All the recent discussion of lead has reminded me of my youth. In the garage we had large sheets of lead—they must have weighted 50 pounds each, and I presume they were from a demolished building. When I was about ten I recall taking hammer and screwdriver to chop off lots of pieces of about one inch square. Just small enough to put in the small pan in my lead melting set. After it melted, I’d skimmed off all the impurities on top. (Oh my God—I now recall the lead had paint on it–what if it was lead paint!)
The molten lead was quite pretty—sort of like mercury. Then I’d pour it into a mold to make toy soldiers. Sometimes the soldier’s rifle would get bent when re-enacting a WWII battle. No problem—I used my teeth to bend it back straight again.
You might wonder how many IQ points I lost. Does this explain why I stick to simple-minded MV=PY arguments, and steer clear of more sophisticated NK models? Does it explain why my posts are often grouchy, and my grammar is often poor?
I don’t think so. I’m quite convinced that none of the lead got into the “free will” lobe in my brain. I distinctly recall sitting down one day and deciding to be a grammatically-challenged grouchy monetarist out of my own free will. You’ll hear no excuses from me.
PS. Please don’t tell me that lead is nothing to joke about. That’s true of those seriously injured, but it most certainly is something for me to joke about. When I was ten years old I heard far worse–dead baby jokes, Polack jokes, etc. Come to think about it we were pretty appalling back in 1965. Must’ve been the lead . . .
PPS. How many are old enough to recall swinging on asbestos pipes in the basement? Or getting megadoses of second hand smoke all the time? (Emphysema runs in the family–my grandpa was a non-smoker and died of it. I have his asthma. So did my dad–who smoked a lot.) By age 14 I was working on ladders scraping and burning paint off old houses. I also worked on lots and lots of remodelling projects–sanding down the paint on old window frames, so they could be re-painted. And people ask me why I’m determined to retire and move to California at 62. I consider it a miracle that I’m still alive.
PPPS. FWIW I find the lead—>crime hypothesis plausible, albeit unproven. Students seem to have improved over time (at my school) and I’ve noticed that young adults today seem less aggressive than when I was young–but maybe that reflects Boston.