Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Lie That Just Happens

A Seattle paper reports about a man suffering a false rape allegation:
The Sheriff's department has staff who are specially tasked with determining whether or not an alleged victim is credible. A woman in the department sat down with the girl and carefully listened to her story to evaluate its veracity. That officer came away convinced. So did the department's sketch artist. For the next week, police issued press releases describing the incident and the truck. Using the girl's description, the department distributed an image of a man with wide-set, droopy eyes and long stringy hair. News outlets, including this one, posted it to their Web sites.

Likewise, Bekele's accuser also underwent a joint interview with prosecutors and investigators, and also came off as credible, according to Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff in the King County Prosecutor's office. That's why prosecutors decided to file charges in the case.

Susan Shapiro Barash, a gender-studies instructor at Marymount Manhattan College whose book, Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie, was published last year, says women who choose to lie do so in part because they're good at it. "We're raised to tell little white lies," Barash says. "Part of the reason women can lie about something big is because they've been taught to lie about small things."
The accuser got busted when someone noticed that she had forged some emails. No motive for her false accusation was discovered. She agreed to get counseling.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Study links ADHD medicine with better test scores

AP reports:
CHICAGO – Children on medicine for attention deficit disorder scored higher on academic tests than their unmedicated peers in the first large, long-term study suggesting this kind of benefit from the widely used drugs.

The nationally representative study involved nearly 600 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder followed from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Children's scores on several standardized math and reading tests taken during those years were examined. Compared with unmedicated kids, average scores for medicated children were almost three points higher in math and more than five points higher in reading. The difference amounts to about three months ahead in reading and two months in math, the researchers said.

Both groups had lower scores on average than a separate group of children without ADHD. The researchers acknowledged that gap but said the benefits for medicated youngsters were still notable.
It is no surprise that kids on stimulants do better on tests than kids who are not on stimulants. Everybody knows that. People drink coffee for a reason.

It would be more interesting if it could be shown that the ADHD drugs somehow help ADHD kids more than they help other kids. Or if it were shown that ADHD drugs were more effective than coffee. Otherwise, I don't see that these studies show anything useful at all. Maybe we would be better off just giving coffee to all the kids.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


This illustration is taken from ''La vie de Mahomet'', by M. Prideaux, published in 1699. It shows Mohammed holding a sword and a crescent while trampling on a globe, a cross, and the Ten Commandments.

I found it on Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Phone footage clears man of rape

The UK Daily Mail reports:
A businessman has been cleared of raping a university student after jurors were shown footage of the sex session taken on a mobile phone.

Gary Taylor, 41, was accused of attacking the 27-year-old woman after turning up at her flat with cocaine and a bottle of red wine.

The woman, who can't be identified for legal reasons, told jurors that Mr Taylor forced her to perform a sex act on him and then raped her in her living room.

But during cross-examination she was shown footage Mr Taylor had taken on his mobile phone during the encounter on September 26, 2008.

Mr Taylor's barrister Karen Holt said the footage showed the woman 'actively' performing a sex act on him.
I guess that there is no free speech in Britain. I can understand keeping the names of rape victims secret, but this woman is not a victim. Taylor is a victim of a false accusation. It would be better for the newspaper to name her and not him.

Child porn hotline

Manitoba Canada has a new reporting law:
Manitobans who come across child pornography must now report it to authorities.

As of Wednesday, the province became the first in Canada to make it mandatory for anyone who suspects the existence of child pornography -- online, in books, photographs, or other audio and visual materials -- to immediately report it, Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh said Wednesday.
I called the hotline 1-866-658-9022, and asked for details on how this law works. She said that there were no published guidelines on what is or is not reportable. She said that I must report anything that I believe may include child porn. As an example, she said that if somebody emails me a note to check out the pictures of hot babes at, then I should report it because the teenagers could include underage naked girls.

This law is unusual because it applies to everyone in Manitoba, not just teachers and professional, it applies to porn that could be anywhere in the world on the internet, it applies to mere suspicions, and people can make anonymous reports. The penalty is two years in prison.

I am all in favor of cracking down on child porn, but this is extreme. I don't want to check web sites for child porn, or even to report my suspicions. Checking could be dangerous because mere possession of child porn is a crime. I cannot tell whether the girls are over 18 or not anyway. Let the law enforcement officials scour the internet for naked 17-year-old girls, if that is what they want to do.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tax on sugary drinks

William Saletan writes:
The food police are closing in on their next target: a soda tax.

New York City's health commissioner, Thomas Frieden, is leading the way....

Persuading Americans to regulate soda the way we regulate cigarettes won't be easy. Isn't soda a kind of food? Isn't food a good thing? And isn't it a matter of personal choice? Doesn't taxation to control people's eating behavior cross a fundamental line of liberty?

In their article, Frieden and Brownell methodically attack these objections. Going well beyond science, they lay out a political battle plan for the war on junk food.

Step 1 is to convince us that soda isn't really food.
The evidence for soda being unhealthy is pretty thin. There are some papers saying that it contributes to type 2 diabetes, but I'm not sure that it is worse than any other sugary food. Diabetics do have to control their sugar intake, and can have trouble if they eat too little or too much.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Young pulsar shows its hand

This is a real image from outer space, with false colors. (Xray wavelengths were mapped into visible colors.)

Google warns against its own service

I just got this message from my Google Chrome browser. Google owns, and it is the service I use to post these message. They have a bug.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Best interest of the economy

Jon Stewart asked Nancy Pelosi how he can get some TARP money, and asked about the allocation rules. She answered:
That is a Treasury Department decision, and that's what's in the best interest of the economy, they tell us.
Now there is a meaningless phrase. Since when does the economy have its own interest? This silly jargon reminds of another meaningless phrase, the best interest of the child, also known as BIOTCH. Nobody knows what that is either.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Fat women are less successful

A Scotland paper reports:
Being fat is fine for men in the business world, but it might just weigh down women's prospects for promotion, research suggested yesterday. ...

Researcher Mark Roehling, an associate professor of human resource management at Michigan State University, said that the attitudes appeared to contribute to the glass ceiling.

"The results suggest that while being obese limits the career opportunities of both women and men, being 'merely overweight' harms only female executives – and may actually benefit male executives."

The results echo previous research showing that among white, middle-class communities, women faced "harsher weight standards" than men, Prof Roehling said.
No, it doesn't show that at all. Maybe thin men are treated just as harshly as fat women.

Income in the USA is correlated with weight. Rich folks tend to be fat men and thin women. Poor folks tend to be thin men and fat women. There are a lot of explanations that have nothing to do with a glass ceiling.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Silly quiz about Indian car

My newspaper prints a Globalist Quiz every week. Here is this week's quiz:
Which of these facts about the Tata Nano is correct?

A. Its horsepower is comparable to that of a lawnmower
B. It is inspired by the Model T
C. It is a relatively safe car
D. All the above
The Tata Nano generates 10 times the horsepower of most lawn mowers, has nothing to do with the Model T, and fails to meet European and American safety standards. So I would say that all are incorrect. The paper says that the correct answer is that all are correct! This quiz is terrible.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

How to get fired as a soccer coach

A small Mass. USA newspaper reports:
A girls soccer coach who told parents of his 6- and 7-year-old charges that he expected his players to “kick ass” has resigned.

Michael Kinahan says he “meant to give parents a chuckle” but that people took his message on a the team he dubbed “Green Death” the wrong way.
This paper actually shows the text of Kinahan's original e-mail and resignation.

Some big city papers have printed this story, but they don't give a link to the actual email. This is yet another reason that they are going bankrupt. None of them has learned to use the web effectively. I predict that as soon as we have a major city with no major newspaper, we will see a whole new kind of newspaper web site.