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~Monday~ I slept until around 10:00 this morning, and then did something very, very unusual: I skipped breakfast and started my day with lunch.

Perhaps in honor of our nation's birthday, I had two (of those leftover) grilled hot dogs for breakfast, and I got my caffeine from a Diet Coke instead of coffee.

Image of Martin Luther King, Jr. with 'Let Freedom Ring' beside it




I read a few chapters of Outliers, and I continue to be impressed with how nicely it dovetails with all of the notions about privilege that are taught in NC State's leadership and service programs. Intermittently in this book, I think, "Why doesn't society take action based on these realities?"

For instance, I think this notion is virtually ignored in our society:

The relationship between success and IQ works only up to a point. Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points doesn't seem to translate into any usable real world advantage.

A mature scientist with an adult IQ of 130 is as likely to win a Nobel Prize as is one whose IQ is 180.

The book follows up with an analogy:

What British psychologist Liam Hudson is saying is that IQ is a lot like height in basketball. Does someone who is five foot six have a realistic chance of playing professional basketball? Not really. You need to be at least six foot or six one to play at that level, and, all things being equal, it's probably better to be six two than six one, and better to be six three than six two.

But past a certain point, height stops mattering so much. A player who is six foot eight is not automatically better than someone two inches shorter. (Michael Jordan, the greatest player ever, was six six after all.)

A basket player only has to be tall enough—and the same is true of intelligence. Intelligence has a threshold.

But society's actions and systems continue to exist and be built around the belief that the higher one's IQ is the more intelligent one is. The book follows up with a "real life" example of systems built around that belief:

To get a sense of how absurd the selection process at elite Ivy League schools has become, consider the following statistics. In 2008, 27,462 of the most highly qualified high school seniors in the world applied to Harvard University. Of these students, 2,500 of them scored a perfect 800 on the SAT critical reading test and 3,300 had a perfect score on the SAT math exam. More than 3,300 were ranked first in their high school class.

How many did Harvard accept? About 1,600, which is to say they rejected 93 out of every 100 applicants. Is it really possible to say that one student is Harvard material and another isn't, when both have identical—and perfect—academic records? Of course not. Harvard is being dishonest. Schwartz is right. They should just have a lottery [of the set of students who are good enough].

I suppose a counter-argument to this is that admission is not solely based on academic record. But still, it makes you think.



I pretty much figured I wouldn't get to the gym by 1:00 today, and sure enough I didn't. I had planned to go for a walk later in the day, but that didn't happen either.

A lot of waffling and negative self-talk and berating of myself took place around this decision throughout the day that I'll spare the time writing up here.



My friend Casey gave me an iTunes gift of Adele's 19 CD, which I downloaded today. Thank you, my friend. So very thoughtful and generous of you!

In writing this, I went to Adele's website to snag an image of the 19 album to put here, but instead I got drawn into the 21 Track by Track Interview, which is a short clip by her talking about the story behind each of the songs on her 21 album.

I enjoyed all of them, and I've chosen this one to embed, because I know it's one of Casey's favorite songs ("for the music, not necessarily for the lyrics"):




I stayed in this evening and spent most of it reading more of Outliers, which I'm enjoying more and more as I go along. Thoughts while reading included:

  1. Just after making the point I talked about above, Gladwell, the author, started talking about something that made me think, "This sounds like Goleman's notion of emotional intelligence," and then he (this author) named it "practical intelligence."

  2. There is a fascinating difference between convergence testing (e.g., presented with a series of something, predicting what would be next in the series) and divergence testing (e.g., listing all of the uses of a brick that you can think of), with the former measuring more of what is traditionally thought of as intelligence, while the latter is a measure of something "more profoundly different—something much closer to creativity." We don't have standardized divergence tests in our society to say, get into Harvard. Why not, when it's as important to success in life as intellectual intelligence?

  3. I wondered if I've done 10,000 hours of writing—and by that I mean writing with the results of the writing being a "deliverable." I would estimate that I spend at least an hour a day writing my blog (all things considered, including taking notes throughout the day for it), and at 365 days a year for 7 years, that's only 2,555 hours. Even if it's 1.5 hours, that's still only 3,832.5 hours. I'm wondering if factoring in my time spent on my job writing work deliverables (both in my last 7 years at IBM and the almost 3 I've done at NC state, not to mention in all of my grad school classes from 2004 until 2007, if it comes out to 10,000 or more hours.

  4. It's interesting how a disadvantage can turn into an opportunity depending on "demographic luck," "concerted cultivation," and other non-innate factors.

I'm so impressed with this book—at least up until this halfway point—that I'm considering making it my next Mostly Social Book Club book.



I stopped reading and called it a night at 11:15. Way early for me.

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