Best Paragraph I Read Today

It’s from Will Wilkinson, who read the New Yorker profile of Naomi Klein and says this:

Klein comes off as an incoherent bundle of reflexes. She has passions, prejudices, animosities, an appealing streak of punk nihilism, a cynical and savvy strategic sense, and no ideas. Klein and her husband, Avi Lewis, come off as so saturated in familial left-wing politics that their ideology, such as it is, seems less a set of propositions that might be true or false than an ethnic identity or tribal commitment that can neither be chosen nor forsaken. Bred-in-the-bone cultural assumptions rarely cohere when articulated; their logic is emotional. Which explains how Klein can bounce so blithely and unintelligibly from a milquetoast Canadian faith in government to a petulant, anarchic distrust of large institutions.

Ouch! Loyal readers know I’m no fan of Klein, either.

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Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Tyler Cowen has a fascinating post speculating on why women study abroad more than men 2:1. The “expert” reasons are varying risk tolerances, gender ratios in fields more inclined to send students abroad, and females’ concern about safety inducing them to particpiate in formal study abroad programs over independent travel. Then there’s the more interesting explanation:

“The three main factors I found were motherhood, age and safety,” said McKinney, associate director of the Center for Global Education at Butler University. “Essentially, my informants shared with me that they really hope someday to be mothers and they can’t imagine being able to travel abroad and also be a mom. So if they’re going to have an overseas experience, they’re going to do it before they become mothers,” she said, adding that her informants “really felt plagued by the age of 30. They have a very long to-do list.”

The biological clock strikes again.

3 Responses to Best Paragraph I Read Today

  1. Grace Boyle says:

    That’s so interesting–when I was in college I studied abroad and that thought process didn’t cross my mind. However, it makes sense subconsciously…interesting. I want to look into other reasons why more women study abroad, I have my ideas but they’re generalizations. Thank you for sharing, Ben!

  2. Takifugu says:

    I found more credible the hypothesis in Miller and Kanazawa’s book “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters” – i.e. the women’s status is more easily transferable between cultures, as female attractiveness is more universal. They also state that a man accompanied by an attractive woman may be an indication of his social status, even when traveling in a completely different culture. I saw that somebody mentioned it in the comments thread on the original post, too.

  3. I studied abroad when I was a college student. Trust me, my future family status didn’t even enter my mind. I was more concerned with understanding what the professors were saying and with keeping my digestive system functioning properly. (Alas, my gut didn’t get along with the Spanish water supply.)

    As for traveling abroad after becoming a mother or a father, why not? I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone who regretted traveling abroad with the family.

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