Friday, February 29, 2008

Leak site back online

Wired reports:
SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge on Friday allowed whistle-blower site WikiLeaks to resume operation in the United States, a week after ordering its U.S. hosting company and domain registrar to shut down and lock the renegade's site from the internet.

The judge conceded the futility of attempts to censor information, in this instance private banking records, after it has been posted to the internet. ...

The judge held a hearing here Friday to reconsider his initial decision because federal law required it, and because he was having second thoughts. "There are serious questions of prior restraint, possible violations of the First Amendment," he said from the bench. (Hours later, he issued this ruling.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New bogus claim of spanking harm

USA Today reports:
Children whose parents spank them or otherwise inflict physical punishment may be more likely to have sexual problems later, according to research to be presented Thursday to the American Psychological Association.

The analysis of four studies by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire-Durham, suggests that children whose parents spanked, slapped, hit or threw objects at them may have a greater chance of physically or verbally coercing a sexual partner, engaging in risky sexual behavior or engaging in masochistic sex, including sexual arousal by spanking.

"It increases the chances of sexual problems," though "it's not a one-to-one causation," Straus says.
No, it is not. According to the article, 85% of USA kids have been spanked. In an unpublished survey on dating violence, 12.5% of students "likely to insist that their partner have unprotected sex" said that they have never been hit.

That 12.5% is not significantly different from the 15% of the general population who have not been spanked. This is bogus research from an 81-year-old sociology professor who has made a career out of ideological opposition to spanking. This latest research has not even been published. The new media should ignore it.

For some research that is favorable to spanking, see this.

USA Today quotes another anti-spanking zealot:
Elizabeth Gershoff, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, who reviewed 80 years of spanking research in 2002 in the APA's Psychological Bulletin, says Straus' work appears to be the first to link spanking with sexual problems.

Gershoff says that though many children have been spanked (85% in one 2007 survey), problems may depend on how they process the spanking.

"They may internalize that to mean that in loving relationships sometimes there's pain or physical aggression," she says. Another possible lesson is that "whoever is stronger and has more power can overpower the other person and use physical aggression to control the other person's behavior."
Yes, it is true that the strong can overpower the weak. That is a lesson that all kids need to learn.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Look at spending, not income

A NY Times op-ed says:
The top fifth of American households earned an average of $149,963 a year in 2006. As shown in the first accompanying chart, they spent $69,863 on food, clothing, shelter, utilities, transportation, health care and other categories of consumption. The rest of their income went largely to taxes and savings.

The bottom fifth earned just $9,974, but spent nearly twice that — an average of $18,153 a year. ...

So, bearing this in mind, if we compare the incomes of the top and bottom fifths, we see a ratio of 15 to 1. If we turn to consumption, the gap declines to around 4 to 1.

Why men do not teach

Here is why we have so few men teaching elementary school:
When Dan Brown began teaching fourth grade at Public School 85 in the Bronx as an NYC Teaching Fellow, he quickly realized he was one of the few male teachers at the school. ...

But his role came with an added responsibility not many female teachers face. "Only two kids out of the 26 had parents who were married," he said. "Most of these kids had no father figure at home. To come to school and have that male authority figure who was treating them respectfully made a huge difference." ...

According to statistics recently released by the National Education Association (NEA), men made up just 24.4 percent of the total number of teachers in 2006. In fact, the number of male public school teachers in the U.S. has hit a record 40-year low. ...

Many men once in the profession say they quit because of worries that innocuous contact with students could be misconstrued, reports the NEA. ...

"There's a lack of support for male teachers, a lack of respect, and a lack of being able to be involved in decision-making," said Reg Weaver, president of the NEA. "And I can't say it's getting better." ...

"People will ask you inappropriate questions," he said, recalling a recent e-mail he received from an aspiring male teacher who was asked during a job interview, "Why would any healthy male want to work with kids?"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Trivial action gets sex crime conviction

Portland Oregon news:
A Washington County jury found Rodriguez guilty in 2005 of first-degree sexual assault after police accused her of running her hands through a 13-year-old boy’s hair and pulling the back of his head against her covered chest in the middle of a crowded game room at the Boys and Girls Club in Hillsboro.

Under Measure 11, a 1994 voter-approved ballot initiative setting mandatory minimum sentences, Rodriguez faced six years and three months in prison.
This is more evidence overcriminalized sex offenses.

The college rape myth

Heather Mac Donald writes in an LA Times op-ed:
It is a central claim of these organizations that between a fifth and a quarter of all college women will be raped or will be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years. ...

If the one-in-four statistic is correct, campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. ...

Such a crime wave -- in which millions of young women would graduate having suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience -- would require nothing less than a state of emergency. ...

None of this crisis response occurs, of course -- because the crisis doesn't exist.
That's right, it is all a big hoax.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lesbian domestic violence

Glenn Sacks reports:
Dutton cited one study of 1,100 lesbian or bisexual women who are in abusive lesbian relationships. The study, which was conducted in Phoenix, found that the women were more likely to have experienced violence in their previous relationships with women than in their previous relationships with men.

Dutton explained that in general research shows that domestic violence is more common in lesbian relationships than in heterosexual relationships.
Some people just don't believe that women can be responsible for domestic violence, even tho all the studies say they are to blame as much as men.

Friday, February 22, 2008

California school expenses

The California schools are complaining loudly about school budget cuts. Here is a chart of the actual K-12 school expenses over the last 25 years.
chart of Calif K-12 expense data
I got the data from here. I combined Department of Education and "General Obligation Bonds - K-12". It does not include college expenses or Contributions to Teacher's Retirement Fund. It also does not include federal money, which has been increasing under No Child Left Behind.

As you can see, even with the cuts, K-12 spending is still much more than it was just three years ago.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stuff white people like

There is a blog called Stuff white people like that brilliantly lampoons white people. I recommend it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

California deficit

California politicians are complaining about a budget deficit, but here are the actual state government revenues in recent years.
chart of revenue data
My source is the California Legislative Analyst's Office. As you can see, revenues have increased from $72 billion to a projected $103 billion.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Obesity does not cause cancer

The Junk Food Science blog explains that current research shows that fat people don't get cancer any more than anyone else, contrary to what you might have read.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bernie Ward sex chat released

The police report on left-wing San Francisco talk show host Bernie Ward has been released. (See also the copy on TMG.) In Dec. 2007 it was announced:
The indictment, which was returned on Sept. 20, 2007, and unsealed today, alleges that between December 2004 and January 2005, Ward received images of child pornography on his computer. Ward is also charged with two counts of knowingly distributing images of child pornography that had been mailed, shipped, and transported in interstate commerce by means of a computer.

Ward faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release.
The pictures don't sound that bad, and prosecuting him for distributing child porn seems excessive. But the sex chat transcript makes him sound like a real pervert, and his story about having the child porn to research a book on hypocrisy is obviously a lie. Particularly disturbing are the references to his underage kids.

Ward is a failed Catholic priest, a Bush-hater, and a tool of the angry Left. He had his own "God Talk" radio show with his own peculiar theology. He would sanctimoniously attack the Catholic Church, conservatives, and Republicans at every opportunity. He would subscribe to every wacky leftist conspiracy theory, if it suited his ideology. I don't know if he was really writing a book on hypocrisy, but he was always accusing right-wingers of hypocrisy.

At least no one will have to listen to his stupid hypocrisy rants anymore.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Poll on singles not dating

A new Pew poll concludes:
Whatever the reasons, few of today's seeking singles describe themselves as active on the dating scene.
Here is a possible reason:
More than one in three single women confessed to having someone they can call for no-strings-attached sex.
This is a little-known secret of today's dating scene. Many women maintain these NSA relationships without even their closest friends knowing.

Fast food improves blood cholesterol

Here is some new diet research:
PARIS (AFP) - A month-long diet of fast food and no exercise led to dangerously high levels of enzymes linked to liver damage, in an unusual experiment inspired by the docu-movie "Supersize Me."

But investigators, reporting their findings on Thursday, were also stunned to find that a relentless regimen of burgers, fries and soda also boosted so-called good cholesterol, seen as a key measure of cardiovascular health.

Researchers in Sweden asked 12 men and six women in their twenties, all slim and in good health, to eat two meals per day at McDonalds, Burger King or other fast-food restaurants over four weeks.

The volunteers were also told to refrain from exercising. The goal was to increase body weight by 10 to 15 percent to measure the impact of an abrupt surge in calorie intake.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Roger Clemens testifies

The case against Roger Clemens seems very weak to me. The statistical evidence proves nothing.

A couple of congressmen seemed to think that it was incriminating that Clemens' buddy Andy Pettitte accused him of using HGH, and Clemens was unwilling to call him a liar. Clemens merely said that Pettitte was mistaken.

I disagree. Even if Pettitte was not mistaken, it is telling that his accusation was very weak. He had no knowledge of Clemens using steroids. If Clemens had confided with his buddy about HGH, wouldn't he also be likely to confide in steroid use?

Even if Clemens did use HGH briefly in 1999, I don't think it is any big deal. HGH doesn't even help a pitcher much, as far as I know. I don't see any smoking gun. Clemens should be innocent until proven guilty.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Winning the nomination without a plurality

Whoever wins the Democrat nomination, I just hope that the winning candidate gets a majority of the delegates, but fails to get a plurality of the popular vote. Then we'll have a bunch of Democrats arguing with Democrats about what a fair election is.

Since 2000, Democrats have complained about the USA President not being decided by a plurality of the popular vote. But the Democrats do not even use the popular vote to determine their own nominee.

Diet soda makes you fat

The LA Times reports:
Casting doubt on the benefit of low-calorie sweeteners, research released Sunday reported that rats on diets containing saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food.

The study in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience found that the calorie-free artificial sweetener appeared to break the physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories, driving the rats to overeat.

Lyn M. Steffen, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, who was not involved in the latest report, said the study offered a possible explanation for the unexpected association between obesity and diet soda found in recent human studies.
If confirmed, this would be another example of conventional diet wisdom being wrong.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Amsterdam’s War on Sex

Newsweek reports:
Amsterdam plans to close down its most famous district, citing sleaze, criminal activity and human trafficking. ... Amsterdam’s mayor, Job Cohen, and his aldermen have demonstrated little nostalgia for the district, which has been the world’s most famous home of sexual permissiveness since the 15th century. They first unveiled the plan to close it in December; last month they revoked the licenses of two widely known sex venues, the Casa Rosso and the Banana Bar.
You can still buy dope there, as far as I know.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Gaydar research

AAAS Science Mag reports:
Talk about "gaydar." In just a fraction of a second, people can accurately judge the sexual orientation of other individuals by glancing at their faces, according to new research. The finding builds on the growing theory that the subconscious mind detects and probably guides much more of human behavior than is realized. ...

Ambady and colleague Nicholas Rule, both at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, wondered about sexual orientation. They showed men and women photos of 90 faces belonging to homosexual men and heterosexual men for intervals ranging from 33 milliseconds to 10 seconds. When given 100 milliseconds or more to view a face, participants correctly identified sexual orientation nearly 70% of the time.
I am not sure this study proves anything. Maybe 20 out of the 90 had haircuts that match stereotypes.

Scottish government drafts Cat Welfare Code

The UK Register reports:
The Scottish government has tackled the thorny issue of cat welfare by issuing a Draft Cat Welfare Code of Practice aimed at providing "basic information and guidance to those responsible for cats on how to care for them".

This exhaustive document contains essential info for those Scots who aren't feline-savvy, such as the revelations that "different cats will have different needs", inquisitive moggies may end up in tumble dryers and that nine lives won't save your pet from if it falls from your sixth-floor balcony.

There's more. Apparently, to keep your cat healthy, it is "essential to provide it with a nutritionally balanced diet from early in its life" (ie, meat, and plenty of it, with the occasional fish and a half-a-dozen songbirds a year).
The govt do-gooders have way too much time on their hands.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Chiral osculators

SciAm reports:
Psychologist Onur Güntürkün of the Ruhr-University of Bochum in Germany recently surveyed 124 couples kissing in public places in the U.S., Germany and Turkey and found that they tilted their heads to the right twice as often as to the left before their lips touched. Right-handedness cannot explain this tendency, because being right handed is four times more common than is the act of kissing on the right. Instead Güntürkün suspects that right-tilted kissing results from a general preference that develops at the end of gestation and in infancy. This “behavioral asymmetry” is related to the lateralization of brain functions such as speech and spatial awareness.
I think that his logic is flawed. If a right-hand kisser were a little more likely to tilt to the right, then that would explain the data.

It's almost impossible

CBS News reports:
Another sign of just how close the Democratic race is: Both Clinton and Obama received 6,001 votes in the city of Syracuse, according to preliminary results. According to Syracuse University mathematics professor Hyune-Ju Kim, the odds of that happening are less than one in one million. "It's almost impossible," Kim said.
His math is wrong. There is at least one chance in a thousand of such a tie in Syracuse, depending on your assumptions. With a lot of cities voting, ties like this are not so surprising.

Update: This statistician also explains it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Crack found where?

A news site had an inadvertantly funny headline 6 days ago, and already it is on 15,000 web pages.

Why men run from commitment

A forensic psychologist writes:
Why do today’s men run from commitment — indefinitely delaying settling down in a marriage they take seriously, and having kids? Dr. Helen Smith asks whether they are indeed pampered eternal adolescents more interested in exploding toilets and video games than real life. ...

Nowadays, for many men, the negatives of marriage for men often outweigh the positives. Therefore, they engage in it less often. Not because they are bad, not because they are perpetual adolescents, but because they have weighed the pros and cons of marriage in a rational manner and found the institution to be lacking for them. It’s a sensible choice for some and the video games, magazines, and humor websites that Hymowitz disses are a way to fill one’s time with fun activities that don’t tell you that you suck, are an “unfinished person,” emotionally detached or on your way to jail for fake domestic violence charges. People used to treat men better than this.
Read this the next time you hear some female shrink complain about the Peter Pan Syndrome.

Update: Here is an inflammatory comment on it:
I gagged at the first paragraph of that woman's nonsense. She's a single woman with a child. Traditionally, most men would not want to form a life with her.

I have a 29-year-old son. He has known forever that I would NEVER, ABSOLUTELY NEVER under any circumstances, accept as a "pretend grandchild" the child of some other man.

A couple of years ago, it was clear that he had adopted my standard when he said that he would NEVER marry a woman who had a child by another man. I asked, "How about if she had been widowed?" ... His answer was simple: "I don't care what her story is."

The woman who wrote the Atlantic piece made her own selfish choices; let her deal with them without the pity that she seeks in her article. She created a child who would forever have no access to the financial, familial, or emotional support of a father. If that isn't selfish and intentionally abusive, what is?

Any man who would opt to form a life with that woman would be either (1) resigning himself to never having children, or (2) damning his own future children to reduced paternal support and assistance because he would be taking on the task of "pretend father" to the child whose father is an unknown.

The actions and attitudes of the woman author disgust me.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Heath Ledger dies of accidental overdose

Hollywood news:
NEW YORK -- The medical examiner has concluded that actor Heath Ledger's death was an accident, and the result of the abuse of prescription medications.

The medical examiner released results of the toxicology report Wednesday, saying Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of six drugs, including pain killers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety drugs.

The six drugs found in his system were oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine, the medical examiner's office said.

The drugs are the generic names for the OxyContin painkiller, the anti-anxiety drug Valium, Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom. Hydrocodone is another name for the better-known Vicodin. ...

The actor, 28, was found face down and naked on his bed at 3:26 p.m. by his housekeeper.

His housekeeper had entered Ledger's room to let him know that a masseuse had arrived for an appointment, police said.

Police sources said investigators found two bottles of sleeping and anti-anxiety pills at the apartment.

While not a marquee movie star, Ledger was a respected, award-winning actor who chose his roles carefully rather than cashing in on his heartthrob looks. He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as a gay cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain," where he met Michelle Williams, who played his wife in the 2005 film. The two had a daughter, now 2-year-old Matilda, and lived together until they split up last year.

The death was a shocking and unforeseen conclusion for one of Hollywood's bright young stars.
Unforeseen? Somebody had to know that his life was a mess. Who prescribed all those pills?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fat People Cheaper to Treat

Here is a new study:
LONDON (AP) -- Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it doesn't save money, researchers reported Monday. It costs more to care for healthy people who live years longer, according to a Dutch study that counters the common perception that preventing obesity would save governments millions of dollars.
I think that the study just looks at medical savings. There would be additional saving if you consider Social Security payments.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Multiple wives will mean multiple benefits

The UK London Telegraph reports:
Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by ministers means that polygamous marriages can now be recognised formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal.

The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife, as is permitted under Islamic law. Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record.
The article says that the polygamous Mohammedans have been collecting welfare for a couple of years, even tho polygamy is illegal.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Women use lingerie to impress each other

Denmark news:
His findings: when selecting lingerie, the hierarchies of the dressing room play just as much a role as the intrigues of the bedroom when determining what lingerie women purchase.

Østergaard found that women use lingerie as a means for exploring other sides of their personality in addition to merely looking sexy for their mates. Lingerie essentially provides a means for exploring and defining a social identity.

According to Østergaard's findings, women continually size up each other's undergarments in public spaces to evaluate whether they fall within accepted norms. ...

'Men get their impression of undergarments through the media and have quite a stereotypical idea of what is sexy,' said Østergaard. 'But a lot of the lingerie that men see on fashion models doesn't necessarily look as good on their girlfriends at home. She knows that, but he doesn’t.'
This is more evidence that women are harder to understand than men.