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Just a story of two outliers that I think Malcolm should know about: Paul Cezanne and Emile Zola. they were two of the greatest french geniuses of the 19th century, a painter and a writer/journalist. I read a book about Cezanne and his life and I learned that those two were raised in a then very boring neighborood of Marseilles, Aix en Provence. And more than that, they were at school together, in the same class ! I told the story to an artist, friend of mine, I said how extraordinary that they should have been together ! He told me not at all, they became famous and succeesfull precisely because they were together ! the truth is that they were spending hours and hours talking and writing to each other. So they trained each other, and later they helped each other. Imagine having those two as partners in early life to shape your mind ! So that's an amazing example for the stories of outliers, with great luck to be together, and 10.000 hours of discussing and arguing !

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Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

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Well don't know whats going on but its not a Good way to do this. in my opinion we have to look again about this issue

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While I am only half way through the book- I keep being struck by Mr.Galdwell repeatedly stating the "accident, luck, circumstance" matter as much, if not more- but I wonder do we all not get a certain amount of "lucky" breaks in life (and a certain amount of bad luck) and some just 'bust ass" making the most of everything- then there are those who don't...perhaps that is where IQ comes in - knowing when to jump in and work hard...but then again...As a lower IQ person in the group I work with, well as the lower IQ person who owns a company of high IQ people- I constantly observe smart people walking right by an open door...

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Len Haglund

Dear Congressman and Judicial Committee Member Jared Polis, 06 Sept 2010

Right now, there is an urgent need for legislation similar to what has wisely been put in place for credit records. The records in need of regulation are the so-called “criminal history” data handed out by the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. These records are provided, as a courtesy, to judges in all manner of trials, but especially misdemeanor offences. The other use these “criminal histories” have is in intimidating a confession from some mope in an interrogation room (hardened criminals admit nothing). At a glance, these records are treated with all the care that is given to “patient confidentiality” in the medical world. The real deal is that anyone except the person to whom the “criminal history” pertains can have access to it. I know this sounds like an exaggeration.
Less than a year ago, if anyone were to ask me about my criminal history, I would have been quick to inform them that I am not a criminal and have no criminal history. I would have been half right. Unlike the verdicts of trials, which are a matter of public record, the bulk of the N.C.I.C.’s “criminal history” data is a collection of allegations, hearsay, errors, and outright mendacity. Remember that the intent of these records was originally similar to “word on the street has it that …”, a useful avenue to clues. Then ,the use in extracting confessions was discovered. And then, their use in boosting fines at trial was discovered. Now we’re moving on to- funneling all government job applications through the Department of Commerce for an FBI background check (NCIC “criminal history”). My reason in writing to you is to raise your awareness of a growing problem. A problem that fuels the expanding atmosphere of fear in this country.
Since you must feel some doubt that things are going as badly with “criminal history’ reports as I relate the situation to you, I invite you to take “The Lenny Challenge” (TLC). TLC is very simple to implement.
STEP ONE: Request someone on your staff to volunteer for a special assignment.
STEP TWO: Have them Google FBI.
STEP THREE: Have them click on CRIMINAL HISTORY, It’s on the right side of the home page.
STEP FOUR: Take the fee from petty cash (about $30) and have them apply.
STEP FIVE: Wait twelve to twenty weeks after they have gone through the ordeal of having their
finger prints done at the local police station.
STEP SIX: Ask them what the results were.

I don’t bet on long-shots Congressman…… Either your staff member will have a notice that
they have no “criminal history” (a valuable document) , or , you might need to console them. And you may consider repeating step one with another volunteer, for veracity’s sake. Please do not fire them, no matter how many mothers the FBI says they have raped, or how many fathers they are supposed to have stabbed. Back in the era of Viet-Nam, there was a T-shirt that said “Kill them all and let God sort it out”.
The FBI’s motto may as well be “Make horrendous allegations against them all and let personnel clerks sort it out”. But, H.R. clerks do not sort. They pass the application through, or toss it. With a “criminal history” of RITUAL MUTILATION that was DISCHARGED ON LEAVE, I bet you can guess what has happened to every application (99%+) for the last fifteen years of my life!
There is a letter from Deputy Pender to Senator Udall, and some other documents for your consideration included with this correspondence. By the way, the NCIC uses a relational database. That means that it could be queried for how many times my record was referenced in the last fifteen years. Since I have never been under any criminal investigation, those would be all the times my records were referred to for the sake of personnel clerks. It is also a fact that fingerprints are not necessary to reference anyone’s files at the NCIC. NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, and DRIVERS LICENSE NUMBER are all that is needed, and (if you have the clout) any police station, sheriff’s office, etc. can obtain a “criminal history” for you.
You are a shepherd and your constituency is your flock. I hope you are willing to go to some length to protect your flock from the evil that has befallen me and many others. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Len Haglund laurielen.haglund@gmail.com
Mr.gladwell,I'm past the 100th Representative. Where do you think the tipping-point will be? Len Haglund

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This is going to be a great deal of fun, which is one of the things I love about both shows - the sense of playfulness with the genre. Seems like they're going to make good use of Fargo's history of working with AIs with personality issues, a nifty choice to hang a plot around. Looking forward to it!

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This morning I am fantasizing about progressive, open-minded people like myself leaving the planet to start our own colony in a new world. I wonder if the pilgrims and colonists of the 1600's were equally self-righteous in thinking they could create a more civilized society free of corruption, discrimination, and violence. It is ironic that the northern European countries they left behind are seemingly now more liberal, less rigid, less violent than the one that grew from their settlements. Are appearances what they seem? If the so-called liberal elites left the United States, would it deflate pressures that create the juggernaut that is Glenn Beck? What was removed to make room for the cultural forces that ultimately removed power from figures like Joe McCarthy and the Inquisitor-General?

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I had recommended Outliers to a lot of my friends from India and abroad and found this disturbing notion that people hade : that Outliers somehow suggests that self-made people do not exist.

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Nature is fair, but society is not.

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I very much enjoyed the Outliers and the dialogue it creates.

I do have one question for you. Wouldn't the real outlier be the successful hockey player born in November? Wouldn't they be the greater object of study of what it takes to truly beat "the odds"

I'm sure many people born in the latter part of the year would welcome research in that area.
Thanks for your contribution.

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Enjoyed immensely Outliers, probably because it agrees very much with my own world view and narrative. Made me very curious about my own cultural upbringing, and what happens 3rd and 4th generation out after the parents have become well educated.

Chris Junghans

If you get the New Yorker, you can sign on to newyorker.com and read this current issue (by MG) article:


which describes a problem not unrelated to the one that "creates" the achievement gap. we are, in a very real sense, defining the problem in our use of testing statistics and subgroups. Over-the-Top (my PowerPoint notes, available upon request) has many links to data that I've studied about middle school students in Virginia.

It's like one of those hand-held 9-piece slidable puzzles that you have to slid around to get in the proper order; we need to move the over-the-top outliers to the right so that we can move the piece below them, or maybe the two pieces below them, up.

it's a civil rights issue (as you can see from the article linked to page 3 of my above mentioned PowerPoint), but so is "holding a child back," in my opinion. Doubly, then, it is wrong to compare apples and oranges, differently skilled students in a selected category for whatever (likely extracurricular) reason. we wouldn't do it in football or any other skill, especially not when fielding a varsity HS team, but we feel that reading and math are so darn important, that we just HAVE to, right?

Wrong. That is, they are important, but not all important, and by creating classrooms according to age rather than measured skill level, and subgrouping the students in those classrooms and comparing them, we are in fact creating a problem by definition (and of course in practice--differentiated instruction is back to the one-room schoolhouse methodology).

I don't know about you, but I don't judge my fellow man by how he well he reads or does math. there are much more important qualities, and that should be what education is about--and those skilled, should be allowed to move forward, and not be held back and compared to those measured to be 7 or more grades below them in reading skills !

David Brooks recently said it best: we learn from those we love (and I would add explicitly, that we love those who show us love first, especially in the increasingly regulated and relentless public school environments). I look forward to his new book.


I have not finished "Outliers" yet, but I have a question regarding chapter two. How did all these influential people avoid the Vietnam War draft? I think that would have been another point to address as to how they were blessed and avoided a situation that many people of the same age could not avoid, unless they moved to Canada, or another country, etc... Curious as to why that was not addressed and how they avoided the inevitable that many could not avoid???
Just wondering... I still enjoy the book and its premise... not a criticism, per se, just curious as to why it was not examined.


Only in the age of a new idiom and a new art form can a popular writer become great. Shakespeare was one. Dickens another.

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  • I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference", "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "Outliers: The Story of Success." My latest book, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City.

    My great claim to fame is that I'm from the town where they invented the BlackBerry. My family also believes (with some justification) that we are distantly related to Colin Powell. I invite you to look closely at the photograph above and draw your own conclusions.

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  • What the Dog Saw

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