Yes, you read it right: white people are more likely to marry other good people.

Just kidding!

Now that I have your attention, though, I hope you thought I was out of my mind. I may be, but for the record, I’m absolutely not saying that white people are good (and that non-white people aren’t). And geez, if I wanted to say that (which I don’t), I’d say it directly, not with underhanded rhetoric.

In the title, I wrote “white people . . . other good people.” That doesn’t even make sense, really.¹ It’s like talking about your other Range Rover when you only have one.

What did I mean by other good people when I hadn’t mentioned any particularly good people in the first place? Or had I?

Now read what David Brooks wrote earlier this week in the Opinion section of the New York Times:

Affluent, intelligent people are now more likely to marry other energetic, intelligent people.

Brooks mentioned “other energetic, intelligent people,” but he hadn’t mentioned any energetic, intelligent people in the first place; he’d only mentioned affluent, intelligent people.

Maybe Brooks didn’t notice his slip, because to him, the affluent people are the energetic people. Or maybe he intended to say flat out that poor people are lazy — which I think he believes — but he knew it would have been crude to say.

Even worse, saying that poor people are lazy, even if you believe it, wouldn’t have been “gentlemanly conduct.” Gentlemanly conduct is a thing the “best of the WASP elites” had, according to Brooks (in the same article). The WASP elites (and some Catholics) also thought the poor were lazy. They weren’t. They aren’t.

Why are 30 million Americans poor? To many the answer would be obvious: They are poor because they are lazy, or lack initiative, or prefer welfare to work.

Wrong, . . .

  — Jack Rosenthal, The New York Times, November 16, 1969.


¹ I’m not sure I’ve explained this clearly, so here’s an extended try. The construction “<adjective> people . . . other <adjective> people,” refers to some <adjective> people and then some additional <adjective> people of the same kind. For example: Tall people often date other tall people. Loud people sometimes even disturb other loud people. Clumsy people occasionally bump into other clumsy people.

On the other hand, to say “<adjective> people . . . other <different adjective> people” is a mistake, a ruse, or a (not necessarily good) joke. For example: Dumb people often marry other blondes. Homosexuals are more likely to marry other sailors.

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$latex e^ {\pi i} = -1&s=4$

Thanks, JetPack!

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Do not make things easy for yourself by speaking or thinking of data as if they were different from what they are; and do not go off from facing data as they are, to amuse your imagination by wishing they were different from what they are. Such wishing is pure waste of nerve force, weakens your intellectual power, and gets you into habits of mental confusion.

Mary Everest Boole, in “Philosophy and Fun of Algebra” (1909)

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I guess it’s easier to write “the Stieltjesness of f” than “the fact that f has the Stieltjes property.” The jury seems to be out about whether to capitalize the word. Of the five instances Google finds, one is at the beginning of a sentence, and two are uncapitalized. Here’s to not resolving the issue.

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A lot of people must wonder about the name of this place, and the school’s FAQs page answers the question “What does “Isothermal” mean?”:

In meteorological terms, the word “isotherm” refers to a line drawn on a weather map showing identical or even temperatures.  If something is isothermal, it is of equal or constant temperature with respect to either time or space. Research has shown that it is not uncommon for an isotherm to curve through the area of Rutherford and Polk Counties where Isothermal Community College is located.

When choosing a name for the college, the original Board of Trustees drew from this regional characteristic to create a name that described the area and represented the college in an inventive manner.  So now when someone breaks the ice by asking you about the name Isothermal, you’ll be able to pass on part of the school’s unique history!

Isotherms probably pass through most places most of the time. The isothermally distinctive places are places like Bullhead City, that frequently don’t lie on an isotherm.

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I can’t tell which would be more amazing – if the 1967 Atlantic article on data and privacy rediscovered and reproduced here is for real, or if Modern Mechanix has fooled us big time. Either way, an amazing article. (Thanks for pointing me to this, Jason.)

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