Three Great Weekend Reads
In case you missed them…
Is western guilt ruining society?
What’s so special about giraffes?
Why is third grade so important?
The guilty conscience suits us: It’s the alibi for our abdication. It expresses the surprisingly easy coexistence of dread and calm, of denial and good digestion. We wrap ourselves in the robes of the perpetual criminal, the better to keep our distance from the world and its torments. And now the West is weaker than ever—rudderless, leaderless—since the United States withdrew from world affairs.
We don’t know why the giraffe looks as it does. Until relatively recently, its neck was explained in the way Darwin suggested: the ‘competing browsers hypothesis’ posits, commonsensically, that competition from browsers such as impala and kudu encouraged the gradual lengthening of the neck, allowing it to reach food the others couldn’t. Recently, though, it has been shown that giraffes spend relatively little time browsing at full height, and the longer-necked individuals are more likely to die in times of famine.
Mr. Chetty draws on data to answer questions like what age a person’s future has been largely determined (around 23), which ZIP codes provide the most economic opportunity (including some in rural Iowa), and what stands between a third-grader who will grow up to become an inventor and one who will not.