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Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Monday, June 5, 2006 - 8:10pmSanction this postReply
(tonight we had an assignment to read a paper about how the rich control the wealth of society... and then part 2 was to devise alternatives that would "equalize" the power.)  I refused to participate.  Here is my email to my instructor, attempting to explain why. Following that assignment, we watched a Bill Moyers presentation about social stratification in America.

Date:  Monday, June 5 2006 11:29 pm
From:  <mmarotta1@stu.wccnet.edu>
Subject:  "Class" Participation, a Pun
Full Headers:  Display Headers
Linda, I have no problem speaking up in class.  I have been on television a
few times.  I speak to conventions several times a year.  From 1985 to 1990,
I taught technical writing at Lansing Community College.  From 1991 to 1993
and then from 1997-1998, I taught automation to classes of UAW skilled
trades workers.  These were 40-hour per week sessions or else 24-hour per
week sessions of "stand and deliver."  In 1992, I ran for Congress.  While
my Congressional representative hid behind the lecturn, I took the
microphone and stepped on stage like an emcee.  I am not shy.
But no one in class is interested in hearing what I have to say.  They want
to hear the same things from other people that they already hear in their
heads.  I am wasting my breath to cite even most firmly established
statistical fact.  Extrapolating to an informed opinion is an even bigger
waste of my time and theirs. 
I am forced to be here because this class is required for my major, criminal
justice. I deny the validity of sociology.  I believe that it is a pseudo-
science.  Sociology is socialist propaganda.  On the other hand, algebra is
not "mathematical propaganda," though Harriet Jemison attempted to convince
us that 2+2=4 is just a social construct.  I believe that most of the people
in the class accepted her opinion because it is consonant with their inner
chaos.  However, I know for an objective fact that 2+2=4 is in and of the
structure of the universe, independent of any observer.  So, I was not
moved.  Neither am I moved by calls to tax the rich.  The rich already pay
more than their fair share of taxes.
These are the facts from the Congressional Budget Office.
1. Top               64%
2. Fourth            19
3. Middle            10
4. 2nd Lowest         5
5. Lowest             1
Top  1%         21%
Top  5%         37%
Top 10%         48%
The richest people in America pay the most taxes.  The broadest middle class
(2nd, 3rd, and 4th Quintiles) comprise 60% of the population, but pay only
35% of the taxes.  If we drop the lowest and second lowest, the middle-
middle class 40% of the population pays only 30% of the taxes.  The richest
people in America pay more than their fair share.  The rest of us are
If we grant the sociologist's claim that the rich control the government --
and where is the surprise in that? -- then we have to ask why they tax
themselves.  They do so because they have a culture that teaches noblesse
oblige.  They believe that they have a duty to society to pay a little more
so that everyone else will benefit a little more, making the world a better
place.  In addition to taxes, of course, they contribute to charity.  In
2001, the United Nations raised money to fight AIDS.  Canada pledged $90
million and Sweden $60 million -- and Bill Gates $100 million.  In 1997, Ted
Turner gave $1 billion to the United Nations, without strings, apparently.
"Year after year, Americans are among the most generous people, per capita,
in the world. During 2004, U.S. NGOs donated at least $6.8 billion to
developing countries. Since comprehensive data on private giving are
limited, estimating the total level of donations by private charities is
difficult. The Hudson Institute, an independent organization, placed the
value of total U.S. private assistance in 2004 at approximately $24.2
(2004 figures from http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/66060.htm)
The Hudson Institute report figure of $24 billion was for "remittances"
(actual cash) while TOTAL charitable giving in the USA for 2004 was $71
Following the December 30, 2004, tsunami, Amazon.Com set up a "Red Cross
click" that drew $4 million from Amazon customers.  The examples are
endless.  We Americans in general -- and the rich in particular -- are very
nice people.  I feel that it is wrong excoriate our benefactors.
It goes beyond social activism.  It is a matter of class and upbringing that
in a restaurant, if a middle class or working class person gets a dirty
fork, they find someone to blame -- usually the waitress.  The middle class
person expects service: after all, they are paying for a clean fork. The
lower class person gets to exercise precious social power in taking the
upper hand.  However, the upper class person says, "Excuse me, miss, but I
dropped my fork, could I have another?"  If presented with a dirty glass,
the upper class person says they accidentally put too much sugar in their
ice tea and could I have another and yes I will pay for both.  The
wealthiest Americans are raised to be nice, regardless of how sociologists
sneer at them.
Furthermore, this reveals a fundamental, inherent contradiction in
sociology.  Sociologists claim the importance of a "sociological
perspective." It is "ethnocentricism" to measure people from another culture
against one's own norms, when in fact we should apply "cultural
relativism."  Where, I ask, was the "cultural relativism" in the video
denouncing Wall Street and touting Elliot Spitzer? Why do we not admit that
big business has its own cultural norms, and, however strange they seem to
us, those values serve the needs of that society?
We got a handout about the purposes that poor people serve.  Most of it was
cynical, spiteful anti-bourgeois invective. But it raises a point: why do we
not get handouts about the importance of rich people, as seen from a
structural-fuctionalist viewpoint?
Linda, you and I have to make the best of the situation.  I have a 3.96
grade point average after 23 hours.  I can get a bad grade in your class and
still be in the PTK honor society.  I know that I write well.  After all, I
write professionally.  I got two perfect scores on Harriet Jemison's
multiple-guess tests.  I do the work.  But I am not going to waste my time
or yours or anyone else's talking to the four walls.  When I feel that I can
help someone see something they did not know existed, then I will say
something that I regard as relevant.  However, I am not going to force my
contrarian insights on a captive audience that neither wants nor appreciates
Whether the rich choose to donate to charity or not, to support the UN or
NGOs or museums or not, is their choice.  It is their money.  It is not for
us to decide what to with their money.  It belongs to them by right.  There
is a word for someone who wants to redistribute the wealth of others:
thief.  I did not participate in the group discussion on how to restructure
society to disempower the wealthy because I consider the question immoral.
Mike M.
Michael E. Marotta


(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 6/05, 8:36pm)

Post 21

Monday, June 5, 2006 - 9:38pmSanction this postReply

I like it.

Mike E.

Post 22

Monday, June 5, 2006 - 11:23pmSanction this postReply



Post 23

Tuesday, June 6, 2006 - 6:48amSanction this postReply
Michael, that was brilliant.

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Post 24

Tuesday, June 6, 2006 - 7:34amSanction this postReply

An excellent letter.  I am glad to hear that a bad grade in this class will not drastically affect your GPA because that will probably be the result.

The course and its instructors are nothing but reprehensible.  Sadly, were you to make these revelations to an average audience you would be called a liar; not even liberals would believe you.  They are used to getting their 'poison' in diluted, negligible doses.

There is one point, however, that piques my interest:

What is "invention?"
(Give up?)
"Invention" is the process of reshaping existing cultural items into a new form.  Guns, video games, First Amendment rights, and airplanes are examples.
 (I thought you'd like that one...)
 Rand tells us:

The power to rearrange the combinations of natural elements is the only creative power man possesses. . . . "Creation" does not (and metaphysically cannot) mean the power to bring something into existence out of nothing. "Creation" means the power to bring into existence an arrangement (or combination or integration) of natural elements that had not existed before. (This is true of any human product, scientific or esthetic: man's imagination is nothing more than the ability to rearrange the things he has observed in reality.) ["The Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made," in Philosophy: Who Needs It; p. 25]

(Edited by Robert Davison on 6/06, 7:35am)

Post 25

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 - 4:46amSanction this postReply
Robert, that is a good question!
Sociology:  "Invention" is the process of reshaping existing cultural items into a new form.  Guns, video games, First Amendment rights, and airplanes are examples.
 Ayn Rand: The power to rearrange the combinations of natural elements is the only creative power man possesses. . . . to bring into existence an arrangement ..."
The difference is that sociologists see that which exists as being from society, whereas Rand finds it in nature.  In The Fountainhead, speaking to Gail Wynand, Howard Roark says that he takes a stick and makes it a bow.  At the trial, Roark speaks of the wheel becoming a cart and the cart an automobile. At each stage, says Roark, we add our own inventiveness to what we inherit.  True that other individuals created what we find in our world, they are not "cultural items."  In sociology, the creator does not exist.  Cultures and societies are the source of creation.

For that, I question Rand.  Her non-fiction works are laboriously dense attempts at basic problems that seek to present a logically consistent explanation, rather than a full treatment of every context.  The difference in size between Von Mises's Human Action and ITOE says it all: "I" as in Introduction.

We only know what happens inside our own heads.  Guessing at the processes inside other people is problematic.  We do have introspective reports, of course, and we have histories.  The technicians in Edison's laboratory ground out experiments.  Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization by accident. I do not know what happened at Bell Labs to bring the transistor, but I do know that it proceeded logically from the diode, which began as a vacuum tube ("Fleming valve") and tangentially drew from the concept of the "cat whisker" crystal tuner -- and therefore could have been a rearrangment of existing elements, versus a new insight. Alan Turing's computer was the result of insight  He knew what he wanted to achieve because he saw to the root of the problem.  His first "machine" was a thought experiment involving paper tape.  At one stage, they used CRTs as memory devices.  Rearrange the parts like a roomful of monkeys seeking Shakespeare on their typewriters, without the insight, there is nothing. 

... at least that's how I experience it within my own head when I have an idea worth pursuing.

Post 26

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 - 5:07amSanction this postReply
Yes, that's one problem I have with Sociology because often many Sociologists will claim that no real inventions or scientific discoveries are made. This puzzles me considering their 'social symbols' require some facts or data/info behind them for their to be some 'real world tread [an affect on the world]' as I call it. If these 'symbols' don't represent or relate to some information [or more specifically a concept or set of concepts] about the world, then it's useless Platonism dressed up as a science. I've gotten under the skin of many a student and doctor of Sociology on this issue, often most leave confused or flustered exclaiming, "You don't understand!" Often, I think they don't understand that most CompSci majors don't got time for talking about simulacra and PoMoism, because if it does not connect to a real problem or to a real thing [entity], then it does not follow to consider it anything worthy of solving or even considering.

In a way, Sociology is also the modern equivelent of making a problem so you can pretend to solve it, but the funny part is that there is no problem except that these folks are bilking millions of dollars of education funds from boards of education and their regants which are suppose to guard it from such corruption... Oh well, I guess you can't win them all. ;)

-- Bridget
(Edited by Bridget Armozel
on 6/07, 5:10am)

Post 27

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 - 7:16amSanction this postReply

True that other individuals created what we find in our world, they are not "cultural items." 
Ahh!  This distinction was not clear in your original post.  I am edified.  Just when I thought my opinion of Socialogists could not get any lower.

Her non-fiction works are laboriously dense attempts at basic problems that seek to present a logically consistent explanation, rather than a full treatment of every context.
That is one way of looking at it.  I think Rand expected the reader to extrapolate from theory these additional 'contexts'.  An attempt to catalog each and every possibility, on her part, would have been tedious reading and condescending to the reader.

Post 28

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 - 7:19pmSanction this postReply
I won't bore you with the great bulk of tonight's presentation on "global inequality." However, tonight's prize catch was this gem, right out of Atlas Shrugged --
The problem of inequality lies not in poverty but in excess.  "The problem of the world's poor," defined more accurately, turns out to be "the problem of the world's rich."  This means that the solution to the problem  is not a massive change in the culture of poverty so as to place it on the path of development, but a massive change in the culture of superfluity in order to place it on the path of counterdevelopment.  It does not call for a new value system forcing the worlds' majority to feel shame at their traditionally moderate consumption habits, but for a new value system forcing the world's rich to see the shame and vulgarity in their overconsumption habits, and the double vulgarity of standing on other people's shoulders to achieve those consumption habits." -- C. Douglas Lummis.

Post 29

Wednesday, June 7, 2006 - 9:08pmSanction this postReply
Michael M., you have made me want to vomit.

But thanks for sharing this disgusting quote anyway.

[know your enemy]

Post 30

Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 4:26amSanction this postReply
Michael, what was your teachers response to your letter?

Post 31

Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 1:53pmSanction this postReply

That quote is the most nauseating mix of lies and evasion I've read in a long time. Capitalism is the engine that has made "poor" people relatively more wealthy than the "richest" of people prior to capitalism. The motivation behind these statements is the envy of the lazy and incompetent for those who work hard. You should take a barf bag to class with you.

Like Jonathan, I'm curious about your teacher's remarks concerning your letter.

Mike E.
[low pain threshold]

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Post 32

Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 3:45pmSanction this postReply
Jonathan and Eric, I got no reply.  She acknowledged receiving it.  That was all.  Like Hank Rearden at his trial, I am beginning to see a hidden truth, a key to understanding how to speak about morality without arming your destroyers.

Do you know the "open listening" techniques of not accusing the other person, but rather saying what you feel.  Instead of saying "you are immoral" I said, "I consider the question immoral."  If you speak of yourself, your observations, your conclusions, then you stand on a granite foundation to declare your intend to live by your standards according to your judgment. 

If you accuse the other person, you venture across marshes and bogs to attack, a much riskier move.

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Post 33

Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 3:57pmSanction this postReply
We watched a movie and were assigned an essay.
The movie was Life and Debt by Stephanie Black
Jamaica — land of sea, sand and sun. And a prime example of the impact economic globalization can have on a developing country. Using conventional and unconventional documentary techniques, this searing film dissects the "mechanism of debt" that is destroying local agriculture and industry while substituting sweatshops and cheap imports. With a voice-over narration written by Jamaica Kincaid, adapted from her book A SMALL PLACE, LIFE AND DEBT is an unapologetic look at the "new world order," from the point of view of Jamaican workers, farmers, government and policy officials who see the reality of globalization from the ground up.

Marotta, Michael E.

Sociology 100 Introduction to Sociology

Assignment June 7, 2006: Life and Debt


1. Discuss the Free Zone area. 

A.         What exactly is a Free Zone?

B.         What impact did this have on Jamaica and the Jamaican workers?

C.        How did this benefit American retail businesses and American consumers?


Part A.  In simplest terms, a “free zone” is a giant “duty-free shop.”  Governments establish these areas to attract businesses by allowing them into import and export without many restrictions, such as taxes and tariffs.  The Colon Free Zone in Panama is arguably the largest free zone in the world, though others make similar claims based on throughput, number of businesses, or other metrics. 


There are several hundred Free Zones around the world, over 200 in the United States alone.  Among the typical features and attractors is this list from the Hamriyah Free Zone in the United Arab Emirates:

  • Strategic location to access global markets
  • Attractive investment incentives
  • Abundant and inexpensive energy
  • Developed infrastructure
  • Land for lease for investor development
  • Purpose built office accommodation, warehousing and factory units
  • Seaport(s) and/or airport(s) [Colon boasts 5 separate seaports and 4 different airports]
  • Favorable low cost living conditions
  • Low labor costs
  • Foreign company ownership is allowed
  • Import and Export tax exemption
  • Exemption from all commercial taxes
  • Repatriation of capital and profits allowed
  • Long term leases
  • No corporate profits tax
  • No personal income tax
  • Modern Legal Framework and Security of Investment


Part B.  In 1996, Jamaica had four free zones: Kingston Export Free Zone, Garmex (also in Kingston), the Montego Bay Export Free Zone, and Hayes.  The free zones offered low-paying work opportunities, typically US$30 per week.  (One requirement of the Jamaican zones is that they bring in U.S. dollars, which are highly stable and widely traded.  From 1996 to 2003, the Jamaican dollar continued its lifelong decline going from 35 to the USD to 58 to the USD.)  This has had the effect of placing a foundation of support to the Jamaican economy.  While $30 per week is about one-third of the annual per capita income of about $4500 per year, this is in line with most other nations of the world where the lowest factory wage is about one fourth to one half of the per capita income.  (In the USA, it is about one-third, the same as Jamaica.  The legal minimum wage here is $5.75 and the average factory wage is just over $17 per hour. )  The Free Zones provided much needed work at a time when Jamaica’s economy was reeling under the disastrous policies of Michael Manley.  (Fair criticisms of Manley’s rule come from progressives, as well as from others.)  Today, they are less important, as most of Jamaica’s international trade consists of tourism in addition to its traditional earnings from bauxite.


Part C.  Offshore production by low-wage workers allows Americans to buy for less.  In 2005, the United States imported $243 billion in such goods from China.  (U.S. exports to China for 2005 were only $41 billion.)  On the other hand, Jamaica has traditionally benefited from U.S. trade.  In 2001 – the year this movie was made – the U.S. exported $1.5 billion to Jamaica, while importing one-third as much, $460 million.  As important as underwear is to Americans, Haynes briefs are low on the list of what we buy from Jamaica: bauxite/alumina, food, beverages and tobacco, and textiles.  In fact, data processing services are at least as important to the new post-industrial economy of Jamaica as apparel assembly.


2.  Briefly discuss any new or interesting information that was presented to you in this video.


Like a figure/ground puzzle in perception from psychology, this movie told a story-behind-the-story.  The credits said nothing about where the footage of the interview with former prime minister Michael Manley came from.  In fact, Michael Manley died in 1997, four years before the movie was made.

            We saw footage of police battling rioters and we were led to believe that this had something to do with “labor unrest.”  In fact, most of this rioting ran for about a decade between gangs of supporters of Michael Manley’s People’s National Party and his opponents, the Jamaica Labour Party, centered on Edward Seaga.  In 1980, 800 Jamaicans died in these pitched battles.  Furthermore, politics aside, Jamaica continues to be racked by interpersonal violence and a high homicide rate.  So, without better documentation, I am not sure how to identify the combatants in the movie.

            The reason I have this sense of doubt is because of the fundamental dishonesties of the production.  The narration came from a book, A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid.  Jamaica Kincaid’s real name was Elaine Potter Richardson before she changed it.  She is from Antigua, and A Small Place is about Antigua, not about Jamaica.  Granted that the two islands may have much in common, it is nonetheless like producing a film about France from a book about Germany.  Antigua and Jamaica do seem to have one thing in common, according to Jamaica Kincaid – and it is not something that came up in the movie.  According to Jamaica Kincaid, Antiguans have failed to be successful after their liberation from colonialism because they failed to continue the British tradition of good education.  Kincaid wrote: This inability to promote the importance of education and hope for the future is symbolized in the failure to rebuild Antigua's only library, St. John's, which was "damaged in the earthquake of 1974" and years later, still carries the sign "REPAIRS ARE PENDING"  This fact is another of the figure/ground problems in the movie. 

            We know that there are many progressive solutions to problems in the Third World.  Often, implementing these solutions in inhibited or prohibited by fascist, religious, or other dictatorships in the under-developed nations.  But Jamaica is a democracy.  The people have only themselves to blame.  Co-operatives, local exchange trade systems (LETS), community currencies, sustainable agriculture, and other alternatives apparently were never tried in Jamaica. 

            In Life and Debt, we do not see Jamaica’s three other free zones and no mention is made of them.  Life and Debt said nothing about Jamaica’s leading export, bauxite.  However, the film did give us one interesting glimpse of Jamaica’s true shackles: ganja.  Marijuana does not cause cancer.  Marijuana is not addictive.  George Washington smoked it.  The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.  Nonetheless, when everyone is stoned all the time, no one cares to do one whit more than they have to.  Onion farmers who cannot grow onions simply import them and then sell those in order to continue along the path of least resistance.  And so, rather than feed Jamaica’s poorest children, dairies pour their milk on the ground when they cannot sell it. 

            And why can they not sell it?  Why do Jamaicans continue to buy imported foods instead of supporting their own economy, internalizing their strengths, and capitalizing on their abundance?  Ganja is one reason.  There are others.  None of them was addressed in this movie.  That is not surprising.  Most of producer/director Stephanie Black’s work has been for Sesame Street, another fact, hidden in the background of this presentation. 



Free Zones



Jamaican Free Zones, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Economy of Jamaica



Michael Manley’s Government


Life and Debt by Stephanie Black




Post 34

Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 4:04pmSanction this postReply
Superb job, Michael M.!


Post 35

Sunday, June 11, 2006 - 4:05pmSanction this postReply

Marotta, Michael E. @00388779

Sociology 100 Introduction to Sociology

Assignment June 12, 2006

“Showing My Color” by Clarence Page


  1. When was the first time in your life that you noticed a racist discrimination incident and what impact did it have on you?
  2. What did you find new and interesting in this article?


Like author Clarence Page, my first awareness of color came as the result of going down South.  In March of 1956, when I was six, my mother, brother and I went to Florida.  In preparation for that trip, my mother warned us that down South, whites and coloreds were not allowed to sit together in public places.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  I did not know what a “colored” person was, even after she tried to explain it.  The problem was that we had two other families in our neighborhood with Italian names – but with olive skin and black hair.  Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, close to City Hospital, going downtown on the streetcar or bus, I saw so many coloreds that I never saw them as being different.  Even being down there, and then coming home, I had no experience of separateness.

            A few years later, as the civil rights struggles broke into the daily news, I heard the n-word more often from kids on my street.  But they were just hillbillies and we expected nothing better from them.  They did not like us either, and could not differentiate us Hungarians from later immigrants who were “displaced persons.”  They called all Europeans “DPs.” 

We knew other ethnic slurs.  Germans were “krauts.”  Irish were “paddies.”  That made it pretty funny when the third kid in the Madigan family was named “Patrick” and my mother reproached me for calling him “Paddy Madigan” instead of “Pat” or “Patrick.” That was all the more difficult for me to grasp because I have a cousin named “Patrick” born on March 17, though I was named Michael and not born on September 29.

Once, my family had some friends over and the old guy said that everything was “hunky dory” and his wife shushed him and my parents tut-tutted her back with “Oh, go on! Who cares?”  I first heard the word “dago” (or “dego”) when one of my buddies told me that I was wearing Italian shoes because “wherever you go, dey go.”  I had to have it explained to me.  Only last year did I learn that this actually derived from a reference to Spanish people – other “Latins” – among whom “Diego” is a common name.  I never new anyone name “Iago” until I read Shakespeare.

            By 1963, racial tensions across America were hot enough that I heard the n-word more often in school.  There were stories of violence over busing.  By then, the first personal incident – if there was one – was lost to time.

            My mother’s parents came to America before World War I.  My grandfather worked in the coalmines of West Virginia and Ohio until they saved enough money to move to Cleveland in 1930.  In the 1920s, they watched KKK rallies.  The foreigners and Catholics and coloreds would sit up on a hill, far enough away to be out of the way, and watch the cross-burnings.  My grandparents were not especially religious but they found that anathema and hypocritical.  You burn something you hate, yet these people burned crosses and claimed to be Christians.  Lumped together with the coloreds, my grandparents understood the out-group clustering.  When they took citizenship classes, they learned that the Republican Party was the party of equality and the Democrat Party was the party of the South.  So, they were always Republicans, and that’s how I was raised: to treat everyone equally; and to expect equal treatment under law. 

At the same time, we allowed every individual the right to discriminate, just as we discriminated against our ignorant, white trash hillbilly neighbors for their sideburns, blue jeans, junk cars, rockabilly music, and sending their kids to school with a Pepsi and a Moonpie for breakfast.  So, I guess you could say that learning to hate them was my first experience with ethnic discrimination.  But that has a odd rejoinder.

In 1961, my brother, grandmother and I went to Florida, again.  My brother fancied himself a potential baseball player.  His favorite boardwalk game was “dunk the clown.”  The clown was very supportive.  My brother never dunked him, and on our last day, the ticket taker picked my brother up, carried him to the release and let him kick the target to dunk the clown.  As I said, the clown kept encouraging my brother, pitch after pitch.  We had no doubt that what we heard him say was “C’mon little nigger, you can do it!  Throw it hard!”  On the last day, after the clown was toweling himself off we talked to him and we said that we would miss him even though he called us niggers.  He was shocked.  “Litte Ligger – Leee-ger, little ligger…that’s mah accent,” he said.  “I would never use that word.”  We said that we expected it because he was from the South and he got kind of distant and said that he would never use that word and not all Southerners were like that.  That was from a carnival clown at a boardwalk game.


2.         Clarence Page may have experienced catharsis writing the article, but it did nothing for me.  You read one, you’ve read them all.  I could take that article, and cross out the Negro-specific words and insert my own.  I already mentioned that in my neighborhood, we had hillbillies and DPs, two groups of white people who hated each other over ethnicity – and we were not in either group.  We came here before World War I to become Americans, which we were.  The DPs were just waiting out the Cold War so they could go home.  On Saturdays, they sent their kids to special Ukrainian schools and Slovenian schools to maintain their old cultures.  Mostly, the kids were ashamed of their parents and wanted to acculturate to America as quickly as possible.  Still, you could get a Ukrainian pretty mad by calling him a “Russian” and then apologizing and digging deeper by saying “I’m sorry, what’s the difference again?” 

In a science class in the seventh grade one of the guys wrote an essay about how ashamed he was because his parents dressed like foreigners.  He was Russian.  About that time, there was a Cold War comedy movie called The Russians Are Coming.  It had Theodore Bikel as a Russian submarine commander who gets hung up on a sandbar off Gloucester, Massachusetts.  He sends his guys into town to get supplies – ropes, pulleys, anything – and they break into a clothing store and come out looking like (guess what?) Russians.  It was hilarious.  The audience broke up.  They got it.

So, why is it that my friend who was a Wall Street Journal writer never poured his heart out about being Russian?  Maybe because there is no money it.  Maybe because it does not excuse anything.  Realize that the Cold War made being called a “Russkie” quite an insult.  Those experiences do not translate into entitlements today.



(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 6/11, 4:19pm)

Post 36

Monday, June 12, 2006 - 6:47amSanction this postReply
MM - Both excellent papers and you should get an 'A' for both.  I can't see how you couldn't.

Post 37

Monday, June 12, 2006 - 9:03amSanction this postReply
Michael excellent job. You completely obliterated that film and it exposed the film maker's dishonesty very eloquently. Kudos!

Post 38

Monday, June 12, 2006 - 7:37pmSanction this postReply
Marotta > His Sociology Teacher. ^__^

-- Bridget

Post 39

Monday, June 26, 2006 - 2:12pmSanction this postReply
This was a one-page paper.  I did not need to say more for the class.  However, I will say here that this paper provided anecdotal evidence that perhaps 78% of the students who protested only did so from temporary social pressure.  The authors do note that the Beijing goverment supported the protests, thus lowering the "cost" of attending them.  That said, it seems that "some" students actually attempted to AVOID government or university-sanctioned protests, only to have CCP cadres show up to control any spontaneous demonstration.  Beijing University undergraduates live in dorm rooms of eight and the group tends to stay together through four years of schooling.  The greater the intensity of discussions in their own rooms was about the protests, the more likely any student was to attend -- however (and it is a big however)...  they tended then to measure as non-committal, or run of the mill participants.   Furthermore, the model that best describes the communist youth league cadres is "opportunist."  They did not themselves believe strongly in the protests, but did their work when it was assigned by the party.  All of this is supported by interviews and numerical analysis.  However, the numbers ultimately failed and the authors had to leave deeper inferences behind. 

Moreover -- and this is critical for Objectivists -- the model from Charles Tilly (zealot, miser, opportunity, participant) was itself NOT derived empirically, but "formally" i.e., "rationally."  And they call this a science.  Bah! Humbug!

"Differential Participation and the Nature of a Movement:  A Study of the
1999 Anti-U.S. Beijing Student Demonstrations” by Zhiyuan Yu (University of
Chicago) and Dingxin Zhao (University of Chicago),
Social Forces, Volume 3
March 2008.

The authors attempted to apply a statistical method called “latent class model” supported by “multinomial logit regression results” to classify the students who protested in Beijing against the United States for the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999, during the NATO actions in Yugoslavia in support of the Kosovo resistance. 
The statistical work was intended to test the theories of Charles Tilly who classified participants in political action mass movements.  According to Tilly, participants are zealots, misers, opportunists, or run-of-the-mill participants.  Perhaps the salient deduction is that student involvement increased with dormitory socialization about the protests, however, that involvement tended to be non-committal and marginal.  In particular, the greater the level of socialization through discussion, the lower the actual level of commitment of the individuals.  In other words, it appears that they went along to get along, and each expected the others to be committed.
I chose this paper because it promised a complex and sophisticed mathematical model of political involvement.  However, it failed to deliver that.  The authors admit several times that their conceptual model was not derived from empirical study of the population.  They also admit to not being able to substantiate Tilly’s model with numerical results.  Nonetheless, their interviews provided fascinating anecdotal information, much of which they were able to use profitably. In our text and in class, we saw videos of protests. 
We have discussed political action.  We have been given papers to read about political activism.  While the social context of Chinese university students might not be universally inferential, this study nonetheless raises a radical question.  When we see thousands of people in the street carrying signs in support or opposition of some immediate cause, how many are actually just going along for a good time?

And yes, "going along for a good time" is a probability.  Interview subjects said that they attended specifically because such demonstrations are rare and they might not have another opportunity to experience one.

Finally, in another wing of the school, where the mathematics classes are taught, is this:
The plural of anecdote is not data.


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