Monday, October 30, 2006

Homosexual life expectancy

Andy cites this article and writes:
Life expectancy for a 20 year old gay or bisexual man is 8 to 20 years less than all men. The authors estimate that "nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently age 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday." Source: Hogg. RS., Strathdee, SA., Craib, KJP., O'Shaughnessy, MV., Montainer, JSG., Schechter, MT., " Modeling the impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men," International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 26, No. 3, 1997, pp. 657-61.

In 1998, another study using four contemporary databases suggested that homosexual activity may be associated with a lifespan shortened by 20 to 30 years. Source: Cameron, P., Cameron, K., Playfair, WL., " Does Homosexual Activity Shorten Life? ", Psychological Reports, 1998, 83, pp. 847-66.

From 1969 through 1970, the Kinsey Institute surveyed homosexuals in San Francisco. Although they recruited respondents in eight different ways, only 23% of male homosexuals and only 18% of lesbians were over the age of 45, despite the fact that the investigators tried for 25% from this age group.

In 1977, the largest survey of homosexuals reported 0.2% of its lesbians and 0.8% of its homosexual males were age 65 or older.

An openly lesbian M. Mendola, in 1979, polled 405 homosexuals by mail. The median age of those polled was 34, and only 10% were 50 or over. Source: The Mendola Report: A New Look at Gay Couples.

From 1977 through 1979, 102 homosexuals case histories were collected in Seattle and the oldest was 58.

In 1994, an obituary study revealed that the median age of death for homosexual males was 42 and for lesbians was 49. Source: Cameron, Playfair, Wellum, "The Longevity of Homosexuals: Before and After the AIDS Epidemic, " Omega Journal of Death and Dying," 1994.

Though this final fact is anecdotal, note that the age of the recent death of former Congressman Gerry Studds, a well-to-do individual with excellent health care available, was less than 70.
I think that it is plausible that there is a correlation
between homosexuality and lower life expectancy, just as married folks tend to live longer. AIDS and other diseases might be a partial explanation. But there could be a lot of others as well. Maybe gays smoke more, get less health care, or adopt riskier lifestyles. It is hard to say what causes what. For those who distinguish between homosexual orientiation and behavior, which correlates better with shorter lives? I doubt that these studies provide any good answers.

John sends this new study:
During the years immediately after divorce -- from 1991 to 1994 -- the divorced women reported 7 percent higher levels of psychological distress than married women. They did not report any differences in physical illness at that time.

A decade later, however, the divorced women reported 37 percent more physical illness, but no difference in psychological stress that could be directly linked to the divorce, said Lorenz, who co-authored the study with K.A.S. Wickrama, Rand Conger and Glen Elder. The research was conducted out of the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research based at Iowa State.

The women in the study marked off illnesses from a list of 46 choices -- ranging from the common cold and sore throat to heart conditions and cancer.
The authors offer their own untested explanations, but there are many others as well. Tests indicate that married folks are happier and healthier on average.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dropping testosterone

Yahoo reports:
FRIDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The testosterone-fueled American male may be losing his punch.

Over the past two decades, levels of the sex hormone in U.S. men have been falling steadily, a new study finds.

For example, average total testosterone levels in men aged 65 to 69 fell from 503 nanograms/decileter (ng/dL) in 1988 to 423 ng/dL in 2003.

The reasons for this trend are unclear, said researchers at the New England Research Institutes in Waterdown, Mass. They noted that neither aging nor certain other health factors, such as smoking or obesity, can fully explain the decline. ...

"In 1988, men who were 50 years and older had higher serum testosterone concentrations than did comparable 50-year-old men in 1996. This suggests that some factor other than age may be contributing to the observed declines in testosterone over time," Travison said.

He and his colleagues analyzed blood samples -- along with health and other information -- from about 1,500 men in the greater Boston area who took part in the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. That study collected data in 1987-89, 1995-97, and 2002-04. ...

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
They controlled for smoking and obesity, but should should have controlled for having feminist wives and voting for John Kerry.

Barbara blames pesticides:
(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2006) A study published in the January issue of Epidemiology has found inverse associations between pesticides and male testosterone levels. The study, conducted by researchers at University of Michigan, Harvard University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, has found that high levels of the urinary metabolites of chlorpyrifos (TCPY) and carbaryl and naphthalene (1N) correlate directly with low levels of testosterone in male subjects.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wild pigs contaminate spinach

LA Times reports:
The same E. coli strain blamed for sickening 204 spinach eaters and killing three has now been found in creek water and in the intestines of a wild pig killed near a suspect spinach farm, California health officials said Thursday.

The findings are significant because they suggest possible ways that the virulent bacteria, E. coli O157:H7, may have spread from cow droppings onto spinach leaves processed by Natural Selection Foods in San Juan Bautista.

Officials have refused to identify the implicated farm -- one of four they are focusing on -- but have said it is above cattle pastures in a valley in Monterey or San Benito counties.
What the article doesn't say is that leftist animal-loving kooks have passed laws against killing wild pigs.

I live in the next county, and I have had wild pigs roam over my land. They are scary non-native pests. There is a long, difficult, and expensive process for getting a permit to kill pigs. And if you do succeed in killing a wild pig, you are not allowed to eat it! You are supposed to donate the meat to charity.

It is funny that it was the spinach-salad lovers who suffered a nationwide scare resulting from these wild pigs.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

No Santa Claus in the Dawkins household

John Horgan is a science writer for Scientific American and an atheist, so you would expect him to like Richard Dawkins and his new book. But Horgan says:
Dawkins addresses this issue [the problem of beauty] in Climbing Mount Improbable. He recalls driving with his six-year-old daughter when she pointed out all the "pretty" wildflowers in a field. When Dawkins asked what she thought wildflowers are for, she replied, "To make the world pretty, and to help the bees make honey for us." Dawkins -- bless his rational heart! -- writes: "I was touched by this, and sorry I had to tell her it wasn't so." I actually laughed reading this passage. No Santa Claus in the Dawkins household!
I like his six-year-old daughter's explanation better.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hawking gets divorce

UK news about famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking:
"She is the reason I left. It's the reason everyone leaves. It's impossible to reconcile the way she treated Stephen with the ethics of our profession. I don't want to say anymore because it brings back painful memories."

It is a sentiment shared by almost all Prof Hawking's friends and family; relief that he is now finally free of Elaine, and distress that it has taken so long; the couple have been together for 17 years.

It is a relationship that, almost from the beginning, has provoked a storm of controversy - and suspicion - the wheelchair-bound Prof Hawking, 64, who has suffered from motor neurone disease since the age of 22, and the "controlling, manipulative and bullying" (the words of another former employee) Elaine.

Because for years there have been shocking rumours of violence and abuse against the vulnerable scientist - mental as well as physical - supported by his own children no less.
Elaine is expected to walk away with millions of dollars.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fired for supporting marriage

Virginia news:
TIMBERVILLE -- A Broadway man claims Cargill fired him from his job here during the first week of October because a message on his pickup truck supported the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage. ...

The proposed state amendment, which is on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election, would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Padilla, 40, supports the marriage amendment. On his truck's rear window he wrote, "Please, vote for marriage on Nov. 7." ... has posted Padilla's firing on its Web site.

"It appears that Mr. Padilla's civil rights have been violated in an egregious act of viewpoint discrimination and violation of his right to free speech," Victoria Cobb, spokeswoman for, said on the organization's Web site.

"It is abundantly clear that those who seek to impose same-sex marriage on society are not at all interested in tolerance of other viewpoints. And they are willing to go so far as to destroy a man's family and take his livelihood to get their way. I believe that when they hear this story, the people of Virginia will be appalled."
Yes, I am appalled that someone could be fired for supporting marriage.

Fiction readers have empathy

This blog says:
This recent study seems to show that reading fiction is strongly correlated with high levels of empathy, social understanding, and awareness. On the other hand, there is no similar connection between social skills and reading nonfiction.

Of course, as the authors point out, it is not clear which way the causation goes. It may well be that highly empathetic people tend to read more fiction, not that reading fiction makes you more empathetic. ...

The list of authors is : here. Notice that Bob Woodward, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and Norman Mailer are all on the non-fiction list.

This is another example of the difficulty in deducing causation from correlation. The study authors summarize:
In general, fiction print-exposure positively predicted measures of social ability, while non-fiction print-exposure was a negative predictor. The tendency to become absorbed in a story also predicted empathy scores.
I am inclined to think that the prediction goes the other way -- that high-empathy scorers will tend to read a lot of fiction.

I am also skeptical about the methodology. Also on the non-fiction list were: Stephen J. Gould, Thomas Kuhn, Naomi Wolf, Susan Sontag, Erma Bombeck, Michel Foucault, and a lot of others that I haven't heard of. It is an odd list.

Affirmative action for gays

Liza informs me that colleges are starting to adopt affirmative action policies for admitting homosexual students. The Princeton paper reports:
Since the institution of affirmative action more than 40 years ago, American colleges have been working to diversify their campuses, increasing the likelihood of enrollment for students who have suffered discrimination or economic hardship.

Two weeks ago, Middlebury College took this process one step further, implementing a policy through which students who identify themselves as gay will receive the same benefits in the admissions process as ethnic minorities, athletes and legacies.

While no college has yet matched Middlebury's policy, several, such as Claremont McKenna and Loyola University in New Orleans, are seriously considering it.

Princeton's Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye declined to comment on whether the University will make this move but emphasized the University's commitment to diversity in all its forms.

"We value students from all backgrounds, and diversity has a broad definition for our work," she said in an email.

"In terms of the admissions process, we give students every consideration if they have a diverse background including students who are gay, or who may be involved in LGBT groups in their high schools, communities or national organizations."

Princeton was recently named one of the top 20 campuses for LGBT students in The Advocate magazine's "College Guide for LGBT Students." It is also one of only 100 schools in the country with full-time professional LGBT coordinators or directors.
I wonder what those colleges would do with an applicant who was involved in a contrary group -- that is, a group whose goals might be contrary to the goals of the typical LGBT group.

Middlebury has now issued this denial:
I want to clarify Middlebury College's admissions policy as described in your article. While Middlebury welcomes students from diverse backgrounds, it has no admissions policy related to sexual orientation. Middlebury accepts only those applicants who have demonstrated evidence that they will succeed at the college academically and who will make positive contributions to its undergraduate community.
This denial is a little fishy. If a Middlebury applicant says that he belongs to a GLBT group, what does the admissions office do with that info? Whether it ignores it, or rates it as a positive or a negative, it must have some policy. For Middlebury to say that it has no policy is just another way of saying that it does not wish to publicly state its policy.

Here is another source:
Middlebury College is this year for the first time giving students who identify themselves as gay in the admissions process an "attribute" -- the same flagging of an application that members of ethnic minority groups, athletes, alumni children and others receive, according to Shawn Rae Passalacqua, assistant director of admissions at Middlebury. ...

Passalacqua said that gay students bring "a unique quality" to the college, which he said tries hard not "to be too homogeneous." Of 6,200 applications last year, 5 students noted their gay identities in their application essays and another 50-plus applicants cited their membership in gay-straight alliances. Passalacaqua said that Middlebury admissions officers were also likely to look favorably and give an admissions tip to "straight allies" of gay students -- not just out of support for that view, but because a college benefits from having people who are "bridge builders."
It sounds to me that Middlebury has an affirmative action policy for gay students.

Here is another Middlebury denial.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bacteria use radiated water as food

Geology news:
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Researchers from Indiana University Bloomington and eight collaborating institutions report in this week's Science a self-sustaining community of bacteria that live in rocks 2.8 kilometers below Earth's surface. Think that's weird? The bacteria rely on radioactive uranium to convert water molecules to useable energy.

The discovery is a confirmed expansion of Earth's biosphere, the three-dimensional shell that encompasses all planetary life.

The research has less Earthly implications, however. It will likely fuel optimism that life exists in other deep subsurface environments, such as in groundwater beneath the permafrost on Mars. ...

"What really gets my juices flowing is the possibility of life below the surface of Mars," said Tullis Onstott, a Princeton University geoscientist and leader of the research team.
Weird. I vaguely remember a science fiction story about discovering beings living off radioactivity below deep mines. I'll wait for this to be confirmed and explained.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Aliens send $45B

The Houston Chronicle reports:
The Washington-based organization that promotes development in Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that the 12.6 million immigrants living in the United States will send $45.3 billion to relatives living across Latin America this year, from the border towns in Mexico to the tip of Argentina.
When it says "immigrants", I think that it really means illegal aliens. No wonder Mexico wants to export its population problem.

Killer-pedophile's computer is hack-proof

John writes this
Remember how much time we spent in the '90s worrying about the FBI trying to bypass encryption? This is the first time I know of that law enforcement has been unable to gain access to computer files.
about this story:
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- In addition to being a triple murderer and pedophile, Joseph Edward Duncan III is a computer expert who may have kept graphic evidence of his crimes on his laptop.

But the FBI's top hackers apparently have been unable to break through Duncan's security encryption, and the plea bargain Duncan's lawyers struck says the key must only be shared with his defense lawyer. ...

On Monday, Duncan, 43, pleaded guilty in state court to killing three people -- Brenda Groene; her 13-year-old son, Slade; and her boyfriend, Mark McKenzie -- at a home outside this northern Idaho city so he could kidnap 9-year-old Dylan Groene and his 8-year-old sister for sex.
At least they solved the case without the computer. It appears that they just want the computer out of some morbid curiosity.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Simplistic majoritarianism

George Will writes:
Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that, had it become law, would have imparted dangerous momentum to a recurring simple-mindedness.

The bill would have committed California to cast its electoral votes -- today, 55 -- for whichever candidate receives the most popular votes nationally. The commitment would have been contingent on a compact with other similarly committed states, all having a combined total of at least 270 electoral votes.

Such legislation has been introduced in six states and passed by Colorado's Senate. Advocates offer three rationales: ...

The second argument for the multistate compact is:

The possibility of the winner of the popular vote losing the electoral vote contest violates the value that trumps all others -- majoritarianism. Well.

Never mind that in 42 of the 46 elections since 1824 (all but 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000) for which we have popular vote totals, that did not happen. Which suggests that the assault on the electoral vote system is driven by simplistic majoritarianism, which would shatter the two-party system that is conducive to temperate politics.
No, it only happened in 1876. Samuel Tilden won the popular vote with 51% of the vote, but Rutherford B. Hayes became president.

The closest example in the last century was in 1960, when Richard Nixon got 49.6% of the popular vote, but lost the election. No other presidential loser since Tilden has come so close to winning the popular vote. Second closest was Al Gore, who won 48.4% of the popular vote in 2000. (Gore received a plurality, but not a majority, of the popular votes. Nixon also won a plurality, if you take into account the fact that Alabama had more Democrat votes than Kennedy votes.)

The argument against the Electoral College is not "simplistic majoritarianism". In every presidential election since 1876, the winner got a majority of the electoral votes, and the losers all failed to get a majority of the popular votes. Majoritarianism would leave the system the way it is. If we switched to a system based on a plurality of the popular vote, then it would almost certainly result in a non-majority president in the next several elections, as no one won a majority of the popular vote in 1960, 1968, 1992, 1996, and 2000.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Military history kicked off campus

National Review magazine reports:
Right now, for all intents and purposes, military history in Madison is dead. It's dead at many other top colleges and universities as well. Where it isn't dead and buried, it's either dying or under siege. Although military history remains incredibly popular among students who fill lecture halls to learn about Saratoga and Iwo Jima and among readers who buy piles of books on Gettysburg and D-Day, on campus it's making a last stand against the shock troops of political correctness. "Pretty soon, it may become virtually impossible to find military-history professors who study war with the aim of understanding why one side won and the other side lost", says Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who taught at West Point for ten years.
Fredric Smoler comments:
This is not news. Seven or so years ago I heard the excellent military historian John Lynn give a seminar at St. John's College, Cambridge, reporting on the disappearance of his field within the academy. The audience, professional historians and their graduate students, did not seem particularly alarmed about the prospect ...
Hmmm. I'll have to get my military history from the History Channel. I thought that historians were preoccupied with war, but I guess that it is the opposite.

Facial Expressions Are Inherited

Studies of blind people show that facial expression are inherited. People used to think that things like this were obviously learned behavior.

One percent of the property

Carey Roberts writes:
At first I assumed UNICEF director Ann Veneman had been terribly misquoted.

This was the statement the media attributed to her: "We know that women do about 66% of the work in the world, they produce 50% of the food, but earn 5% of the income and own 1% of the property." But then I checked, and that's what she had said. It was right on the UNICEF website.
Yes, these figures were made up by propagandists. In the USA, women own a majority of the wealth.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Against vetting

Here is someone who is actually against child protection vetting:
The vetting of adults in the name of child protection is out of control. There has been a massive expansion of vetting in the past four years. Those now being vetted include 16-year-olds teaching younger kids to read, parents volunteering at school, and foster carers' friends. Running an after-school club is now subject to more stringent security tests than selling explosives.
California's Prop. 83 is endorsed by the Democrats and Republicans, and it will require extreme restrictions and monitoring of sex offenders. I think that the vetters have gone way too far.

Meanwhile, here is some school paranoia in Massachussetts:
(CBS4) ATTLEBORO Children at the Willett Elementary School in Attleboro are not allowed to play tag, touch football or any games involving contact during recess.

Prinicpal Gaylene Heppe cited the safety risks and the school's liability in case of injury as reasons for the recess ban. Heppe, who is in her second year as principal, told CBS4 the ban is not new and has been in effect for years. ...

The Attleboro Sun Chronicle reports elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyo. and Spokane, Wash. banned tag at recess this year. A suburban Charleston, S.C. school also outlawed all unsupervised contact sports.
Weird. Kids like to play tags, and it is a healthy game.

NY Times rebuts New Yorker magazine

The NY Times reports:
In August, Dr. Perelman was awarded the Fields Medal at a meeting of the International Mathematical Union in Madrid, but he declined to accept it. A week later a drawing in The New Yorker showed Dr. Yau trying to grab the Fields Medal from the neck of Dr. Perelman.

On his Web site,, Dr. Yau has posted a 12-page letter showing what he and his lawyer say are errors in the article. The New Yorker has said it stands by its reporting. "My name is damaged in China," Dr. Yau said. "I have to fix my reputation in China in order to help younger students."

He denied that he had ever said there were gaps in Dr. Perelman's work. "I said it is not understood by all people," he said. "That is why it takes three more years." As a "leading geometer," Dr. Yau said he had a duty to dig out the truth of the proof.

The NY Times is essentially taking Yau's side of his dispute with the New Yorker magazine. I previous criticized the New Yorker.

The New Yorker dishonestly and irresponsibly tried to manufacture a controversy over credit. The story that both publications missed was how the Mathematics community hands out credit more fairly and transparently than any other field. This years science Nobel Prizes all went to scientists whose skills were largely directed to assembling and managing a team of other brilliant scientists who did most of the actual work. Whether it is fair or equitable for these prizewinners to get the lion's share of the glory cannot be known to the general public.

The mathematician Perelman worked alone and published his results to a public preprint server. There is no dispute about what he did. It is to the credit of Yau and the Math community that they are willing to give the glory to an unemployed Russian with no political allies.

Mike writes:
I think if you read Yau's talk and the Chinese press, you'll realize how the uninformed New Yorker authors could come away with an impression of credit grabbing. (It also might depend on what emphasis you place on certain words as you read their statements.)

I'm not saying any took place... just that the Chinese sources tended to over-hype the contributions of other Chinese (if not their own), almost as if to inflate the Chinese role in the eyes of the unwashed masses. This is definitely an Asian characteristic: just read the Chinese press on [cryptologist] Wang's accomplishments. There's no moderation in their reporting whatsoever -- they make it sound like she killed SHA-1. Another example is the Japanese/Chinese rivalry on the subject since.

I'm not trying to defend the New Yorker... the article was clearly a particularly bad piece of journalism, something perhaps more worthy of a Dan Brown than a high-profile Columbia professor.
Sylvia Nasar interviewed enough mathematicians to get the story. Maybe she has enough evidence to survive a libel lawsuit, but I say that she still botched the story. The New Yorker made the point of the story how Yau was robbing Perelman out of credit for the Poincare Conjecture proof, and cheating him out of a Fields Medal. But Perelman got the Fields Medal, and Yau helped him get it. Perelman will also get the million dollar Clay prize, although it is possible that a share will goto Hamilton and others. There just isn't any significant dispute about what Perelman did.

Duplicity among the Arab intelligentsia

This article describes how even left-wing secular arab intellectuals support terrorist causes.

TV causes autism

Cornell research:
Autism is currently estimated to affect approximately one in every 166 children, yet the cause or causes of the condition are not well understood. One of the current theories concerning the condition is that among a set of children vulnerable to developing the condition because of their underlying genetics, the condition manifests itself when such a child is exposed to a (currently unknown) environmental trigger. In this paper we empirically investigate the hypothesis that early childhood television viewing serves as such a trigger. ... These findings are consistent with early childhood television viewing being an important trigger for autism.
Or maybe autistic kids watch more TV. Or maybe TV-watching moms see an autism discussion on Oprah and then run out and get diagnoses for their kids.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Obesity correlated to low IQ

French research:
The new five-year study of more than 2,200 adults claims to have found a link between obesity and the decline in a person's cognitive function. The research, conducted by French scientists, which is published in this month's Neurology journal, involved men and women aged between 32 and 62 taking four mental ability tests that were then repeated five years later.

The researchers found that people with a Body Mass Index -- a measure of body fat -- of 20 or less could recall 56 per cent of words in a vocabulary test, while those who were obese, with a BMI of 30 or higher, could remember only 44 per cent.

The fatter subjects also showed a higher rate of cognitive decline when they were retested five years later: their recall dropped to 37.5 per cent, whereas those with a healthy weight retained their level of recall.
No word yet on whether fatness causes stupidity or stupidity causes fatness. Be sure and check out the picture of the woman who claims that she didn't get any smarter when she lost weight.

How CEOs justify their pay

Ever wonder how CEOs of big companies justify paying themselves millions? The NY Times reports:
From 1970 to 2000, according to a Harvard study, the median compensation awarded to the three highest-paid officers at major American corporations rose to $4.6 million from $850,000. More recently, that figure has settled down to around $4.35 million. ...

Since its founding in 1973, Mr. Cook?s firm has served more than 1,800 clients, including more than half the world?s 250 largest corporations. The firm, privately held, employs 50 people; it is based in New York and has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. Cook & Company engineered compensation innovations that other consultants and corporations have emulated, innovations all made palatable by an argument that Mr. Cook propagated to justify this huge transfer of wealth to chief executives: that newfangled pay packages aligned the interests of shareholders and management.
Some clown named Frederic W. Cook figured out that if he recommends that companies pay their top executives obscenely large amounts of money, then all those companies will hire him as a consultant. Then they can justify the big payouts by saying that the consultant recommended them. Needless to say, Cook made a lot of money this way also.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Harvard Law to refocus the first year

Boston Globe reports:
The Harvard Law School faculty has voted unanimously to overhaul its first-year curriculum by focusing more on complex problem-solving, international law, and modern law-making by government bodies and administrative agencies, marking a significant departure from more than a century of traditional legal education. ...

``Many people's picture of a lawyer is someone in a courtroom, but the fact of the matter is very few lawyers practice inside courtrooms," said professor Martha L. Minow, who chaired the curriculum committee. ``So we are making a strong statement that legal education ought to reflect the problem-solving, prospective, constructive, legislative, comparative, and international work that is central to law today."
Andy writes:
"Very few lawyers"??? Certainly that is true for law professors, many of whom have never even passed the bar. It is also true of law graduates who do something else with their lives, and it is true of some who join large law firms where colleagues can run into court as needed. But that statement is not true of most practicing attorneys. The vast majority of attorneys are in small or solo practices, and you bet we have to run into court when a client needs it done.
Even if a lawyer does not appear in court, he needs to know what goes on in court if he is going to be able to advise anyone.

Courage to do whatever they wanted to do

AP reports:
Hara, who married Studds shortly after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, said Studds was a pioneer who gave courage to gay people everywhere by winning re-election after publicly acknowledging his homosexuality.

"He gave people of his generation, or my generation, of future generations, the courage to do whatever they wanted to do," said Harra, 49. ...

In 1983, Studds acknowledged his homosexuality after a congressional aide revealed he had had a relationship with Studds a decade earlier, when the aide was 17. Studds was censured for sexual misconduct by the House, ...

Hara said Studds was never ashamed of that relationship.
At least Mark Foley was ashamed about some inappropriate emails. What would people be saying now if Mark Foley had unashamedly stood up and said that he was giving people "the courage to do whatever they wanted to do".

Friday, October 13, 2006

Record award in Internet defamation suit

UPI news:
A South Florida jury has awarded a record $11.3 million in damages to a woman who was defamed by another woman on the Internet.

Sue Scheff of Weston, Fla., sued Carey Bock of Mandeville, La., in December 2003 over the messages posted calling her a "crook," a "con artist" and a "fraud," USA Today reported Wednesday.

The dispute was centered on a referral business Scheff runs that helps parents of troubled children find appropriate schools, the newspaper said. After their transaction involving Bock's two sons, Bock began posting the messages, the jury was told.

Bock was unable to pay an attorney and did not attend the Broward County, Fla., trial or enter a defense, and Scheff said she doubted she'd see any money at all.

"I'm sure (Bock) doesn't have $1 million, let alone $11 million, but the message is strong and clear," Scheff told USA Today. "People are using the Internet to destroy people they don't like and you can't do that."
You can't? This only shows that it is possible to get a default judgment against someone with no money.

Sue Scheff sounds like a crook to me. She uses the courts against someone expressing an opinion, according to this story.

In my opinion, punitive damages should only be awarded if the defendant has the sort of protections that a criminal defendant would have. This defendant was not even present at the trial.

Is this the direction we want to go?

Frisco radio talk-show host Pete Wilson is in trouble for this:
Wilson did not apologize for his comments, which he made Tuesday afternoon during a talk radio show he hosts on KGO-AM before anchoring the local news each night on ABC 7. But he did say Thursday that his language was "inappropriate."

"I let some of my argument move toward the personal. Some of it was inappropriate, some was talk radio sarcastic cheap-shotting, and I did it several times. That was wrong and unfortunate," Wilson said in an interview. "I still believe the argument is a perfectly appropriate argument. I think the argument needs to take place about the number of directions we have gone with parenting and children."

Wilson said he supports same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples and single parents. His problem with the decision by Dufty, who is gay, to have a baby with a friend who is a lesbian is that the couple have no romantic attachment.

"It may be perfectly fine in Bevan Dufty's case, but is this the direction we want to go?" he said.

Dufty's friend Rebecca Goldfader gave birth to their daughter, Sidney, last week. Goldfader and Dufty plan to move in together after the November election, in which Dufty is running to retain his board seat.

"The Dufty-Goldfader baby is, in my mind, a travesty. Or a potential travesty. Perhaps that's a better way of saying it," Wilson said during the first hour of his Tuesday radio program.

"At some point, there is a limit to how far we stretch the self-indulgent search for the alternative that we have been involved in the last 30 or 40 years in this country," he said later in the show.
The leading SF politicians want Wilson to get fired. This is just another example of intolerant leftist Californias who cannot stand anyone having a contrary opinion.

The funny thing is that a lot of people in Si Valley/SF think that Wilson is a right-winger. In fact, he votes Democratic and would be considered a left-winger in other parts of the country. He rarely even expresses political opinions. The reason that people think that he is a right-winger is that he frequently corrects callers on the facts. Wilson is very knowledgeable about current events, and he obvious reads a lot of sources with different views. Leftist callers just hate to be corrected on factual matters.

Like parent like child

A 1998 CDC study finds a correlation between adults who complain about various problems, and adults who also complain about childhood problems:
A strong relationship was seen between the number of adverse experiences and self-reports of cigarette smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide attempts, sexual promiscuity, and sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, persons who reported higher numbers of adverse childhood experiences were much more likely to have multiple health risk behaviors. Similarly, the more adverse childhood experiences reported, the more likely the person was to have heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, skeletal fractures, liver disease, and poor self-rated health as an adult.
So here is the faulty causation conclusion:
"Abused children may use behaviors such as cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use, overeating, promiscuity, and drug use as a way of coping with damaging experiences much earlier in life, "says a principal investigator of the study, Dr. Vincent Felitti, Chief of Preventive Medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego.
Maybe, but there are many more likely possibilities as well. Maybe the complainers are not really any worse off; they just like to complain. The same people who like to complain about adult problems are likely to complain about childhood problems. Maybe also the problems are genetic, cultural, or socio-economic. Maybe the bad behavior is causing the abuse, instead of the abuse causing the bad behavior. There are so many possibilities that a study like this is worthless.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Waiting for medical treatment

John sends this Houston Chronicle article:
Many men won't drop remote to go to ER till game is over
Study finds lull in hospital visits by men during sports events and a surge afterward

Armchair athletes, in general, aren't considered the healthiest of specimens. But new research shows the problem may be worse than previously thought: Men needing medical treatment tend to wait until the game is over to visit the hospital.

For example, two weeks ago a man arrived at Memorial Hermann Hospital with a grotesquely swollen ankle.

He was watching the Houston Texans on TV and injured himself during halftime. He washed down two Motrin tablets with a beer and watched the rest of the game, foot propped on the coffee table.

"Everyone has their priorities," said Eric Reichman, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, who treated the man.

The man's ankle was broken in two places, he added.
I broke my ankle during a hockey game last year, and I waited until the game was over. I figured that if I was still unable to walk on it at the end of the game, then I should get an xray. Then I sat in the ER for a couple of hours. That was lucky -- I've heard of others having to wait 6 or more hours in the ER. It turned out that I needed a steel plate in my leg, and I waited another week for the surgeon to install it. He effectively re-broke my fibula to attach the plate properly. The one-hour wait for the end of the hockey game was insignificant.

Avoiding Alzheimers disease

Jonathan urges me to smoke more dope in order to keep my Alzheimers disease from worsening:
LA JOLLA, CA, August 9, 2006 - Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have found that the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer's disease. In fact, the study said, THC is "a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque] aggregation" to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease.
In other research, omega-3 fatty acids may slow very early Alzheimer's:
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids for 6 months appears to be of little benefit in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to results of a study conducted in Sweden.

However, a second look at the data suggests that omego-3 fatty acids may protect cognitive function in patients with very mild, early stage AD.

Studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as found in fish oil, reduces the risk of AD. Furthermore, animal studies have shown that the two predominant omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), preserve cognitive function.
Meanwhile, the pediatricians say:
HEAD growth in foetal life and infancy is associated with later intelligence, new research hints.

And catch-up increases do not appear to compensate for poor early growth.

"Brain growth in early life may be important in determining not only the level of peak cognitive function attained but also whether such function is preserved in old age," the study team writes in the journal Pediatrics.

"Older people with a larger head circumference tend to perform better on tests of cognitive function and may have reduced risks of cognitive decline and of Alzheimer's disease."
So if you weren't born with a big head, eat fish and smoke dope to avoid senility in old age.

Jonathan writes:
I never said you should "smoke dope". I believe what I implied is that if, as a condition precedent, you should ever make a scientific decision that, based on your medical condition (including e.g. family history), you should ever decide that the risk of contracting Alzheimer's would probably outweigh any deleterious side effects of inhaling [non-oxidized] THC from a [currently cost-prohibitive] vaporizer, then, and only then, you might want to take a gander at Dr. Craker's IRB- and FDA- approved proposal for clinical trials of THC for human subjects, and thereafter consider the possibility of signing up for a clinical trial.
I live in California which has "medical marijuana", allowing anyone to smoke dope if he has a letter from a physician. We have physicians who will gladly write a letter for a $200 fee. All you have to do is to pay the fee and give a reason. They accept just about any reason. Most of the people getting letters are not suffering from AIDS or any of the diseases that are used to get public sympathy. The easy way to get the letter is to just cite some condition that cannot be verified, such as migraine headaches, lower back pain, or low libido.

Barbara writes that I might have been misdiagnosed, as Alzheimers disease can only be properly diagnosed with an autopsy. That is correct -- Alzheimers cannot be distinguished from other forms of senility in a live patient. But no, I have not been diagnosed with Alzheimers or any other disease. I just have readers who think that I am smoking too much dope or not enough dope!

Jonathan writes:
Your comment on California's medical marijuana provision failed to register with me, the stuff about the "letter from a doctor is all it takes". Sorry I don't have a cite for you, but my understanding is that many if not most doctors won't risk providing such a letter to their patients, because if (when) the DEA finds out they did so, the DEA can have the doctor's license revoked, or, if they can't have the state license revoked, they can (and do) revoke the doctor's DEA #, effectively making it impossible for the doctor to write prescriptions for anything for anybody. Like, after four years of medical school, then advanced training, maybe they have med school educational loans, kids at home to feeed, etc., what courageous doctor is going to risk DEA revocation of his or her DEA # ?
No, I don't think that you are correct. California physicians have a medical license from the state, and a DEA license to prescribe federally controlled substances. If a physician abuses his DEA license to prescribe cocaine to someone for recreational use, then he can lose his DEA license.

But the California medical marijuana law doesn't even involve the DEA license. A physician just has to write a letter, and it is not called a "prescription". It does not use DEA-regulated distribution channels, as does Marinol. The patient is on his own to get the dope. The feds would have no basis for going after the physician.

By contrast, the feds did warn some Oregon physicians who were using their DEA license to give federally-distributed opium to patients who wanted to kill themselves. The Oregon physicians took their case to the US Supreme Court and won.

There are plenty of California physicians who write marijuana letters for the most frivolous of reasons. It may be that most California physicians prefer not to be in the business of writing such letters, but some do and they are never punished.

If you find any contrary info, then please post it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Albright mocked

John sends this David Zucker Albright Ad. Some offended Democrats have tagged it as inappropriate for minors, but only a Clinton supporter would be offended.

The ad is over the top, but apparently the basketball story is true. Today's Wash Post says:
For now, U.S. officials are pushing for tough sanctions at the U.N. Security Council, and the United States hasn't ruled out taking other steps on its own, such as intercepting ships entering or leaving North Korean ports.

Contrast that with the situation six years ago, when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the first ranking U.S. official to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. Albright even gave a delighted Kim a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Schizophrenia term use 'invalid'

BBC reports:
The term schizophrenia should be abolished, experts have said.

They claim the category falsely groups a wide range of symptoms and encourages over-reliance on anti-psychotic drugs rather than psychological intervention.

The academics also said the label stigmatised people as being violent, dangerous and untreatable. ...

They pointed to Japan, where the category schizophrenia was replaced with "integrated disorder" in 2004, as a possible model. ...

"Most psychiatrists would still agree that the term schizophrenia is a useful, if provisional, concept. My personal preference would be to replace the unpleasant term schizophrenia with dopamine dysregulation disorder which more accurately reflects what is happening in the brain when someone is psychotic."

Til Wykes, professor of clinical psychology and rehabilitation at the Institute Of Psychiatry, said: "We should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, as despite its limitations, a diagnosis can help people access much needed services.
IOW, the concept is unscientific, but as long as they keep changing the name, they can continue to get govt money.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sex differences claimed to be bad science

Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett write:
Are single-sex classrooms the magic bullet that will produce academic achievement in public schools? Or are they simply a trend based on bad science and even worse public policy? ...

The claim: Boys are biologically programmed to focus on objects, making them predisposed to math and the understanding of systems, while girls are programmed to focus on people and are best suited for relationships. Leadership and understanding of math and science come naturally to boys, while girls are built for caring for others.

The facts: This idea was based on one study of day-old babies in which the boys looked at mobiles longer and the girls looked at faces longer. The study was demolished by Elizabeth Spelke, an expert on infant cognition and co-director of the Mind, Brain and Behavior Interfaculty Initiative at Harvard. The experiment lacked critical controls against experimenter bias, Spelke said.
Maybe that experiment lacked controls, but there are plenty of others. Here is a Spelke debate on a related subject.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Open-source code has more bugs

Business Week commentary:
Debates over what methods result in the best software often pit those who favor an open-source approach against proponents of proprietary, or closed-source, development. Conventional wisdom holds that open-source software should have fewer security flaws than proprietary software. With more eyes able to look at the underlying source code, bugs should be found and squashed much faster.

But when software security and quality really matter?like crossing the Atlantic on a jet airliner?trust me, you want to fly proprietary. ...

BUG TO BUG COMPARISON. For the first time, we've compared those results with proprietary software from more than 100 different companies, including some of the best-known names in aerospace, financial services, software, and telecommunications?more than 60 million lines of code all together.

In our research using automatic bug-hunting technology, no open-source project we analyzed had fewer software defects (per thousand lines of code) than the top-of-the-line closed-source application.
I believe this. There are some really bad bugs that have been sitting around in popular open-source software for a long time.

Teen failed for stand on gays

More news from Down Under:
A 13-YEAR-OLD student was failed after she refused to write an assignment on life in a gay community, because of her religious and moral beliefs. ...

The girl was among a class of 13 and 14-year-olds asked to imagine living as a heterosexual among a mostly homosexual colony on the moon as part of their health and physical education subject.

They had to answer 10 questions, including how they felt about being in the minority and what strategies they would use to help them cope.

They were also asked to discuss where ideas about homosexuality came from.

Sources said the students were told not to discuss the assignment with their parents and that it was to be kept in-class.

They said many of the students were uncomfortable with the subject matter or did not understand the questions.

The 13-year-old girl instantly refused to do the assignment on religious and moral grounds.

"It is against my beliefs and I am not going there," she told the teacher, who responded by failing her.

After a series of discussions between the school and her mother, it was suggested the girl would be better off leaving the state education system and attending an independent school.

The girl's mother said yesterday she did not learn of the assignment until reading her daughter's report card several weeks later and discovered a first-ever fail mark for health and physical education.
Wow. I wonder what would have happened if she wrote that the homosexuals were sick and perverted, and always trying to get in her face with their immoral activities.

Spanking children not so harmful

Spanking research from New Zealand:
Smacking children does not necessarily make them more likely to become aggressive and antisocial, new local research shows.

Research by the Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study shows children who are smacked lightly with an open hand on the bottom, hand or leg do much the same in later life as those who are not smacked, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

The study has followed 1000 children born in Dunedin in 1972-73. Later this year the findings, based on interviews when the subjects were 32-year-olds, will be published.

The project appeared to be the world's first long-term study to separate people who had merely been smacked with an open hand, lead author of the physical punishment part of the Dunedin study psychologist Jane Millichamp said.

"Study members in the 'smacking only' category of punishment appeared to be particularly high-functioning and achieving members of society," she said.

In terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement, this group had "similar or even slightly better outcomes" than those who were not smacked.

Dr Millichamp said the problem with a lot of studies was that they lumped a range of physical punishments together. She said she had not found any evidence that an occasional mild smack with an open hand on the clothed behind or the leg or hand was harmful or instilled violence in children.

Dr Millichamp acknowledged this was not a popular thing to say.

The findings undermine Green MP Sue Bradford's bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use "reasonable force" to discipline children.
This is a funny subject. The good research consistently shows that spanking kids is at least as effective as any other method of discipline, and the vast majority of the public believes that parents should be able to use "reasonable force" to discipline children. Nevertheless, there are people who are ideologically opposed to spanking, and they cite studies that show that extreme child abuse is correlated with later bad behavior. Maybe so, but moderate spanking works.

Confusing cause and effect

Here is a good example of confusing cause and effect. This UK article says that scientific research shows that people who have frequent sexual intercourse are healthier and better looking!

Assuming responsibility for domestic tasks

A young woman with a grad degree from Princeton University complains:
As young Army officers, my husband and I decided to put off starting a family until one of us was willing to stay home full time. When that time came, there was little discussion as to whose career was to be cut short, and I didn?t have much objection. However, after just six months of staying home with our son, I started to feel both restlessness about my own intellectual needs and personal ambition, and resentment about the fact that being a stay-at-home mom meant spending the day doing a literal laundry list of tasks that I hated.

I went back to work, but my husband?s career still takes precedence. ... Our society, including the educated, ambitious, female part of it, assumes that the responsibility for taking care of domestic tasks, whether actually doing it, or being the one to arrange for someone else to, falls on mothers.
So she is not complaining that she has to do the laundry. These are two-career yuppies who hire maids and nannies. No, her complaint is that her husband makes more money than she does, and she is expected to hire the maid and the nanny.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Man paying alimony to a man

Forida news:
Miami, Fl (AHN) - A man is asking the court to stop making him pay alimony to his ex-wife because she is now a man.

Lawrence Roach, of Seminole, Florida told Bay News 9 that his former wife had a sex-change operation and is now living as a man.

He wants the court to allow him to stop paying the monthly $1,200 monthly alimony payments.

Roach said, "This isn't right. It's humiliating to me and degrading. You know, I'm a man and I don't want to be paying alimony to a man. If you can't be married to a man legally, how can you legally pay alimony to a man?"
Alimony stops if the ex-wife remarries, but I don't know about this. Before no-fault divorce, a spouse wanting a sex-change would surely be grounds for divorce.

Faking expertise

Here is someone who is doing experiments on whether someone can learn a few buzzwords, read some survey papers, and then converse with an expert. Slate says:
In a recent experiment of his design, British sociologist Harry Collins asked a scientist who specializes in gravitational waves to answer seven questions about the physics of these waves. Collins, who has made an amateur study of this field for more than 30 years but has never actually practiced it, also answered the questions himself. Then he submitted both sets of answers to a panel of judges who are themselves gravitational-wave researchers. The judges couldn't tell the impostor from one of their own.

Nature seemed to be saying that if a sociologist can understand physics, then anyone can understand anything.
No, not quite. But I think that it is to the credit of physicists that they have written articles making the basics of gravity wave research accessible to non-experts.
Sokal showed that, with a little flattery, laymen could be induced to swallow the most ridiculous of scientific canards -- so why should we value their opinions on science as highly as scientists'?
No, Sokal only showed that he could bluff a postmodern cultural studies journal into publishing nonsense.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Negative opinion of negative ads

Sometimes negative ads persuade me to vote differently from intended. The ads against Arnold Schwarzenegger show him as a positive and effective leader. The ads against Jerry Brown just tell me what I already knew about him, and say nothing about his opponent.

Sue Hutchison writes in the Si Valley paper:
In the spirit of much sought-after but increasingly elusive common ground in the abortion debate, I'll begin this column by acknowledging a point of consensus regarding Proposition 85, the initiative that would require parental notification when a girl under 18 seeks an abortion.

Parents on both sides agree that if their daughter were going to undergo any medical procedure, they would want to know about it. They would want to make sure she was protected, not terrified and alone. That's why, at first glance, parental-notification laws seem eminently reasonable. ...

Proponents of Proposition 85 say, ``If your child were going to have an appendectomy or tonsillectomy, you would want to be informed.'' Well, yes, of course. ...

The comforting news is that research has shown that three of five girls under 18 do tell their parents if they want to have an abortion. ...

And there's another thing that a lot of parents don't want to consider. ... Susan Luce, a lawyer in Los Altos, realized this only recently when she was talking with her kids who were home from college. They told her that the response they dreaded most from her when they were growing up was ``The Look.'' They would go to great lengths to avoid being on the receiving end of that glower of disappointment. ... That's why there are many concerned parents of teenagers who don't support Proposition 85.
So 60% of pregnant teenaged underage girls seeking abortions tell their parents, and 40% don't because they are afraid that their parents will give them a disapproving look. So the law says that they don't have to be subjected to "The Look". Weird. I'll vote for Prop. 85. Those 40% of the parents need to know what is happening to their kids.

Yes, I do think that it is a little strange that the Leftist media pundits think that an 18-year Congressional page can't handle some lewd emails, but a 14-year-old girl with her parents is mature enough to secretly get an abortion without having to tell them.

Creepy Foley scandal

Several things about the Foley scandal are creepy. They are:

  • Persistent gay-bashing on the part of the Left.
  • Leftist newspapers and broadcasters who hoard personal details about peoples' lives, and then later publicize them in way to maximize embarrassment and political impact.
  • Saying that Foley is a pedophile just because he sent some overly-friendly or vulgar messages to 16-18 year old boys. He didn't have sex with the boys, and even if he did, they had reached the age of consent and it would not be pedophilia.
  • The idea that teenaged boys are turned gay as a result of molestations, and that they then spend their adult lives trying to similarly corrupt other boys.

    Mike writes:
    that last sentence is rather incomplete, no?
    I am just listing some creepy ideas. I suppose that I should post some research data on what actually happens, but I don't have any.

    Mike adds:
    Ah... I missed the fact that it's a list. Perhaps you should bullet them to make that clearer for those of us who read your articles from the bottom up! (16 is the age of consent? in what state? the other three points would be more appropriate criticisms of the right, rather than the left. for example, you personally are more guilty of 1 than anyone I know on the left.)
    16 is the age of consent in Wash. DC and in most of the world.

    When have you ever heard me gay-bash? It is Democrats and Leftists who argue that Republicans should have investigated Foley because he was gay. It is Leftists who persistently threaten to out closeted gays in public life. It was John Kerry and John Edwards who, in the 2004 presidential debates, each initiated a gay-baiting attack on Cheney's daughter.
  • Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Physical world described by mathematics

    Margaret Wertheim writes:
    The problem goes back to the ancient Greeks, particularly to Pythagoras, the philosophical giant who dreamed the dream that became modern physics. Pythagoras almost certainly learned his famous theorem about right-angled triangles from the Babylonians, but we owe to him a far greater idea: "All is number," he declared, becoming the first person to say that the physical world could be described by the language of mathematics.

    Pythagoras also gave us the idea of the "music of the spheres," a set of mathematical relationships that would describe the structure of the universe itself. His vision would eventually give rise to the scientific revolution led by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton. The search for a theory of everything today is the latest version of the ancient Pythagorean quest for divine "cosmic harmonies."

    Though many cultures have developed sophisticated mathematical traditions, including the Chinese, the Arabs, the Indians and the Mayans, the West is the one that came to see the material world as an embodiment of mathematical laws. And from the beginning, the search for such laws was viewed as an innately male activity.

    The Pythagorean society of the fifth century B.C. was a cradle of mathematical research, but Pythagoreanism was also a religion, and like many Greek cults its beliefs were dualistic. For Pythagoreans, reality consisted of two parts: on one side were the mind and spirit and the transcendent realm of the gods; on the other side were the body and matter and the mundane realm of the earth. Like many Greek thinkers, the Pythagoreans associated the mind/spirit side of reality with maleness and the body/matter side with femaleness.

    Pythagoras introduced numbers into this mix and put them on the male side of the ledger. In the Pythagorean system, thinking about numbers, or doing mathematics, was an inherently masculine task. Mathematics was associated with the gods, and with transcendence from the material world; women, by their nature, were supposedly rooted in this latter, baser realm.

    At the end of the Middle Ages, Pythagorean interest in a mathematical approach to science began to gain ground, and it is here that we begin to see the seeds of modern physics.
    That's right, the ancient Greeks understood the importance of Mathematics.

    Wertheim goes on to argue that this is all somehow unfair to women:
    Emmy Noether, who discovered that all physical conservation laws were associated with mathematical symmetries, was a contemporary to Einstein and helped work out some of the math of general relativity. She did so without a formal academic position and mostly without pay.
    I guess she is suggesting that Einstein was treated better because he was a man. But Einstein invented special relativity, E = mc2, and a quantum explanation of the photoelectric effect, all without a formal academic position. Even after this Nobel-Prize-winning work, it still took him several years to get a paying academic job. Maybe it took Noether a couple of extra years to get a paying academic job, but the example is not convincing. Both Noether and Einstein fled the Nazis in 1933.

    Mayan feast

    My kid's fifth grade class is having a Mayan feast. Everyone is supposed to bring and eat some Mayan food. The teacher found that Mayans and Aztecs were left out of the social studies textbook, so she has included her own lesson on the subject. I asked her if the Mayans were cannibals, and she assured me that they were not.

    The AP reported last year:
    MEXICO CITY (AP) -- It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as the history books say? Or did the Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the Indians look primitive? In recent years archaeologists have been uncovering mounting physical evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number.

    Using high-tech forensic tools, archaeologists are proving that pre-Hispanic sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killing methods.

    For decades, many researchers believed Spanish accounts from the 16th and 17th centuries were biased to denigrate Indian cultures, others argued that sacrifices were largely confined to captured warriors, while still others conceded the Aztecs were bloody, but believed the Maya were less so.

    "We now have the physical evidence to corroborate the written and pictorial record,'' said archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan.
    It says that the Aztecs were cannibals. The Mayans also engaged in human sacrifice, but maybe they didn't actually eat their victims.

    The teacher said that the Mayans independently reinvented the zero, and that some Mayan writings have been decoded.

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Women don't need much foreplay

    New Scientists reports:
    Women may have a reputation for demanding lengthy foreplay, but they become sexually aroused as quickly as men, according to a new study that used thermal imaging to measure increased blood flow to genital regions.

    While watching pornography, both sexes reach peak arousal within 10 minutes, on average, researchers report.
    Hmmm. I cannot confirm this.

    No language any better

    Walter Benn Michaels wrote:
    In fact, few people today think that any languages are either barbarous or civilized. "No language," as the linguist John Edwards has written, "can be described as better or worse than another on purely linguistic grounds"; all "languages are always sufficient for the needs of their speakers." ...

    So the good news is that progress has been made; no one any longer thinks that one language is better than another. But the bad news is that many languages are dying anyway.
    Would these same folks say that all food is always sufficient for those who eat it?

    Regardless, millions of people are switching to English, and it is now the world's dominant language.