“Freakonomics” is Freaking Self Out!

Self finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, sometime in the wee hours of this morning. It was a very, very interesting book, and self found the over-all message quite hopeful, as well.

Now self is on p. 6 of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. And right away she happens upon a very interesting theory for the precipituous drop in murder rates in New York City, from “2,245 in 1990 to 596 in 2003.” Lest one think this drop was entirely due to Rudi Giuliani’s excellent managerial skills, here’s what the authors think really happened (Believe it or not, it all ties in with the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Roe, in the historic Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion):

So how did Roe v. Wade help trigger, a generation later, the greatest crime drop in recorded history?

As far as crime is concerned, it turns out that not all children are born equal. Not even close. Decades of studies have shown that a child born into an adverse family environment is far more likely than other children to become a criminal. And the millions of Read the rest of this entry »

Pats on the Back, Self!

It is 12:58 p.m. in Redwood City. Tuesday. A glorious day. Self has just come in from the garden, where for the first time in many, many years, she climbed a tree. Of course, she had to be careful, for she was wearing a silk tunic patterned with big green flowers (a present from — who else? — Dearest Mum), which she’s been wearing around the house (It’s somewhat tent-like: veerry comfy!). Except, now that the evenings are chilly, she’s been wearing a gray sweatshirt hoodie over it at night, which rather spoils the effect, but anyhoo there is no one at home except self, hubby, and the two li’l crits.

The reason self thought to climb a tree was this: hubby is so depressed every time he catches sight of the dead limbs of our orange tree that he refuses to step into the backyard. Yes, even to water or cut the grass. He’ll make a step or two out the door, look up, see the tree carcass, and all the wherewithal will just seep out of him, like water out of a leaking bucket (very good analogy, wouldn’t you say, dear blog readers?). So today self thought she’d just pick up those extra-long loppers that hubby has hanging in the garage, and start chopping off bits and pieces of the tree. But since she’s not very tall, she had to climb up the tree to get to the uppermost branches. Of course, she needed to be barefoot to make sure she got a really good footing on the tree, and then, when she was standing in the tree, both bare feet resting on a sturdy limb, she remembered: she used to love climbing trees. Especially when she and her brothers and sister were spending the summers in Bacolod. She’d try to emulate those men she saw climbing to the very top of the coconut trees around the pool in Santa Fe Resort (of course, she could never manage to get very high without slipping). Or she’d climb the macopa tree in the de Leon front yard, which was just across the street from her dad’s place, on Burgos.

So, there she is, after all these years, in a tree! And her toes are gripping the limb, and she’s thinking: this is better than a foot massage in Bangkok! Then self remembered that a tree might have ants. And she suddenly thought that she would hate to get ant bites. So, she didn’t stay up very long, but my goodness, what a feeling! Already, she thinks this day is tip-top, A-OK.

And, just to put a point on it, here’s a quote from the Wall Street Journal of Friday, October 2. It’s about the new sit-com with Ed O’Neill (of “Married, With Children”, the show that first made self sit up and pay attention to the Fox Network, and whose demise self mourned exceedingly). The article was written by Dorothy Rabinowitz, and it’s called “Waking Up a Tired Genre”:

All television announces its quality early, but it’s been awhile since any half hour comedy came blazing out of the gate to declare itself with such speed and so many layers of pure seduction as “Modern Family” (Wednesdays on ABC). Of all TV genres, comedy is the form quickest to show its stuff for good or ill — viewers know what they’re in for in two to three minutes — and since it’s mostly for ill, the exceptions come as something of a miracle every time.

* * * * *

The series opened with Phil (Ty Burrell) and Claire (Julie Bowen), married 16 years — heads of one of the three connected families that are the show’s subjects. Early on, Phil stands inconspicuously in the kitchen intently fingering a gadget. He’s texting — a tip that points to the first and most essential thing to know about this father who is, as he explains with glorious self-satisfaction, the cool dad, the dad who gets it, who knows all the kids’ text lingo, all their music. To encounter Mr. Burrell’s Phil in all his virtuoso tones — the ludicrousness so superbly entrenched in character, the preening that never quite crosses the line into caricature — is to be drawn irresistibly to this series and all that’s to come. Such dead-on characters are telltale signs of a show’s strengths, and this one is no exception.

Wow! That’s some write-up! This is one show self definitely has to check out!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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