Monday, July 31, 2006

Mathematician dislikes NUMB3RS

Sarah J. Greenwald complains in the Notices of the Amer. Math. Society, about the TV show NUMB3RS:
The violence, sexual innuendos, and representations of mathematicians on the show are complex for use with students.
Her biggest complaint is that Charlie, the mathematician, is friends with a former female student named Amita. Charlie is about 30 years old, and Amita is about 25. They are not dating, but occasionally he makes a flirtatious comment to her. Apparently this violates the guidelines at some colleges.

This is weird. NUMB3RS is really just a TV cop show like CSI where the hero is a mathematician instead of a crime lab technician. The show is remarkable because it obviously uses real mathematicians as advisors.

The use of math to solve mundane crimes is a little unrealistic, but it is a good compromise between what can be done and what makes for an entertaining TV show.

Greenwald's concerns are wacky. There is no good reason against Charlie and Amita dating. Greenwald says:
For example, what happens when she needs a letter of recommendation (in the case they have a bad breakup, in the case they stay together, etc.)?
A lot of people write biased letters. Charlie might write a biased letter whether he sleeps with Amita or not. It is a flaw in the American academic rating system that it relies so heavily on subjective letters, but it is absurd for anyone to be worried about the possibility that two grown-up single adults on TV might date each other.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rutgers drops male sports

Andy writes:
John forwarded a NYT article about how budget cuts in NJ (the state is broke) has caused the huge state school known as "Rutgers" to lose funding, which in turn has caused it to cut 5 men's teams and only one women's team. The article from the NYT didn't explain, of course, that the Title IX interpretation caused this 5:1 imbalance.

But wait. Title IX gives the women on the fencing team that was cut a powerful cause of action. Under Title IX's three-prong test, a college that cuts teams (as many colleges are now doing) can only satisfy Title IX by satisfying the first prong known as the proportionality test. Here's why:

Prong 1: by making the percentage of female athletes the same as the percentage of female students
Prong 2: by showing an ongoing history of increasing opportunities for women
Prong 3: by showing that it is accommodating the interests and abilities of women.

When a college eliminates a women's team, Prongs 2 and 3 automatically fail! The school must then comply with Prong 1.

Rutgers is now 53% female. If its sports teams are not 53% female also, and I bet they aren't, then Rutgers will lose in court. Already a college was sued in Missouri recently for this very same reason, and its defense is that it will try to bring its sports teams into substantial proportional compliance.

There is a devastating lawsuit against Rutgers waiting to happen now.
Title IX should be repealed. Colleges are forced to discriminate against boys.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Geek gets caught

AP news in Newsday:
NEW YORK -- A man accused of biting the head off his pet rooster was arrested Friday and faces up to a year in prison if convicted, an animal protection spokesman said.

A neighbor had complained about a dead rooster near his Manhattan apartment and agents found the body of the beheaded rooster on a fire escape, said Joe Pentangelo, spokesman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The rooster's head was not located.

Humberto Rodriguez, 52, told agents that he bit the rooster's head off because he blamed it for injuring a pet pigeon that he also kept in the apartment, Pentangelo said.

Rodriguez is charged with animal cruelty and could face up to a year in prison if convicted.
A year in prison for protecting his pet pigeon? It seems harsh to me. The rooster would have died painlessly. What was cruel?

Arrested for bra pinging

UK news:
Then, quietly, the 14-year-old daughter confessed that she had been involved in a silly squabble with a classmate. Remarks had been traded about bra sizes.

On impulse, the girl had 'pinged' her schoolmate's bra. She'd apologised, but now she felt deeply ashamed. Looking up from their dinner plates, her parents agreed. 'You'll have to go back to school tomorrow and apologise again,' said her mother firmly. And that, they thought, was the end of the matter. Instead, under circumstances which defy belief, this 14-year-old girl would find herself arrested and charged with committing a common assault of a sexual nature.

She was fingerprinted, subjected to DNA testing, bailed and finally hauled before magistrates at Huntingdon Youth Court.
After 7 months of court battles, the girl had to pay 20 pounds ($37).

Friday, July 28, 2006

Censoring the truth about women in math

The Association for Women in Mathematics is trying to blackball Camilla Benbow because she ran a program for students who scored in the top 0.01%, and most of those qualifying were boys.

Another weird complaint is that others have cited her earlier work, without mentioning later work.

This appears to be just an attempt to punish those who don't kowtow to certain politically correct theories, and to intimidate others into favoring affirmative action.

A breast is a breast

The Frisco Chronicle reports:
"Men are very visual," says Wheatley, 40, of Amarillo, Texas. "When they see a woman's breast, they see a breast ? regardless of what it's being used for."
Some people were agitated by an innocuous breastfeeding picture.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fields Medal

The rumor is that the Fields Medal is going to Grigori Perelman and Terence Tao.

The Poincare conjecture papers are all freely online now.


Cathy Young attacks Islamophobia, and defends moslems:
Spencer argues that Islam, unlike Christianity, has a specific theological mandate to expand by force and to convert, kill or subjugate nonbelievers. To this I can only say that, mandate or no, historically Christianity (until relatively recently) does not seem to have been far behind Islam when it comes to forcible conversion, slaughter or subjugation. Christianity has modernized; Islam, by and large, has not. The theological and cultural causes of this can be debated ad infinitum. Islamic reformation may well be more difficult than Christian reformation. It does not follow that it's impossible.
Perhaps possible, but unlikely. Forcible conversion, slaughter, and subjugation have been central tenets of Islam for over 1000 years. They have never been central tenets of Christianity. Islam is not just a few years behind Christianity; it is a religion with an entirely different purpose and it is not making progress.

Someone is probably going to send me some obscure story about how some overzealous Christian missionaries tortured some poor natives. Such incidents may have happened, but they are usually grossly exaggerated. Usually I find that the missionaries built schools and hospitals, and I cannot verify the torture.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Transgendered research

I complained last week about sex discrimination research by the transgendered Prof. Ben (nee Barbara) Barres, but it is actually worse than I thought. Volokh points out
that Barres wants to forbid any politically incorrect views from even being hypothesized. Volokh also notes that Barres used bad data, and that Nature refused to print a correction. Steven Pinker and Peter Lawrence say that Barres misrepresented their views.

With so many people so eager to prove Larry Summers wrong, you would think that they would be able to come up with better arguments.

Obvious research on dating

Here is a study by some academics who thought that they could end sexual harassment by stopping the socialization to be macho:
"We initially got started on this research thinking if we could identify men who tended to over-sexualize women, we could then interview them [to learn why] and stop sexual harassment on the job and date rape," said lead researcher Maurice J. Levesque, an associate professor of psychology at Elon University, in North Carolina.

"We wanted to see if basically the macho-type guy was the only one who did this," said Levesque, adding the study showed that wasn't the case.
They did an experiment that found that when a college boy meets a college girl and has a conversation, then he often rates her sexual interest as higher than she rates her own. "If he found her to be physically attractive, he would tend to rate her as sexier."

This is silly. The conclusions would be obvious to anyone who has not been brainwashed by academic feminism.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fraud of the century

Today's Jeopardy (a TV quiz show) had the following item at the end of the Famous Last Words category:
This anti-ERA crusader said, "The claim that American women are downtrodden ... is the fraud of the century."
This source says:
As early as 1972, Phyllis Schlafly posed this question: "The claim that American women are downtrodden and unfairly treated is the fraud of the century?Why should we lower ourselves to ?equal rights? when we already have the status of special privilege?" That editorial launched the movement that eventually defeated the Equal Rights Amendment.

3D manifolds classified

The WSJ reports:

Major Math Problem Is Believed Solved By Reclusive Russian
July 21, 2006; Page A9

For six years, $7 million in prize money has lay unclaimed at the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Mass., waiting for someone to solve any of the seven "millennium prize problems," the oldest of which has been kicking around since 1859. Despite periodic claims, it looked like the institute would hold on to the cash until after the sun burned out.

But the math world is abuzz over the very real possibility that one millennium problem, the Poincaré conjecture, has been proved by a mathematician in Russia. After nearly four years of scrutiny by other mathematicians, the work holds up, even though Grigori Perelman's work is decidedly unusual.

In 2002 and 2003, he posted two papers to an online archive. Usually, a posting serves a flag-planting function -- "I solved this first!" -- until the paper is published in a journal, which can take years. But as the math community waited for him to follow up his postings, a realization set in. Dr. Perelman, long affiliated with the Steklov Institute of Mathematics in St. Petersburg, apparently has no intention of saying more. He probably feels he proved the Poincaré conjecture, mathematicians surmise, and has no interest in the $1 million bounty. (He did not respond to emailed requests for comment.)

Dr. Perelman's style is reminiscent of the Sid Harris cartoon of a board filled with equations and, at a key step, the words, "then a miracle occurs." One mathematician tells the other, "I think you should be more explicit here in step two."

The conjecture Henri Poincaré posited in 1904 is the most famous problem in topology, the branch of math that analyzes the shape of objects and space. He claimed, "if a closed 3-dimensional manifold has trivial fundamental group, [it must be] homeomorphic to the 3-sphere," as John Milnor of Stony Brook University puts it.

Translated, that means that if you wrap one rubber band around the surface of an orange and another around a doughnut, and shrink down both, the rubber bands act differently. The one around the orange keeps shrinking without tearing or leaving the surface. The one around the doughnut can't, without breaking itself or the doughnut. This difference says something profound about the structure of space itself.

Many mathematicians have claimed to prove Poincaré, but the claims flamed out immediately, their fatal flaws obvious. Dr. Perelman's proof has survived. The dilemma for the Clay Institute is that, according to its rules, a proof must be published in a refereed math publication. The archives aren't refereed.

Putting his proof online rather than in a journal is only one example of Dr. Perelman's iconoclasm. He admits that he gives only "a sketch of an eclectic proof of" a more general conjecture from which Poincaré's follows; he never mentions Poincaré. The papers are difficult to understand, and sketchy in the extreme. He asserts that one can prove something by a variation on an earlier argument, but it isn't clear what the variation is. "Perelman's papers are written in a style rather different from what would appear in a journal," says mathematician Bruce Kleiner of Yale University.

The sketchiness may reflect how a genius interacts with mortals. Dr. Perelman may believe some things are so obvious he needn't bother to explain them step by step, say mathematicians. If readers are too dumb to fill in the blanks, he doesn't care. Or, he has better things to do than justify every tortuous step, as proofs must.

Others have taken it upon themselves to explicate his work -- and find no major flaws. Like Torah commentaries, they dwarf the original. Dr. Perelman's 2003 paper is 22 pdf pages; the 2002 paper is 39. But "Notes on Perelman's Papers," in which Prof. Kleiner and John Lott of the University of Michigan explain them almost line-by-line, is 192 pages. A book on the papers is expected to top 300 pages. A "complete proof" of Poincaré, based on Dr. Perelman's breakthrough and published last month in the Asian Journal of Mathematics (which Prof. Milnor describes as throwing "a monkey wrench" into the question of who gets credit), is 328 pages long.

Oddly, either the book or the Kleiner-Lott paper might count as the "refereed" work the Clay Institute demands. If so, we would have the weird situation in which authors of the work that satisfies the prize requirement aren't the people who figured out the proof. But their efforts could win Dr. Perelman $1 million.

"It's definitely an unusual situation, but what's important is that the person who made the breakthrough put it out there so the community could scrutinize and analyze it," says institute president, James Carlson.

Dr. Perelman shuns the limelight, but is known through lectures in the U.S. and for getting a perfect score at the 1982 International Mathematical Olympiad, at age 16. He isn't expected at the quadrennial meeting of the International Congress of Mathematicians, in Madrid. There, the Fields Medal, math's Nobel Prize, will be awarded to the "outstanding" mathematician 40 or under. Dr. Perelman is the odds-on favorite.

And the millennium prizes? "I don't think the other six will be solved in my lifetime," says Dr. Carlson. "But then, I didn't think the Poincaré conjecture would be solved either."
Now that the proof has been peer-reviewed, Perelman should get his million-dollar check in a year.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Are Cyclists Destroying the Earth?

NY Times reports:
Karl T. Ulrich, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has put forth a provocative theory. Traveling by bicycle, he argued in a recent paper, may cause more environmental harm than driving around in pollution-spewing, fossil-fuel-swallowing cars and sport utility vehicles.

How can this be? Bicyclists are healthier, he wrote, so they live longer. Over their lifetimes, they consume more energy than they save. ...

"I see it happen here in Berkeley all the time," Mr. [Andrew] Leonard wrote [in his blog How the World Works]. "First you start biking around town, then you put solar panels on your roof and start worm composting your newspapers. Suddenly, you find yourself raising organic free-range chickens in your backyard and hosting weekly meetings of your local Peak Oil Awareness encounter group."
Yes, bicyclists become more enlightened, but the solar panels and recycling aren't necessarily saving the environment either.

Prosecutors fight 'gay panic' defenses

CNN reports:
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Prosecutors said Thursday they want to limit the use of "gay panic" defenses -- where defendants claim their crimes were justified because of fear or anger over their victims' sexual orientation.

"The suggestion that criminal conduct is mitigated by bias or prejudice is inappropriate," said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who organized a two-day national conference on the issue. "We can't outlaw it, but we can combat it."

Lawmakers in California and New York are considering bills to deter the common courtroom strategy of making a victim's sexual orientation central to a criminal defense.

Both measures would require judges to remind jurors that bias toward the victim cannot influence their deliberations.

California's bill also would instruct juries that gay panic defenses are inconsistent with state laws protecting gays, lesbians and transgenders from discrimination.

It was prompted by the murder of 17-year-old Gwen Araujo, a transgender teenager who was beaten and strangled in 2002 after two men with whom she'd had anal sex learned she was biologically male.
Lemme get this straight. A boy pretends to be a girl, and tricks and seduces men into having anal sex with him. Two men get upset, kill the boy, and get convicted of murder. The gay lobby is upset that anyone might even consider the trickery to be a mitigating circumstance in a case like this, so it tries to pass law saying that the argument is inconsistent with state nondiscrimination laws.

I guess that they are saying that if a man seduces someone, then he should be equally open to seducing a boy or a girl. If a man prefers a girl, then that is just bigotry and discriminatory behavior. If he gets tricked, then that is just exposing his own bias and prejudice, so he shouldn't be able to complain about it.

This is wacky. Perverted trickery does not justify murder, and the jury agreed to that. But it is really sick to try to tell juries that arguing against such perverted trickery is inconsistent with state nondiscrimination laws.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Labeling Mohammedans

A lot of people are struggling for a good term for the Mohammedan terrorists who are a war with the civilized world. Just calling them terrorists is inadequate because it makes them sound like random criminals, when they are really part of an organized movement. Calling them moslems or muslims sounds like religious intolerance. Some people prefer Islamofascist, Islamonazi, Islamic jihadists, and others. Some people that the label Nazi is appropriate because they their main objectives seem to be killing Jews and taking over the world.

I prefer to just stick with the term Mohammedan. As I understand it, the term Islam was popularized to separate the religious aspects from the political aspects of Mohammedanism. But when I want to emphasize those political aspects, then I need a term that is broader than Islam or moslem.

One objection I sometimes hear is that the good mohammedans might be annoyed at being lumped in with the extremists, jihadists, and terrorists. I hope that they are annoyed, and that they speak up against those who dominate their culture.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rant favoring illegal aliens

Here is a Huff. Post rant:
Let me get this straight: Phyllis Schlafly is testifying at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims as an expert witness?

What the hell is going on?

If you don't already know Phyllis, let me give you a brief intro by highlighting some best-ofs:

"Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women."

"Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions."

"Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they say they want to be."

Ah, wisdom. Anyways, Phyllis was supposed to go to Washington to speak nicey about the House immigration bill, instead she spent her time, according to the New York Times, blasting the President for supporting the Senate bill because she wrongly believes it provides amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants currently in this country.
The Huff Post sometimes censors non-liberal comments, but it left in comments agreeing with the above quotes. Some feminists responded that they don't want chivalry but they don't want to be treated like men either.

The NY Times article was strange because it identifies Phyllis Schlafly's religion, even tho no one else's religion was identified, and the subject matter did not involve religion. Her testimony did not involve any religious arguments. Perhaps I'll start referring to the Jewish NY Times.

FDR tried to censor Flynn

I didn't know that an American president once tried to censor a mainstream political critic. A history prof writes:
Little did [John T.] Flynn realize, however, that his hostility to Roosevelt and his agenda was destroying his reputation as a liberal journalist. In July 1939, in response to an article in the Yale Review, Roosevelt wrote a confidential letter to the editor in which he called Flynn ?a destructive rather than a constructive force,? and suggested that in the future the journal refuse to print articles by him. It is unknown whether Roosevelt sent such letters to other editors, but in any case it is clear that by late 1940 fewer and fewer of Flynn?s manuscripts were finding their way into print.
Some people think that G.W. Bush is trying to create a dictatorship.

It Wasn't the Court Order She Sought

The LA Times reports:
A substitute judge hearing the case of an illegal immigrant seeking a restraining order against her husband threatened to turn her over to immigration officials if she didn't leave his courtroom.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Bruce R. Fink told Aurora Gonzalez during last week's hearing that he was going to count to 20 and that if she was still in his courtroom when he finished, he would have her arrested and deported to Mexico. ...

In her initial court petition, Gonzalez alleged that Francisco Salgado, 51, her husband of six years, was "verbally and emotionally abusive" to her and their two young boys. Gonzalez, who moved into a domestic violence shelter last month, accused Salgado of referring to her with a derogatory term and threatening to call immigration authorities.
This is really crazy. She is an illegal alien from Mexico. She has a husband who is trying to get her a green card. She goes running to a judge to try to punish her husband for name-calling. The judge is actually helping her to violate the law. There are so many things wrong here, I don't know where to start.

Update: For this, Judge Fink has been fired:
Judge Pro Tem Bruce R. Fink was removed this week from the list of 1,200 lawyers used as voluntary substitute judges by the county, said Allan Parachini, spokesman for the court. The decision was made by a committee that oversees the program, he said.

At the same time, Aurora Gonzalez, the woman at the center of the controversy, resubmitted her request for a temporary restraining order and was granted one, Parachini said.
I guess illegal aliens sometimes have more rights than Americans.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Transgendered neuroscientist

Sharon Begley writes in the WSJ:
Prof. Barres is transgendered, having completed the treatments that made him fully male 10 years ago. ...

Which may account for what Prof. Barres calls the main difference he has noticed since changing sex. "People who do not know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect," he says. "I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man."
Somehow, I doubt that Prof. Barres is really "fully male". If he is not getting respect, it may have more to do with his transgendered status and other factors than ordinary sex discrimination.

Prof. Barres' Nature article is not freely online, but it does have this online editorial intro:
Harvard University president Larry Summers was heavily criticized last year when he claimed that differences in innate aptitude, rather than discrimination, were behind the failure of women to advance in scientific careers. Some other academics agreed with Summers' analysis: "rubbish", to paraphrase the views of female-to-male transgendered scientist Ben A. Barres.
Here is what Summers actually said:
So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong, because I would like nothing better than for these problems to be addressable simply by everybody understanding what they are, and working very hard to address them.
So he said that his best guess was "intrinsic aptitude", not "innate aptitude". There is a difference.

Volokh reports an uncorrected error in the Nature article.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Vile meaningless doodles

I just learned that there is a consensus about the best piece of 20th century art. It is Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso. Supposedly it is reproduced in more art books than anything else. The title is an anagram of "vile meaningless doodles".

Thursday, July 13, 2006

40% of teen abortions

The Si Valley paper editorializes:
The initiative would require parents to be notified 48 hours before their minor child had an abortion, unless the parents or a judge waived the requirement.

The need for a parental notification law is overstated. Studies show that more than three out of every five teens already tell their parents before deciding whether to have an abortion.
It is bragging about 3 out of 5?! The paper is against a Nov. ballot proposition because it says that the other 40% should be able to get abortions without notifying their parents.

The paper just convinced me to vote for the proposition.

The same paper has a story titled, Fisherman's Wharf shops fume over pot club. My print edition has the story on page 1A with the title, "Plans pit medicine against tourism". No, there is no conflict between medicine and tourists. The complaints is from business who don't want loitering potheads getting in the way.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Poll on lying

Chicago Tribune reports:
In the AP-Ipsos poll, 65 percent said it is sometimes OK to lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings, though 52 percent said lying, overall, is never justified.
Perhaps the poll just shows that people are willing to lie to pollsters.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

NY rational beliefs

Leftist Wash. Post columnist Richard Cohen writes:
With same-sex marriage, the issue we are told is children. Even though the court observes that same-sex partners are not likely to have a child by ``accident or impulse,'' it goes on to say something downright mysterious: ``The Legislature could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and father.'' Those italics are my own insidious contribution because, really, there is nothing rational about such a belief. It is based solely and exclusively on staying in chambers or, when venturing out, going no farther than the ninth hole.
Nothing rational?! It has been conventional wisdom for 1000s of years, and it is still believed by most of the USA and the world.

The NY Times reported:
Judge Smith found that restricting marriages to heterosexual couples could be justified by arguing that it promotes responsible procreation and that children are best off when they are raised by a mother and a father. He left some room for adoptive and childless heterosexual parents, to avoid "grossly intrusive inquiries" into their private lives.

He said there was little scientific evidence to support one kind of parenting over another, but the idea that a mother and a father were the best parents was supported by "intuition" and "common sense."
The judge is right that there isn't much scientific evidence, but there are certainly some rational beliefs.

Rearing non-fat kids

There is hardly any scientific evidence that any parenting techniques are better than any others. Here is a report on a new study:
Parents have long been admonished to set a good example for their children, especially in establishing eating habits that foster good nutrition and a normal body weight. Now a team of scientists analyzing national data on youth development have found that parental influence on a child?s weight goes beyond the specifics of food. Also at work are overall child-rearing styles.

They found, for example, that authoritarian mothers who dictate how their children are to behave at every turn are most likely to have children who become overweight. And mothers who are overly permissive or neglectful are twice as likely to have overweight children as mothers whose child rearing is described as authoritative but not authoritarian.
Here is the abstract. It says that authoritative moms did better than authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful moms, as measured by first-graders having a high BMI. I haven't see the full paper and I don't know if there is much substance here or not. It may just be that families that score moderately by one measure tend to score moderately by another measure.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust

Liza writes:
This is a long, reasonably balanced article on the whole college gender gap question, which I do not believe is the crisis that some right-wingers think it is.
It is not a crisis, but it is yet another example how feminist conventional wisdom is wrong. Feminists are always whining that girls need Title IX and other laws to get opportunities in college. In fact, colleges are already tilted towards girls over boys.

Liza writes:
Here's one solution to the college gender gap. Why didn't they think of that before?
At a time when the image of major college football has been sullied by academic, recruiting and sexual violence scandals ? and as some prominent colleges eliminate football to cope with federal gender equity regulations for athletics ? many smaller institutions have embraced the sport. ...

In the last 10 years, nearly 50 colleges and universities have instituted or re-instituted football, with more than 80 percent in the small college ranks. In the same period, about 25 institutions have dropped football, the majority being scholarship-driven teams from the National Collegiate Athletic Association's top tier, Division I. ...

Dr. James A. Davis, now in his 25th year as Shenandoah's president, said: "I said no to football for 15 years, but I was wrong. Football is the best draw of qualified male applicants that there is anywhere. I am shocked more schools aren't adding football." ...

Sometimes, the allure is more primal.

"Heck, guys who play football just like to hit somebody, and the guys not playing like to watch the guys who are hitting each other," said Trey Kern,
Federal Title IX regulations make it difficult for a college to have a football team, because it creates a presumption of sex discrimination.

Meanwhile, here is some New Jersey news:
Only in America in 2006 would a game of tag be considered dangerous. In the name of safety, a number of schools are prohibiting their students at recess from playing traditional games like tag or soccer, claiming that too many children were getting hurt by aggressive play.
Liza writes:
Only about 18% of U.S. 24-year-olds have a 4-year college degree. For the entire adult population, the figure is about 27%. (A surprising number get the degree past age 24.) You all are accustomed to interacting mostly with college-educated people, but they are and have always been a sliver of society - probably, when you get down to it, mostly the people who score above the 75th or 80th percentile on aptitude tests.

Many more people start out in college but never finish. Close to half the college-age population gives it a shot. They don't finish for many reasons, including lack of aptitude, lack of money, lack of self-discipline, the appeal of immediate wages, etc. There is a wide range of quality in colleges. I dareway some don't impart much of an education anyway.

I agree that Title IX interpretations haven't helped, but that's only a small part of the story. Male high school graduates have other reasonably attractive and manly options like construction and the military. A remarkable percentage of young black males are in jail (something like 20%). The male-female disparity in college enrollment is really skewed by the very wide disparity among blacks.

Schoolteaching has always been a female-dominated occupation. Girls have been reading more than boys for a century and across many countries. (The latter point really comes down to: girls like to read novels. Big deal.) Boys are still doing a lot better on math/science tests, and outnumber girls 4-1 in engineering schools. Male enrollment in college as a percent of male college-age population hasn't declined at all.

At the elite colleges, which are more "competitive" to use John's terminology, there is no significant gender gap. The elite colleges that have engineering and/or business schools tend to be majority male. I know Princeton and Notre Dame are. And the faculties at most universities are male-dominated.

BS postmodern litcrit and women's studies courses understandably don't appeal to men, but it's easy to avoid those courses.

So I'm not seeing some feminist conspiracy here, except for a slight negative impact of Title IX. It's just that many more young women are devoting the time and money to attending college, whereas in previous generations they or their parents didn't think a college education was as important for them as for their others.
Andy writes:
Big media story this week is how women are now huge majorities at college. But, of course, the media won't discuss the real causes and the effects.

Cause? Women, mostly feminists, outnumber men by 4:1 or more as secondary school teachers. Colleges have been trending in the same direction. At quite a few colleges nearly all the key positions are held by feminists. Feminists forced out the president of Harvard over a mere suggestion. Women's studies dominate college campuses today. There are signs that even math, science and engineering programs aren't what they used to be.

Title IX is also a big cause of the imbalance. Eliminate wrestling, men's track and swimming, cut all the male walk-ons on all teams, toss out some big football programs, and pretty soon college is unattractive to a lot of males. Title IX then imposes a vicious cycle that is the opposite of supply meeting demand: Title IX requires cutting more male sports teams the lower the percentage of males at the school drops, causing the percentage to drop further.

How about the effects of this shift: lots of uneducated males and colleges that care more about political correctness than achievement. The result is not good for women either, unless they enjoy working for their unemployed spouse. Not too many women want that.
I do think that feminist policies have made college less appealing for boys.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fighting siblings

The current Time magazine reports:
( -- From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales.

They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormenters, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride.

They teach us how to resolve conflicts, and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys. ...

Why childhood fights between siblings can be good

Laurie Kramer, professor of applied family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has found that on average, sibs between 3 and 7 years old engage in some kind of conflict 3.5 times per hour. Kids in the 2-to-4 age group top out at 6.3 -- or more than one clash every 10 minutes, according to a Canadian study. ...

"Siblings have a socializing effect on one another," says psychologist Daniel Shaw of the University of Pittsburgh. "When you tease out all the other variables, it's the play styles that make the difference. Unlike a relationship with friends, you're stuck with your sibs. You learn to negotiate things day to day." It's that permanence, researchers believe, that makes siblings so valuable a rehearsal tool for later life.
It says that siblings have a huge influence on each other. Both good and bad. Fighting can be good, even tho a lot of parents try to stop the fights.