Faith Middleton Show: Pink Brain, Blue Brain; American Chinatown

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Richard Stephenson
Faith Middleton Show: Pink Brain, Blue Brain; American Chinatown
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Faith Middleton Show: Pink Brain, Blue Brain; American Chinatown

 

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps--and What We Can Do about It

In the past decade, we've heard a lot about the innate differences between males and females. So we've come to accept that boys can't focus in a classroom and girls are obsessed with relationships: "That's just the way they're built." In Pink Brain Blue Brain, neuroscientist Lise Eliot turns that thinking on its head. Calling on years of exhaustive research and her own work in the field of neuroplasticity, Eliot argues that infant brains are so malleable that small differences at birth become amplified over time, as parents and teachers—and the culture at large—unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes. Children themselves exacerbate the differences by playing to their modest strengths. They constantly exercise those “ball-throwing” or “doll-cuddling” circuits, rarely straying from their comfort zones.

But this, says Eliot, is just what they need to do. And she offers parents and teachers concrete ways to help. Presenting the latest science from birth to puberty, she zeroes in on the precise differences between boys and girls, erasing harmful stereotypes. Boys are not, in fact, “better at math” but at certain kinds of spatial reasoning. Girls are not naturally more empathetic; they’re allowed to express their feelings. By appreciating how sex differences emerge—rather than assuming them to be fixed biological facts—we can help all children reach their fullest potential, close the troubling gaps between boys and girls, and ultimately end the gender wars that currently divide us.

 

 

American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods

CHINATOWN, U.S.A.: a state of mind, a world within a world, a neighborhood that exists in more cities than you might imagine. Every day, Americans find "something different" in Chinatown's narrow lanes and overflowing markets, tasting exotic delicacies from a world apart or bartering for a trinket on the street -- all without ever leaving the country. It's a place that's foreign yet familiar, by now quite well known on the Western cultural radar, but splitting the difference still gives many visitors to Chinatown the sense, above all, that things are not what they seem -- something everyone in popular culture, from Charlie Chan to Jack Nicholson, has been telling us for decades. And it's true that few visitors realize just how much goes on beneath the surface of this vibrant microcosm, a place with its own deeply felt history and stories of national cultural significance.

But Chinatown is not a place that needs solving; it's a place that needs a more specific telling. In American Chinatown, acclaimed travel writer Bonnie Tsui takes an affectionate and attentive look at the neighborhood that has bewitched her since childhood, when she eagerly awaited her grandfather's return from the fortune-cookie factory. Tsui visits the country's four most famous Chinatowns -- San Francisco (the oldest), New York (the biggest), Los Angeles (the film icon), Honolulu (the crossroads) -- and makes her final, fascinating stop in Las Vegas (the newest; this Chinatown began as a mall); in her explorations, she focuses on the remarkable experiences of ordinary people, everyone from first-to fifth-generation Chinese Americans. American Chinatown breaks down the enigma of Chinatown by offering narrative glimpses: intriguing characters who reveal the realities and the unexpected details of Chinatown life that American audiences haven't heard. There are beauty queens, celebrity chefs, immigrant garment workers; there are high school kids who are changing inner-city life in San Francisco, Chinese extras who played key roles in 1940s Hollywood, new arrivals who go straight to dealer school in Las Vegas hoping to find their fortunes in their own vision of "gold mountain." Tsui's investigations run everywhere, from mom-and-pop fortune-cookie factories to the mall, leaving no stone unturned.

By interweaving her personal impressions with the experiences of those living in these unique communities, Tsui beautifully captures their vivid stories, giving readers a deeper look into what "Chinatown" means to its inhabitants, what each community takes on from its American home, and what their experience means to America at large. For anyone who has ever wandered through Chinatown and wondered what it was all about, and for Americans wanting to understand the changing face of their own country, American Chinatown is an all-access pass.