Sunday, February 28, 2010

Counseling for the guilty

From today's Dear Abby:
DEAR ABBY: I lost my mom to cancer several months ago. She made my sister and me promise not to let her die in a hospital, ... Mom died three hours after we made our decision.

We also promised to bury her because she didn't want cremation. ...

Abby, Mom had two wishes at the end of her life, and I wasn't able to fulfill either one. ...

Now I'm having second thoughts. Was I wrong? Should you grant your parents their final wishes? I'm seeing a counselor about this, but would like your thoughts. ...

DEAR GRIEVING: ... You have done nothing wrong. Talking about this with your therapist is the surest way to work it through.
I am beginning to believe that counseling exists only to excuse bad behavior. The idea is that she will stop feeling guilty if some counselor tells her over and over again that she did nothing wrong.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crime to find a coin

Apparently it is a crime in the UK to find a coin:
A woman who found a 700-year-old coin in her garden as a child has become the first person to be convicted of failing to hand in suspected treasure.

Kate Harding, 23, was prosecuted under the Treasure Act after she ignored orders to report the rare find to a coroner.
The article is a little misleading because the prosecution was based on the object being not really a coin, but some sort of coin-like metal token of unknown purpose. But still, why should it be a crime to find a piece of metal in your yard? And why tell the coroner? I thought that a coroner was an official who keeps track of dead bodies.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rules of the playground

This sign shows a long list of playground rules. It is hard to read, but you will get the idea. It is hard for me to imagine how this sign really benefits anyone. I would just remove it, and put in a sign saying, "Have Fun. Use common sense."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Animal Abuse Registry

The NY Times reports:
California may soon place animal abusers on the same level as sex offenders by listing them in an online registry, complete with their home addresses and places of employment.

The proposal, made in a bill introduced Friday by the State Senate’s majority leader, Dean Florez, would be the first of its kind in the country and is just the latest law geared toward animal rights in a state that has recently given new protections to chickens, pigs and cattle.
These lawmakers and animal rights nuts have some really twisted values. I once had a friend tell me that I should not kill the mouse in my house, and I should instead capture it alive and find a good home for it.

At least they are going to pay for it:
Yet there is a "bite" to this bill. The cost for maintaining the Web site would be passed to consumers, specifically to dog and cat owners.

Every sack of dog chow and every morsel of cat food would be slapped with a tax, as much as 3 cents per pound.
From the same paper:
It is the latest weapon in Australia's seemingly endless battle against the cane toad, which was introduced from Hawaii in 1935 in an unsuccessful attempt to control beetles on sugarcane plantations. ...

Early cane toad killing methods included whacking the creatures with golf clubs or cricket bats. ...

Cane toads emit a poison that attacks the heart of would-be predators. ...

Australia's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said encouraging ants to attack cane toads is inhumane.
Inhumane? These animal rights folks are just too crazy. The study is actually quite careful about the environmental consequences.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pediatricians want redesigned hot dogs

USA Today reports:
Nutritionists have long warned of the perils of hot dogs: fat, sodium and preservatives to name a few.

Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants foods like hot dogs to come with a warning label — not because of their nutritional risks but because they pose a choking hazard to babies and children.

Better yet, the academy would like to see foods such as hot dogs "redesigned" so their size, shape and texture make them less likely to lodge in a youngster's throat.
These pediatricians are making fools of themselves.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Women athletes in Vancouver

The NY Times reports:
Ski jumping and the related sport of Nordic combined are the only events at the Winter Games that bar women from competing. ...

Ski jumpers fly the length of a football field or more at speeds of 50 to 60 miles per hour, and some women, like the American Lindsey Van, perform on par with men.
If she is really on a par with the men, why doesn't she compete against them? I didn't think that there was any rule against women competing against men. The sex tests have been abolished, anyway.

It seems to me that several of the events would be better if they let men and women compete without splitting the sexes anyway. Why are there separate men's and women's curling teams?

I thought this was a typo, but apparently ski jump champ Lindsay Van is no relation of the more famous ski champ Lindsay Vonn.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Duke stripper finally nailed

The NY Daily News reports:
The stripper who falsely cried rape and ruined the reputations of three Duke University lacrosse players was charged with trying to stab her lover, police said Thursday.

Cops responding to a 911 call found an out-of-control Crystal Gail Mangum battling her boyfriend and screaming, "I am going to stab you \[expletive\]."

The 33-year-old woman then tried to burn boyfriend Milton Walker's clothes in a bathtub, a Durham, N.C., police report states.

Mangum resisted being arrested and gave cops a false first name, Marella, and age, the report states.

Her three kids - ages 3, 9 and 10 - were in the house at the time but were not injured.

The exotic dancer was charged with attempted first-degree murder, five counts of arson, assault and battery, resisting arrested, child abuse and other offenses.
Whole books have been written on what is wrong with this story, so I have little to add. The biggest culprit was Judge Stephens, and he was never punished.

I named Mangum on this blog about a year before the press did. It seemed to me that there was plenty of evidence for the innocence of the Duke boys -- implausible accusation, airtight alibis, no witness id, negative DNA test, etc.

Bad poll on campaign financing

The Wash Post report:
Poll: Large majority opposes Supreme Court's decision on campaign financing

Americans of both parties overwhelmingly oppose a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns, and most favor new limits on such spending, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court's Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent "strongly" opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits.

The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).

The results suggest a strong reservoir of bipartisan support on the issue for President Obama and congressional Democrats, who are in the midst of crafting legislation aimed at limiting the impact of the high court's decision.
No, the court did not decide to allow "unfettered corporate political spending". It upheld strict limits on campaign donations, and on foreign money.

The phrase "campaign financing" usually means the money that a candidate raises to spend on his political campaign. The court decision was not about that at all. It was only about money that corporations spend on their own.

The poll questions were:
35. Changing topics, do you support or oppose the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that says corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

36. Would you support or oppose an effort by Congress to reinstate limits on corporate and union spending on election campaigns? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
No, the corporations and unions cannot spend as much money as they want. They cannot spend the money on candidates. These questions do not match either the court opinion, or the story.

It would have been much better to ask a question about what the court actually decided. Eg, it could ask about the showing of an anti-Clinton movie a month before an election.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Political views are innate

Nicholas Kristof writes:
The researchers ... found that those who had a stronger blink reflex at the noise were more likely to take such conservative positions as favoring gun rights, supporting warrantless searches, and opposing foreign aid. ...

They start by exploring data showing a remarkably strong correlation between state attitudes toward spanking children and voting patterns. Essentially, spanking states go Republican, while those with more timeouts go Democratic.

Professors Hetherington and Weiler contend that the differences stem from profound differences in cognitive styles. Spankers tend to see the world in stark, black-and-white terms, perceive the social order as vulnerable or under attack, tend to make strong distinctions between “us” and “them,” and emphasize order and muscular responses to threats. Parents favoring timeouts feel more comfortable with ambiguities, sense less threat, embrace minority groups — and are less prone to disgust when they see a man eating worms.
This analysis has some obvious flaws, but there could be something to it.

Maybe one way to test it would be to look at how political views differ between the hard and soft sciences. Some fields depend on being able to make strong distinctions, and some do not. Maybe those who have difficulty making strong distinction are more likely to have certain political views and to be in the soft sciences.

Monday, February 15, 2010

White workers only 38%

Yesterday's Si Valley newspaper has this top story:
The unique diversity of Silicon Valley is not reflected in the region's tech workplaces — and the disparity is only growing worse.
The story goes on to say that whites are hogging 38% of the computer and mathematical science jobs. The print edition has one of their largest headlines saying, "THE DIVERSITY DECLINE".

What kind of diversity do they want? It seems to me that the whole place has been taken over by non-whites and foreigners.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Regretting spinsterhood

In case you want marriage advice from someone who has never been married, read this:
Gottlieb’s piece, “Marry Him,” in the March Atlantic, makes the “case for settling for Mr. Good Enough.” Directing her message toward single women over the age of 30, she writes, “If you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying.”

Gottlieb, who is 40 and single, regrets not having settled for a decent (albeit imperfect) guy years ago. But back then she subscribed to the “somebody isn’t always better than nobody” theory of marriage.
No, her attitude problem is much worse than that. She had an out-of-wedlock child because she decided that she did not need a husband.

I can't begin to detail the problems here, but this psychiatrist tries.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Supremacist judge rejects math textbook

An education blog reports:
In what seems like an unusual step by the judiciary, a judge in Washington state has ordered the Seattle school board to reconsider its choice of math materials for high schools across the district, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there is insufficient evidence for any reasonable board member to approve the selection of the Discovering Series," writes Judge Julie Spector from the King County Superior Court in her Feb. 4 decision.

The Seattle newspaper explains that last May, the board implemented a districtwide math curriculum called Discovering Math. Shortly thereafter, two parents and a University of Washington professor went to the King County Superior Court to overturn the board's decision and compel the district to consider other textbook options.
You can get details on the textbooks from the publisher here, and some of the legal documents here.

My initial impression is that these books would probably make for a more interesting class, with a good teacher. But with a lousy teacher, the kids are probably going to do worse on standardized exams.

But this judicial supremacist judge is way out of her league here. Her ruling shows no understanding of the books, except that they are "inquiry-based". There were allegations that they were "mathematically unsound", but she is unable to give an opinion on that. She only says that she finds that, as a matter of law, it was arbitrary and capricious to adopt the textbooks. Or maybe it is a finding of fact, she is not sure.

I guess that what give the court authority to intervene in such a matter is the argument that white kids can learn from an inquiry-based textbook, but that black and non-English-speaking minority kids cannot. Apparently the books are wordier and more colorful than the other books.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mom thinks snow is dangerous

From Yahoo answers:
How do I convince my kids snow is dangerous?
we are supposed to get record snow where i am. i personally hate it. its cold and wet and cold. i know they are gonna make me play in it. i put them off last snow by telling them they had to clean their room before they could play in it. i dont think thats gonna work this time. how can i make them believe snow shouldnt be played in?

You should tie them to a chair in the basement and bombard them with images of Abominable Snowmen, Avalanches, horrible wipe outs on the bunny hill, etc. Then tell them that all the missing children in the world have gone missing because they played in the snow.....and that the Tooth Fairy, Santa, Easter Bunny and other misc. imaginary characters will never visit them again if they go out there. No kid can defy the laws of the Tooth Fairy. Problem Solved.
That kid is going to learn that "dangerous" is a euphemism for fun.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Guys who love grilled cheese

A burger chain is pushing an option for guys who love grilled cheese, but don't want to order from the kiddie menu:
“The origin of the new Grilled Cheese Bacon Burgers is actually kind of a funny story,” according to Brad Haley, executive VP of marketing at CKE Restaurants (parent company). “We were initially working on menu items we could offer for our vegetarian customers and made a really good grilled cheese sandwich. But, being Carl’s Jr., a chain known for its decadent burgers, someone suggested that we try it with a charbroiled burger patty and bacon for our carnivorous customers and the Grilled Cheese Bacon Burgers were born… It really delivers on the idea of a grilled cheese sandwich combined with a bacon cheeseburger… And we’ll still make a really good grilled cheese sandwich for our vegetarian customers if they want one.”
Sounds delicious!

Meanwhile, the federal food police will soon be bribing your local school:
A Federal Effort to Push Junk Food Out of Schools
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will begin a drive this week to expel Pepsi, French fries and Snickers bars from the nation’s schools in hopes of reducing the number of children who get fat during their school years.

In legislation, soon to be introduced, candy and sugary beverages would be banned and many schools would be required to offer more nutritious fare.
It appears to me that these folks do not even know what the word nutritious means. The most nutritious foods are also the most fattening foods.
But Denise Snow, the school cafeteria manager, said that children can be taught to eat better. “When we went to whole-wheat pizza, the kids fussed for a while and we lost some of them,” Ms. Snow said. “But now they don’t say a thing, and pretty much everyone is back to eating them.”
I would like to see the scientific evidence that eating whole wheat pizza instead of regular pizza has ever made anyone healthier. I think that Ms. Snow is annoying the kids for nothing.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Haiti tries to starve the men

AP reports:
Aid groups offer special shelters for women and provide women-only food distribution points to deter men from bullying them. But challenges are rife more than three weeks after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left as many as 3 million in need of food, shelter and medicine.

Women who lined up for food before dawn Saturday said they were attacked by knife-wielding men who stole their coupons.
No, they are not deterring the men. By depriving the men of food, they encouraging this so-called bullying.
"We've targeted the women because we think it's the best way to get to families," said Jacques Montouroy, a Catholic Relief Services worker helping out Saturday. "In other distributions when we've opened it up to men, we found that only half of the men would do what they were supposed to with the food."
Huhh? What are the men supposed to be doing with the food? Is the food getting eaten or not?
"It's discrimination!" said Thomas Louis, 40. "We've all lost mothers, sisters, wives. Without women we can't get coupons. They're treating men like we are animals."
No, animals get fed. The men are treated worse.

This is all unnecessary, as I've noted below. It appears that the relief efforts are more interested in maintaining their crazy rationing schemes than to actually prevent starvation.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Watching White House BMI

Michele Obama is giving advice on getting fat:
The first lady made the issue of healthy eating personal last week at an event in Alexandria, Va., where she kicked off a campaign addressing the issue of childhood obesity. ...

Obama said the doctor suggested she first look at her daughters' body mass index (BMI). The minor changes she subsequently made in their daily habits, Obama said, made all the difference.

Some charge that Obama's comments may be perceived as a focus on weight and dieting, which sends the wrong message to the public. The first lady should be discussing behavioral change, not weight loss, said Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, an eating disorder activist and executive director of Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Disorder (F.E.A.S.T.).

"We've confused health and weight in a way that's very confusing for children and very confusing for parents," Lyster-Mensh said. "When we speak publicly about putting our children on a diet, we start to get into weight stigma and confusing the message to families."

The focus on obesity, Lyster-Mensh said, turns this into an issue of appearances, which does not bode well for children, especially girls.

"There is simply no reason to be pushing children into weight reduction diets and that's the message parents out there get," Lyster-Mensh said. "Dieting is a gateway drug to eating disorders for those with a biological predisposition to eating disorders."

Michelle Obama's Comments Stir Debate

President Obama is also guilty of talking about his daughters' weight. In an interview with Parents magazine in November 2008, the president said, "A couple of years ago -- you'd never know it by looking at her now -- Malia was getting a little chubby."
I am not sure what is more ridiculous here. The First Lady has to ask a physician to measure BMI in order to determine whether her daughter is fat? The President is not allowed to say that his kid is getting chubby? And an "eating disorder activist" says that telling a fat kid to lose weight is confusing?

BMI is useless on kids. Kids get fat because of irresponsible parents who listen to stupid eating disorder activists.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Leftists like Apple iphones

California leftist love the Toyota Prius:
A Toyota representative said 22 percent of all U.S. Prius sales in 2009 were in California, slightly down from 25 percent in 2008.
Presumably they like to make a statement about saving the Earth. Or maybe they just like to drive solo in the carpool lane, as California used to give special carpool privilege stickers to Prius owners.

There are less obvious
political divisions in cell phone users:
A statewide survey of 600 likely voters ...

* One in 7 voters (16 percent) owns an iPhone, and by a wide margin (57 percent to 31 percent), they favor Jerry Brown, the unannounced Democratic front-runner, over Republican Meg Whitman in the race for governor.

* One in 5 voters (21 percent) owns a BlackBerry or other smartphone, and they prefer Whitman for governor (47 percent to 38 percent over Brown). BlackBerry owners skew significantly more Republican (40 percent to 25 percent) than iPhone users (53 percent Democratic). Surrendering to AT&T's dodgy 3G network apparently is a reliable predictor that voters lean to the left — possibly while trying to get better reception.
This makes sense to me. Leftists are happy to pay more taxes for govt-rationed health care, even if it limits their medical options. The super-rich leftist figure that they will always be able to buy what they want anyway. For example, rich Canadians get US health care:
ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland — The premier of Canada’s east coast province is undergoing heart surgery in the United States ...

Williams, 60, is an independently wealthy former lawyer and businessman who donates his premier’s salary to charity.
With a Blackberry, you can choose your service carrier, your phone, and your apps to run on the phone. It is not artificially crippled like the Apple iphone. Right wingers want to freedom to do what they want, and leftists will pay to have their options limited.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Trend towards round number pricing

A new book, Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It), claims to explain why stores and restaurants use prices like $9.95. It tricks you into thinking that you are getting a better deal.

It seems likely that he is correct, but there are currently several big food advertising campaigns with round number pricing. Pizza Hut is selling pizza for $10, Subway is selling foot-long sandwiches for $5, Burger King is selling cheeseburgers for $1, and Boston Market is pushing sides for $1. No 99 cents. These campaigns seem to be extremely successful.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

College is for girls

In case anyone still thinks that girls have more limited educational opportunities, they have taken over the colleges:
At age 22, ... 12.8% of women had earned a bachelor's degree, compared with 6.9% of men.
Feminists have moved on to complaining about the orgasm gap:
Women are shattering political glass ceilings, surpassing men in the workforce, and even winning Indy-car races. But there’s one area where the gender gap has proved particularly stubborn.

“The orgasm gap is an inequity that’s as serious as the pay gap, and it’s producing a rampant culture of sexual asymmetry,” says Paula England, a professor of sociology at Stanford University.
I don't think that this is a joke.

Update: The NY Times reports on the college boy shortage:
Thanks to simple laws of supply and demand, it is often the women who must assert themselves romantically or be left alone on Valentine’s Day, ...

Even worse, “Girls feel pressured to do more than they’re comfortable with, to lock it down,” Ms. Lynch said.

As for a man’s cheating, “that’s a thing that girls let slide, because you have to,” said Emily Kennard, a junior at North Carolina. “If you don’t let it slide, you don’t have a boyfriend.”

Faculty members and administrators are well aware of the situation.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cell phone laws failed

The NY Times reports:
Laws banning cellphone use while driving apparently haven’t reduced crashes, according to a study released on Friday that compared the number of total crashes before the ban with the number after. The study found virtually no difference in the numbers, a finding that had the researchers scratching their heads.
I am not surprised. There was never any good data supporting these laws. The laws seem to be driven more by politics than by safety concerns.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Food for women only

AP reports:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Relief workers began handing out women-only food coupons, launching a new phase ...

In other developments:

• Ten Americans were detained by Haitian police on Saturday as they tried to bus 33 children across the border into the Dominican Republic, allegedly without proper documents. The Baptist church members from Idaho called it a "Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission" to save abandoned children in the disaster zone.
Only women get food? Haiti wants the church members to be criminally prosecuted in the USA. There are some very strange priorities in Haiti.

This is Pres. Obama's Katrina. It would be more efficient to airdrop the food, as has been done in the past.