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Moroccan Food, Mommy Track & Self-Driving Cars, Single People, School Bullying

  • Nov 25, 2012 · 6:00 PM

This month we'll be going to Zerza, a fine Moroccan place on Curry Row.  They have Moroccan beer, and a meat entree runs from $15-$19.  The have bread similar to Indian naan bread, and most dishes come with couscous. Menu

I'll be refunding people's $5 deposits at 6:10pm.  No shows and people who show up later than that will forfeit their deposits.

 



Wikipedia says "In 2010 the median income of FTYR (Full Time Year Round) workers was $42,800 for men, compared to $34,700 for women. The female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.81, slightly higher than the 2008 ratio. The female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.81 means that, in 2009, female FTYR workers earned 19% less than male FTYR workers. The statistic does not take into account differences in experience, skill, occupation, education or hours worked, as long as it qualifies as full-time work.".

The Economist has an article about the "Mommy Track": http://www.economist.com/node/21560856 It is very hard to balance raising a child with a high-powered career.  Fathers are not instinctively inclined to be as willing to stay at home with their offspring as mothers are, perhaps partly because, historically, they have had less way of being sure that the kids are really their own.

One burden parents have is driving their kids to extracurricular activities.  Since most kids in this country don't live where public transport is viable, and they can't drive themselves until they're about 16, parents must spend a lot of time ferrying their children back and forth to activities.  The consequence is that parents must sacrifice their careers and / or children don't get access to as many extracurricular activities as would be desirable.  But cars that can drive themselves are just around the corner -- such cars could ferry children to their activities while leaving the parents free to pursue their careers.



Most of the people I know in NYC are single.  This is probably because married people don't go to meetups as much.  But there is a widespread trend toward more people being single -- half of all adults in the US are single today, vs 22% in 1950.  Is this a bad trend or a good one?  http://www.economist.com/node/21560844



Gay kids are often bullied in high school, and gay organizations are mobilizing to do something about it.  I applaud this, but the effort doesn't seem to be oriented toward protecting everyone from bullying, just gays, or at least, those who can lay claim to some protected status under the auspices of Political Correctness.  (Punching a kid because of what group they're in is wrong, while punching a kid because you're a sadistic bastard is just fine).  What's more, they are not limiting their efforts to stopping physical bullying, but also verbal "bullying".  What this eventually boils down to is a prohibition against anybody saying anything that the gay community doesn't want them to, in any school, public or private.

On the other extreme, a Christian organization is fighting against this and has published the Anti Bullying Policy Yardstick.  This goes too far to the other extreme -- demanding special exemptions for religion (punching a kid because God told you to is OK, punching a kid because he punched you is not), and demanding that private schools be exempted from anti-bullying policies altogether.  Gay and secular organizations are painting the Christians as being "pro-bullying".

The Washington DC Council is coming out with an anti-bullying policy that greatly restricts free speech, while at the same time utterly failing to protect a straight white American male Christian kid from anything.  According to the Council, "harassment, intimidation, or bullying" is "any gesture or written, verbal, or physical act, including electronic communication, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, or a mental, physical, or sensory handicap, or by any other distinguishing characteristic" that a "reasonable person" would foresee as effectively intimidating or harmful to students or their property, or as effectively "insulting or demeaning" so as to disrupt or interfere substantially with "the orderly operation of a school, university, recreational facility, or library." http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/are-no-bullying-zones-constitutional/247867/


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  • Joy

    Thanks Bill for putting that together. The venue was a perfect - spacious enough for lively conversation and authentic, delicious food. I particularly enjoyed the diversity of the group and varying positions on topics. Cheers -- Joy

    November 27, 2012

    • Sheryl

      The service was weirdly slow, considering we were their only customers. It didn't matter - just saying. I had a very good time, too - great discussion, great company.

      November 27, 2012

    • Joy

      That's interesting commentary Bill, am suprised. I run a different meetup group and will try to schedule a holiday dinner to get interest. I didn't find them slow at all, in fact I think we chased them away a few times as we were not ready. Nice find. Joy

      November 27, 2012

  • Sheryl

    For what it's worth (we didn't talk about this at dinner)... I think the whole "PC" aspect of bullying is a red-herring. It's a side effect of the need to define something to legislate against it, and the definition is imperfect. This whole business of "protected and unprotected groups" has nothing to do with bullying, and neither does the issue of free speech. Bullying is a particular thing - a type of ongoing personal assault (whether verbal or non-verbal) that has nothing to do with belonging to a specific group, and is not protected by free speech laws.

    November 26, 2012

  • Jonathan W.

    I cannot envision bullying happening in this day and age. YouTube videos and tweets about anything happening which is not normal and predictable gets shared, so the system corrects itself and all of us, especially tweens, resort to behaving conformingly and in fear of repercussions. Does bullying still exist? Or are the documentaries and reports portraying exceptions to the rule, which is that tweens are docile and in fear?

    November 25, 2012

    • Sheryl

      - Among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied by peers.

      - Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.

      - 87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.”

      - 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools.

      - 61% of students said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home.

      - 54% of students said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school.

      - According to bullying statistics, 1 out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so because of repeated bullying.

      - Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents."

      cont'd...

      November 26, 2012

    • Sheryl

      http://www.bullyingst...­

      "Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of 14. Bullycide is a term used to describe suicide as the result of bullying. New bullying statistics 2010 are reporting that there is a strong connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide, according to a new study from the Yale School of Medicine. Suicide rates are continuing to grow among adolescents, and have grown more than 50 percent in the past 30 years."

      http://www.hhs.gov/as...­

      "Between 2001 and 2007, bullying has been on the rise and, in 2009, one in five high school students report that they were bullied on school property in the past year.

      November 26, 2012

  • Pat G.

    Seems the 6 train is not running. Sorry, no way for me to make it there on time. Some time ago I promised myself I would not stay in a group with lateness penalties if I ever found myself paying the penalty; I really can't afford it. Maybe see you all in other groups. Bye, Pat

    November 25, 2012

  • Bill

    I'll be refunding people's $5 deposits at 6:10pm. No shows and people who show up later than that will forfeit their deposits.

    November 20, 2012

  • Pat G.

    Or, perhaps more fundamentally, should private schools and/or homeschooling be permitted as an alternative to public schools? I would say no; they can at most be supplementary.

    Your claim that gays would characterise any lack of validation as bullying is cherry-picking the nuttiest perspectives as representative of the whole. Also, might be worth noting that by Chalakah, whether the mother is Jewish (at time of birthing) determines whether the children are; a Jewish woman could marry a goy and the children would be Jewish-by-Chalakah (this once was an issue with a past girlfriend who is Jewish (and Atheist) and me, who has some Jewish heritage but I'm not Jewish-by-Chalakah; still some family grumbles from her side, but it was low-key).

    November 13, 2012

  • Bill

    One issue in the bullying is that I'm sure the private Christian schools want the teachers to be allowed to teach the students that homosexuality is a sin, and the gays want any such activity to be classified as "bullying" by the teachers. Do private schools have a right to teach politically incorrect values that the parents want taught? Do Catholic schools have a right to teach that birth control is a sin? Do Jewish schools have a right to teach their kids that they're God's people and Gentiles aren't, and that if they marry shiksas the kids won't be Jewish?

    November 13, 2012

  • Bill

    The other thing is your bully can come to really, really hate you, so that it's worth a lot of pain to him to keep beating you up.

    CS Lewis talks about this. The normal kind of hate is when you hate somebody who hurt you. But another kind is when you know you've given somebody else reason to hate you, and you hate them because if they ever develop significant strength, you know they'll come seeking revenge. Then, instinctively, you just want to kill them. Bullies come to hate their victims this way, and this may have been what happened with the Nazis and the Jews.

    November 7, 2012

  • Bill

    The thing is, a lot of people, including a lot of parents, give that sort of advice. And then a kid winds up in a school with gangs and it's hopeless. If he goes to his parents they tell him to quit sniveling, the administration won't do anything, plus he's probably too proud to go for help. But depending upon the subculture he's in, joining a gang may be a completely acceptable solution.

    It's great being a grown-up. If there were a group of guys waiting at the subway stop to beat me up every day, I don't have to take kung-fu lessons or lift weights, I would have no hesitation to go to the cops and press charges. When they were convicted, I'd yell in the courtroom "ENJOY YOUR NEXT JOB SEARCH WITH A HISTORY OF VIOLENT CRIME ON YOUR RECORD, ASSHOLE!".

    November 5, 2012

  • Bill

    If he has substantially faster reflexes and a longer reach it can get pretty hard. Also this guy could kick waist high, I could hardly reach the knee.

    November 5, 2012

  • Pat G.

    Even making an attempt would impose costs enough on a would-be bully, if damage is done, that they might think twice about trying. At least, that was my parents' reasoning.

    November 5, 2012

  • Bill

    The whole problem is when the victim doesn't have the option of defending himself, or inflicting sufficient harm on the attacker(s) to deter them. If you were in a position to "beat the shit out of" your bullies, you had weak bullies and there really wasn't a problem.

    November 5, 2012

  • Pat G.

    In my case, I never had the strong desire for independence from my parents take the normal form, and I didn't ask the adults for too much help because my parents advised me to beat the shit out of bullies if they ever got physical with me; doing so once would cause bullies to get the message, and my parents promised not to disapprove of me for doing so even if I got a detention. I never managed to actually do so though, although the bullying only happened for a little bit; being determined to handle it myself if I ever got the gumption stopped me from looking for help. Probably being the computer wizard who knew most of the teachers personally and helped them out made bullies reluctant to bother me.

    November 5, 2012

  • Bill

    Thinking back to that time (it was so long ago), I realized I remembered it wrong. When I went to the faculty for help, it was because a second bully had joined the first. The second bully was much older and bigger than me, and was on all the teams. At that point I asked for help. The older bully immediately came to his senses with a reaction of "What the hell am I doing?" and backed off. I maintained at the time that I could reasonably be expected to deal with the original bully on my own, since he was only a year older than me. I even apologized to the older bully for going to the administration.

    I couldn't deal with the original bully on my own, he could and did beat me up at his whim. But I was too proud to ask for help. I think that's a big factor in bullying, the kids in that age group are trying to assert their independence from the adults, their ability to stand on their own two feet.

    November 5, 2012

  • Pat G.

    In some circumstances, they should; if the minority effectively controls society and disenfranchises the rest, either through violence or other means, or if a minority's violence is part of an organised programme to stomp out another kind of humanity, then their bullying is in a context of control and merits a different response than ordinary bullying.

    And again, I am only arguing for myself and I am not interested in either being politically correct or defending political correctness as an institution. My commitments to this topic (and the related topic of affirmative action, which I also have a nuanced support for) is independent of any political correctness vibe you might normally enjoy arguing against.

    November 4, 2012

  • Bill

    Pat you never addressed my thought experiment about the example where a minority group was doing most of the bullying. If anti-bullying policies should be "group conscious" and take inter- group dynamics into account, rather than "group blind" as I advocate, why not punish minority bullies more harshly than others in that case?

    I think the reluctance to do so stems from the PC dogma that minorities are totally unaccountable -- if a minority ever does anything bad, it's always to be blamed on conditions imposed on them by the majority.

    November 4, 2012

  • Bill

    ;-)

    November 3, 2012

  • Pat G.

    I think you may be exaggerating more than a bit.

    November 2, 2012

  • Bill

    I think the definition of "racism" shifts around a lot. If you are talking to a politically correct person and you admit that you think the reason most receivers in the NFL are black might be due to genetic racial differences, that establishes that you are a "racist". Once your "racism" is established, the definition shifts and it is concluded that you want to build death camps into which you will place all ethnic groups other than your own.

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    Recognising that culture exists and shapes people is different than racism; I think we need to retain our ability to talk about culture and cultural problems, while coming to get rid of the notion that someone of a certain race is necessarily well-described by any particular culture.

    November 2, 2012

  • Bill

    Hmmm. I had a different experience. I grew up outside this country, in basically exclusively white communities. Everything I learned about race was from the liberal-biased media. When I got to college in the states, I found the least racist people were the ones from white communities who had little exposure to racial diversity, and the most racist people were the people from multi-racial schools whose experience had taught them that the stereotypes were valid and useful.

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    Oh, whoops, I did miss the word likely. I would not have responded as I did had I spotted that. My bad.

    I would be surprised if your assertion that a big cause of racism is crime by the affected minority is true, at least in the United States, but I don't know of any studies on the issue, and designing a good study to address this would be nearly impossible. Having had friends and family with racist beliefs, my impression (again, based on anecdotal evidence, and not nearly as good as a well-designed study on this, were such a study possible) is that racism runs in families and is reinforced by not enough exposure to diversity in youth. Two weeks ago I did a blogpost about homophobia in particular, touching on one side of this: http://dachte.livejournal.com/896053.html

    I am inclined to see high crime rate as primarily a symptom; when the system *is* stacked against a community, disenfranchisement leads to power politics.

    November 2, 2012

  • Bill

    We're splitting hairs here, you seem to be overlooking the word "likely" in my statement. But it touches on another issue -- I think a large amount of racism comes from the high crime rate of some minorities against the rest of the population, and some of that is manifested in school bullying.

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    I don't think it'd be fair to see the failure of your school's faculty to respond appropriately as being a necessary trait of all systems that see bullying-as -part-of-broad-disenfranchisement differently from bullying-absent-that-context. Your school got it wrong.

    What I draw from my own experience isn't meant to suggest that everyone will think that way, but as counterexample to "anyone who thinks people bullied by minorities aren't likely to become bigoted against them is out of their mind". Either way, the bullying we faced was (probably) not in the context of a society outside school that was still stacked against either of us through violence, less-hirability, and so on. Still lousy,, but not part of something bigger. I don't dispute that schools need to handle bullying of all kinds though.

    November 2, 2012

  • Bill

    The fact that you don't have a beef with the ethnic group that bullied you doesn't mean that others will generally have the same reaction.

    I was bullied in 9th grade (I didn't get big until later). It got so bad I went to the administration for help. What I remember was they were basically totally unwilling to do a damn thing about it. The most they would do is sit me and bully down and try to resolve our "mutual grievances". The fact that it was established beyond any doubt that he was bullying me, and that he totally failed to articulate any grievances, did not result in ANYTHING being done to him.

    For reasons I don't really understand, there is a huge reluctance on the part of faculty to do anything about bullying. If a thrust comes to make them do something about it, but this thrust winds up being focused on groups, bullying of people within one's own group is almost guaranteed to fall between the cracks and be ignored.

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    I disagree on your point that categorical treatment cannot reduce the harms of other categorical treatment; while I don't think categories will (or should) entirely disappear or become unimportant, nor should people need to validate/approve of all possible identities, those who are not able to accept difference are what I'd call the biggest problem (whether organised or just culturally that way), and we need to use tools like affirmative action and hate crime laws and specific institutions as an icebreaker on them. The harms from our approaches there (which you mention and I acknowledge but think are not so strong) will sort themselves out in time, and we don't expect to need to use them forever.

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    The reason I did was to underline that the thought experiment was incomplete (from my perspective) in that it didn't specify whether things I consider essential features for "hate crimes"-type treatment were present. School bullying doesn't (necessarily) happen in the broad context of widespread organisational or cultural dominance based on racial/sexual/etc lines, although if it does, we should pay more attention.

    FWIW, I had a problem with bullies in early high school, both of the people involved were minorities, and I don't have beef with their ethnic group. I was bullied because I was (and am) a geek. The system is not stacked against geeks though, and I don't feel generally unsafe.

    We are getting near the root of our disagreements though (things are getting close to axiomatic), so we might find ourselves clarifying and doing light sparring at this point rather than really being able to go after each other's arguments.

    November 2, 2012

  • Bill

    As for "We are trying to build that world where identity along these various axes matters less to most of the kinds of treatment people receive in society, but we're not there yet.":

    We're never going to get there as long as society's treatment of people is dominated by the category they're in.

    November 2, 2012

  • Bill

    Pat, you just described the details of some situations without refuting my arguments.

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    I don't expect identity to fade entirely, but people should feel safe and enfranchised in society, and that shouldn't just be a feeling.If there are people who are "teaching gays/blacks/whatever a lesson" for being in their neighbourhood or dating their cousin or getting a job they wanted, we need to recognise that and deal with it.

    And yes, we probably do disagree over the commonality and damage of a victim mentality. I see it as a potential problem, not a dire one. As a society we should take responsibility for everyone in inculturating them right, and lessen that problem if/where it exists, while being sure to wipe out things that might legitimately make them feel like a victim of targeted violence or disenfranchisement.

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    Bullying doesn't have to, but it can happen in the context of broader social problems, not just in the context of crime, Let's compare for example the Romani, who in Europe generally do have a much higher involvement in various kinds of crime, much petty, some violent. They also don't run mainstream society. Compare that, which (I think) fits your thought experiment as described, to Han Chinese in many other East Asian societies, which were often a minority that dominated society through a mix of wealth and violence. I think that fits your thought experiment too, but the two are very different in practice, even if the surface issue of bullying is the same.

    My general point is that the context is essential. We are trying to build that world where identity along these various axes matters less to most of the kinds of treatment people receive in society, but we're not there yet.

    November 2, 2012

  • Bill

    Pat, I already established in my thought experiment that the bullying minority is dominating the bullying, and if gangs are involved, the bullying is probably a deliberate attempt to dominate the society. Furthermore, this bullying probably is going to have the consequence of disenfranchising that minority, because anyone who thinks people bullied by minorities aren't likely to become bigoted against them is out of their mind.

    I think we differ in our estimations of how damaging the victim mentality is, both to the "victim" and to the society, and hence the need to avoid feeding it.

    Also, all this special treatment of people depending upon what category they're in flies in the face of what's being drummed in to everybody: the we must stop categorizing people. How are people going to transcend categorizing and stereotypes when the consequences of your actions toward a person are dominated by what category they're in?

    November 2, 2012

  • Pat G.

    The reason I ask those followup questions is that I believe when bullying acts as part of a targeted and organised or cultural disenfranchisement from society, we need to take more steps to defuse that effect.

    November 1, 2012

  • Pat G.

    Anti-bullying measures can be pushing on two things; first, the general tendency to bully, and second, intolerance of some groups. It should not be hard to imagine that measures adequate for the first might not be adequate for the second. I don't care about the wallowing so much as fixing the persistent problems such groups need to deal with. You're right that wallowing can at times be a problem, but most people, minority or not, just want a fair shot. Knocking over any bullying that's tied to broader systemic abuse of their kind needs to happen before they can have that; nonsystemic bullying is less damaging.

    As for your thought experiment, there's no need to use such language with me; I'm no more a fan of PC than you are. WRT your thought experiment, I'd need to know more of the context; does the minority dominate society? How does the bullying fit into other kinds of abuses/problems tied to the racial/sexual/whatever statuses?

    November 1, 2012

  • Bill

    Pat, let's conduct a thought experiment. Invert the situation you speculated, and suppose that some minority were more prone to crime and the formation of gangs. I know that only a terrible person would ever suggest that is actually the case, but this is just a hypothetical example. So say 70% of the bullying were being done by some minority that makes up 10% of the of the population. Would the faculty be justified in treating bullying by that minority more harshly than bullying done by the other 90%?

    November 1, 2012

  • Bill

    What we see in the DC policy is the broader issue of bullying in general being completely lost in the effort to give preferred treatment to certain groups. All groups, at least among males, are at risk of being bullied, if the anti-bullying measures protecting people in general are adequate, they will be adequate to protect minorities. If extra effort is needed to protect minorities, then then the measures aren't strong enough for non-minority kids.

    We have a huge problem of people wallowing in the wrongs done their ancestors, and convincing themselves that the deck is so stacked against them that their achievement (or lack thereof) doesn't matter. Encouraging people to treasure their "victim" narrative does both them and society enormous harm. The drawbacks of treating "victim" classes differently far outweigh any potential benefits.

    November 1, 2012

  • Pat G.

    If a large section of the population is really drawing that conclusion from the fact that intentionality and systemic issues are part of how problems are weighed, they're wrong. Law and policy should aim to help everyone. Systemic problems suggest more specific, perhaps stronger treatment.

    Let's examine the difference between a community that has some problems with random violence versus one that has some problems with violence against some minority; both are worth addressing and should be addressed, but the latter is a more serious problem because the targeting damages the social fabric more strongly and is more likely to be tied into and feed bad norms; when the burden is not shared together, not everyone has equal stake in fixing whatever social ills beyond the act itself that might feed it.

    November 1, 2012

  • Bill

    I vehemently disagree that special cases of bullying should get extra emphasis. I think one of the biggest problems of our society is that a large section of the population doesn't think the terrms "rights" or "civil liberties" apply to you unless you can cast yourself as belonging to a group that experiences some sort of group "victimhood" real or perceived. Our schools should not be reinforcing that lesson, we should not be teaching young people that if they're getting kicked around, they have a much better chance of getting help if they can claim to be in a "victim" class. That would be one of the worst lessons we could possibly be teaching them.

    Bullying is a big problem in high school. Adolescent males often feel they can achieve higer social status by belittling others, and the girls are often quite impressed by this. And some kids are really sadistic, especially at that age. Bullying is a problem for everybody.

    November 1, 2012

  • Pat G.

    That is a legitimate concern, and I would not suggest that any bullying be ignored, but bullying that is tied into a broad social rot (like those that lead to perceived/real lack of safety of racial or sexual minorities in the south) deserve stronger treatment/more of an example made than those that are not. Gangs might be an example that merits a similarly specific/separate response. I don't think the DC council's preferred policy is, at least as presented, decent, but I wasn't meaning to comment on that specifically or say something by omitting commentary on it.

    November 1, 2012

  • Bill

    Pat, one aspect of bullying that I think is relevant is gangs. There were not really any formal gangs in the high schools I went to, but I see how it could happen. Usually the faculty aren't willing to do a damn thing about bullying, and the only way a kid can find protection is by joining a gang. The policy of the DC council won't do anything to protect a latino kid being bullied by gangs because he hasn't joined one yet because the bullying is being done by people in his own "group".

    November 1, 2012

  • Pat G.

    I have elaborated my positions with regards to the yardstick document in my blog here: http://dachte.livejournal.com/898776.html

    October 31, 2012

  • Pat G.

    I don't see any section in the "Anti Bullying Policy Yardstick" document that suggests the kind of special exemptions for religion that you mention. I do see plenty to object to though. Still, it's not a bad stab at something decent; the important point is that policies against bullying should not be used to push positions in cultural struggles. I'm willing to wade into the muddy middle ground though and say that I'm willing to recognise some kinds of bullying that are tied to systemic social issues might deserve a more coordinated response; bullying the ugly (or awkward) kids seems different in nature to me than bullying the gay kids, even as both are problems worth tackling.

    October 31, 2012

7 went

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