The usual suspects are crying out about a study suggesting whiny babies become conservative adults. Plus, bloggers herald news of 8.5 million Chinese moving into cities. And, are comic book publishers keeping a super hero from the public?
It's been a busy couple of weeks for social scientists. This week, psychologist Jack Block's controversial study is heating up the blogosphere, making it one of the most-cited news stories of the week.
Block's study began in the 1960's when he began tracking over 100 nursery school kids in Berkeley, California as part of a study of personality. Teachers and assistants who had known the kids for months rated the children's personalities.
A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, and this time, also looked at politics. What did he find? The "whiny kids" tended to grow up conservative, becoming rigid young adults who also adhered closely to traditional gender roles. The confident kids, however, turned out to be politically liberal, transforming into bright, non-conforming adults.
Block's findings did not surprise many conservative bloggers who hardly think Berkeley babies are a random sample. Michelle Malkin quotes an anonymous tipster who raises the point that "ALL of the children in that study were the offspring of U.C. Berkeley professors, lecturers, and staff members. The reason the Child Study Center is so popular is that they offer free/cheap child care/nursery schooling in exchange for the parents allowing their kids to be 'studied' by psychologists all day every day."
Tiny's Republican seconds that. "My first reaction is great, as long as they grow up conservative I don't care what they are like as kids," he writes. "Then I read the story...oh big surprise that this 'study'…was done by Berkeley profs and according to the article 95% of the 100-ish kids tracked grew up in Berkeley. I love how they describe those who became conservative as 'rigid!' Of course personality traits of the non-conservatives sound nice!"
And Coalition of the Swilling couldn't agree more. "Whenever I read stuff like this I'm reminded more and more of the old Soviet Science Academies and the 'facts' they would churn out. But maybe I should just quit whining..."
Others are instantly suspicious of any Berkeley study, never mind one about professors' babies. Speakspook writes, "Anything UC Berkeley comes up with is immediately suspect. If however, the study is valid, it would be an indication that whiny children grow up to be well adjusted adults with a positive outlook on life, while confident kids grow up to be unprincipled, amoral, ranting liberals."
Mike Stockinger on Uncorrelated writes, "The reality is that the Berkeley study has no bearing on people's political affiliations. Some Democrats are, in terms of the study, 'conservatives,' and many Republicans are 'liberal.' I do know a few whiny 'conservatives,' but most of the whining I hear always seems to come from self-identified 'liberals' er-r-r, I mean 'progressives'."
Liberal bloggers are not surprised by the findings either, albeit for different reasons. Liberal blogger John Aravosis at AMERICAblog writes, "What do Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Limbaugh, George Will, Dr. Laura, the Republican bloggers all have in common? Whiny insecure brats. What do Republicans stand for anyway? They're bullies who need the government to either blow up or regulate everyone and everything they're afraid of, which is pretty much everything. Sound familiar? Whereas liberals are the well-adjusted kid, the nice guy, live and let live..."
Biggest Cities You've Never Heard Of
Every year, 8.5 million Chinese peasants move into cities that are unlikely to make many travel guides, never mind maps. But their bursting populations put them on a par with some of the world's cities, The Guardian reports. China has ninety urban centers with over one million people.
Chongqing is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the world today, boasting 31 million residents (which, as The Guardian notes, is more people than Iraq, Peru or Malaysia). And, the population in its metropolitan areas is expected to double from 10 million to 20 million in the next 13 years.
While the growth of Chinese cities isn't front-page news, bloggers were well-aware.
"China has developed a lot and got huge changes recently, especially when we won to host the 2008 Olympic Games," Chinese blogger Jessie (Xhe) Li writes. "Everything is changing everyday. China is open to the people all over the world, more people coming to China, more recognition to China, I think. I has left for eight months, there must be a big difference when I go back. Looking forward to the day back," she writes.
But a booming population may not be all good news, as Ted Leonis illustrates with his salon adventure. "Having such a large and available workforce in China also means that manpower can frequently overwhelm even the most mundane situation," Leonis writes at Ted's Take. "Yesterday, I went to a very nice salon to get my hair cut. One employee guided me into a small room where there were four more employees waiting to take care of me: one to wash my hair, one to cut it...one to pick the stray hair off my face and clothing, and one to sweep the cuttings off the floor...I am very happy with the outcome, but have to admit that I don't really see the team approach to haircutting catching on in the U.S."
Others, like Dan Harris at China Law Blog, know a good real estate market when they see one. "Chinese real estate is hot again...The Chinese government is predicting 300 million farmers (about the equivalent of the ENTIRE United States population) will be moving to cities and towns over the next twenty years and these people will need housing," Harris blogs.
Zach Chen offers a handy reminder on China Daily. "And America is worried about the millions of illegal Mexican immigrants from the south. Take a look at China."
The End Of More Super Heros?
Comic-loving bloggers are fuming over a recent copyright bid, of all things. The two largest publishers of comic books – Marvel and DC comics –have banded together to jointly trademark the word "super-hero."
Some suspect this is a way to "legally harrass" independent comic companies from making competing comic books. For example, the publisher of Super Hero Happy Hour removed the "super" from their comic book title. They use this mark to legally harass indie comic companies that make competing comic books.
Cory Doctorow is angry. "'Super-hero' isn't Marvel's property. They didn't invent the term," she blogs. "They aren't the only users of the term. It's a public-domain word that belongs to all of us. Adding a ™ to super-hero is a naked bid to steal 'super-hero' from us and claim it for their own."
Deb Thompson at Write Lightning agrees it's unfair. "I don't create comics but I do work with words quite a bit. It annoys me when a company decides to suddenly claim ownership of a word or phrase that has been used by many of us for a long time," Thompson blogs.
"Protection of the phrase/word 'super-hero' is a step too far, especially given that the word has been a part of our language for decades," Jack Grant at Random Fate writes. "I had hoped better from them, yet I should remember they are only about profits, as are all companies."
But Neil Sarver doesn't understand what all the fuss is about . "As it is, most of us have no interest in using the word 'Super-Hero' as a sales device in any commercial venture at all, so it really doesn't affect us," Sarver blogs. "Should a small publishing company or a collective of publishers or the ACLU want to challenge this trademark, I'll probably be on their side. I think it's a pretty shaky trademark, as best I can assess. As it stands it doesn't affect me personally at all, so I can't get too riled."
For a creative take on public domain in the comic book world, check out this creative rendition.
By Melissa McNamara