Monthly Archives: June 2007

What’s your country’s IQ?

I came across a study today of national average IQs and average earnings of immigrants in the U.S. It seems that the 'smarter' the country, the more the immigrants tend to earn once they emigrate (duh). What I was most interested in, though, is which countries were the smartest. Here's the data:

Argentina          93

Australia           98

Austria             100

Barbados         80

Belgium            99

Bolivia 87

Brazil    87

Canada            99

Chile    90

China   105

Colombia         84

Denmark          98

Dominican Republic      82

Ecuador           88

Egypt   81

Fiji       85

France 98

Germany          99

Ghana 71

Greece             92

Guatemala        79

Honduras         81

Hong Kong      108

Hungary           98

India     82

Indonesia          87

Iran      84

Iraq      87

Ireland 92

Israel    95

Italy      102

Jamaica            71

Japan   105

Jordan 84

Kenya 72

Malaysia           92

Mexico             88

Netherlands      100

New Zealand    99

Norway            100

Pakistan           84

Peru     85

Philippines        86

Poland 99

Portugal            95

South Africa     72

South Korea     106

Spain    98

Sri Lanka         79

Sweden            99

Switzerland       101

Syria    83

Taiwan             105

Thailand           91

Turkey             90

United Kingdom           100

Uruguay           96

Venezuela         84

Yugoslavia        89

 

The highest appears to be Hong Kong, with Ghana and Jamaica tied for lowest. The U.S. isn't included on this chart, but the study notes that our average I.Q. is 100, equal to the U.K. and the Netherlands (and two points above Denmark! I thought I toooold ya!).

The real lesson to take from this, though, is pretty much that Asians are smarter than all of us. And yes, you should have been nicer to that Korean dude down the block when you were growing up. His people will be our Terminator-like overlords before you are 30.

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Further adventures in small-country journalism

Rich Children Speak Bad Danish

Children of upper-class parents spend so much time in the company of  their foreign au pair-girls that some of them cannot speak proper Danish

This was the headline this morning in '24 Hours', the 12 wanker pages that our mail slot pinches off every morning.

Parents have good education, lots of money, good careers and villas in North Zealand's rich neighborhoods. But a group of the most high-class children speak strange Danish.

There are children who spend most of their waking hours being looked after by Asian or Eastern European au pair-girls who don't speak Danish.

You can just hear the 'gasp!' from the cheap seats, can't you? These children are clearly being brainwashed by their caretakers, Oksana and Li Mu Bai, into speaking … strangely. Differently, even.

So where is this information coming from? Surely Statistics Denmark has done some sort of longitudinal study on the language proficiency of upper-class children through the years, and their scores have declined somewhat recently, indicating the need for all this vaguely worded hysteria.

Language-acquisition expert Ulla Lahti Falkenberg, who lectures at Copenhagen University and co-chairs the Language Teachers Association, describes the problem.

"We meet children who speak with a Latvian or Thai accent — Danish children who have a violent accent because their primary adult contact is a foreign au pair-girl," says Ulla Lahti Falkenberg.

She meets a handful of cases every year, both through research and her daily work as a speech consultant. Parents are too busy with themselves to speak with their children, Ulla Lahti Falkenbergsays. She doesn't understand parents who prioritize weekly riding or aerobics. 

The story continues like this. This one teacher, Ulla Lahti Falkenberg (why do they keep repeating her full name? Can't they just say 'ULF' or something the second time?), is literally the only person interviewed in the story.

So let's review the facts, shall we? We have one language teacher who says that she sees a handful of children who speak a bit off.

On balance, I'd say that justifies the headline 'Rich Children Speak Bad Danish' as the front-page story in one of Denmark's biggest newspapers.

Like most of the Danish journalism in the 'panic!' genre, this story seems explicitly written to provide ammunition for your grumpy grandpa's dinnertime rant against foreigners. Danish children have Thai accents now, my God. Soon they'll be making peanut sauce and having cockfights.  

I wish I had just gone to journalism school in Denmark. Instead of wasting time trying to understand the way my country actually works, I could have just asked one random person for their observations and written stories accordingly. 'Asian People Are Bad Drivers!' 'Kids Today Listen to Music Too Loud!' 'Eva Longoria Has Better Tits Than Teri Hatcher!'

Or, based on my discoveries this morning, 'Riding and Aerobics Officially More Interesting Than Danish Children'.

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We don’t need no Tuborg, let the motherfucker burn…

So Saturday night was Saint Hans Aften here in Denmark. This holiday more or less consists of everyone getting together around a giant bonfire and drinking beer. Or, if you go to the Danish Association of Gays and Lesbians party, it means standing around a giant bonfire, drinking beer, and listening to Cher.

Slanty Danish lightLiz, playing sea monsterGays attempt to make fire. They're probably rubbing two pieces of glitter together.At least one of those people is saying 'faaaabulous!' right nowA can of gasoline finally got 'er goingIason's two-beer face

Hiyo! That outta do it!I'm at ur fire. Enjoyin ur warmth.You're firedI set my camera to 'pagan'This is a leftover from the other night. I love that Danes built an Ewok village just off the beach.This structure is far creepier than the pictures really capture

 

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But there’s no ‘any’ key on my keyboard…

Have you ever had one of those conversations where you're just talking past each other? I've heard that there's a word for that in Italian, but in English, it usually just goes by the 'nnggghhhh!' sound you make after about three minutes of it. These two entries from Overheard illustrate what I'm talking about:

Tourist: What kind of berry is a triberry?
Barista: What?
Tourist: You're selling a triberry muffin. Well, what's a triberry? I've never heard of that before.
Barista: It has blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry in it. They call it triberry because it has three kinds of berries in it.
Tourist: So there aren't any triberries in it?
Barista: No.
Tourist: Then why do you call it a triberry muffin? That's false advertising.
Barista: As I explained, it's called that because it has three berries in it.
Tourist: But none of those berries are triberries?
Barista: No. There is no such thing as a triberry.
Tourist: I don't understand.
Barista: Look, do you want the muffin or not?
Tourist: I don't think so. I don't want to eat anything unless I know what it is first.
Barista: So what can I get you?
Tourist: Do you have a donut?
Barista: No.
Tourist: Never mind. [leaves]
Barista: Dumbass.

And

Supervisor: We can't say 'Summer Solutions' on this brochure, because it might confuse people in California because it's summer all the time there. Any ideas of how to reword this?
Staffer: It's not summer all the time in California. It's summer during summer time.
Supervisor: But it's warm all year round, so how do they know it's summer? We need a way to explain that these things are only intended for the summer.
Staffer: But they still know what summer is, even if it's still warm during the other seasons.
Supervisor: I'm not sure about that…
Staffer: Summer isn't about temperature, it's about the direction of Earth's axis. Summer is always in June, July, and August. It always starts with the solstice in June.
Supervisor: I don't know anything about solstices and all that. Let's just reword this.
Staffer: But California still has a summer. I'm telling you, they know what summer is.
Supervisor: I don't know. They might get confused.
Staffer: Confused about what?
Supervisor: Confused about when summer is. Like, it's summer right now, 'cause it's been warm lately.
Staffer: No… April is in the spring.

I had one of these the other day in Danish class. We were doing some exercise where we had to name the languages in the world with the most speakers.

Me: Oh, I know this. It's Chinese.
French dude: No, it's French.
Me: China has 1.2 billion people.
French dude: But French is talked in many countries, not just France.
Me: Yeah, but those countries don't add up to 1.2 billion people.
French dude: You're right, they add up to *more.* You have Algeria, New Caledonia, Guadalupe…
Me: New Caledonia has like 9 people. And Guadalupe is not a country. That's like Ugly Betty's last name or some shit.
French dude: … Vietnam, Canada…
Me: Those don't count!
French dude: Non to yeu. French. Chinese is spoken in only one place.
Me: That has one-third of the earth's population!
French dude: Moving on. The second-most spoken language is … German.
German girl: Definitely.

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Is it possible for something to get funnier the more you watch it?

This has been KILLING me the last few days

Dramatic Chipmunk

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I be ‘ticulate

So Andrew Sullivan printed a letter from me on his blog today. If you're interested in the torture debate in the U.S., or the fact that a Supreme Court justice recently used Jack Fucking Bauer as a defense of Guantanamo Bay, you might find it interesting.

No? OK, moving on.

One of the effects of the politicization of the Internet, from where I sit, is that it's really compartmentalized everyone's interests. I feel really strongly about probably a dozen political issues, for example, but I almost never talk about them with my friends because it bores them. Similarly, my friends rarely bring up the specialized stuff that they obsess about, whether it's 'Second Life', vintage sneakers, or 'Xena: Warrior Princess' because they know I won't 'get it' on the same level that they do. I mean, what's so bad about your first life, dude? 

I wonder if this is why our generation is so remote from each other. No matter what weird sub-sub-subculture you're into, there's a huge community online that can talk about Archie comics or whatever until they're out of pixels. The real world can't compete with that. 

So my interests will remain one-and-zero'd for now. At least until Supreme Court justices start wearing '83 Chuck Taylors and citing ancient lesbian tele-warriors in their dissents.

 

 

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One of my favorite music videos

I'm still convinced Michel Gondry directed this under a pseudonym…

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Sacrelicious!

I've laughed out loud twice in front of my work computer this week (OK, three times, but LOLcats don't count), and both have been courtesy of my hometown alt weekly The Stranger.

The first is a package called 'A Month of Sundays,' where they sent 31 reporters to 31 churches in Seattle on one Sunday. Since alt weeklies in America are almost exclusively staffed by meta-loving, scarf-carrying hipsters, all of the write-ups are sardonic and condescending. A few tidbits:

  • The service emphasizes Positivity and Inclusiveness, which are pronounced as if they're spelled with Capital Letters. You are Included and Loved and Forgiven—and so are You, and You, and You. We all are! This gets Obnoxious. At the end, everyone takes Communion, which I am scared to do because I don't want to accidentally turn Christian, so I wander out of the room for a moment. When I return, the entire congregation is Singing in a Circle. Thank God they weren't Holding Hands­­—I would have Thrown Up.
  • I call the Baha'i Center to confirm the address—it's the Redmond Baha'i Center, but the address I have says Issaquah, which seems wrong—but there's no answer. Just a cheery voice telling me to leave a message. It's weird, this Baha'i, but I have faith. I wake up Sunday morning bright and early. I shower. I shave. I put on a white shirt, a jacket, jeans. Jeans! Baha'i!
  • Passages are read from the book of Colossians: I imagine Colossus from the X-Men.
  • I'm getting some great pillow-talk ideas from the song lyrics, which are projected on a screen above the stage. "Deep inside, I'm crying for more of you," goes one lyric. Oh, I'm using that.
    Other choice lyrics projected on a screen above the stage:
    Song title: "Glory and Honor"
    Lyric that could double as dirty talk: "Let your glory and honor fall on my face."
  • Inside [the mosque], I slid my shoes into one of the tall wooden racks by the front door since Allah likes to keep his carpets clean. A good cheese/bad fish smell that wafted up from my socks. The day's heat and my Jew-y nervousness had gotten the best of me. I was greeted and quizzed by a friendly young man. "Just checking things out," I told him, hoping he wouldn't think I was a Fed.

The second piece is a column called 'Party Crasher,' where the newspaper sends a reporter to a random house party. This week the poor writer got sent to a gay orgy.

"Does your girlfriend know where you are?" another man scolds, in a teasing tone. Yes, in fact I had just taken her out for her birthday dinner before I had come here to cover the party. "And she's okay with that? You have the best girlfriend in the world!" he says. I agree, and this would have been a totally mundane conversation except that he was being fellated by an incredibly hard-working Gaysian man the entire time.

I'm just amazed that gay orgies actually occur in the real world, and not just in Queer as Folk and Southern Baptist direct mailings. They even have Evites, for Christ's sake.

I also appreciate that, among these two phenomena, the staff of a left-wing newspaper finds church to be far more offensive than the orgy. 

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The most sane article on immigration I’ve read in eons

It's about the U.S., but I would imagine that many of the arguments apply to Denmark.

Many Americans think illegal immigrants are prone to all sorts of destructive behavior—committing crime, having children out of wedlock, dropping out of school and refusing to learn English.

This is not a full and fair portrayal. [...] The belief that this group is prone to felonious habits is largely unfounded. Crime rates plummeted in the 1990s even as illegal immigration surged, and Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has documented that "living in a neighborhood of concentrated immigration is directly associated with lower violence."

The evidence is surprising but clear: Foreign-born Hispanics are far less likely to end up in prison than native-born whites. They also have low divorce rates.

As for learning English, the truth is also more appealing than the myth. Many of the people who have immigrated here don't speak the language well, if at all. But that's a transient phenomenon with a time-tested treatment: reproduction.

Surveys indicate that the majority of U.S.-born children of Latino immigrants mainly speak English, and by the third generation, 96 percent prefer English.

But some indicators provide ample cause for worry. Latino men born in this country are seven times more likely to end up in prison than those who came here from abroad. Unwed mothers account for nearly half of all Hispanic births.

If this leads you to think we are creating a permanent new underclass, though, don't be so sure. High crime rates were common among previous immigrant groups when they were still newcomers—particularly the Irish, Italians and Jews. Yet those groups are now as safe, sane and successful as you can get.

Just like America, the debate here in Denmark regarding the 'immigrant problem' is crippled by the fact that no one wants to talk about what the problems actually are. For example, I read the other day that, though foreign-born citizens make up 8 percent of the population here, they receive 35 percent of the social welfare. That strikes me as an objective problem that needs to be discussed in a constructive way, somewhere between 'Just keep giving everybody money' and 'Throw them all out!'

Just like the U.S. has a hell of a lot to learn from Denmark (health care, urban density, self-tanner), maybe it's time Denmark started admitting it has something to learn from the U.S.

My second-favorite two cents on this was from Undercover Black Man last month, who noted that America's non-white population is now more than 100 million people, or one-third of the population. Quoting another blogger who called this a 'catastrophe for the white race', UBC retorted 'Only if you don't like burritos.'

I feel like about 90 percent of the 'they don't want to integrate!' bitching I hear in Copenhagen can be dismissed if you just replace 'burritos' with 'shawarma'.

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U.S. states renamed for equivalent Gross National Product

I forget where I found this, but it prompted the following succinct summary from my American friend:


Logan says:

omg russia and new jersey

  

Notice how Denmark is equivalent to the state of Indiana. Does that mean NASCAR could work here?

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