Saturday, August 12, 2006

Over At City Journal

City Journal is an unusual item, focussing on the issues of cities in particular, and New York in particular, from a center/right perspective. I tend to be more interested in the articles about general culture. On tap at the moment are two by Theodore Dalrymple and one by Gerry Garibaldi.

From Dalrymple's article on unwed motherhood
It has long been an official pretense in Britain that we have so many teenage pregnancies—the most by far in Europe—because British girls don’t know where babies come from. The answer to the problem, therefore, is yet more sex education: ever more children putting ever more condoms onto ever more bananas at ever-earlier ages.

And from his commentary on terrorists, with reference to Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent:
Conrad tells us that one of the sources of terrorism is laziness, or at least impatience, which is to say ambition unmatched by perseverance and tolerance of routine. Mr. Verloc, the secret agent, has a “dislike of all kinds of recognized labour,” which, says Conrad, is “a temperamental defect which he shared with a large proportion of revolutionary reformers of a given social state. For”—Conrad continues—“obviously one does not revolt against the advantages and opportunities of that state, but against the price which must be paid in the same coin of accepted morality, self-restraint, and toil. The majority of revolutionists are the enemies of discipline and fatigue mostly.”

The Garibaldi article is about how boys are treated at school, one of everyone's favorite hot-button issues these days. We at the Wymans were on this years ago, of course, and adjusted accordingly.
Brandon’s current problem began because Ms. Waverly, his social studies teacher, failed to answer one critical question: What was the point of the lesson she was teaching? One of the first observations I made as a teacher was that boys invariably ask this question, while girls seldom do. When a teacher assigns a paper or a project, girls will obediently flip their notebooks open and jot down the due date. Teachers love them. God loves them. Girls are calm and pleasant. They succeed through cooperation.
Boys will pin you to the wall like a moth. They want a rational explanation for everything. If unconvinced by your reasons—or if you don’t bother to offer any—they slouch contemptuously in their chairs, beat their pencils, or watch the squirrels outside the window. Two days before the paper is due, girls are handing in the finished product in neat vinyl folders with colorful clip-art title pages. It isn’t until the boys notice this that the alarm sounds. “Hey, you never told us ’bout a paper! What paper?! I want to see my fucking counselor!”

There's just so much to fascinate.

1 comment:

jw said...

Conrad's definition / explanation of terror is daft.

If we ranked everyone's childhood on a one to ten scale with one being the worst and ten the best, terrorists, like any other social change factor, come from the fives and sixes. (Ranking being made by money, quality of parenting, quality of social support, education, etc..)

The greatest odds for a terrorist is a:
- young man from middle or slightly above middle class
- he feels left out of his society
- he is frustrated about a change he wants and cannot bring about
- he is lead to terror by an older man

A terrorist is just a Bill Gates pushed into terror instead of inventing. That is all he is. There is no difference between a Bill Gates and an Osama bin Laden in terms of the raw personality. The difference is in the "push" he received.