with anything else.
Bandersnatch does not seek out pillows for sleeping on nearly as much as the other cats. I think it must be that she's so fluffy she's her own pillow, wherever she goes.
In Belgium you can be "unbaptized". When I saw this on the news last week, I got all excited to blog about it because it seems so absurd. If you were baptized as an infant and now adult you want to dissociate yourself from the Church, just don't go. On the other hand, a few people have been so hurt within the church that I can see how having a ceremony cutting all ties and obligations could be a step forward in the healing process. It doesn't have to make sense to me to make sense to other people.
Freakonomics authors Dubner and Levitt went to pains to point out the role of Roe v Wade in the sudden and spectacular decrease in crime in New York in the 90's, concluding that the legalization of abortion resulted 15-25 years later in a highly significant decrease in just the sort of young men most likely to commit crimes (those born to mothers who couldn't or didn't want to handle raising children), and that this was in fact the driving force in reducing crime.
Contrast this with Tipping Point author Gladwell who fails to even mention this factor in his own chapter on what caused that same change in crime in NYC. Gladwell comes out in favor of the Broken Windows theory, citing the crackdown on graffiti and subway fare-jumping as making the difference.
What I'd like to know is why people are stuck on ONE thing making all the difference. Roe v Wade did not make a significant impact on population figures, but it had a huge impact on exactly that most vulnerable but very small part of the population. Without R v W, and without the increase in police numbers, would the anti-graffiti program have been enough to tip crime into a very steep decline? I doubt it. You need all the factors, together at the same time, and things can change. Stop saying it's the rock on the top of the pile! If the bottom rocks weren't there, the top one wouldn't be on top.


Tabor said...

I had not thought of that although I read both books. You are right.

Titus said...

Like the point and the bigger picture.

And the last rabbit adventure! Magnificent. Stumbled on it trying to find woodcutter for husand, and realise I don't follow you there. Must rectify.

Joe Pereira said...

Thanks for mentioning the 'unbaptizing' practice in Belgium, more fuel for my rantings against religion. Great blog, Merci