Arquivo mensal: março 2012

Do neighborhood conditions affect school performance? (The University of Chicago Urban Network)

March 1, 2012

A recent report issued by the Center on Education Policy predicted that 48 percent of US public school students would not meet reading and math standards by 2014, as legally mandated by the decade-old No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The law was originally established to address the comparatively low test scores of low-income students. With the limited success of NCLB, the discussion about school performance has again grabbed the headlines.  While social scientists have always been interested in the dynamics behind the low achievement of students living in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, in recent years researchers have been trying to establish precisely the extent to which neighborhood conditions, net of other factors, influence educational achievement.

Better neighborhoods, higher test scores

Social scientists Jens LudwigHelen Ladd, and Greg Duncan used data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment to investigate the impact of neighborhood environment on educational outcomes. The MTO experiment was conducted in five cities: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Families who volunteered were randomly assigned to different treatment groups. Whereas the experimental group received counseling and vouchers to move into low-poverty neighborhoods, the second group simply received regular Section 8 subsidies without being encouraged to move out of high-poverty areas. A third group functioned as a control group and received no subsidies at all. Using data from the Baltimore site, Ludwig, Ladd, and Duncan found that elementary school students in the experimental group who had moved to better neighborhoods scored about one-quarter of a standard deviation higher in reading and math tests than children in the control group. Robert SampsonPatrick Sharkey, and Stephen Raudenbush foundsimilar results when they investigated the impact of neighborhood disadvantage on the verbal ability of African American children.  Based on intelligence tests administered within the framework of the Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods project, they found that children who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods on average score four points lower than children living in better-off areas—a result that is almost equal to missing a year of schooling.

Better neighborhoods, no improvement?

A more recent analysis of MTO data from all five cities generated very different results. Social scientists Lisa SanbonmatsuJeffrey KlingGreg Duncan, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunnfound that math as well as reading scores did not significantly improve for children aged between six and twenty. The children were assessed four to six years after they had moved to a low-poverty neighborhood. Sanbonmatsu and her colleagues also revisited the children in the Ludwig Baltimore sample and found that the Baltimore elementary school children did not sustain their educational gains. In the final results of the MTO experiment, published in October 2011, Sanbonmatsu and her colleagues confirmed that there are few significant improvements in test scores ten to fifteen years after children had moved to less disadvantaged neighborhoods. There was no significant difference in achievement between those children who stayed in high-poverty areas and those who had moved away. The researchers suggested that the results may be related to the segregated, low-quality schools the children continued to attend even though they had moved to low-poverty areas.

In a review of neighborhood-effects studies and a reanalysis of the MTO data, sociologistJulia Burdick-Will and her colleagues challenged this null finding. They argued that the results of MTO, the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, and other studies showed that neighborhood effects may work in nonlinear ways. The size of the effect visible may be contingent on other factors, such as exposure to violence or the relative disadvantage of the neighborhood the child lives in. Children who come from very disadvantaged neighborhoods may experience larger neighborhood effects than those living in moderately disadvantaged areas. Consequently, the size of the neighborhood effect depends on the city. In high-poverty areas of Chicago and Baltimore, the MTO data showed an improvement in test scores. In Boston, Los Angeles, and New York, where neighborhoods are comparatively less disadvantaged, the researchers did not find clear test-score improvements.

Cultural factors

Sociologist David Harding argued that neighborhood effects mainly work through cultural pathways. Children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods are exposed to a greater variety of educational choices than their peers in other areas. He suggested that living in a culturally heterogeneous neighborhood has a negative impact on educational achievement. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescence (AddHealth), he showed that inner-city children observe educational behavior ranging from dropping out of high school to graduating from college. This greater variety of educational models seems to be affecting children’s own educational aspirations, by forcing them to decide among too many competing alternatives. Analyzing the same data set in another recent article, Harding also found that high levels of neighborhood violence may have a detrimental effect on high school graduation rates. He found that living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence was associated with significantly lower chances of high school graduation, regardless of family structure, income, and language spoken in the household.

Multigenerational effects

Sharkey and sociologist Felix Elwert have recently argued that neighborhood poverty has a cumulative effect across generations. Relying on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), they showed that children who were raised in poor neighborhoods by parents who had grown up in similarly disadvantaged communities had cognitive ability scores more than half a standard deviation below their peers. The children scored on average 9.27 points lower on the reading test and 8.36 points lower on the problem-solving test than children who were raised in non-poor neighborhoods by parents who had grown up in similarly non-poor areas. Though the authors demonstrated the presence of multigenerational effects through advanced statistical models, they explained that disentangling the precise interactions underlying the complex web of mechanisms at work over generations was impossible.

While researchers try to disentangle the impact of neighborhoods and generational effects on schooling, policy makers are beginning to consider alternatives to NCLB. In September of 2011, President Obama announced that states may now opt out of the program under certain conditions. With schools failing to meet the test score standards of NCLB, the government is rethinking its approach to helping the most disadvantaged students.

The QWERTY Effect: The Keyboards Are Changing Our Language! (The Atlantic)

MAR 8 2012, 1:30 PM ET

Could the layout of letters on a keyboard be shaping how we feel about certain words?

UnderwoodKeyboard1.jpg

It’s long been thought that how a word sounds — its very phonemes — can be related in some ways to what that word means. But language is no longer solely oral. Much of our word production happens not in our throats and mouths but on our keyboards. Could that process shape a word’s meaning as well?

That’s the contention of an intriguing new paper by linguists Kyle Jasmin and Daniel Casasanto. They argue that because of the QWERTY keyboard’s asymmetrical shape (more letters on the left than the right), words dominated by right-side letters “acquire more positive valences” — that is to say, they become more likable. Their argument is that because its easier for your fingers to find the correct letters for typing right-side dominated words, the words subtly gain favor in your mind.

As Dave Mosher of Wired explains:

In their first experiment, the researchers analyzed 1,000-word indexes from English, Spanish and Dutch, comparing their perceived positivity with their location on the QWERTY keyboard. The effect was slight but significant: Right-sided words scored more positively than left-sided words.

With newer words, the correlation was stronger. When the researchers analyzed words coined after the QWERTY keyboard’s invention, they found that right-sided words had more positive associations than left-sided words.

In another experiment, 800 typists recruited through Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk service rated whether made-up words felt positive or negative. A QWERTY effect also emerged in those words.

Jasmin cautioned that words’ literal meanings almost certainly outweigh their QWERTY-inflected associations, and said the study only shows a correlation rather than clear cause-and-effect. Also, while a typist’s left- or right-handedness didn’t seem to matter, Jasmin said there’s not yet enough data to be certain.

Jasmin and Casasanto leave open the question whether the effect may also be the result of subtle cultural preferences for things on the right-hand side. Additionally, they say, “There is about a 90 percent chance that the QWERTY inventor was right-handed,” so it’s possible that biases he carried, may have subconsciously place more likable sounds on the right. However, they say, “such implicit associations would be based on the peculiar roles these letters play in English words or sounds. The finding of similar QWERTYeffects across languages suggests that, even if English-based [biases] influenced QWERTY’s design, QWERTY has now ‘infected’ typers of other languages with similar associations.”

How did the KKK lose nearly one-third of its chapters in one year? (Slate)

Ku Klux Kontraction

By |Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 4:55 PM ET

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Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tenn.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The number of hate groups in the United States is on the rise, but the Ku Klux Klan is losing chapters, according to data released on Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The number of KKK chapters dropped from 221 to 152 in just one year. Why is the Klan shrinking?

Consolidation and defections. The Klan is not a stable organization. There’s no real national leadership, and chapters are constantly appearing, disappearing, splitting, and merging. In 2010, to take one example, the True Invisible Empire Knights of Pulaski, Tenn., merged with the Traditional American Knights from Potosi, Mo. to form the True Invisible Empire Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. (Note: this link, like others in this article, leads to an extremist website.) Such mergers decrease the number of chapters without necessarily changing membership totals. Not all the Klan’s losses are just on paper, though. Jeremy Parker, who led the Ohio-based Brotherhood of Klans, left the KKK for the Aryan Nations in 2010 and likely took a significant number of members with him. The Brotherhood of Klans was the second-largest Klan association in the country, with 38 chapters.

Membership totals are hard to track, because the Klan doesn’t willingly release member lists. Over the long term, the KKK is clearly contracting, since its rolls have shrunk from millions in the 1920s to between 3,000 and 5,000 today. But no one knows how membership has changed in the last few years.

Klan-watchers, however, suspect that the nation’s oldest domestic terrorist organization is indeed struggling to keep pace with other racist hate groups. Young racists tend to think of the Klan as their grandfathers’ hate group, and of its members as rural, uneducated, and technologically unsophisticated. The Klan doesn’t seem to have used the web and social media as well as its competitors. The group’s failure to effectively deploy technology is a bit of an irony, since one of those newfangled motion pictures, The Birth of a Nation, launched the KKK’s second era in 1915.

The Klan’s history of violence is another challenge to recruitment. The organization will always be associated with the lynching of innocent African-Americans in the 20th century, which puts off more moderate racists.

The KKK is also suffering from a proliferation of competitors. People who wanted to join a white supremacist movement back in the 1920s didn’t have a lot of choices. Today, there are countless options, enabling an extremist to find a group that matches his personal brand of intolerance. The more extreme groups in the burgeoning patriot movement cater to anti-Muslim, homophobic, and xenophobic sentiment, with less animosity toward African-Americans and Jews. Aryan Nations offers a heavy focus on Christian identity. Some groups preach more violence, while others offer a veneer of intellectualism.American Renaissance, for example, caters to “suit-and-tie” racists, offering pseudo-scientific papers on white supremacy. The group even holds conferences at a hotel near Dulles airport in Virginia.

Many young racist activists aren’t bothering to join groups at all anymore, further hampering the Klan’s recruitment efforts. Former KKK Grand Wizard Don Black in 1995 launched the website Stormfront, which enables individuals in the white supremacist movement to share ideas and read news stories reported from a racist perspective. The community-building site, and others like it, lessens the need for racists to socialize at Klan barbecues or introduce their children to Klanta Klaus at the KKK Christmas rally.

Number of U.S. Hate Groups Is Rising, Report Says (N.Y. Times)

By KIM SEVERSON – Published: March 7, 2012

ATLANTA — Fed by antagonism toward President Obama, resentment toward changing racial demographics and the economic rift between rich and poor, the number of so-called hate groups and antigovernment organizations in the nation has continued to grow, according to a report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The center, which has kept track of such groups for 30 years, recorded 1,018 hate groups operating last year.

The number of groups whose ideology is organized against specific racial, religious, sexual or other characteristics has risen steadily since 2000, when 602 were identified, the center said. Antigay groups, for example, have risen to 27 from 17 in 2010.

The report also described a “stunning” rise in the number of groups it identifies as part of the so-called patriot and militia movements, whose ideologies include deep distrust of the federal government.

In 2011, the center tracked 1,274 of those groups, up from 824 the year before.

“They represent both a kind of right-wing populist rage and a left-wing populist rage that has gotten all mixed up in anger toward the government,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the author of the report.

The center, based in Montgomery, Ala., records only groups that are active, meaning that the groups are registering members, passing out fliers, protesting or showing other signs of activity beyond maintaining a Web site.

The Occupy movement is not on the list because its participants as a collective do not meet the center’s criteria for an extremist group, he said.

One of the groups that was moved from the “patriot” list to the hate group list this year is the Georgia Militia, some of whose members were indicted last year in a failed plot to blow up government buildings and spread poison along Atlanta freeways. They were reclassified because their speech includes anti-Semitism.

The far-right patriot movement gained steam in 1994 after the government used violence to shut down groups at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Tex. It peaked after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and began to fade. Its rise began anew in 2008, after the election of Mr. Obama and the beginning of the recession.

There have been declines in some hate groups, including native extremist groups like the Militiamen, which focused on illegal immigration. Chapters of the Ku Klux Klan fell to 152, from 221.

Among the states with the most active hate groups were California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and New York. The federal government does not focus on groups that engage in hate-based speech, but rather monitors paramilitary groups and others that have shown some indication of violence, said Daryl Johnson, a former senior domestic terrorism analyst for the Department of Homeland Security.

The Justice Department does not comment on the center’s annual report, but a spokeswoman said the agency had increased prosecution of hate crimes by 35 percent during the first three years of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

A version of this article appeared in print on March 8, 2012, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Number of U.S. Hate Groups Is Rising, Report Says.

Could Many Universities Follow Borders Bookstores Into Oblivion? (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

March 7, 2012, 7:44 pm
By Marc Parry

Atlanta — Higher education’s spin on the Silicon Valley garage. That was the vision laid out in September, when the Georgia Institute of Technology announced a new lab for disruptive ideas, the Center for 21st Century Universities. During a visit to Atlanta last week, I checked in to see how things were going, sitting down with Richard A. DeMillo, the center’s director and Georgia Tech’s former dean of computing, and Paul M.A. Baker, the center’s associate director. We talked about challenges and opportunities facing colleges at a time of economic pain and technological change—among them the chance that many universities might follow Borders Bookstores into oblivion.

Q. You recently wrote that universities are “bystanders” at the revolution happening around them, even as they think they’re at the center of it. How so?

Mr. DeMillo: It’s the same idea as the news industry. Local newspapers survived most of the last century on profits from classified ads. And what happened? Craigslist drove profits out of classified ads for local newspapers. If you think that it’s all revolving around you, and you’re going to be able to impose your value system on this train that’s leaving the station, that’s going to lead you to one set of decisions. Think of Carnegie Mellon, with its “Four Courses, Millions of Users” idea [which became the Open Learning Initiative], or Yale with the humanities courses, thinking that what the market really wants is universal access to these four courses at the highest quality. And really what the market is doing is something completely different. The higher-education market is reinventing what a university is, what a course is, what a student is, what the value is. I don’t know why anyone would think that the online revolution is about reproducing the classroom experience.

Q. So what is the revolution about?

Mr. DeMillo: You don’t know where events are going to take higher education. But if you want to be an important institution 20 years from now, you have to position yourself so that you can adapt to whatever those technology changes are. Whenever you have this kind of technological change, where there’s a large incumbency, the incumbents are inherently at a disadvantage. And we’re the incumbents.

Q. What are some of the most important changes happening now?

Mr. DeMillo: What you’re seeing, for example, is technology enabling a single master teacher to reach students on an individualized basis on a scale that is unprecedented. So when Sebastian Thrun offers his Intro to Robotics course and gets 150,000 students—that’s a big deal.

Why is it a big deal? Well, because people who want to learn robotics want to learn from the master. And there’s something about the medium that he uses that makes that connection intimate. It’s not the same kind of connection that you get by pointing a camera at the front of the room and letting someone write on a whiteboard. These guys have figured out how to design a way of explaining the material that connects with people at scale. So Stanford all of a sudden becomes a place with a network of stakeholders that’s several orders of magnitude larger than it was 10 years ago. Every one of those students in India that wants to connect to Stanford now—connect to a mentor—now has a way to connect by bypassing their local institutions. Every institution that can’t offer a robotics course now has a way of offering a robotics course.

I think what you see happening now with the massive open courses is going to fundamentally change the business models. It’s going to put the notion of value front and center. Why would I want a credential from this university? Why would I want to pay tuition to this university? It really ups the stakes.

Mr. Baker: There used to be something called Borders, you may remember. Think of Borders, the bookstore, “X, Y, Z University,” the bookstore. If you’ve got Amazon as an analogue for these massively open courses, there is still a model where people actually go into bookstores because sometimes they want to touch, or they like hanging out, or there’s other value offered by that. What it means is that the university needs to rethink what it’s doing, how it’s doing it.

And how it innovates in a way of surviving in the face of this. If I can do the Amazon equivalent of this open course, why should I come here? Well, maybe you shouldn’t. And that’s a client that is lost.

Mr. DeMillo: All you have to do is add up the amount of money spent on courses. Just take an introduction to computer science. Add up the amount of money that’s spent nationwide on introductory programming courses. It’s a big number, I’ll bet. What is the value received for that spend? If, in fact, there’s a large student population that can be served by a higher-quality course, what’s the argument for spending all that money on 6,000 introduction to programming courses?

Q. You really think that many universities could go the way of Borders?

Mr. DeMillo: Yeah. Well, you can see it already. We lost, in this university system, four institutions this year.

Mr. Baker: The University System of Georgia merged four institutions into other ones that were geographically within 50 miles. The programs essentially were replicated. And in an environment in which you’ve got reduced resources, you can’t afford to have essentially identical programs 50 miles apart.

Q. So what sort of learning landscape do you think might emerge?

Mr. DeMillo: One thing that you might see is highly tuned curricula, students being able to select from a range of things that they want to learn and a range of mentors that they want to interact with, whether you think of it as hacking degrees or pulling assessments from a menu of different universities. What does that mean for the individual university? It means that a university has to figure out where its true value sits in that landscape.

Mr. Baker: Another thing we’re looking at is development of a value index to try to calculate, to be vulgar, the return on investment. Our idea is to try to figure out ways of determining what constitutes value for a student, based on four or five personas. So for, let’s say, a mom returning at 50 who wants an education—she’s going to value certain things differently than a 17-year-old rocket scientist coming to Tech who wants to get through in three years and knows exactly what she wants to do.

Mr. Demillo: Jeff Selingo wrote a column about this, having one place to go to figure out the economic value of a degree from a university. It’s a great idea, but why focus only on the paycheck as an economic value? There are lots of indicators of value. Do students from this university go to graduate school by a disproportionately large number? Do they get fellowships? Are they people who stay in their profession for a long period of time? You start to build up a picture of what students tell you, of what alumni tell you, was the value of that education. Can we pull these metrics together and then say something interesting about our institution and by extension others?

Q. What other projects is your center working on right now?

Mr. DeMillo: The Khan Academy—small bursts of knowledge that may or may not be included in a curriculum—was a really interesting idea.

Can students generate this kind of material in a way that’s useful for other students? That’s the genesis of our TechBurstcompetition [in which students create short videos that explain a single topic].

It turns out there’s a lot of interest on the part of the students at Georgia Tech in teaching what they know to their peers. The interesting part of the project is the unexpected things that you get. We had a discussion yesterday about mistakes. This is student-generated stuff, so is it right? Not all the time. Which causes great angst on the part of traditionalists, because now we have Georgia Tech TechBurst video that has errors in it. If these were instructional videos that we were marketing, that would be a very big deal. But they’re not. They’re the start of a thread of conversation among students. There’s one on gerrymandering. So it’s a political-science video, it’s cutely produced, but in some sense it’s not exactly right. And so what you would expect is now other students will come along and annotate that video, and say, well, that’s not exactly what gerrymandering is. And you’ll start to see this students-teaching-students peer-tutoring process taking place in real time.

Q. What about the massive open online course Georgia Tech will run in the fall?

Mr. DeMillo: The idea of a massive open course is something that people normally apply to introductory courses. What happens when you look at a massive open advanced seminar? A seminar room with 10,000 students, 50,000 students—what does that even mean? We’ve got some people here that have been blogging for quite a while about advanced topics. In fact, one of the blogs—Godel’s Lost Letter, by Professor Dick Lipton of Georgia Tech, and Ken Regan of the University at Buffalo—is about advanced computer theory, so it’s a very mathematical blog. It’s in the top 0.1 percent of WordPress blogs. A typical day is 5,000 to 10,000 page views. A hot day is 100,000. The question is can we take this blogging format and turn it into an online seminar.

Q. How would that work?

Mr. DeMillo: The blog is essentially an expression of a master teacher’s understanding of a field to people that want to learn about it. We think that there are some very simple layers that can be built under the existing blogging format that can essentially turn it into a massive open online seminar. It’s also a way of conducting scientific research. When you think about what happens in this blog, it celebrates the process of scientific discovery. I’ll just give you one example. Last year about this time some industrial scientist claimed that he had solved one of the outstanding problems in this area. In the normal course of events, the scientist would have written up the paper, would have sent it to a conference. It would have been refereed. Nine months later the paper would have been presented at the conference. People would have talked about it. It would have been written up to submit to a journal. Refereeing would have taken a couple of years for that. Well, the paper got submitted to Lipton’s blog. It just caused a flurry of activity. So thousands and thousands of scientists flocked to this paper, and essentially speeded up the refereeing of the paper, shortening the time from five years to a couple of weeks. It turns out that people came to believe that the claim was not valid, and the paper was incorrect. But what an education for future research students. You get to see the process of scientific discovery in action.

This is an interesting bookend to the idea of a massive open course. Because the people that are thinking about the massive open online courses for introductory material have a set of considerations. Students are at different levels of achievement. Assessment is very important. The credentialing process is dictated by whether or not you want credit. If you go to the other end of the curriculum, and say, well, what happens when we try to do these advanced courses at scale, credentialing is completely different. Assessment is completely different. You can’t rely on the same automation that you could in the introductory courses. Social networks become extremely important if you’re going to do this stuff at scale, because one professor can’t deal with 100,000 readers. He has to have a network of trusted people who would be able to answer questions. The anticipation is that a whole new set of problems would come up with these kinds of courses.

This conversation has been edited and shortened.

Vídeo da Comissão Europeia tem circulação suspensa (Opinião e Notícia)

XENOFOBIA

Peça publicitária mostra Europa atacada por chineses, brasileiros e indianos.

Por Felipe Varne – 8/03/2012

Uma bela mulher (usando o macacão amarelo imortalizado nas telas do cinema por Bruce Lee em O Jogo da Morte, e homenageado por Quentin Tarantino emKill Bill) caminha sozinha por um galpão abandonado. Subitamente ela é ameaçada pela presença de três homens. O primeiro, um ninja com traços orientais. O segundo, um homem de turbante e portando uma ameaçadora espada. O terceiro é um capoeirista acrobático e musculoso. Sem se intimidar, a mulher se concentra, e se multiplica em vários clones que formam um círculo ao redor do trio. As três figuras se tornam menos ameaçadoras, e os clones se sentam em posição de lótus, antes de se transformarem na bandeira da União Europeia.

O final do comercial que promove a expansão da União Europeia termina com a seguinte mensagem: “quanto maiores formos, mais fortes seremos”. A mensagem pode até ser verdadeira, mas o comercial foi retirado do ar às pressas, graças a uma enxurrada de comentários que acusaram a Comunidade Europeia de racismo e xenofobia.

Recebemos muitas mensagens sobre nosso último vídeo, incluindo algumas que se mostraram preocupadas com a mensagem que estava sendo passada.

O vídeo era uma experiência viral, visando atingir por meio de redes sociais e novas mídias, jovens entre 26 e 24 anos, familiarizados com artes marciais e vídeo games. As reações dentro dessa faixa etária foram positivas, assim como as dos grupos de testes nos quais o vídeo foi testado.

O vídeo apresenta personagens típicos do gênero das artes marciais: mestres de kung fu, kalripayattu e capoeira. Tudo começa com uma demonstração de suas habilidades e termina com todos os personagens demonstrando seu respeito mútuo, numa posição de paz e harmonia. O gênero foi escolhido para atrair os jovens e aumentar sua curiosidade a respeito de uma importante política da União Europeia.

O vídeo não tinha intenção alguma de promover o racismo, e nós obviamente lamentamos que ele tenha sido encarado desta maneira. Pedimos desculpas a qualquer um que tenha se ofendido. Por causa da polêmica, decidimos interromper a campanha imediatamente, e retirar o vídeo de circulação.

A mensagem acima é assinada por Stefano Sannino, diretor-geral do programa de expansão da Comissão Europeia. Nos tempos de crise, é natural que a União Europeia queira se fortalecer, e nada mais natural do que vender essa ideia aos jovens. Artes marciais e vídeo games são uma boa forma de atrair essa faixa etária, além de serem uma linguagem universal (algo importante quando o bloco em questão concentra um número gigantesco de idiomas e dialetos).

No entanto, a mensagem de Sannino se não é mentirosa, é, no mínimo, ingênua. Os três mestres, embora sejam muito habilidosos, não estão apenas demonstrando suas habilidades, e sim ameaçando a pobre mulher indefesa. Ou será que há algum outro motivo para que ela se multiplique em dez, formando um círculo ao redor do trio? E não é preciso ser nenhum gênio para ver que os mestres também não são apenas mestres, mas sim um chinês, um indiano e um brasileiro. China, índia e Brasil são integrantes do grupo dos BRICs, os países emergentes da economia mundial, que estão prosperando e crescendo, enquanto a Europa atravessa maus bocados. O quarto país do grupo, a Rússia, não apareceu no vídeo. Para isso existem duas explicações. Ou não foi possível encontrar um mestre de sambo (a mais famosa arte marcial da Rússia) a tempo, ou ironicamente, o país de Putin e Medvedev pode fazer parte dos planos de expansão da União Europeia. Ambas as opções soam absurdas, mas nada é impossível.

A Europa atravessa uma crise criada por ela mesma, e que apenas ela pode resolver. Ao buscar nos países emergentes um bode expiatório, a Comissão Europeia deu o primeiro tiro no pé. E ao apresentar desculpas esfarrapadas e subestimar a inteligência dos espectadores do vídeo, pode ter dado o segundo.