12/29/16

Dear Risk Averse,

As an American living in Europe, there's one topic of conversation you never get away from when meeting new people.

"How many guns do you have?"

Luckily for Europe's gawking, gun-curious masses, I grew up in a somewhat stereotypically small-town American family and am able to give them a satisfying and invariably gasp-inducing answer.

Five. I have five guns. And to the inquirer's astonishment and immense pleasure I can do them one better. I can tell them about getting my first rifle at age 9. I can tell them about hunting at age 12. I can tell them about running through the woods with my friends every weekend as a teenager, unsupervised and shooting everything that moved. I can tell them about going fishing with a shotgun and the time we spent an entire afternoon felling a small tree one shot at a time with .22s. I can show them a picture of my diminutive wife firing an AR-15 that's nearly as big as she is and tell them about how my dad doesn't even go on a jog without a pistol strapped to some part of him.

By this point my new acquaintance is usually peering at me like a mutant zoological specimen out of some aristocrat's 18th century cabinet of curiosities. It's a raw kind of awe, mixed either with the respectful wonder due a gun-slinging outlaw of great renown, or alternatively, with the wary condescension one might pay an especially wild-looking troglodyte. It all depends upon the particular observer, of course.

At any rate, by the end, my stories always elicit the same slow head shake of disbelief. "I can't believe that's allowed," the European always says with post-climactic incredulity. Then they usually launch into a little diatribe about all the tragedies and shootings and violence that stem from America's lax gun regulations. They're not wrong, of course. Even someone who grew up steeped in gun culture and already reeking of Hoppe's #9 as a first grader can see that the prevalence of guns in the US entails a high human cost.



Kinder Surprise eggs are especially popular in Germany. You should see people's minds explode when I tell them that the eggs are banned in America because the large plastic capsule inside contains a toy which U.S. authorities fear could pose a choking hazard.

Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, but I guess we enjoy squeezing off a few on a tacted-out Bushmaster that much more than we enjoy the sense of mounting anticipation as we peel the tin foil off of a Kinder Surprise egg, eat the layer of chocolate, and then crack open the plastic capsule within to reveal a Spiderman collectible.

Every country has its vices.

Germany is a fairly safe place to drive a car. In fact, per billion kilometers driven, Germany sees about one less fatality than we do in the U.S. Of course, you'd expect Germany to be a safe place to drive a car. The legal driving age is 18, driving school is mandatory, ultra-safe German-made cars are very popular, vehicle inspections are stricter, road maintenance is better, speed cameras are everywhere, and Germans are generally more anal about following the rules. 

In fact, Germany should be an even safer place to drive than it is, but they do this thing on long sections of their highways that no other country on earth does- they let you drive as fast as you want. And some people do want to drive fast.

It works out for the most part. People are pretty good about moving over into the right lane after they pass. But trucks are only allowed to drive 60 mph, which means you have people doing 60 and people doing 160 mph on the same road. It can be pretty nerve-wracking pulling into the left lane to pass a truck. You might have to slow down all the way to 60 mph if you get stuck behind the truck, and a tiny speck in your rear view mirror can grow into a BMW slamming into your ass pretty quickly when there's an 100 mph differential in respective velocities.



As you may imagine, when things go wrong on the Autobahn, they can really go wrong. I'm not a doctor or an automotive engineer, so I won't try to assess the survivability of the situation pictured above, but I think it's safe to assume that the occupants of this vehicle are a little... less alive now than they were before the crash.

The people of Germany know they could set a highway speed limit of perhaps 80 mph or so like every other country on earth and save some lives. But those extra traffic deaths are a price they're willing to pay in return for the freedom to vroom vroom. Are the Germans with their fast cars getting a better deal than the Americans with their boom boom sticks? Hard to say. It's difficult to compare vices. How do you compare the cost/benefit analysis of drinking with that of smoking? Ideally I'd be doing both... while driving 150 mph and popping off my 9mm through the sun roof.

People say that you can't put a price on human life. That's a sentimental thought. Economists, governments, and insurance companies do it all the time. As of 2011, for example, most departments of the US government place the value of a human life somewhere between 6 and 9 million USD. That means we can at least estimate a cost for all this gun fun.

Let's be generous and just for the sake of argument say that homicide rates would remain the same in the U.S. regardless of gun control regime. Instead we'll just look at accidental gun deaths, which one could argue are a more direct proxy for A) having a lot of firearms and ammunition around, B) not requiring gun owners to complete an onerous level of safety courses or demonstrations of competency, and C) not requiring gun owners to go to unduly extreme lengths to store their guns. We'd expect A-C to all look very different under a restrictive gun control regime. Also, unlike with gun crime, it's very hard to make the argument that, "people will just use knives to accidentally kill themselves if you take away the guns."

So, assuming that American accidental (accidental/negligent discharge + undetermined intent) gun death numbers would roughly resemble those of Canada, Australia, or the U.K. under a comparable gun control regime, we can calculate that the U.S. loses about an extra 575 people per year (786 deaths in the U.S. in 2013 vs. the ~210 deaths we'd expect using the average of Australian, Canadian, and U.K. per capita accidental gun death rates applied to the U.S.' 320 million population in 2013).

At an average rate of $7.5 million per life, that's about $4.3 billion worth of human. Household gun ownership rates in the U.S. are probably just a touch south of 40% depending on whom you ask, so that's about 127 million people living in gun-owning households and presumably enjoying all the benefits thereof. That means America's gun hobby costs $33.86 per gun-owning household member per year, assuming that gun prevalence and homicide/suicide are uncorrelated, and that people who accidentally shoot themselves and don't die are covering their own medical bills.

$33.86/person/year doesn't sound like much, but remember, that is nearly 34 bucks in blood money, not regular money, so there's also that to bear in mind. Am I having $33.86 blood dollars worth of fun every year with my guns? I'm not sure. Cutting that tree down with .22s was pretty awesome.

It's hard to isolate the variable of speed when it comes to Autobahn fatalities. A few sources even claim that not having a speed limit has no affect on crash statistics, but most researchers agree that speed and fatalities are correlated. That means that just like our annual cost of $33.86 per person to enjoy guns, the Germans are willing to pay a certain cost in terms of human life (whatever that comes out to in blood Euros) to drive their cars fast.

The only value statement you can really make about vices is that whatever they cost, they should at least be pleasurable. That is the whole point of a vice, after all. Smoking Swisher Sweets, for example, isn't a vice; it's self flagellation of the palate with the added bonus that it also increases your risk of lung cancer.

And that's why rather than harangue my fellow Americans for their gun vice or lecture Germans on their Autobahn hypocrisy, I'd rather draw people's attention to a danger lurking in Europe that I doubt is giving anybody any pleasure at all; a danger so dumb and dissatisfying that there really is no argument for keeping it around. 

I'm referring of course to double cylinder door locks, the Swisher Sweets of door hardware. And much like Swisher Sweets in Arkansas gas stations, double cylinder locks are ubiquitous throughout Europe.



The classic single lever double cylinder mortised sashlock exterior door lockset, or as I prefer to call it, "The Grim Reaper."

The unique feature of the double cylinder door lock is that in addition to locking yourself out, you can also lock yourself in. The deadbolt tumbler only turns with the key, and instead of automatically unlocking the door from the inside, the door lever(s) are useless if the tumbler has been locked from either side.

That means that if you live on the second story or higher, you've locked your door for the night, and you can't find your key in the morning, then you aren't leaving your apartment. I mean, eventually the police will break down your door and find your desiccated corpse still frozen in the act of one final desperate scratch against the door with your broken-off fingernails embedded in the fiberglass, but other than that... no. Not getting out.

Maybe you drop your key down the heating grate, maybe your kid hides it, maybe your significant other goes for a jog and locks the door behind them. Regardless of fire or medical emergency, no one is getting in or out of that door without a power drill, lockpick, or a battering ram.

Double cylinder locks would be in violation of most North American building codes, but in Europe they are the standard. In fact, amazingly enough, even many interior doors are double cylinder in Europe. At my old shared flat in Berlin we used to sneak into our one roommate's room while he was studying, grab his key off the bureau and then lock him inside his own room. Oh how riled up he used to get. We'd tell him we were in the living room on his Xbox account, trading away all the best players on his FIFA dynasty team. He would howl and whine and threaten. We'd announce that we were moving on to the kitchen to drink his precious Glenfiddich. He would beg and plead and cry. We'd tell him we were going downstairs to unlock his bike and give it to the next homeless person who wandered by. A generous gesture that was sure to bring him good karma, we consoled him.

There's a reason why the movie Hostel was set in Europe. Every room can be instantly converted into a torture chamber. If Hostel had been set in America the film would have been about 10 minutes long. Everyone just sort of wanders out of their dungeons and goes back to enjoying their vacation. Roll credits.

Aside from murdering you, European locksets also feature some extra inconveniences that no casual key-turner just trying to make it through the day should have to contend with.

The latchbolts in exterior doors in Europe lock by default whether you've turned the deadbolt or not. That means you turn the lever on the inside of the door freely, swing the door open, walk out of the house and then *click* the door locks behind you automatically. This means that A) you will get locked out of your house on occasion and B) you will become paranoid about patting yourself down like a TSA agent for your keys every time you set foot outdoors. You might be thinking, "well at least you save time by not having to lock the door manually every time you leave the house," but remember, it's only the latchbolt that automatically locks you out, not the deadbolt, which means that the door is really only half locked and your spouse or roommates are always going to guilt or shame you into taking the time to turn around and deadbolt the door as well because if someone ever broke in to the house you'd be to blame for everyone's missing stuff. So you turn around every morning as you leave to go to work and deadbolt the door, and then you pray that you aren't locking your loved ones into a fiery death trap if God forbid they shouldn't be able to locate their copy of the key on the other side in the event of an emergency.

When you get home after a long day at work you stick your key into the front door only to notice that the key doesn't seem to be going in the whole way for some strange reason, nor will the key turn. And then you remember- your spouse must have inserted their key into the other side of the door, and you're living in Europe where the locks are inexplicably designed so that a key in one side of the double cylinder blocks a key from the other side. You can't really blame your partner though, because at least they're playing it safe and keeping their key where it won't get lost so that they don't get burned alive in the event of a fire. But they weren't expecting you home so early and now they're vacuuming the upstairs with headphones on and you slowly sink to your knees in front of your goddamned Euro lock and your vision clouds with tears as you begin to sob, shoulders shaking and your wilting body slumped forward with your forehead resting against a VERY STURDY, VERY STUPIDLY CONSTRUCTED, COCK-SUCKING SINGLE LEVER DOUBLE CYLINDER MORTISED SASHLOCK.

Sincerely,
Sebastian Braff


12/8/16

Dear Bigots

Well. So much for "the most accurate predictive engines the world has ever seen." It's Trump Time.

I must confess, I have been taking some perverse pleasure in seeing some very smug, very sanctimonious, very progressive public figures and pundits who were certain of a Clinton victory on Tuesday afternoon now losing their fucking minds. The hipsters and dreadlocked kids protesting in the streets have been feeding my schadenfreude as well. Way to get super pumped about an election 36 hours too late, douche bags. And then there's the whining about how unfair the election system is because Clinton won the popular vote while losing the electoral college. Everyone knew the rules going in. We've been doing it this way since 1824. Throw a temper tantrum over the electoral college or winner-take-all elector appointment the day before the election and I'll take you seriously; do it the day after and you're just a sore loser.

All that said, will the fleeting moments of glee which I derive from Trump's victory ultimately be worth the rapidly approaching World War III that I can only assume Trump will lead us into any day now? Probably not. But as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj once said,




Chief among the reasons to panic if you are a latte-sipping coastal elite is the dawning realization that nearly half of the country either A) actively agrees with the more bigoted things Trump has said over the course of his campaign, or B) would take a bigot over Hillary Clinton. If you're a well-educated urban professional who subscribes to the liberal progressive ethos, fears censor from his peers, and actively thinks about self-checking his own straight white male privilege, your mind is probably blown right now.

You thought bigotry was on its way out. Sure, you had heard rumors that it existed quietly in small pockets somewhere out in the middle of flyover country, but you assumed it was too ashamed to show its face in the light of day. You assumed all of the bigots had been driven underground, leaving only their microagressions visible to your scrutinizing eye. By any volunteer P.C. police deputy's definition, great strides had been made towards equality. The strategy made sense- keep telling people what to think and say until they agree with you. Peer-pressure the bigotry out of them by establishing new norms of speech and behavior. And if you were marking progress by counting the number of times you heard a white person say "nigger" in public, then things were indeed looking up. 

And then... Trump.

But the more I think about it, the less it surprises me that we've made so much progress in the dark arts of self-righteously shaming bigots and so little progress in the arena of debunking bigotry as an intellectually impoverished ideology in the minds of those who cleave to it. You see, we've been lying to people.

We've been telling people that the reason they shouldn't be a bigot is because we're all the same. Race is only skin deep. All religions teach the same thing. Gender and race are just social constructs. Some of us have even been guilty of using the euphemistic oxymoron, "handicapable" to inaccurately describe someone who's incapable of doing something.



First off, bones only make up about 15% of our body weight on average, so that's a lot of human to dispose of (including the brain) before we get down to the alleged "same" part. Secondly... no. Incorrect. Any forensic anthropologist worth their salt would be able to tell you the race, gender, and approximate age of the skeleton without even sending the DNA out for testing.


Much of political correctness is aimed to towards preserving the illusion that there are no significant differences between groups of people which might justify different preferences, predilections, and ultimately, life outcomes. The progressive Democrat's wet dream is a Star Trek-esque future in which we all wear shiny, silver unitards and sport the same androgynous haircut. And in all fairness, that doesn't sound so bad. It seems to have worked out OK in the Star Trek universe. I hope I get to be Spock.

But here in the real world there's an ever-growing mountain of evidence which seems to suggest that our differences go a little deeper than the skin. "Different" is always a matter of perspective, definition, and degree of course, but we know that serotonin systems do not function the same in men and women. We know that men and women have different ratios of white and gray matter, we know that the hormones coursing through our veins both affect behavior and vary massively in their proportions in men and women. The genders consistently perform differently on spatial cognition tests, and in fact not only in humans, but across other mammalian species as well. Average Bone density and hormone levels vary predictably between races. I could go on ad nauseam and science will continue to find more differences every year, but I'm sure you're already getting uncomfortable.

If the facts above feel like blasphemy, that might be because the American equality construct shares many qualities with religion. It's utopian in scope and claims to fundamentally improve man's base, tribal nature. It's obsessed with outward observances, sensitive to sacrilege, and the whole thing is built upon obvious bullshit which adherents close their eyes and swallow none the less for the sake of the edifice. And like most religions, I'm sure the founders thought they were doing a good thing at the time. Concentration camps, eugenics, and phrenology made us realize that bigotry was a vice we could no longer afford to carry with us into the second half of the 20th century. We panicked. We told a little white lie for the greater good. Maybe we even bought into our own wishful thinking a bit. Imagine how easy eradicating bigotry would be if there were no differences to be bigoted against! But in our haste, in our righteous zeal, we built our dreams of a better, fairer, more equal tomorrow atop a foundation of Jenga blocks. A rationale for tolerance predicated on the denial or downplay of differences is destined to fail. If you tell people that they have to choose between pretending to enjoy watching the WNBA and being a bigot, a sizable segment of the population is going to grimace and say, "I guess I'm a bigot then. Watching the WNBA is like watching the NBA in an alternate universe where everyone has to play with a 20 lb weight around each ankle."

Admitting that different groups of people are different might seem like laying the groundwork for a bigoted society, but that need not be the case. To the contrary, acknowledging the obvious truth of difference and using that as the starting point for a rationale for tolerance results in a far more robust and convincing paradigm.

Bigotry is not a corollary of difference.

First off, while traits may differ between groups, there is often far more variation within those groups.



As the brilliant Iris Vander Pluym so perceptively illustrates with these overlapping bell curves on her blog Perry Street Palace, "So, while we can certainly say that it is true that the median height for men is 5′ 9½” and the median height for women is 5′ 4″, we cannot say that all men are taller than all women....We cannot even say most men are taller than most women. What we can say is that for vast swaths of humanity, height measurements are similar regardless of sex."

So what does it mean if men on average test slightly higher on spatial cognition tests, or if women on average test slightly higher on verbal reasoning tests? Does it mean that women shouldn't be allowed to fly airplanes or that men shouldn't be allowed to write books? Far from it. We can't even say that most men are better than most women at spatial cognition, or that most women are better than most men at verbal reasoning. When it comes to flying an airplane, for every ten men, there are probably nine women out there who have more talent and could do the job better. When it comes to writing newspaper articles, for every ten women, there are probably nine men out there who have more innate ability than they do. 

So if gender is a shabby and insufficient predictor of abilities, then how do we find out who's the best at flying, and who's the best at writing? Allow each individual to demonstrate their mettle, free of preconceived notions and let the chips fall where they may. That's how we get the top talent onto the field.

Leo Durocher knew this. Leo was the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and after he called up Jackie Robinson to the major league, Leo told the white team members who refused to play with Jackie,


I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin' zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.

Notice that Leo didn't try to convince his bigoted players that race was a "pigment of their imagination." And Leo didn't desegregate baseball because he wanted to create an egalitarian utopia either. Leo didn't resist bigotry because he wanted his hippy Cultural Studies professor to be proud of him. Leo didn't even fight for racial equality so that his hot, politically-active upstairs neighbor with the green dreadlocks and huge boobs would blow him. No, Leo became a civil rights warrior because he wanted to win baseball games. He saw talent that could help him do that, and he refused to let it go to waste. That's all. That was his logic. Hell, Leo wasn't even a nice guy. In fact, he coined the phrase "Nice guys finish last." The same year Leo signed Robinson, Leo was suspended for an entire season by the commissioner for cheating a Detroit pitcher at the craps table. If a bastard like Leo Durocher could become a standard-bearer for equality, just imagine who else could be convinced to do so. Maybe even your racist aunt. Maybe not. I don't know. What I do know is that bigotry doesn't just harm those being bigoted against; it harms the bigot who deprives himself of the talents of the bigotee. That's an argument for tolerance that should appeal to everyone.

It's true that the advantages of letting Jackie Robinson on your team are pretty obvious. He was a sensational talent. What if the skillset that an individual or even a group of people have is harder to see? Or what if they aren't better?

Fine. Let us imagine that every member of one group were better at something than every member of another group. Fuck it. Let's say that every member of a group were better at everything. Let's say we have a group of Mother Teresa Einstein Madonna Michael Jordans. They could walk around smugly in their superiority and call us nasty epithets and we'd have just have to take it and be like, "God they're awesome." Would we be displaced in this theoretical world? Would we be unable to make a contribution? You might be tempted to think yes, but David Ricardo probably wouldn't agree with you.





And while Ricardo's groundbreaking theory of comparative advantage may seem counter-intuitive at first blush, it does make some sense on a visceral level. Imagine you have multiple children. They're individuals, so they will have different strengths and weaknesses. Some could even be better or worse than the others at everything. But your natural next step as a parent probably isn't going to be to rank your kids on a scale from superior to inferior and then start culling the weak. No, you want the best for all your children. You want them all to thrive at whatever it is that they enjoy and are good at to the best of their ability, even if they're not better at that thing than another of your kids.

The crux of the tolerance argument needs to be pointing out that everyone can be a contributor to the human project, regardless of circumstance or accident of birth. We need to show people that leaning on stereotypes instead of evaluating humans as individuals is a lazy shortcut that hurts the discriminator as well as the discriminatee. The crux of the tolerance argument cannot be insisting that everyone is the same, because it's a factless, faith-based argument.

Basing tolerance upon an embrace of difference instead of willful obtuseness to difference would also bring some common sense to public policy debates. Have you ever heard the phrase, "Women in the US only earn 77¢ for every dollar a man makes."? I know I have. I've heard it everywhere. I've heard jokes about it from Stephen Colbert. I've listened to speeches on it from President Obama. I always see something on the news about Equal Pay Day, the day in April that shows how much further into the following year a woman would have to work before she's earned as much as a man has from the previous year.

And that sounds terrible... if you don't understand conflating variables. Or if you assume that the authorities who are relaying this information to you have done their due diligence and isolated the variable to be measured. And you could be excused for making that assumption, because otherwise the 77 cents on the dollar stat wouldn't mean anything...

Imagine my surprise when I learned about the conflating variables that aren't accounted for when coming up with that 77¢/$ figure. First off, I'll let Harvard professor of economics, Dr. Claudia Goldin explain how the .77/1 stat is calculated.


...if you took individuals in the labor force and took those who were working full-time, full-year, and took all women, took the median annual earnings of those women and took the same thing for men, and divided the two, it would be .77 or around that...

Now let's look at what isn't calculated into that stat. The number of hours worked isn't taken into account. Let me repeat that. The number of hours worked... isn't factored in to that stat. In 2014, A male, full-time employee in the US worked 8.4 hours per day on average. A female, full-time employee in the US worked 7.8 hours per day on average. And that didn't seem like a significant conflating variable to the people who came up with the .77/1 stat.

Men are more likely to pursue careers in higher-paid occupations. Do you think the .77/1 stat controls for occupational preferences? Guess again. Yes, that's right, we're treating investment banking and kindergarten teaching as "equal" work, and then pretending to measure gender pay discrimination.

Dr. Claudia Goldin has a couple decades worth of research which suggests that about 75% of the gender wage gap stems from women's desire or need for flexible working hours and a distaste for or inability to commit to evening overtime, accommodate weekend assignments, and spend extended time away on business travel. This is often a result of unpaid care-giving responsibilities at home.

The next time you hear someone say that women deserve equal pay for equal work, ask them to carefully define the "equal work" side of that equation.

But the typical American liberal progressive doesn't think about that. Why would they be hunting for conflating variables when they don't believe that variables exist among groups of humans in the first place? If we're all the same then the only possible explanations for differing outcomes are luck or discrimination. Ignoring differences makes you ask all the wrong questions and focus on all the wrong things. The gender wage gap data raises important questions- Should unpaid care-giving duties be more equally shared between men and women? Should the state subsidize care-giving? Should we encourage or incentivize girls to pursue careers in higher-paid industries? Should workplaces be more flexible? None of those questions can be addressed as long as we refuse to acknowledge that men and women do different work.

In a similar vein, I also lose my goddamn shit when I hear talk about such-and-such an industry or company having a "diversity problem." I often find myself screaming things at the TV like, "DON'T YOU DARE END THIS FUCKING REPORT WITHOUT TELLING US WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE HIGHEST-QUALIFIED APPLICANTS WERE OF THE RACE/GENDER YOU CLAIM IS BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, YOU LAZY JOURNALIST FUCK!!!!!" But the report always ends without mentioning what percentage of the highest-qualified applicants were of the race/gender the journalist claimed was being discriminated against. And then my landlady knocks on the door and tells me to keep it down or she'll file a noise complaint. In my defense, it's a pretty important variable to control for. If 50% of your highest-qualified applicants are Hispanic and 5% of your workforce is Hispanic, then I would agree that you probably have a "diversity problem," and by "diversity problem" I mean someone in HR is a tobacco-chewing, white-robe-wearing, George Wallace racist, and obviously proud of it. It should be easy to spot him. Just walk into HR and look for the guy with a Confederate flag office chair and a copy of Mein Kampf being used a paperweight in his "out" tray. 

But if 5% of your highest-qualified applicants are Hispanic and 5% of your workforce is Hispanic, then I would say you probably don't have a "diversity problem," even though 17% of the US population is Hispanic. The fact that only 5% of your highest-qualified applicants are Hispanic might raise some other questions; some much more pertinent questions related to themes like education, opportunity, and more specifically your company's reputation for inclusion. And these are exactly the questions we could be spending our public discourse time budget on if we weren't so busy making Cat in the Hat-level simpleton declarations about "a lack of diversity," without bothering to so much as isolate the variable being measured. Once again however, if your rationale for tolerance requires you to squeeze everyone into identical shiny, silver unitards and pretend you can't see the differences between people, then you aren't looking for variables to control for. You're doing quite the opposite in fact; you are willfully ignoring variables to control for.


We are running out of time in which to relocate the rationale of tolerance to firmer and higher ground. Genetic research continues unabated since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. Functional Neuroimaging machines are only increasing in resolution, and multiple large-scale efforts to map the human brain are under way. We are going to find out about some physiological differences between races and ethnicities that most of us are afraid of, and the more bigoted among us are absolutely going to crow over. And it won't just be one race lording it over the others, because each gender and every people group will focus on the things they have some slight statistical advantage in. White people will think the KKK was right all along when it comes out that Caucasians have a 5% higher incidence of some cerebral fold that makes you 1% more likely to be better at delayed gratification. The New Black Panther Party will see a surge in membership after it is revealed that 2% of people of African descent have a genetic mutation that makes them 4% better at time-constrained spontaneous problem solving. The Chinese will look down on us all because they have a 3% higher statistical prominence of some suite of genes that makes you 3% more naturally gifted at playing a musical instrument. People will say to themselves, "Why were we supposed to be tolerant again? Something about race only being skin deep? Well that's been thoroughly debunked now, so... RACE WAR!!!!"

Let's base tolerance on something that's actually true. Let's base tolerance on an embrace of differences instead of difference denialism. Let's base tolerance on comparative advantage and employing individual evaluation instead of applying sweeping statistical generalizations to individuals. Then we might actually have a shot of getting to that future Star Trek  utopia. And I get to be Spock. Don't forget that.

Sincerely,
Sebastian Braff