24 January 2011

  • Promethean Egotism
  • Utility-maximising Old Soak
  • Two interesting articles in the Financial Times that caught my eye, and not just for buttressing the paper's always spot-on profile of a Big Swinging Dick in the News.

    Sins of the Tiger Mothers

    Madame Chua sounds absolutely ghastly and the sort of pig-headed lunatic martinet I saw all around me in Hong Kong.

    Thank Gawd my own Mama wasn't/isn't like this or I'd be rich focused talented determined ... all that stuff that gets you to be Top Gun Right Stuff Top Honcho creep.

    "US pedagogues and parents certainly have a lot to learn from Ms Chua. Westerners underrate the effectiveness of rote learning, and underestimate the amount of material their children can absorb.
    “Nothing is fun until you’re good at it,” Ms Chua insists (wrongly), adding (rightly) that “to get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences”.

    Her problem is rather that she confuses her own Promethean egotism with an ambition for her daughters.

    They – with good reason – have a hard time distinguishing it from rivalry, bullying or even enmity.

    They call Ms Chua “insane” and compare her to Voldemort. Her own mother tells her she is going too far. The problem is not Chinese and cultural, it is American and personal.

    Ms Chua is trying to protect her immoderate ambition from scrutiny and judgment by misrepresenting it as an ethnic peculiarity.

    Contempt for others is the foundation of the hyper-vigilant child-rearing that Ms Chua practises."

    Priced Out of Stupor

    ~ Negative own-price elasticity across time ~

    "I don’t want to romanticise life as a rough-sleeping bum. It gets cold and lonely. I’m not sure what is keeping my underpants together, though I’m sure they wouldn’t survive contact with suds and warm water.

    But my boozy existence has a cool, calculating logic.

    For sure, not everything is perfect. But I’m a rational addict; a utility-maximising old soak. I drink because it makes sense to do so – by following an ex-ante optimal inter-temporal consumption plan, as they say.

    Speaking of which, let me crack open a bottle of strong cider ... that’s better.

    Where was I? Oh yes: you see, every drink I have contributes to my stock of addictive capital. I feel bad if I drink, but I feel worse if I don’t.

    Alcohol thus acquires what another drinking buddy once told me was a negative own-price elasticity across time."

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