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.