Non-audioPolitics

Would you give blood to help your kid at school?

And you thought you loved your child. Devoted parents in faraway China, according to Quartz, are giving their kids a boost up in the educational

And you thought you loved your child.

Devoted parents in faraway China, according to Quartz, are giving their kids a boost up in the educational rat race by donating blood.  It’s a kind of Pints for Points scheme:

“Four liters of donated blood will get your child one extra point; 6 liters adds two points; and 8 liters, three. One 28-year-old man on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, posted that he had surpassed the 4-liter mark, a gift to his unborn child: ‘[I] want to tell my future son: No worries with the high school entrance exams, Dad has already got you bonus marks!’ the man said, quoted in the South China Morning Post. The policy began this July, but parents are able to take into account the blood they donated in the past. The 28-year-old had started donating when he was 18.

“Four liters is a lot of blood for one point in a test … with a possible 580 points. The human body only has 4.5 to 5.5 liters of blood in its circulatory system, and the average adult donating half a liter (a little over a pint) twice a year would take four years to bump up their child’s score by that one point.”

Silly you! You thought $50K for a year of college tuition was a sacrifice.

Meanwhile, over in that chunk of the planet, there were dramatic democracy protests and tear gas crackdowns all through the weekend. The protests haven’t gotten much ink in the U.S. If you’re interested, the BBC News site has a concise Q&A that will catch you up. (There won’t be a quiz, so you can hold on to your plasma.)

Closer to home but also far from the news radar: The oil boom in North Dakota has also brought a boom in crime and drugs to the region’s Native Americans, according to reporting by Sari Horwitz at The Washington Post.

“On a November afternoon two years ago, an intruder burst into a home in New Town, the largest town on the reservation, and shot and killed a grandmother and three of her grandchildren with a hunting rifle. A fourth grandchild, a 12-year-old boy, survived by hiding under his slain brother’s body and pretending he was dead.

“The young man responsible for the killings slit his own throat hours later in a nearby town. He was high on meth, according to federal officials.

“On the same day, in an unrelated incident, Sgt. White stopped a motorist who was wanted on an outstanding warrant. As she grabbed the handle of his car door, the driver, who had drugs in the vehicle, took off, dragging her on the ground for half a block and sending her to the hospital with a concussion.

“It seemed like big city drug violence had arrived like a sudden storm.”

Horwitz ends with a quote from a policewoman on the Forth Berthold Indian Reservation: “Our people have survived so many things in history. The methamphetamine use, the heroin use, is just another epidemic like smallpox and boarding schools. And the last of the last are going to have to survive. And I want to be in the front lines because that was my vow — to protect my people.” 

Check out Horwitz’s other pieces this year about law enforcement abominations on reservations. Links are at the bottom of the North Dakota story.

Finally, famed linguist Steven Pinker takes a crack at finding the sources of bad writing.  The prime suspect is “the curse of knowledge.”

“It simply doesn't occur to the writer that her readers don't know what she knows—that they haven't mastered the argot of her guild, can't divine the missing steps that seem too obvious to mention, have no way to visualize a scene that to her is as clear as day. And so the writer doesn't bother to explain the jargon, or spell out the logic, or supply the necessary detail.”

I found this disconcerting. I have long nursed a pet theory that the very worst writing is born of spite. Pinker says that’s just a secondary cause:

“Bureaucrats insist on gibberish to cover their anatomy. Plaid-clad tech writers get their revenge on the jocks who kicked sand in their faces and the girls who turned them down for dates. Pseudo-intellectuals spout obscure verbiage to hide the fact that they have nothing to say, hoping to bamboozle their audiences with highfalutin gobbledygook.

“But the bamboozlement theory makes it too easy to demonize other people while letting ourselves off the hook.”

Rats.  Lucky for you there’s no writing test today, so hold on to your plasma.

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