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I’m reading another Malcolm Gladwell. This one is about success and it’s called “Outliers.”

A large part of the book looks at cultures and how people made their livings. In Southern China, the main way the working class made money was through growing rice.

Rice patties are small, about the size of a small apartment. They need constant, thoughtful care and the harvest is largely dependent on the care the patty receives. Rice patties can be tended to 365 days a year for long hours every day.

In America farmers specialize in things like wheat and corn. There’s a principle within farming that dictates that the soil has to rested for a few months or it will lose its nutrients. Therefore American farming has ebbs and flows in activity. Days can and are long but in different parts of the year there are ebbs and flows to the level of activity.

Chinese schools run 243 days a year. American schools about 180.

The Chinese work long hours at school and work and excel in mathematically based lines of work. Gladwell suggests that this is because of the culture of the rice patty and how it required strategy, time on task and hard work. Throughout history working rice patties didn’t lend itself to feudal systems or slavery because the farming was too intricate. if there was a profit incentive for the farmer it would be too easy to screw up the crop. The rich people had to instill a profit motive. That isn’t the case when it comes to other types of farm work.

Gladwell speaks about how uncomfortable it is to write about nationalities in this fashion.

Should it be?