Way down in the comment thread (#116) on this spoof post at Crooked Timber about the need to group-profile engineers because of their tendency to show up as terrorists, genial Brit Chris E produced this gem of concise socio-cultural analysis:
But generally terrorists tend towards being engineers, because typically the disaffected middle-class youth sent out by the developing world tend to be made to study something ‘useful’ by their parents – if they were actually any good at science they would have been pushed into medicine, if good at maths then accountancy would beckon.
Of course, when they return home and still can’t find employment they get even more disaffected, and by then have the practical skills to not blow themselves up in the sort of cack-handed manner we have gotten used to by now. Seriously, the middling to bottom universities in the UK are chock full of foreign engineering students most of whom would strangle themselves accidently if given string.
I’m sure I could tie this in to any number of running themes around here, but basically I just found it hilarious, in that also-sad stare-off-into-space-for-a-sec kind of way those of us who sometimes teach such students (foreign and domestic) know well.