[In response to another comment here:]
America is a place where we care a lot for a short period of time about one kid in one state winning one tournament. We really enjoy what are essentially lotteries, and their winners (this is not to imply that chess is some sort of crap shoot, but that simply from the perspective of the outside observer, so many circumstances are unseen, and that which rises to the level of public conciseness is absolutely due to luck). However, the thing in my humble anecdotal story that knows no country borders; The thing we (in my opinion) should be far more concerned with are the small kindnesses. The $200 dollars loaned for refinancing, to help a single mother leave a job that holds a car note over her head, for a better one (one that can pay for the rent and food and a good Christmas for a son), never asking to be paid back.
I really loved this story. I would wish this kid and his family the best, but I have a feeling they don’t need my well wishes. They will be just fine, same as me and my mother, who both now live in infinity better circumstances.
One person's action to improve the life of another without any preconception of glamor is far greater than the fulfillment of donating to a heartwarming story, or hearing about a successful fundraiser.
Our (American) attention is too easily focused on the next shiny thing and we pat ourselves on the back for cheering a worthy cause, without consideration of those left out of the spotlight.
This story was amazing to witness, though not unexpected. We love to lift those who embody our virtues, without reflection as to where our backs are turned.
We could all do to learn from the lesson of Tani's family and "spread the wealth" that which we receive, or send, to those in need who do not fit such a story book narrative.
I don't mean to disagree with your ideas about spreading the wealth for children which need help.
Personally I would just say I dont ever want any money from someone, but that one place maybe our backs are turned is I would say we need more public accountability ensuring people's rights, opportunities or freedoms are not being violated. It seems like the ACLU and IJ are barely able to mend just some of the really egregious, blatant abuses.
If someone would like to help with this sort of thing, one opportunity is r/Food_Pantry/ or /r/Need on Reddit. There are plenty of people in a bind with simple needs like $20 of food or paying a late bill due to unexpected expenses.
This is like helping that small cafe down the street with their rent or some machinery vs that hot startup in the garage. The second one has a chance of hitting it big, however slim. The first one has a chance of supporting a small family business (and by extension, the local economy), but that is the max potential there. Since most people are interested in glory and multiple returns of their money, they are interested in the startup and not the mom and pop shop.
This isn't how it should be, but that is how it is :(
Plus the fact that they are donating the entire GoFundMe (which I donated a tiny amount to last week) to helping other kids from Africa to migrate to the US. That is 'paying it forward' in spades.
They seem like a family who appreciates hard work, and this way they can become self-sufficient again far easier and without most of the temptations that come with receiving huge lump sumps of money suddenly.
I'm happy that people have rallied to help them, and even happier that they're already wanting to help others in their former situation.
There's a long history of child actors, homeless who do heroic deeds and similar media-darlings later being dropped by the media and the public and winding up in terrible situations (especially given that "people are people" and media attention may one minute show a person's awesome side and the next minute show their despicable side).
Reminds me of this joke (I'm sure there's better renditions)
There was a kid in my statistical theory class who blew my mind with his raw brain power. Came from Nigeria, could have easily pursued a PhD from a top program. Perhaps gone on to do some great research.
Where did he end up..? An actuary. Why? The economic stability and progression in the profession.
For me this is the real tragedy.
I hope this kid gets to use his gift to do something more than afford an expensive bottle of wine some day.
The big downside of the academy is that it's basically a zero-sum game. There's a limited pot of money, decided by the politics of the day, and all geniuses and near-geniuses are fighting for it. The added benefit of another smart person entering research is therefore limited.
However, in industry, including the insurance industry, a smart person can create more growth than existed before he/she entered. The added economic stability is not in conflict to this.
> “The average kids do 50 to 100 puzzles a week. (Tani) does like 500 puzzles a week,” [his chess coach] Martinez said.
Pretty amazed at that effort. Far outstrips anything I did when I was 8 years old, I believe I watched a lot of cartoons.
While Tani has been offered scholarships by several elite private schools in NYC, his family has decided to stay loyal to the school Tani is currently attending until the middle school transition.
Tani was asked if he wanted any single material item and he replied, “Maybe a computer”.
Whereupon, sadly, he will discover social media, and all his progress will come to a screeching halt due to FANG PhDs gaming his dopamine cycles for a buck. I wish I was wrong, but looking at my 15 year old, I'm not hopeful. He used to be pretty good at chess, too, before he started spending all his time watching bullshit on Youtube.
agadmator is one of the few YT chess channels that I enjoy watching on a daily basis. Love his analysis, and it has helped to improve my chess thinking and strategy.
(I say this as someone who was banned from watching TV, and ended up wasting lots of time reading trash novels as a teenager instead)
Your 15 year old is more likely to grow up making living off making YouTube videos than playing chess anyway.
It's a big part of the reason I stopped teaching. It's so disappointing to see somebody make such rapid progress, start getting distracted by digital entertainment including social media, and then see all their potential (alongside extensive wasted effort on my part) just flushed down the toilet.
A sharp but, in my opinion, very related tangent is the Flynn Effect . It was the observation that IQs were increasing over time. IQ tests are always normalized such that the mean is 100 with a standard deviation of about 15. However, Flynn observed that the absolute score of a 100 in e.g. 1950 was higher than it was in 1920 and similarly on forward. Until the 1990s.
Sometime in the 1990s this all changed. In numerous developed nations the Flynn Effect has reversed. Now, for the first time ever, a 100 IQ score would be less today than in e.g. 1985 in many developed nations. And the declines have been quite dramatic reducing on the order of 1-2 points per decade. Keep in mind that 1/15 = 0.07. Somebody who is at the average of 100 would be ahead of about 50% of people. Reduce that by just 1 point he's dropped 0.07 sigmas and is now only ahead of 47% of people. And that's a population level event recurring each and every decade!
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect
The Flynn effect dropoff correlates decently well with the increasing rise of wealth inequality in developed nations; given the fairly strong link between IQ and wealth, I wonder if that might be a cause.
As for wealth inequality, some of the first places the decline was clearly measured in are throughout Scandinavia. There is compulsory military service in various nations such as Finland and Norway, which also entails IQ testing with public data available - provides a nice massive sample. It goes without saying that these are some of the most egalitarian nations in the world by most metrics people strive for today, including wealth distribution. There has been no clear reversal of the Flynn effect in developing nations which, by contrast, tend to have dramatic levels of wealth (and other) inequality.
For another hypothesis that some may be thinking but not want to say, immigration is also controlled for in these studies. It's quite an interesting phenomena that may shape the future of our species far more than many of the issues we consider of otherwise critical importance.
> Teasdale and Owen (2005) examined the results of IQ tests given to Danish male conscripts. Between 1959 and 1979 the gains were 3 points per decade. Between 1979 and 1989 the increase approached 2 IQ points. Between 1989 and 1998 the gain was about 1.3 points.
I don't think that trend of declining growth, shifting into the negatives recently, has much to do with something in the 90s; the decline started much earlier and has been fairly linear and consistent over time.
Edit: In addition, most of these measurements have been taken from people in their mid-to-late teens — meaning that whatever caused the decline presumably started at least a decade before the decline was measured. TL;DR: I'm not convinced that social media or any reasonably-modern changes are to blame: this dates back to the Boomers or perhaps even earlier.
> What they found is that for Norwegians born between 1962 and 1975, IQs increased within each family by 0.26 points per year: Younger brothers had slightly higher scores than their older siblings, relative to expectations. (The researchers had to control for the more general fact that older siblings tend to have higher IQs than younger ones.) From 1975 until 1991, this tendency reversed, with test scores dropping by 0.33 points per year within each family.
"...At some point in the mid-1990s, IQ scores in these countries tipped into decay, losing roughly one-fifth to one-quarter of a point per year..."
Increases asymptotically approaching something near 0 would be completely expected. To understand why think about something like developmental malnutrition. Developmental malnutrition causes reduced IQ. As this form of malnutrition was reduced in a previously very poor area you'd see a substantial increase in average IQ. But then as future generations also have stable supplies of food, this increase would disappear as the stable food supply would no longer provide a relative increase compared to past generations. Make sense?
IQs getting literally lower is something very different than IQs growing less slowly.
Even video games have lost their benefit. When 'we' were younger, games tended to be difficult which instilled perseverance and required the development of skill. That or you got frustrated and went and did something else. Now games, and by this I mostly mean AAA type stuff, have become far more passive forms of entertainment with most of all challenge removed.
This feels like a 'back in my day' rant, but one major difference is that there is quantifiable data to indicate ongoing negative changes in society such, as mentioned in a peer post, the contemporary reversal of the Flynn Effect. 
But lucky you, you will never meet them on the Google Campus. FANG is Tobacco industry, V2.0.
“Clearly the game was potentially addictive, so I forced myself to stop playing — reasoning that it was great fun, sure, but traditional computer science research is great fun too, possibly even more so.”
— Donald Knuth
Not an uplifting story.
* Legend has it that if adagmator ever says "Goodbye Everyone!" the world will end.
You're demonstrating the OC's point: No one has any context around the kid who lost, it seems; so, for example, did he (or she) come from an equally disadvantaged position? If so, isn't he (or she) worthy of the same accolades and/or help simply for getting to that point, as well?
Two days ago we had Garry Kasparov adding his two cents in the Washington Post, including this choice paragraph:
"This heart-warming tale is also a quintessentially American one. Despite his family’s conditions, Tani learned to play at a good chess program in an excellent Manhattan public school. His mother took the initiative of getting him into the school chess club, reminding any true chess fan of a similar letter written by the mother of future U.S. world champion Bobby Fischer. (All praise to assertive chess mothers like my own!)" (1)
With all due respect to Mr. Kasparov (or more likely, to his ghostwriter, Mig Greengard), linking Bobby Fischer to Tani does a disservice to both players and to the larger chess community.
First, there is nothing about Fischer’s story that is “heartwarming”. Fischer grew up not just without a father but without even knowing who his real father was. He struggled from the very beginning, getting expelled from school before finally dropping out, then becoming one of the greatest chess players of all time, captivating the world for a few years before cracking under the pressure and descending into paranoia and anti-Semitic delusions. Fischer’s story is a straight up tragedy. Chess players should stop using it as a shining example of the transformative positive power of chess.
Second, to praise Fischer’s mother Regina as an “assertive chess mother” is just wrong. A more appropriate term would be “absent”. She literally moved out of the home and left Fischer alone at age 16, writing the following to a friend: ““It sounds terrible to leave a 16-year-old to his own devices, but he is probably happier that way” (2)
Yes, the chess community can make good things happen in the world, as proven by Tani getting a home. We should celebrate this. But it can also take in vulnerable people, simultaneously glorify them and drive them towards madness, and cast them aside. If we want more of the good, we need to stop pretending that the bad things didn’t happen. And we really shouldn’t be rewriting one of the greatest tragedies in chess history as a heroic tale of success, just to cash in on all the excitement about the most positive thing to happen in the chess world in years.
Blaming someone for his mental illness instead of acknowledging that illness is often the dark shadow genius, the other side of the same coin in the brain, is unreasonable and unfair.
“Blaming someone for his mental illness... is unreasonable and unfair”
First, I never mentioned mental illness. Second, I didn’t blame anyone. Merely pointed out that there are might be some environmental factors contributing to a bright kid ending up with with socialization + behavioral issues, like, you know, literally having to fend for himself by age 16.
But yeah, rather than see that kind of environment as traumatic in any way, we could totally just point to some imagined place in his brain as the real source of his troubles. Makes sense. /s
E: I kind of enjoy watching the fluctuation of the rating on this post between positive and negative. Shows the drastic difference in mentality here.
Am I saying the US is perfect? No. There is a lot we can improve, and my political (social or economic) tendency leans pretty left to begin with. But you are very wrong if you think there is no mobility or opportunity here in the US, even with the current political environment. I am an anecdotal data point, but as a first generation immigrant that grew up in poverty here, I am pretty certain I would not be in the lower middle class if it wasn't for the American dream. Every single relative within my generation that immigrated to the US are now heavily educated and work decent jobs to provide for our families.
There is a lot of social policies we can borrow from other countries to improve our social justice within our country. But the fact that many people here are not even reflective with the possible opportunities here currently is kind if of saddening to me.
Real question to ask is: In which countries can you succeed with talent, hard work and perseverance without luck?
Meritocracy is strong in USA just as it is in a lot of western democracies.
I have friends that grew up in India, Italy, Mexico, China - where meritocracy takes a backseat.
None. Pure meritocracy is an illusion; there's just too much stuff going on so that your success is attributable to your work alone, and inversely there is no place in the world where hard work guarantees success.
>Meritocracy is strong in USA just as it is in a lot of western democracies. I have friends that grew up in India, Italy, Mexico, China - where meritocracy takes a backseat.
See e.g. https://www.oecd.org/centrodemexico/medios/44582910.pdf . USA has a similar level of intergenerational income correlation has Italy (that is, one of the highest among OECD countries).
I think you missed my point. I wasn't looking for an answer. You're right, luck is always involved in serendipitous opportunities and discovery. My point was to correct the parent comment and ask the question in reverse.
Even better is to raise the question:
"In which countries can you succeed with talent, hard work and perseverance with least amount of luck?"
The economist claims Americans overestimate social mobility in their country while Europeans tend to underestimate it.
But this kid was in a homeless shelter. That’s how most countries, including Sweden, house their homeless population. (Fun fact, rates of homelessness are lower in the US than in Germany, Sweden, or the UK.) It’s not like you show up to say Germany as a refugee and they put you in an apartment. (There are 400,000 homeless refugees in Germany, comprising half of Germany’s homeless population.) You stay in a camp for a period, than are transferred to the municipal housing assistance programs, which in Germany are a bit more generous than Section 8, but not fundamentally dissimilar (being structured as subsidy where the state pays part of the rent).
The U.S. is ~14% foreign born, as of 2017. That's below Norway, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland (and that's just the first world countries). It's one percentage point above the U.K. Expanding beyond the first world, Jordan (with population 6 million and some of the highest water prices in the world) took in approx. 1.5 million Syrian refugees. In America, we took in 15479 in 2016, 3024 in 2017, and 11 in 2018. That's with a population of 327 million.
changed in places like Sweden
A greater country wouldn't even have homeless kids, because they'd be taking care of them regardless of whether they have talent or not, because they're human beings, goddamnit.
It seems that way. I have friends in the Bible Belt who receive nowhere near anything like that because those programs, simply, do not exist.
We could go into long diatribes of social policies versus the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality but, at the end of the day, it only prolongs the problems that continue to plight the poor/disadvantaged; case in-point: The family that was homeless.
who also gets written about in that nation's premier newspaper, and that story inspires a successful crowdfunding campaign.
The article itself points out this exact problem. We’ve replaced the American Dream with the American Lottery, where only the truly lucky get to change their circumstance. Otherwise, any study will tell you American has way lower levels of social mobility than Europe. If you want talent to be rewarded, the European Reality beats the American Dream very time.
GoFundMe isn't a social safety net. Overly wealthy donors dolling out six-figure handouts and spare prime-Manhattan bedrooms as pocket change at their own discretion to this kid isn't scalable either.
We shouldn't treat one-off's like this that tug at our heart strings as social progress. Just take a walk down Market Street and realize that there is still a mountainous amount of work to be done.
And it can be done. In modern, developed countries like South Korea, there is not a single homeless person. Come on, America!
I am very privileged; I didn't have to become a state chess champion against all odds in order to have basic shelter.
It is a tiny fraction of the total population, and an achievement, so why bullshit about it? As for “our own kind” I’m not going to touch that for love or money.
Equally, business location seems to have very little to do with personal taxation.
This all funnels down to a fundamental misunderstanding of the source of wealth: it starts with a working economy where people buy stuff and work. The rich, like it or not, don’t do much of either relative to their wealth.
Still, I do think that it's what makes America great. Instead of funding homes for poor people, I can just keep the money to myself and let others spend theirs.