Saturday, December 31, 2005

Women compete differently

Research news:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Research shows that U.S. women not only compete differently than men in the workplace, they also compete differently with each other.

"It's been such a taboo subject. To say women have problems with each other is seen as anti-woman, but it's not," said Nan Mooney, author of "I Can't Believe She Did That! Why Women Betray Other Women at Work."

"Women are afraid to raise a problem, so it goes underground, and it comes out in a twisted way. Why is it so hard to work with other women? Why are we so nasty to each other?"

Mooney said women aren't more competitive than men, but that they compete differently -- they often shy from direct conflict for talking behind one another's backs, sabotaging success and feeling threatened by other women, reported USA Today Friday.

However, some researchers say the debate of women competing more passive-aggressively than men is misplaced because employees compete differently based on their personality, not on their sex and the issue perpetuates a negative and untrue stereotype.
Note the politically correct denial. Such denials often follow research that confirms stereotypes.

String theory vitality

Not Even Wrong blog:
Gross mentioned the recent New Scientist article quoting him as admitting string theory was in trouble, saying that the article misrepresented what he said. At the recent Solvay conference he had said something like "In string theory we don't know what we are talking about", and the New Scientist reporter interpreted that as meaning there was trouble, an interpretation Gross disagreed with. ... Gross went on to claim that really string theory is a vital subject ...
Not many scientists brag about not knowing anything.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Example of failed psychotherapy

Grief therapy doesn't work:
What about people like police officers and firefighters who witness terrible events? Is it helpful for them to reflect on their experiences?

For years it was believed that emergency workers should undergo a debriefing process to focus on and relive their experiences; the idea was that this would make them feel better and prevent mental health problems down the road. After 9/11, for example, well-meaning counselors flocked to New York to help police officers, firefighters and rescue workers deal with the trauma of what they had seen.

But did it do any good? In an extensive review of the research, a team led by Richard McNally, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, concluded that debriefing procedures have little benefit and might even hurt by interrupting the normal healing process. People often distract themselves from thinking about painful events right after they occur, and this may be better than mentally reliving the events.
A lot of other psychotherapy doesn't work either, and much of it is harmful.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

2005 Award for Political Incorrectness says:
And the winner of the 2005 Award for Political Incorrectness is...(pan of vast audience with expectant expressions)... Phyllis Schlafly.

This past year Mrs. Schlafly took on the federal government's deepening alliance with radical feminism. In the process she debunked many of the Left's pet explanations for family break-down. ...

For 30 years the Leftists have waged a tenacious assault on society's bedrock institutions, including fatherhood and families. As the rest of us silently stood by, feminists branded dads with epithets such as deadbeat, abuser, and patriarchal oppressor.

And now Phyllis Schlafly has shed the light of truth on their evil scheme.
The text has links to her anti-feminist columns.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Getting thanked

Marilyn vos Savant answers this question in Parade magazine today:
I overheard a woman say, I did all that work and didn't get a word of thanks!" after she cooked a dinner at church. What do you think of people who expect to be thanked for the things they do and who get upset when they don't get thanked?
-Sue, Sylacauga, Ala

I appreciate their willingness to be helpful at all. The fact that they want to be thanked just shows that they performed their good deeds because they felt a bit obligated to do so, rather than simply out of a desire to help.
I don't think that Marilyn is correct. The volunteer wanted to help, and to know that her help was worthwhile. If no one thanks her, then it casts doubt on whether her help was worthwhile.

She may have a sincere and unselfish desire to help, and yet cease helping when she doesn't get any positive feedback that her help is doing any good.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Animal models prove toy preferences

An Evolution and Human Behavior study says:
The percent of contact time with toys typically preferred by boys (a car and a ball) was greater in male vervets (n = 33) than in female vervets (n = 30) ( P < .05), whereas the percent of contact time with toys typically preferred by girls (a doll and a pot) was greater in female vervets than in male vervets ( P < .01).
Some people think that girls only play with dolls because they are taught to play with dolls. Those people must have never had kids. There are some instinctual preferences, as shown by animal experiments.

Education Myths

If you think that schools or teachers need more money, then see Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So, by Jay P. Greene. From a review:
Greene asserts that most arguments about inadequate spending are based on anecdotes not facts. He concludes that even if schools in poor urban areas were provided with more funds, there is no guarantee they would use the funds effectively. Other myths that he debunks: social problems such as poverty contribute to low academic performance, smaller class sizes produce improvements, certified teachers are more effective, teachers are underpaid, public schools' performance has declined, private schools are more racially segregated than public schools. These myths are perpetuated by powerful interest groups, including teachers' unions, asserts Greene.
I think that the schools would do better if they had less money.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Letterman restrained

New Mexico news:
Late last week, a Santa Fe District Court judge signed a temporary restraining order against talk-show host David Letterman alleging [sic] he has tormented a city resident for more than 10 years by using code words on his television program. ...
Judge are famous for issuing restraining orders without any valid basis, but this is ridiculous.

Academic political correctness

Some leftist academics want to wreck the career of Filipino-American named Kiwi Camara wrote "nig" in his class notes as a 17-year-old. Some amazingly intolerant leftists interpreted it as a racial slur.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The 16 expiring clauses

AP news:
Sixteen provisions of the USA Patriot Act expire Dec. 31 if not renewed by Congress:

Section 201 - Gives federal officials the authority to intercept wire, spoken and electronic communications relating to terrorism.

Section 202 - Gives federal officials the authority to intercept wire, spoken and electronic communications relating to computer fraud and abuse offenses.
Most of them are not too controversial.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Girls avoid Computer Science

Boston news:
Today, Souvaine chairs the Tufts University computer science department, which has more female professors than male. But few younger women have followed in her generation's footsteps. Next spring, when 22 computer science graduates accept their Tufts diplomas, only four will be women.

Born in contemporary times, free of the male-dominated legacy common to other sciences and engineering, computer science could have become a model for gender equality. In the early 1980s, it had one of the highest proportions of female undergraduates in science and engineering. And yet with remarkable speed, it has become one of the least gender-balanced fields in American society. ...

They view the dearth of women as symptomatic of a larger failure in their field, which has recently become less attractive to promising young men, as well. Women are "the canaries in the mine," said Harvard computer science professor Barbara J. Grosz.
It is not discrimination.

Top 10 Conservative Women

Human Events:
Top 10 Women in Conservative Movement
Ranked by the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute.

1. Ann Coulter
2. Phyllis Schlafly
3. Dr. Laura Schlessinger
4. Bay Buchanan
5. Michelle Malkin
6. Marji Ross
7. Michelle Easton
8. Star Parker
9. Sally Pipes
10. Elaine Donnelly

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Male Original Sin

Anthropologist Lionel Tiger
Male resentment of the self-righteous and automatic public support for women's interests and issues has been increasingly on the boil for some time. Civic celebrations of antipathy to men such as the Violence Against Women Act are finally generating specific and pointed responses by men fatigued, if still baffled, by the knee-jerk assumption that they suffer irredeemably from what I call Male Original Sin.

At my university as at countless others, one of the very first official greeting to students is a rape seminar predicated on the intrinsic danger males carry with them. And in family courts, the presumption of male behavioral malefaction has yielded heartbreakingly numerous cases in which men are charged with domestic violence to which courts overwhelmingly--often in brief hearings in which the male is not even present--issue temporary "restraining orders." These frequently segue into permanence, and award women the dwelling they've shared, financial support and the all-important privilege of custody--mothers gain custody in 66% of uncontested cases and 75% of contested ones. Less than a quarter of parents are awarded joint custody.

Judges issue such orders based only on the word of the alleged victim. It is small wonder the overwhelming majority of such actions are sought and achieved by women. It has been legitimately argued that there is a merciless postmarital racket of therapists, lawyers, judges and governmental advocates who prosper because it is so easy to define males as guilty.

Meanwhile, the publicly financed educational system is at least 20% better at producing successful female students than male, yet hardly anyone sees this as remarkable gender discrimination. While there is a vigorous national program to equalize male and female rates of success in science and math, there is not a shred of equivalent attention to the far more central practical impact of the sharp deficit males face in reading and writing.
He recommends the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Defending parental rights

A reader asks why I would side with the father in Thursday's post below, when common sense would indicate that he has some wacky attitudes that might be detrimental to the child.

I come to this case being a conservative and a rationalist. Conservatives believe in individual responsibility, parental autonomy, and freedom. The opposite view is characterized by the slogan, It Takes A Village To Raise A Child, popularized by Hillary Clinton.

I am also a rationalist who believes that decisions should be justified by logic and empirical evidence. The opposite view comes from people who cite common sense and cannot back it up with any evidence.

The court in this case attempts to second-guess routine and legal parenting decisions. I would be against such second-guessing of either the mom or the dad. I have no idea whether the dad's child-rearing theories are best for the child, and neither does anyone else. The judge does not give any rational justification for his decision.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Family court violates 1A

Free speech expert Prof. Volokh gives an example of a Louisiana court giving orders that violate the First Amendment. I have some comments there.

A friend commented that if the parents cannot agree about diaper size, then they cannot co-parent so the courts have to intervene.

No, that doesn't follow at all. All we can deduce is that the mom thought that she had something to gain in family court by voicing a complaint about diaper size. And that the court rewards parents who bring such complaints.

King Kong released

I just saw King Kong, and it was better than I expected. I was surprised at how closely it tracked the 1933 version. In particular, it was just as politically incorrect:
Pinkerton writes: Any movie that features white people sailing off to the Third World to capture a giant ape and carry it back to the West for exploitation is going to be seen as a metaphor for colonialism and racism.

Movie reviewer David Edelstein, writing in SLATE, notes the "implicit racism of KING KONG - the implication that Kong stands for the black man brought in chains from a dark island (full of murderous primitive pagans) and with a penchant for skinny white blondes."

Comparing the new film with the original, the WASHINGTON POST's Stephen Hunter observed, "It remains a parable of exploitation, cultural self-importance, the arrogance of the West, all issues that were obvious in the original but unexamined; they remain unexamined here, if more vivid."
What disappointed me was that the movie was twice as long as the original, and yet it offered very little that was not in the original. All the good scenes were direct copies. I thought that the $200M would buy something more.

Update: I just watched the original 1933 movie again. It is as good as I had remembered. In some ways, it is a more convincing movie than the remake.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Old footprints

NY Times science news:
What is one to make of the intriguing footprints found in Mexico?

The scientists who discovered them said last summer that they were made by humans walking in fresh volcanic ash 40,000 years ago. This seemed incredible, since no human presence in the Americas had been established earlier than about 13,000 years ago.

So geologists went to the scene, near Puebla. They came to an even more astonishing conclusion: the prints were in 1.3-million-year-old rock, meaning the prints were laid down more than a million years before modern Homo sapiens evolved in Africa.
There is something seriously wrong with this story. If they are really human footprints, then they should be added to The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Study shows that preferences change

Freakonomics says:
Many scientists believe that a person's sexual orientation is determined before birth, a function of genetic fate. ...

But taken as a whole, the numbers in Francis's study suggest that there may be a causal effect here - that having a relative with AIDS may change not just sexual behavior but also self-reported identity and desire.
IOW, many scientists cling to a belief that is contrary to the data.

Now the author of the study, Andy Francis, finds it necessary to say:
The findings do not imply, in any sense, that homosexuality is morally wrong. This is a positive, not normative, paper. I do not want others to misconstrue my findings. All members of society deserve equality and respect. Virtually all liberal theories support this notion. I do not believe that it is necessary that sexual orientation be entirely biologically determined for homosexuals and bisexuals to merit and obtain equality and respect.
This is hilarious. You would think that a scientist could state the obvious without doing politically correct backflips.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Leftist movie flops

Critical acclaim for movies:
NEW YORK - The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures gave its best-picture award Monday to "Good Night, and Good Luck," George Clooney's sparse, black-and-white depiction of Edward R. Murrow's on-air battles against Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The group spread the awards around, naming Ang Lee as best director for the cowboy romance "Brokeback Mountain."
I've predicted that these would be flops with the public. Nobody wants to see movies that idolize commies and gay cowboys.

A reader writes:
Rating movies on political ideology makes you sound like a communist. Also, you are factually wrong. Million Dollar Baby made over $100e6. The public did not hate it. Good Night made $22e6. It probably cost half that to make. These numbers are US and Canada box office gross. Foreign and DVD often match the domestic box office numbers. What conclusions can you draw from the comparison of popular success to the critical acclaim? Whatever you come up with I'll bet I can find lots of counterexamples.
Let's look at the gross for recent Best Picture Oscar winners.

Million Dollar Baby (2004) $100,492,203
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) $377,027,325
Chicago (2002) $170,687,518
A Beautiful Mind (2001) $170,742,341
Gladiator (2000) $187,705,427
American Beauty (1999) $130,096,601
Shakespeare in Love (1998) $100,317,794

A lot of people read rave reviews of Million Dollar Baby, and went to see it thinking that it would be a female Rocky. Instead it was a euthanasia movie.

I don't doubt that movies can make money based on good reviews from critics. But leftist ideological movies never do as well as you might expect from the reviews.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Top dictionary lookups

Dictionary news:
The 10 most frequently looked up words and their definitions, according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary site:

1. Integrity -- Firm adherence to a code, especially moral or artistic values; incorruptibility.

2. Refugee -- One that flees; especially a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.

3. Contempt -- Willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge or legislative body.

4. Filibuster -- The use of extreme dilatory tactics in an attempt to delay or prevent action, especially in a legislative assembly.

5. Insipid -- Lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate or challenge; dull, flat.

6. Tsunami -- A great sea wave produced especially by submarine earth movement or volcanic eruption.

7. Pandemic -- Occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.

8. Conclave -- A private meeting or secret assembly, especially a meeting of Roman Catholic cardinals secluded continuously while choosing a pope.

9. Levee -- An embankment for preventing flooding; a continuous dike or ridge (as of earth) for confining the irrigation areas of land to be flooded.

10: Inept -- Generally incompetent; bungling.
Curious list. Some of these have obvious explanations. The press switched from the popular term "tidal wave" to "tsunami", so everyone had to look it up.

My hunch is that people had to look up other words because there confused by changing meanings. I always thought that a "filibuster" was just a delay in a vote, caused by a dissenter who wants to give some speeches. In the last couple of years, a lot of people have used it to mean blocking a vote from every taking place.

The Siren Song of Sex With Boys

This NY Times article surprised me:
Though it might seem that way from the headlines, women having sex with teenage boys is not new. A federal Department of Education study called "Educator Sexual Misconduct," released last year, found that 40 percent of the educators who had been reported for sexual misconduct with students were women. ...

But Professor Rind and others point out that Canada and about half of Europe have set the age of consent at 14 after recommendations by national commissions. To set it much higher, as most states do, they say, ignores the research, and the hormones.
I do agree with the article that it is a big mistake to lump all sex crimes together. Some are much worse than others.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Campus free speech

University free speech story:
[Jihad Daniel, an employee of William Patterson University, a public school in New Jersey] privately replied to an unsolicited March 7 mass e-mail from Professor Arlene Holpp Scala promoting a viewing and discussion of a film described as "a lesbian relationship story." Daniel's March 8 e-mail to Professor Scala requested that he not be sent "any mail about 'Connie and Sally' and 'Adam and Steve.'" Daniel went on, "These are perversions. ..."
The employee was reprimanded.

The prof is the one guilty of sexual harassment, if anyone. Prof Scala sent an email to Daniel promoting discussion about a lesbian story. Daniel responded with his opinion. If Prof Scala didn't want Daniel's opinion, then she should not have asked for it.

You can concoct any politically incorrect analogy you want, but I think that anytime a prof asks an employee for a personal opinion, the prof should be able to deal with any answer she gets without whining to the administration.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Abortion rate may not affect crime

The Freakonomics blog says:
Thanks to articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Economist, a working paper by Chris Foote and Chris Goetz that is sharply critical of John Donohue and me has gotten an enormous amount of attention.

In that working paper Foote and Goetz criticized the analysis underlying one of the tables in our original article that suggested a link between legalized abortion and crime.
Steven D. Levitt's main claim to fame is his theory that the fall in the crime rate is entirely explained by legalized abortion.

Now a new study has shown that the abortion-crime theory was based on some data processing errors. Levitt's rebuttal is that there is other data to support his theory. His theory may be wrong.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ellen Goodman writes:
Somewhere along the way, the dividing line over gay issues picked up and moved. It's no longer between red and blue states, or left and right wings, but between nature and nurture. Or to be more precise, between those who believe that homosexuality is a choice and those who believe that homosexuality is innate. ...

Let's remember that the evidence is with those on the nature side of the dividing line. While we don't know the precise biology, the weight of research suggests that sexual orientation is indeed something we are born with. Perhaps there is a ''gay gene." Perhaps the Japanese scientists who found how a gene alters the sexual orientation of the fruit fly will find a similar switch for people.
No, the scientific evidence is against sexual orientation being innate, and it is very unlikely that any such genetic switch for people will be found.

As Goodman explains, liberals widely believe that people are more likely to support the gay agenda if they think that homosexuality is innate. So they promote these unscientific explanations.

The Myth of No-Cost Immigrants

Investor's Business Daily says:
Immigration Reform: Conventional wisdom says immigrants are not a financial burden to taxpayers because they work hard, pay taxes and rarely go on the dole. But it's a myth, and a new study blows another hole in it.

The University of Florida finds that immigrant families have been costing that state a net $1,800 per household per year, a financial burden much larger than previously thought.

The findings surprised the study's author, who is a pro-immigration Democrat. After crunching the numbers, economist David Denslow discovered immigrants -- legal and illegal -- were consuming much more in public services and paying much less in taxes than the average resident. ...

In fact, a recent study by the Center for Immigration Studies found that the average welfare payout to immigrant households, both legal and illegal, has changed little and remains about $2,000 a year, which is 50% higher than the payout for natives.
The 1996 welfare reform did not change the average benefits to immigrants.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

List of annoying people

Iowa news:
STRONGHURST, Ill. ? An eighth?grader at West Central Junior High has been removed from school and may face a charge of disorderly conduct after school officials learned last week about a list that named students and school staff the boy considered irritating...
Amazing. I considered putting a list of annoying people on my blog. I had no idea that someone could get kicked out of school for that.

A Man's Right to Choose

Dalton Conley writes:
Many liberals who oppose Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s nomination to the Supreme Court focus on his (losing) position in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1991 case about a Pennsylvania law that would have required women seeking abortions to notify their husbands. "Pennsylvania has a legitimate interest in furthering the husband's interest in the fate of the fetus," is the most widely quoted part of his opinion in that case. ...

Judge Alito's thinking about the role of men in reproductive decision-making is in keeping with how legal thinking needs to evolve in this age of readily available DNA testing. Nor is his position contrary to national sentiment: a majority of Americans feel that the husband should be notified about an abortion.

His only problem was not going far enough, ...
The inequity is that the woman gets to make the abortion decision, but the man has to pay child support.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Destabilizing people and society

Catholic Church news:
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican newspaper said on Tuesday that homosexuality risked "destabilizing people and society", had no social or moral value and could never match the importance of the relationship between a man and a woman.

The article by Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a French Jesuit and psychologist, said homosexuality could not be considered an acceptable moral alternative to heterosexuality.
The gay bloggers, like Andrew Sullivan, have also gone ballistic and started babbling about Nazis. (See Godwin's law on how people make Nazi analogies.)

Suppose instead that the news said:
A preacher said today that gambling risked "destabilizing people and society", had no social or moral value, and could never match the importance working for a living.
I would agree with it. I think that it is okay for people to occasionally gamble in their homes, or even to bet in Las Vegas casinos, but I also think that too much gambling has a destabilizing effect on people and society. The Vatican opinion is not radical at all.

Airline Seating Policy Demonizes Men

New Zealand news:
( - Two airlines "down under" are under fire after acknowledging their policy of not allowing an unaccompanied child passenger to sit next to a man. ...

"Most males in the world, I'm sure, are perfectly law-abiding, good parents, good fathers, brothers, whatever," he said. "They're basically accusing half the population of the world of being a potential pedophile." ... Both Qantas and Air New Zealand [airlines] have now confirmed that they would not seat a child traveling alone next to an adult male passenger. ...

The airlines did win support from one quarter. Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro, a government appointee, commended Qantas and Air New Zealand for their efforts to keep child passengers safe.

Kiro said she doubted the policy was meant as a slur against men.

But her intervention drew a strong response from the Men's Coalition, whose spokesman Kerry Bevin said Tuesday the commissioner was not fit for her post and should resign.

"Kiro is telling our children that men are dangerous to children," Bevin charged. He also called for the airlines to make a public apology.

For Worsley, the incident was part of a far broader problem, which seemed to affect Western countries in general, he said.

"Men are being demonized in the media for a long time now. I think probably this is just society's reaction -- they think, 'We'd better start tightening up on everything.' It's getting to the stage when all men are viewed with distrust," he said.
This is a weird anti-man policy. I've never even heard of a man somehow harming a child on an airline.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Support for Pinochet

Comments on the Jane Galt blog praise Pinochet:
Pinochet is the only leader of our time who returned a democratic nation brought to its knees by terrorists back from the brink of chaos. Chile is today a prosperous and democratic state. Pinochet reinvigorated the institutions of the nation and laid the foundations of the most prosperous nation of South America.

If you want dictators to voluntarily give up power, you have to give them the same soverign immunity for their acts in office after they leave office that they have as long as they stay in office. Otherwise, the only rational action for a dictator is to cling to power as long as possible.

The comment that "Pinochet was a murderous dictator" is only partially correct. Pinochet was a "dictator" but he was not "murderous". The murder and terrorism that the communists unleashed in Chile would be more correctly termed as murderous. They took human lives without the mandate afforded to them by the state. They set off the chain of vents that culminated in the need for Pinochet to take power. Pinochet employed the force necessary to re-establish law and order to the nation.

In my mind Pinochet is the greatest leader in the second half of the 20th century.

He saved Chile from total Marxist ruin, and brought it to a remarkable free market revolution, much deeper and earlier that the Reagan-Thatcher revolutions. Thanks to that, Chile is now the most succesful and prosperous nation in South America, by far. And he laso restored a vibrant democracy.

The lefties and the press are denigrating him as a monster because he had the temerity to stand up to violent marxist terrorists and annihilate them -- there is no bigger crime in the eyes of the left than thwarting their revolutionary and murderous ambitions.

I'm not a Chilean, but I lived there for 2 years during Pinochet's regime, and his free-market revolution was something fantastic to behold. It was no totalitarian state (lamentably I have experienced that horror too).

So, three cheers for Pinochet, and long may he live.
The Left is cheering that this 90-year-old is being prosecuted for tax evasion. I'm glad that someone is defending him. He saved Chile.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Genes have it over means

Science news:
LONDON: Nature, not nurture, is the main determinant of how well children perform at school and university, according to a study to be published this week.

The researchers came to their conclusion by comparing how well adopted children did at school when they were brought up alongside parents' biological children. The relative effects of genes and the home environment were then separated out. Previous studies have suggested that the home environment, and in particular the level of family income, is the most important determinant of educational attainment.

But the new study, to be published in the Royal Economic Society's Economic Journal, will argue that while income and home environment account for about 25 per cent of educational attainment, inherited intelligence is responsible for the rest.

Doubling a family's income would have only a small effect on educational performance, say the researchers, who examined more than 15,000 children, 574 of them adopted.
Remember this the next time you hear someone say how unfair it is that rich kids do best in school, and that we therefore need universal preschool or better paid teachers or some other expensive remedy. The money is not the determinitive factor.


I like the TV show NUMB3RS, and its portrayal of mathematics. It is just a regular TV crime, but instead of the heroes being cops, prosecutors (like Law And Order), or lab technicians (like CSI), the hero is a mathematician. The slogan is:
We all use math every day: to predict weather, to tell time, to handle money. Math is more than formulas and equations. It is logic. It is rationality. It is using your mind to solve the biggest mysteries we know.
The math is usually a little contrived, but the show obviously has some real mathematicians as consultants. There is a math angle to each plot, and it is usually clever, and as appropriate and well-explained as I would expect on a mainstream TV show.

Look at the above slogan. It is true that math is about logic and rationality, and it is much more than numbers, formulas, and equations. Most non-mathematicians do not understand this.

Some recent movies have featured mathematicians, notably Good Will Hunting, Pi, and A Beautiful Mind. These all portrayed mathematicians as being mentally disturbed.

Friday, November 25, 2005

No free speech in Austria

Euro news:
VIENNA (Reuters) - British historian David Irving, known for his controversial views on World War Two, must stay in custody in Vienna while he is charged with denying the Holocaust, a court ruled on Friday.

Vienna's state prosecutor this week charged Irving with denying the Holocaust in two lectures he gave in 1989. Denying the Holocaust is illegal under Austria's law prohibiting the Nazi Party. It carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
It is my understanding that he doesn't really deny the Jewish Holocaust, but has stated some slightly unconventional opinions about how and why the German Jews were killed. Weird.

Starting an intergalactic war

Canadian crackpot alert:
(PRWEB) - OTTAWA, CANADA (PRWEB) November 24, 2005 -- A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with "ETs".

By "ETs", Mr. Hellyer and these organizations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth. ...

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."
Note that he is not just worried about an interplanetary war; he thinks that the conspirators behind the Roswell cover-up might trigger a war between our entire galaxy and another galaxy. That is even out-of-range for even the science fiction books.

King Kong

I am waiting for the expensive remake of the 1933 King Kong movie. I am sure it will look great, but it will also be a poor substitute.

The original had a vision that was acceptable in 1933, but which is much too politically incorrect for today's audience. It is just too racially and ecologically destructive. I suspect that the new movie will try to somehow get the giant gorilla to climb the Empire State Building without offending anyone. I doubt that it will work. They should have created a new plot.

Parents rights in schools

A reader writes that the dicta in Fields v. Palmdale School District implies:
1) that parents' fundamental right to control the upbringing of their children "does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door,"

2) that a public school has the right to provide its students with "whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise."

3) that parens patriae (the country as parent) can be substituted for parents' rights

4) that "there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children" and that "parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed."

5) that if a child feels uncomfortable with the school's discussion of sex, the school will provide "a therapist for further psychological help."

6) that the fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of one's children does not encompass the right "to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs."

7) that once children are put in a public school, the parents' "fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished."

8) that this decision is based on "our evolving understanding of the nature of our Constitution."

9) that since the Constitution has evolved to create the right to abortion, the evolving Constitution takes sex education away from parents and puts it "within the state's authority as parens patriae."
This case has drawn some new allies for the cause of parental rights. The school should not have been subjecting grade-schoolers to such offensive questionaires. The leftist judge Reinhardt of the 9th federal Circuit likes to invent constitutional rights when it suits his favorite causes (atheism, abortion, sodomy, socialism), but doesn't want parents directing the upbringing of their own kids.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Unwed, Pregnant Teacher Gets Fired, Sues

AOL news:
NEW YORK (Nov. 22) - The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal discrimination complaint against a Catholic school, charging that it unjustly fired an unmarried teacher for being pregnant.

"I don't understand how a religion that prides itself on forgiving and on valuing life could terminate me because I'm pregnant and choosing to have this baby," Michelle McCusker said Monday at a news conference to announce the suit. ...

The handbook says that each teacher must "convey the teachings of the Catholic faith by his or her words and actions."

Lawyers at the NYCLU, which filed the suit on McCusker's behalf, argued that administrators enforced the policy in a way that disproportionately affects women.

"The school used her pregnancy as a marker," attorney Cassandra Stubbs said. "How do they determine if male employees engage in premarital sex?"
It wasn't the Catholic Church who decided that men don't get pregnant.

The Church forgives sinners who repent, but it doesn't appear that McCusker has repented. She is intending to raise the baby without a father. The child has a right to a father.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mohammedan polygamists

A reader sends this:
The riots in France have made the world suddenly aware of a reality which city dwellers in Europe have known for some years: that there are no-go areas surrounding almost every major European town. These have become virtually self-ruling enclaves, abandoned by European authorities and police. A case in point is the Swedish town of Malmo, which is said to be unique because creeping anarchy has spread to almost the entire town.

Another thing which many people have known, but which has never been said aloud, is the spread of polygamy across Western Europe. Since yesterday, when French officials, including one government minister, cited polygamy as a possible factor of social breakdown in the suburbs, the media are suddenly devoting attention to a phenomenon which many people have known existed for years: Muslim immigrants going home for a holiday and returning with an additional wife.

Censoring a question mark

Florida news:
DELAND -- A question mark imposed over a photo of a gay-pride flag prompted Stetson University officials to halt distribution of a student-run magazine.

The students who launched Common Sense, a politically conservative publication, say they're being labeled intolerant when it's the university that's gagging free speech.
The purpose of the flag is presumably to promote an ideology or cause that not everyone accepts. It is appropriate for people at universities to question any ideology. The university is in the wrong here.

373 painkillers per year

British medical news:
One in 20 adults takes at least six painkillers every time they are feeling ill, according to a new survey.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said patients were "misusing" pills and urged doctors and pharmacists to be on the look-out for patients who take too many.

Pharmacologists warned that people would become addicted if they took such levels of paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin. Britons are taking an average of 373 painkillers every year, the study revealed. The figure alarmed doctors, who said it was "staggering".
Wow. That is a lot more than I expected. My consumption is about 371 pain pills below the British average, so there must a lot of people who are far above the average.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hollywood says that oxygen dropped

I just tuned into a TBS TV show called Earth To America! It featured Bill Maher saying this:
I've read that the Earth used to have 19% oxygen in its atmosphere, and now it has 9%. Now, I know that is not a fact that you will find in the Bible. And I know that it is not something that we should really care about like activist judges or boys kissing, but maybe it matters a little! (applause)
There were also a bunch of other Hollywood celebrities pretending to be idiots.

If the oxygen level really dropped that much, we'd all be very sick very fast.

Update: Michael Medved made fun of Maher on his radio program the next day. He also pointed out some howlers from R.F. Kennedy Jr. and others.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Congress supports parental rights

The US House voted 320-91:
RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit deplorably infringed on parental rights in Fields v. Palmdale School District.

Whereas the Palmdale School District sent parents of elementary school students at Mesquite Elementary School in Palmdale, California a letter requesting consent to give a psychological assessment questionnaire to their first, third, and fifth grade students;

Whereas without the informed consent of their parents, the young students were instead administered a questionnaire that contained sexually explicit and developmentally inappropriate questions;

Whereas seven parents subsequently filed a complaint against the Palmdale School District in a Federal district court;

Whereas on November 2, 2005, a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the Central District of California in the case (Fields v. Palmdale School District) and held that parents "have no constitutional right ... to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so";

Whereas the Ninth Circuit stated, "once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished";

Whereas in Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 401 (1923), the Supreme Court recognized that the liberty guaranteed by the 14th amendment to the Constitution encompasses "the power of parents to control the education of their [children]";

Whereas the Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35 (1925), highlighted the Meyer doctrine that parents and guardians have the liberty "to direct the upbringing and education of children under control" and emphasized that "[t]he child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations";

Whereas in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232?33 (1972), the Supreme Court acknowledged that "[t]he history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition. ... The duty to prepare the child for 'additional obligations', referred to by the Court [in Pierce] must be read to include the inculcation of moral standards, religious beliefs, and elements of good citizenship";

Whereas a plurality of the Supreme Court has stated, "it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children" (Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 66 (2000) (plurality opinion));

Whereas the Ninth Circuit's decision in Fields v. Palmdale School District presupposes that "parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend" when, in fact, many parents do not have such a choice; Whereas the decision in Fields establishes a dangerous precedent for limiting parental involvement in the public education of their children; and

Whereas the rights of parents ought to be strengthened whenever possible as they are the cornerstone of American society:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that
(1) the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children is firmly grounded in the Nation's Constitution and traditions;
(2) the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Fields v. Palmdale School District undermines the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children; and (3) the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit should agree to rehear the case en banc in order to reverse this constitutionally infirm
[+/-] show/hide extra text
More info here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Another meaningless spanking study

Duke researchers have published yet another study linking spanking to aggression in children. Some people will conclude that spanking is bad if it causes aggression, but that is not the case. A certain amount of aggression is normal and healthy in kids. None of these studies attempt to determine whether the increased aggression is harmful or unhealthy.

They also don't determine cause and effect. Apparently the spanking is not linked to any bad behavior in cultures where spanking is an accepted child-rearing tool. A Duke researcher theorizes:
"If children see that their friends are also being spanked it becomes a less aberrant experience," Lansford tells WebMD. "But when this isn't happening to their friends they may think that they deserve it more because they are a really bad kid or they may have a more negative view of the parent."
Or it may just be that families that deviate from cultural norms in one way are more likely to deviate in other ways. It doesn't necessarily mean that the spanking has any bad effects.

Prison for wild teen parties

Colorado news:
GOLDEN - An Arvada mother tearfully apologized Monday and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for hosting sex-and-alcohol parties for teenagers.

Silvia Johnson, 41, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of sexual assault, and nine counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Prosecutors said between 2003 and 2004, Johnson held 15 to 20 parties at her home and gave teens alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamines. She also confessed to having sex with two of the teenage boys.

Johnson also said in that interview that she resented what she described as a double standard for men and women. "I think what I always had a hard time with is guys who do it are considered studs," she said. "A girl does it, she's considered a slut."
She got a harsh sentence, but she is not going to prison for being a slut. If a man held weekly orgies with teenaged girls and gave them alcohol and illegal drugs, then he would also get put away.

The conviction also included some other charges.

Fat waist linked to heart attacks

Medical news:
A body mass index greater than 28.2 in women or 28.6 in men did indicate an increased risk of heart attack, but the relationship disappeared after adjusting for age, sex, geographic region and tobacco use.

Waist-to-hip ratio, on the other hand, showed a continuous relationship to heart attack risk even after adjusting for other risk factors. Those in the highest fifth were 2.52 times as likely to have a heart attack as those in the lowest
This is more evidence that BMI is worthless. People with a BMI of 26 live the longest, even tho that is considered overweight.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Only have an infinite number

Criminal profiler and MS NBC analyst Clint Van Zandt just said this on TV:
We only have an infinite number of state troopers, but we have millions of Americans on the road who take a step forward, who say I will look and I will save somebody's life if I have to.
He meant to say that we have more civilians than state troopers.

Five questions for Mohammedans

Dennis Prager asks:
There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam?
(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?
(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?
(4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?
When he gets the answers, he'll decide that it is not just another religion. And certainly not a religion of peace.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

U.S. Scientist Quits Stem-Cell Alliance

WSJ reports:
A prominent U.S. scientist is withdrawing from an international collaboration to create human embryonic stem cells.

Gerald Schatten, a cell biologist at the University of Pittsburgh, said he was severing all collaborations with the laboratory of Dr. Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul University. ...

A 2004 news report in the journal Nature said at least one female laboratory worker had provided eggs for the project, an allegation that Dr. Hwang has denied on several occasions. Under U.S. rules, collecting eggs from women working on a cloning project would be considered unethical. In the original paper, published by the journal Science last year, the scientists said the eggs all came from anonymous donors.
I am not sure why that is such a big issue, but I'm glad that the scientists have some ethical constraints.

Update: Mike writes:
Just read today's NYT article on the subject and have to admit I don't get it either. It's considered unethical to pay a woman for eggs, but paying sperm donors is perfectly acceptable. Hmmm.
I think that the idea is that American scientists and medicos want to push policies that devalue human life, disempower individuals, and let licensed professionals play God. I've enabled comments, in case anyone has another theory.

Guide to Hiring Women

1943 Guide to Hiring Women:
9. Be tactful in issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can't shrug off harsh words the way that men do. Never ridicule a woman ? it breaks her spirit and cuts her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl's husband or father may swear vociferously, she'll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.
Snopes then goes on to say that the guide is legitimate, and:
The text quoted above is one such example. Although we know full well in the 1940s women in the workplace were often patronized, insulted, harassed, and treated as second-class employees in ways almost no one would find acceptable today, we have a hard time believing that even if we once held the attitudes that promoted this type of work environment, no one (even way back in 1943) could have been so crass to state them as baldly and condescendingly as in the article cited here.
I find the Snopes comment much stranger than the guide. Employers today are told much wackier things in order to avoid discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits. Such advice frequently (and condescendingly) assume that women cannot handle situations that would be trivial for a man.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Affairs between pupils and teachers

British news:
Britain should drop its moral outrage over sexual relationships between pupils and teachers and accept that an "erotic charge" in the classroom can be an aid to teaching, a Sheffield University academic says.

Pat Sikes, an education lecturer, has written a paper in defence of pupil-teacher affairs, arguing that it is wrong always to cast students as victims when they are often the instigators of genuine relationships and suggesting that about 1,500 pupil-teacher affairs develop every year, the Times Educational Supplement reports today. ...

Dr Sikes argues that the change in the law in 2003 which criminalises sexual relationships between pupils and teachers if the pupil is under the age of 18, inevitably labels students as victims, when they can frequently be the instigators of genuine relationships.
I do not think that the USA has such a law, but such relationships might be illegal under ordinary statutory rape laws.

Brits believe in ghosts

CNN news:
LONDON, England (AP) -- More Britons believe in ghosts than in God, according to an informal survey published Monday.

Of 2,012 people who completed a questionnaire, 68 percent said they believed in the existence of ghosts and spirits, while 55 percent said they believed in the existence of a god. ...

Some 26 percent said they believed in the existence of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, while 19 percent believed in reincarnation. Just 4 percent admitted believing that the Loch Ness Monster was more than a myth.

Of those who believed in ghosts, 12 percent said they had actually seen an apparition and 76 percent said that TV reality shows about the supernatural and films like the spooky "Blair Witch Project" had played a part in convincing them that ghouls exist.
The movie Ghostbusters convinced me.

Lesbian couples don't have sex

Lesbian survey info:
Some of the most startling information about lesbian sexuality has come from a study by sociologists Philip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz, published as American Couples' These researchers used a large and well-chosen sample and compared heterosexual married, heterosexual unmarried, gay male, and lesbian couples along a number of dimensions including sexuality. They found, for example, that lesbian couples have sex far less frequently than any other type of couple. Gay men have somewhat less sex in their primary relationships than do either type of heterosexual couple; on the other hand, gay males have the highest rates of extramarital sex. This means that lesbians in couple relationships are less sexual as couples and as individuals than anyone else. Only about one-third of lesbians in relationships of two years or longer had sex once a week or more; 47 percent of lesbians in long-term relationships had sex once a month or less. This is in striking contrast, for example, to heterosexual married couples: Two-thirds of these couples had sex once a week or more, and only 15 percent of long-term married couples had sex once a month or less.

Blumstein and Schwartz also report that the lesbians they interviewed preferred nongenital physical contact such as hugging and cuddling to genital sex. However, one-half of lesbians in couples with a low frequency of genital sexual contact said they are dissatisfied with their sexuality. (My guess is that this is the half of the couple that wants sex more than once a month.)
Think about that next time you hear an argument that homosexual couples are just like straight ones.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mary Mapes

I just heard Mary Mapes on MSNBC Hardball plugging her new book, and she said:
If I had any myopia, it was because I didn't realize what a toxic political atmosphere we were in, and I didn't realize that there would be this this incredible swarming blog attack on CBS News, and I didn't know that they would cave into it.
Toxic?! She was the one who broadcast a silly attack on George W. Bush based on forged documents just before the election.

University of California corruption

John sends this SF story about more financial scandals involving Univ. California Provost and former UC Santa Cruz chancellor MRC Greenwood. Greenwood got payoffs for herself, her son, and her female "friend". It is not clear whether the friend is a lesbian lover or not.

Here is an earlier story about university payouts to a lesbian partner.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

SF gun ban probably illegal

Election news AP story:
[San Francisco] Mayor Gavin Newsom has acknowledged the measure likely wouldn't withstand legal scrutiny, but said it had symbolic value.
He was talking about a gun ban. Last year he was talking about same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Baby killers get off easy

CNN story from 2002:
Postpartum depression is recognized as a legal defense in at least 29 countries, including Great Britain, Canada, Italy and Australia, Oberman said. Those countries have infanticide laws, which state that when a woman kills a child under the age of 1 and she can prove that the "balance of her mind is disturbed" by reasons relating to giving birth, the maximum charge the woman can face is manslaughter.

"The practical result of these statutes is that these women receive probation instead of jail time and they receive sentences that require probation plus counseling," Oberman said. In those cases, she added, the women do not have to prove the much higher standard of insanity.

The laws vary between countries, with some covering a woman who killed any of her children, while other nations' laws only cover the killing of a newborn, Oberman said.
Strange. Andrea Yates drowned her kids, and just got a new trial.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Men laugh at the 3 Stooges

CNN Science/Health news:
Who is more likely to enjoy a good joke?

Study explains why Three Stooges appeals to men

The difference between the sexes has long been a rich source of humor. Now it turns out, humor is one of the differences. ...

Reiss' team studied the response of 10 women and 10 men to 70 black-and-while cartoons, asking them to rate the jokes for how funny they were. While the volunteers were looking at the cartoons their brains were being studied with an MRI to determine what parts of the brains were responding. ...

Arnie Cann, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, commented: "Given the findings in the current study, that women appear to use more executive functions, it could be that they are more engaged in scrutinizing the humor to decide if it fits their views on what is acceptable humor. Once they decide the humor is OK, they could be experiencing a relief-like response."
Once they decide that the humor is OK?! All humor is OK with me.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Just Whom Is This Divorce Good For?

Wash Post:
Many people incorrectly assume that most marriages end only when parents are at each other's throats. But the reasons can often be far less urgent, like boredom or the midlife blahs. Research shows that two-thirds of divorces now end low-conflict marriages, where there is no abuse, violence or serious fighting. After those marriages end, the children suddenly struggle with a range of symptoms -- anxiety, depression, problems in school -- that they did not previously have. The waxing and waning cycles of adult unhappiness that characterize many marriages are often not all that obvious to children. For the children of low-conflict marriages, divorce is a massive blow that comes out of nowhere.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lesbian wins against natural father

Seattle news:
The Washington Supreme Court established what amounts to a new category of parents ? one that's the legal equivalent of moms and dads ? when it ruled Thursday that a lesbian who was neither the biological nor adoptive parent of a girl she helped raise has co-parenting rights to the child.
The biological parents are married to each other, and wanted to be the legal parents, but lost the case to a lesbian with no relationship to the child.

Smart women don't marry

Wired says:
The Sex Drive forum has been discussing Maureen Dowd's thought-provoking piece in The New York Times, "What's a Modern Girl to Do?" adapted from her upcoming book Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide.

The gist is that young women, disillusioned with feminism, are choosing to become sex objects in order to catch husbands who can support them while they stay home to raise children. And that women who succeed in their careers, who support themselves financially and perhaps even outrank the men they'd like to date, are desperately seeking ways to appear less independent and more, well, dumb, to appeal to men.
Dowd cannot find a husband for herself, but being too intelligent is not the problem.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Editor is husband beater

John sends this story:
The editor of Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper, The Sun, was arrested overnight for allegedly assaulting her husband, a star of one of the country's most popular TV soaps, police sources say.

Rebekah Wade, 37, who was appointed Sun editor in 2003, was suspected of attacking her husband Ross Kemp, 41, star of popular BBC TV soap opera EastEnders.

A police spokeswoman said officers had been called to an address in south London following reports of an incident.

"A woman was arrested for alleged assault on a man and is now in custody in a south London police station," the spokeswoman said.

Wade, who used The Sun to launch a high profile campaign against domestic violence, was previously editor of its Sunday sister paper, the News of the World, where she had been the youngest editor of a major national newspaper.
I believe people are innocent until proven guilty, so let's assume that she is innocent. A lot of innocent people are arrested for domestic violence. It is still interesting that a prominent news editor who crusades against domestic violence can get arrested for it.

Characterised by promiscuity

This 2003 NZ essay says:
British anthropologist John D. Unwin studied 80 civilisations that have come and gone over a period of several thousand years. He found a common thread ran through all of them. In each instance, as the family deteriorated, the civilisation itself started to come apart. In all 80 cases the fall of the nation was related to the fall of the family. In most cases, the civilisations he studied fell within one generation of the fall of the family unit. ...

Even advocates of same-sex marriage concede their marriages would have to be different. They want to redefine marriage so that multiple relationships are normal. This is because homosexuality is characterised by promiscuity. Most "committed" homosexual relationships include casual sex partners. In one of the largest US studies of gay lifestyles:2
  • 28 percent of white male homosexuals estimated they'd had sex with more than 1,000 partners
  • 43 percent estimated they'd had sex with 500 or more different partners
  • 75 percent had had 100 or more sexual partners

    Homosexuals themselves say "marriage" for them has to be "open".
  • The essay just generated this reply:
    Study co-author Dr Martin Weinberg says his study has been misused.

    "There is nothing in our book that is relevant to opposition to a civil union measure," he told the website Happy Clapping Homos.
    Yeah, right. Let them get married. Just don't expect them to act like married people, or you are a bigot.

    Whistleblower to get fired

    SF news:
    San Francisco's Department of Human Services wants to fire a child welfare supervisor accused of downloading and passing around gay S&M porn pix -- hot shots that starred a psychiatrist from the city's foster care program.

    Higher-ups in the welfare division are also facing possible discipline for moving too slowly to stop the photo pass-around, and for failing to report the supervisor's actions to the proper authorities. ...

    As far as the department is concerned, however, the doctor didn't do anything that violated the city's work rules by appearing on an S&M Web site. He's not facing any disciplinary action.
    The amazing part is that it is just fine for a city child psychiatrist to appear on a hard-core kinky porn site. Remember that if you ever have a social worker suggest that you take your kid to some highly-recommended govt child shrink.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Judges reject parental rights

    The NEA (public school teachers union) brags:
    Federal courts rule that parents have no constitutional right to 'dictate individually what the schools teach their children.'

    Claiming a violation of their "parental rights," some parents have recently hauled public school officials into court and asked federal judges to overturn educational decisions they don't like. Their lawyers argue that parents have a constitutional right "to direct the upbringing and education" of their children, including the right to override the decisions of democratically elected school board members.

    To date, they've not enjoyed much success.
    John writes:
    The 9th Circuit issued a bad parental rights decision today. Opinion by Reinhardt for a unanimous 3-judge panel. Holds that parents have no constitutional right to opt their children out of sex education or psychological surveys (nosy questionnaires).
    The decision affirmed a federal district judge whose decision was praised in the above 2003 NEA newsletter.

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Felony domestic violence in Ohio

    I didn't know that domestic violence is often punished more severely than stranger crimes. If a spouse attacks you, then it is a felony, but if a stranger does the exact same thing, it is just a misdemeanor.

    These laws vary from state to state. Check out this little controversy in Ohio:
    The domestic violence statute covers assaults against "a person living as a spouse," and thus recognizes a relation of unmarried couples which approximates marriage.
    There is more discussion here.

    So now Ohio same-sex marriage advocates are arguing that since gay couples are not allowed to have relationships that approximate marriage, then they can beat each other up and the penalty will just be a misdemeanor. If only they could marry each other, then they could convict each other of felonies!

    This is really wacky. The problem here is not same-sex marriage, but the radical domestic violence lobby that has over-criminalized minor marital spats. The law should protect us from stranger attacks, not from whom we decide to marry.

    If women ran the world

    There are some funny pictures here.

    New cheap immigrants

    Joe Guzzardi writes:
    Specter, along with Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, devised a plan to sell hundreds of thousands of American professional jobs over the next several years to foreign workers by increasing the numbers of H-1B visas issued and raising the fees charged for them.

    The final proposed Specter-Kennedy scheme would recapture unused H-1B visas from previous years and reissue up to 30,000 new visas annually with an added $500 fee tacked on. ...

    "Microsoft is once again running the show up there. The whole plan came from a Microsoft lobbyist whose colleagues are overpowering all the House and Senate leaders this week demanding that the tripling (maybe quadrupling) of employment-based green cards and H-1Bs goes through!"

    "This is a travesty for American students studying to enter scientific, engineering and high-tech fields, as well as to those Americans who have worked hard to become masters of their craft."
    These new H-1B visas will cost a lot of American jobs. The visa fees do not pay for the damage.

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    More Bad News for Obsessive Parents

    An economics blog says:
    In the chapter of Freakonomics called ?What Makes a Perfect Parent??, we analyze the data from the U.S. Dept. of Education?s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, and argue that many things that modern parents do to make their kids ?smarter? (i.e. culture cramming), doesn?t have any effect on early childhood test scores. Apparently we?re not the only ones who think this is so.
    He's right. Parents commonly do a lot of things that are not educationally helpful.

    Assaults by women

    Martin S. Fiebert published this:
    This bibliography examines 174 scholarly investigations: 138 empirical studies and 36 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 163,800.
    A lot of people just don't believe it.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    Educated women having problems

    Science news:
    Women who are educated, married or heavy are more likely to have low sex drives, according to a landmark Canadian study that explored links between sexual problems and social and personal factors.

    The research, which is published in the current edition of The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, found that 55 per cent of respondents had one or more of three concerns about sexual function: low desire, pain during sex and infrequent orgasm during intercourse.

    Contrary to the researchers' expectations, university-educated women are more apt to have low sex drives -- 48 per cent compared to 31 per cent among high-school graduates. They are also less likely to have orgasms during intercourse.
    The study doesn't say anything about cause and effect.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Shooting with a donut

    Scott Adams explains:
    The problem is that there?s an unwritten rule in newspaper comics that you can?t show a gun being fired.
    Both versions of the comic are shown.

    French lesbians inundating clinics

    Belgian news:
    BRUSSELS ? A Brussels fertility clinic claims it is being swamped by demand from French lesbian couples seeking fertility treatment.

    "Last year, of the inseminations using a donor's sperm, 72 percent of patients came from France, with a majority of them being homosexual," the Erasmus fertility clinic's head Anne Delbaere told La Libre Belgique.

    She said the clinic had never turned down requests for insemination from lesbian couples, or single women, since it opened 15 years ago.

    But she said it would have to start limiting consultation appointments to French couples.

    "We haven't got enough sperm samples in stock to meet all the demand, ..."
    There are children from such operations who complain that they have been cheated out of a father.

    Dear Abby, pro-lesbian

    I guess Dear Abby is a lesbian Christian-hater. From today's column:
    DEAR ABBY: I am a 35-year-old lesbian. I have a wonderful partner and we have an amazing 10-year-old son. My problem is, we seem to offend people when we refer to ourselves as a "family." ... We are a family. Our son calls us both "Mom." ...

    DEAR TRYING NOT TO OFFEND: Forgive me if this seems negative, but some people are so rooted in their fundamentalist ideology that they cannot and will not change. ...
    It appears that Dear Abby is a bigoted against fundamentalist Christians. There were no fundamentalist Christians or fundamentalist ideologies mentioned in the letter. It was merely a dispute over the definition of the word "family". Apparently some people do not consider a boy with 2 "moms" a family.

    Here is a typical definition:
    family noun (pl. families) 1 a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit. 2 a group of people related by blood or marriage.
    Chances are that the lesbians have taken court action to prevent the boy from seeing his real father.

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Undermining marriage

    Maggie Gallagher was defending traditional marriage on a blog. I think that she is correct that traditional marriage is deteriorating, and that support for same-sex marriage is a factor, but there are several bigger factors. Here are a few.

    Feminism. American women are treated better than any class of people in the history of civilization. Feminists somehow think that women are being mistreated, and they are not happy in a traditional marriage.

    Decoupling of marriage from custody and support. Marriage once meant an agreement to jointly share the rights and responsibilities for any children that result. Now family courts usually completely ignore whether there was a marriage or not when they consider child custody and support.

    Monetization of fatherhood. Father's rights have been attacked to the point where fathers are valued only for what they pay in child support. Mothers have a big incentive to get a divorce, take the kids, and collect child support.

    Undermining parental rights. Various liberal ideas, such as "it takes a village to raise a child" and "the best interest of the child" have been used to undermine parental rights, and give teachers, physicians, judges, and others authority over children. Part of the purpose of marriage is to take responsibility for children, and when some of that responsibility is removed, marriage has less purpose.

    No-fault divorce. Anyone can walk now out of any marriage for any reason, and it is usually the women who walk. Divorce court litigation is nastier than ever, for other reasons, but marriage has been effectively redefined to mean that spouses have very few marital obligations to each other.

    Domestic violence enforcement. Domestic squabbles can now result in arrest and prosecution, even if no victim wants to press charges. Laws like VAWA work to bust up marriages by promoting discontent. There used to be a marital privilege protecting spouses from testifying against each other, but it is now ignored.

    Public approval for adultery and other sexual arrangements.

    Same-sex marriage. The homosexual lobby tries to gain social acceptable by redefining marriage. The new definition is a departure from traditional purposes of protecting children.

    Sperm donation and other reproductive technologies. It is now legal for a woman to have a child with no legal father.

    Abortionists against telling parents

    I am still looking for a decent argument against Calif Prop 73, which requires that underage girls seeking an abortion notify a parent or a judge. Scott Herhold writes:
    ``This measure will endanger doctors like our daughter,'' she said, explaining that a doctor would have to report any abortions to the Department of Health Services. ``I fear all these doctors would have their medical records subpoenaed.'' ...

    In case you're still wondering, Proposition 73 is a bad law. It would impose cumbersome reporting requirements on doctors. It sets up a complicated court process for pregnant teens to bypass consent.

    Worst of all, it betrays a class bias. It assumes every family can sit down and calmly make a decision about what to do when a teen becomes pregnant.
    I guess abortionists are not used to having any accountability for what they do, so that explains why they might be against Prop 73. But what is the "class bias"? Is there one class of girls that needs parental advice, and one that does not? I think that Herhold and the other pro-abortion radicals are the ones with the class bias.

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    Brazil votes for guns

    The Brazilian govt heavily promoted a gun ban, but the voters just rejected it overwhelmingly.

    It is funny to see gun-grabbers complain that someone might have translated some NRA propaganda into portuguese. They sound like elitists who think that ordinary Brazilians don't understand the need for self-defense.

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    Kids on sleeping pills

    Sleeping-pill use among kids and teenagers nearly doubled between 2000 and 2004. Fifteen percent of these users are also taking pills for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Theories: 1) Kids need sleeping pills because their ADHD keeps them awake. 2) They need sleeping pills because their ADHD pills keep them awake.
    I really doubt that so many kids need to be on pills.

    Officials Remove Newborn

    Penn. news:
    At issue, officials say, is not so much Ms. WolfHawk's fitness as a mother as her choice of mates. The newborn's father, her husband, served a decade in prison as a sex offender in New York 22 years ago, convicted in the rape and sodomy of two teenage girls. The boy is the third child Ms. WolfHawk has lost for just that reason.
    There is a lot of hysteria about sex offenders. The man served his time a long time ago. His punishment should be limited by his sentence.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Legislation to double H-1B visas

    Draft legislation before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee would allow IT vendors and other companies to nearly double the number of foreign workers they bring to the U.S. by "recapturing" unused worker visas from past years.

    The draft legislation would increase the number of skilled foreign workers U.S. companies can bring to the U.S. under the controversial H-1B visa program. By recapturing unused H-1B visas from years going back to the early '90s, U.S. companies could bring in up to 60,000 more foreign workers this fiscal year.
    We already have a surplus of IT workers. This will just increase unemployment among Americans.

    Dying from too much water

    Gina Kolata writes in the NY Times:
    Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, the medical director for the New York City Marathon and marathons in San Diego, Phoenix, Nashville and Virginia Beach, said he was taking every opportunity this year to educate runners about the biggest threat to their lives on race day - drinking too much water.

    ... in their zeal to avoid becoming dehydrated, runners may end up drinking so much that they dilute their blood. Water rushes into cells, including cells of the brain. The swollen brain cells press against the skull, and the result can be fatal. The resulting condition is known as hyponatremia - too much water.

    "There are no reported cases of dehydration causing death in the history of world running," Maharam said. "But there are plenty of cases of people dying of hyponatremia."
    The article doesn't say, but hyponatremia is really too little salt (sodium) in the blood. So health experts have been giving us two pieces of bad advice: that increased water intake is always good, and that decreasing salt intake is always good. Table salt has no known adverse health effects in people with normal blood pressure.

    Breaking the Science

    Free Republic trashes a PBS documentary:
    The Program's Claims The hour-long program makes some astonishing claims. George Washington University Law Professor Joan Meier says that in "75% of cases in which fathers contest custody, fathers have a history of being batterers". In her worldview, if a father seeks a relationship with his children in family court, that in itself is tantamount to proof that he's a batterer.

    This is the end of the creditability of this study., For folks who have been paying attention, this is part of a long-runniung strategy by radical social engineers to "destroy the patriarchy" by weaking the traditional family using actions that disenfranchise men from families, increase divorce, promote gay marriage, etc.
    I just watched the show, and was possibly the worst that I have ever seen. Here is more proof of how biased PBS is.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    A Quiet Revolt Against the Rules on SIDS

    Not all parents are accepting the new SIDS guidelines. Putting a baby to sleep on her back might slightly reduce the risk of SIDS, but it increases the risk of poor sleep, misshapen heads, and delayed development.

    Technological singularity

    From Wikipedia
    In future studies, a technological singularity (also referred to as just the Singularity) is a predicted future event when technological progress and societal change accelerate due to the advent of superhuman intelligence, changing our environment beyond the ability of pre-Singularity humans to comprehend or reliably predict. This event is named by analogy with the breakdown of modern physics knowledge near the gravitational singularity of a black hole.
    Ray Kurzweil has a new book on this subject, but the ideas go back 50 years.

    Dalai Lama censored

    NY Times news:
    The Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibet who is revered as a spiritual teacher, is at the center of a scientific controversy.

    He has been an enthusiastic collaborator in research on whether the intense meditation practiced by Buddhist monks can train the brain to generate compassion and positive thoughts. Next month in Washington, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to speak about the research at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

    But 544 brain researchers have signed a petition urging the society to cancel the lecture, because, according to the petition, "it will highlight a subject with largely unsubstantiated claims and compromised scientific rigor and objectivity."
    Scientists seem very narrow-minded when they try to stop someone from speaking. Sure, the Dalai Lama is not a scientist, but he is reporting on legitimate research. And this is neuro-science, a field that is overrun with quacks as it is. Here is an article about using brain scand to try to diagnose psychological disorders.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    Schools favor girls

    David Brooks writes:
    This year, 133 women will graduate from college for every 100 men. By decade's end, the Department of Education projects 142 female graduates for every 100 male graduates. Among African-Americans, there are 200 female grads for every 100 male grads. ...

    One thing is for sure: In 30 years, the notion that we live in an oppressive patriarchy that discriminates against women will be regarded as a quaint anachronism.

    There are debates about why women have thrived and men have faltered. Some say men are imprisoned by their anti-intellectual machismo. Others say the educational system has been overly feminized. Boys are asked to sit quietly for hours at a stretch under conditions where they find it harder to thrive. ...

    In other words, if we want to help boys keep up with girls, we have to have an honest discussion about innate differences between the sexes. We have to figure out why poor girls who move to middle-class schools do better, but poor boys who make the same move often do worse. We have to absorb the obvious lesson of every airport bookstore, which is that men and women like to read totally different sorts of books, and see if we can apply this fact when designing curriculums. If boys like to read about war and combat, why can't there be books about combat on the curriculum?

    Would elementary school boys do better if they spent more time outside the classroom and less time chained to a desk? Or would they thrive more in a rigorous, competitive environment?

    For 30 years, attention has focused on feminine equality. During that time, honest discussion of innate differences has been stifled (ask Larry Summers). It's time to look at the other half.
    You can sometimes find these NY Times opinion column here.

    The notion that we live in an oppressive patriarchy that discriminates against women is already a quaint anachronism. Nearly all the sex discrimination is in favor of women, and it has been that way for a long time.

    Race v sex preference

    I found this in a same-sex discussion on a blog:
    Okay, no one has stepped up (that i've noticed) to address the whole analogy of the current gay marriage movement to the civil rights movement and the bans on interracial movement.

    The analogy doesn't work for one simple reason. Race is purely a social construct. Sexual preference (according to the establishment view) is innate to an individual, and consequently not socially constructed (granted it may be socially influenced, but that is society's imposition of its norms, not the realization of the individual's unimpeded desires). Therefore, the two situations are quite distinct. The laws on interracial marriage sought to establish bans that artificially limited marriage based upon a social construction. Not allowing gay marriage, explicitly or implicitly (depending on the laws), bans certain behaviors based upon a real inherent difference.
    This is amazingly stupid. Race is innate, and not a social construct. Sexual preference is probably not innate. There is certainly no genetic or other objective test for identifying sexual preference. Some states once had marriage laws that discriminated based on race, but no state marriage laws discriminate based on sexual preference. (The restriction is that the couple have opposite sexes, but says nothing about their sexual preferences.)

    Energy is conserved

    A review of Dr. Atomic:
    It sounded so good that at first I didn't even mind that the show opened with a colossal mistake. The chorus sings, "Energy can be neither created nor destroyed but only altered in form," the old law of the conservation of energy. Einstein's discovery that this statement is wrong, and that matter and energy can be transformed into each other, is what made the bomb possible.

    The composers have said they will fix those lines.
    I hope they don't "fix" it. The song is fine. Einstein said that matter is just a form of potential energy, so when energy is transformed into matter, it is just being altered in form, as the song says.

    The review goes on:
    It is nothing new to compare Oppenheimer to Faust. He was also the Christ figure of American physics, who was betrayed by Teller and lost his security clearance amid accusations of disloyalty.
    Huhh? Oppenheimer lost his security clearance because he got lying about his various Communist connections. Teller played a minor role. It was remarkable that a pro-Soviet Communist held a high security clearance for as long as he did.

    Expel illegal aliens at the border

    AFP news:
    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department aims without exception to expel all those who enter the United States illegally.

    "Our goal at DHS (Homeland Security) is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions.

    "It should be possible to achieve significant and measurable progress to this end in less than a year," Chertoff told a Senate hearing.
    This should not be such a radical idea.

    Saturday, October 15, 2005

    Porn filtering

    Lauren Weinstein complains about the new .xxx domain. His big fear is that govt agencies will induce a lot of the raunchy porn sites into moving to the .xxx domain, and then users will be able to more easily filter them out. Maybe even some school computers will be configured to block the .xxx sites.

    What am I missing? Filtering is essential to use of the internet. I use spam blockers, firewalls, porn filters, and other filters. Most people do. Anything that makes filtering easier is a good thing, not a bad thing, because it gives users finer control over his experiences.

    The filtering does affect my blogging a little bit. If I use a lot of vulgar or pornographic language, then the search engines will rate my blog as offensive, and it won't show up on some searches. To some bloggers, this might seem like censorship. But it seems fair to me to let users block sites that they consider offensive. If I want the widest audience for my blog, then I need to skip the offensive language.

    Using Caller ID

    I agree with this privacy advocate who admits that the campaign against telephone Caller ID was misguided.

    My telephone number is listed, and my outgoing calls are unblocked so that they identify me and my phone number. I nearly always want to identify myself when I call someone. If for some reason I want to be anonymous, I can just dial *67 before the number.

    I also block all calls from phone that do not provide Caller ID. I just have no reason to be taking anonymous calls. If someone has a blocked phone, then he can just dial *82 before the number to release the Caller ID info.

    Another critic says:
    I believe that automatic rejection of incoming ID-blocked calls is irresponsible to one's family and self. We can't possibly anticipate when a loved one will be in distress, calling us from a stranger's telephone. Automatic blocking disallows such a call from reaching us.
    That is just not true. Use *82. Caller ID has been commonplace for about 15 years now, and there is no mystery to it.

    Caller ID and voice mail also make the Call Waiting service worthwhile. I used to think that Call Waiting was very rude because it meant constanting interrupting a conversation for random and unknown callers. But with Caller ID on Call Waiting calls, I only interrupt if the call is important. Otherwise, I let the voice mail take it. That way, no one gets a busy signal, I get all my messages, and the important calls come straight in.

    If you want to block Call Waiting for a call, such as for an outgoing fax, then just dial *70 before the number.

    I hardly ever get telemarketer calls because the telemarketers don't like to identify themselves. They typically use some very deceptive practices, and they prefer to give their pitch to people without use of Caller ID.

    Eliminating telemarketer calls is great, but the biggest advantage to requiring Caller ID is just to positively identify the calls that I want to take. If I get a call from a business, then I want some assurances that it is really is the business that it claims to be. I do sometimes get calls that claim to be from my bank or some other business that might have a legitimate need to talk to me, and the Caller ID does not match. I don't know if the caller is part of a scam or what, but the Caller ID allows me to efficiently terminate the call. Caller ID is also useful when friends call, as I can assess the usefulness of the call. I know people who use answering machines as calling screening devices, but Caller ID is much more polite, efficient, and useful. For me, anyway.