Thursday, May 19, 2005

Freakonomics

I read Freakonomics tonight, the new book by Levitt and Dubner. Gladwell blurbed it so I just had to pick it up at the library. (apparently they are all getting confused for eachother) I seemed to remember now, that Levitt (The economist) had come out with a theory that Roe v. Wade was the most prominent cause in the drop in crime in the 1990's.

That was in there. The last two chapters had an interesting conclusion. The most leading indicator of a child's performance in the Chicago Public Schools was basically a reflection of the parents well-being, and the most educated mothers (in California) are mostly associated with names from Hebrew. so if you want people to think that your child's parents are smart, name him Dov. I don't know, I've never had a problem with the name Fabrice...

Though the best part was the chapter on the Ku Klux Klan. They existed well into the 1940's, few Americans remember, and there dissolution as a major force was largely the work of one man, Stetson Kennedy. (still alive! and has a website!) He infiltrated them, and compiled all this secret information. But he had no idea what to do with it. (no blog, of course). So he got the idea to feed it to the producers of the radio Superman series, and make him fight the Klan. And the radio program used all of the secret words, and handshakes, and the regular Klan members-- mostly family man who just wanted to join an organization-- couldn't be seen as being associated with it in front of their kids. Really subversive.

Well I usually write out these reviews to friends and email them out, but it dawned on me reading Norman Mailer in the Huffington Post that anyone could just blog. Mailer suggested that the entire Newsweek thing was a setup. and then I got to to wondering about the torture. couldnt' they have broken the organization's captured "illegal combatants" some better way? Obviously not in the same way as Kennedy, but some creative thinking based on subterfuge. I'll think about it.

and oh, welcome to my blog.

FF