Thursday, March 29, 2007

Free infinite storage space

The Si Valley paper reports:
Yahoo's e-mail users currently get 1 gigabyte of storage, but that will start to change in May when the Sunnyvale-based company plans to gradually lift all space constraints. It will take several months before all of Yahoo's e-mail users have infinite storage space.
Yahoo just has to buy some infinite capacity disc drives.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Free-trade economist warns of coming disaster

John writes:
[Princeton economist Alan S.] Blinder estimates 30-40 million jobs are offshorable in the next 10-20years -- about one-fourth of our entire labor force. That's 10 times a published estimate ... quoted four years ago. Moreover, the jobs which Blinder lists as relatively safe from offshoring just happen to be the same types of lower-paid jobs that seem to be filled disproportionately by immigrants both legal and illegal.
Blinder says that the USA has an urgent need to retrain everyone, because the only safe jobs are for divorce lawyers and civil engineers.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Why feminism could be bad for your health

A UK paper reports:
For years, feminists have fought for equality, believing it is the key to a better society.

Now researchers have found that parity between the sexes may be bad for your health.

A study in Sweden, arguably one of the most egalitarian countries in the world, discovered that men and women who are equal are more likely to suffer illness or disability.

Those who earn the same are also more likely to become unwell or suffer a disability.

People who have management jobs, male or female, were also found to die younger than those with a less pressured lifestyle.

Scientists looked at both public and private sector workers. They used nine indicators of equality, including the proportion of men and women in management jobs and average income.

These were related to local figures for life expectancy, disability and absence from work through ill health. The study compared data from all of Sweden's 290 municipalities.
I'm not sure what this shows. It may just be that a real job is more stressful than being a housewife.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gays mainly want dignity and respect

Prominent same-sex marriage advocate Dale Carpenter writes:
A legal reform that has given gay couples all of the rights and benefits of marriage under state law -- a change that would have been unthinkable a generation or two ago -- is now considered hurtful and degrading by the very people it benefits. ...

What I think this suggests is that for many gay couples the struggle for marriage is not only, or even primarily, a struggle for particular legal benefits. It is a struggle for equal dignity, recognition, legitimacy, and respect under the law. That is something only full marriage can provide because it is a relationship that families, friends, co-workers, and employers readily understand.
I think that he is correct. The fight for same-sex marriage has very little to do with legal rights and benefits. The real purpose is to force the public to respect homosexual lifestyles.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Unemployed homeowners

Tim Harford writes:
English economist Andrew Oswald has shown that across European countries, and across U.S. states, high levels of home ownership are correlated with high levels of unemployment. More conventional factors such as generous welfare benefits or high levels of unionization don't explain unemployment nearly as well as the tendency to own houses. Renting your home and staying flexible do wonders for your chances of always finding an interesting job to do.
People say home ownership is a good thing, but it also has its drawbacks.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Chickenpox vaccine endangers adults

Here is some new CDC research:
BOSTON (Reuters) - Merck's chickenpox vaccine Varivax not only loses its effectiveness after a while, but it has also changed the profile of the disease in the population, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

The study confirmed what doctors widely knew -- that the vaccine's protection does not last long.

And with fewer natural cases of the disease going around, unvaccinated children or children in whom the first dose of the vaccine fails to work have been catching the highly contagious disease later in life, when the risk of severe complications is greater, they said.

"If you're unvaccinated and you get it later in life, there's a 20-times greater risk of dying compared to a child, and a 10 to 15 times greater chance of getting hospitalized," said Jane Seward of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, who worked on the study.

The findings, reported fully for the first time in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, have already had an impact.

They helped prompt the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to recommend a booster shot between the ages of 4 and 6. The panel also said in its June 2006 report that children, adolescents and adults should be given boosters as well.

No one knows how long the effects of a second shot will last, said the research team, led by Sandra Chaves of the CDC.
I have spoken out against the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine mandate as one that is unnecessary and may be causing more harm than good. It is much better for people to get chickenpox as kids than adults, and the vaccine leaves adults without the immunity they need.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Feminism defined as equality

Conservapedia defines feminism
The University of Oklahoma offers "There are many definitions of what a feminist is--the simplest and probably the best is what is listed in most dictionaries—'a person who believes in the full equality of women and men.' ... The goal of feminism is equality ...
The source continued:
I guarantee you -- when men start being 50% of secretaries or 50% of fathers -- those careers will become much more valued.
The feminists want men to be 50% of fathers? Just what do they want the other 50% to be?

I think the author wanted 50% of stay-at-home parents to be men, or 50% of fathers to assume a mother's role, or something like that.

It is funny how feminist complaints center on asking men to do women's work. The jobs that are over 99% male (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics) are: loggers, car body repairers, cement masons, truck mechanics, power-line installers, tool and die makers, and roofers. Women can sign up for these jobs anytime they want.

I got this list from the March 12 San Jose Mercury News. I did not see the story online. The percentages were from 2006, with wage data from May 2005. The only job that was 99% female was dental hygienist. The dental hygienists have an annual median wage of $60,890, more than all of the above male occupations.

New report on California schools

The NY Times reports:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "Today’s studies show that no amount of money will improve our schools without needed education reform. We need to focus on critical school reform before any discussion about more resources."
California spends more than other states on education, about 60% of tax revenues. But it performs worse on test scores. Spending per student is not so high, because of the huge number of illegal alien kids, but the schools still have plenty of money.

Schwarzenegger is right.

NY Times attacks blog article

The NY Times published this AP story:
The president of the leading Southern Baptist seminary has suggested that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven, and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified.

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and one of the country’s evangelical leaders, posted the article on his personal Web site earlier this month.

Mr. Mohler said in the article that scientific research "points to some level of biological causation" for homosexuality.
Mohler has more comments here.

I am wondering why any of this is news. The opinions are completely innocuous. Somebody must have said something politically incorrect, but I'm not sure what. Apparently this is a subject where the slightest deviation from the approved lingo can get you in trouble.

A couple of days ago the Pentagon’s top general called homosexuality immoral, and he was immediately denounced by presidential candidates. But none of them was willing to express an opinion on whether homosexuality immoral or not. Apparently there are certain opinions about homosexuality that everyone is supposed to have, but you'd better not go into any detail.

Update: I guess the candidates had to consult some focus groups before giving an opinion:
WASHINGTON -- Homosexuality is not immoral, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama said Thursday -- after gay and lesbian Democrats pressured them to denounce Gen. Peter Pace's claim that same-sex relationships were wrong.

Over the previous 48 hours, Clinton and Obama had dodged reporters who asked them point-blank if homosexuality was immoral.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tooth decay bacteria

The NY Times says that you can blame moms for tooth decay:
If the tooth decay bacterium spreads easily from person to person, any geographical pattern would soon be blurred. But Streptococcus mutans is transmitted almost entirely from mother to child, preserving its lineages over thousands of years. The bacteria apparently infect the infant during birth, beginning the work that provides the dentistry profession its livelihood. We’ve never seen father-to-child transmission," Dr. Caulfield said. Thanks, Mom.
Now that they have identified the bacteria, why can't they kill it?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Daylight saving time does not save energy

ABC reports:
Congress's logic was simple. If there's an extra hour of sunlight in the evening, people will turn on fewer lights. The Transportation Department once did a study saying daylight savings reduced America's use of oil by 100,000 barrels a day.

But Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff, who are working on their doctorates in economics, say the reduced need for light in the evening will likely be negated by the increased need in the early morning.

The folks in Washington apparently hadn't considered this. The daylight savings shift was a three-paragraph item in a 550-page energy bill in 2005. And that study from the Transportation Department? It's more than 30 years old.

Kellogg and Wolff came to their conclusion by studying Australia, where several states extended daylight-saving time (DST for short) by two months in 2000 to accommodate the Olympic Games in Sydney that year.

They compared electric demand in the state of Victoria, which extended DST, with its next-door neighbor, South Australia, which did not.

"Our results show that the extension failed to conserve electricity," they wrote.
It is amazing that there wasn't more analysis going into a change like this. My Win2000 computer and my satellite receiver had trouble with yesterday's shift.

Jury clears girl in suit over bike-skate crash

New Jersey news:
A Morris County civil jury deliberated just 15 minutes Monday before clearing a Chester Township teenager of negligence when she and a wealthy physician neighbor collided in 2003 while she was inline skating and he was bicycling. ...

The physician -- who earned $800,000 in 2004 and got $750,000 for half the sale of his former fertility practice -- also maintained that he deserved about $160,000 to cover income he lost recuperating from his injuries.

According to testimony, the doctor saw the girl skating ahead of him on Sugar Maple Row and paced her for about 400 feet before deciding to pass her. He said he rang his bell several times as he approached from behind and yelled "watch out" when she did not appear to hear him.
So a rich physician crashed into an 11-year-old girl from behind, and he sued her!

I wonder how much his occupation was a factor here. Apparently he was used to exploiting desperate women for obscene amounts of money. Most people would say that he was at fault for not watching where he was going.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ethics of colleges spying on teenagers

Randy Cohen, the New York Times Magazine Ethicist, gives wacky advice to readers each week. Here is today's stupidity:
I interview high-school seniors who apply to my alma mater. I routinely Google these students and discovered that one posted information on his blog that reflects poorly on him. May I ask him about the blog? May I mention it to the university? Should it affect the score I give him? — Keith Lublin, West Bloomfield, Mich.

... You would not read someone’s old-fashioned pen-and-paper diary without consent; you should regard a blog similarly. Your reading this student’s blog is legal — he posted it voluntarily, and in that sense it is public information — but not every young person grasps this. Many unwisely regard their blogs as at least semiprivate. You should not exploit their youthful folly. ...

You would not read someone’s old-fashioned pen-and-paper diary without consent; you should regard a blog similarly. Your reading this student’s blog is legal — he posted it voluntarily, and in that sense it is public information — but not every young person grasps this. Many unwisely regard their blogs as at least semiprivate. You should not exploit their youthful folly. ...

UPDATE: Lublin checked with the university and was told not to ask the student about the blog but to include its URL with his report.
In essence, Cohen is saying that it is unethical to spy on the boy, but then endorses it anyway, and approves of secretly reporting on his snooping to the college that the boy might attend.

This is the worst possible answer. The boy has a right to know how he is being judged. He may have a good explanation for whatever is on the questionable web page, and the interview is the place to consider it, if it is to be considered at all.

I did my own googling, and apparently the college advocating the secret spying is the University of Michigan. It apparently also refused to be quoted for this despicable policy.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Low-Fat Diet Flunks Another Test

A NY Times blog reports:
The federal government has determined that a low-fat diet is beneficial to your health. That’s why it’s been advising Americans for so long to cut back on fats. But scientists are obstinately refusing to get with the program.

The latest blow to the official wisdom comes from Stanford University researchers in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was described as the largest and longest comparison yet done of four popular diets, as Reuters reports :
The study randomly assigned a group of 311 overweight, post-menopausal, non-diabetic women one of the four diets. All attended weekly diet classes for eight weeks and were given books to follow. Their weight and metabolism were then checked for the following 10 months.
Another big medical study has shown benefits to a high-fat diet. For many years, supposed experts have been telling everyone that a low-fat diet is healthier, while the science says the opposite.

Common sense would seem to imply that you would eat a low-fat diet to lose fat. But if your physician tells you that, then you can conclude that he hasn't read any of the research for the last 40 years.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Math teacher on Libby jury

The TalkLeft readers are starting to worry about a hung jury in the Scooter Libby case:
Never, ever, ever let a mathematician on your jury. Drilled into my head by a now-deceased colleague "between spoons of soup" over our several years of collaboration.

Why? -- Because no case has everything fitting together like the proverbial Swiss watch or jigsaw puzzle. There is always a loose end, and mathematicians (and, to a lesser degree, engineers and other scientists) both abhor loose ends, and reject anything which contains one.
One of the jurors is a retired math teacher. The jury also has a lawyer, a banker, and some others that could have been rejected.

The latest jury question does not sound like it came from a math teacher. It doesn't sound like the juror is near a conviction either.

What Mohammedan female suicide bombers expect

Slate tries to answer:
If male martyrs can expect to find 72 virgin maidens in paradise when they die, what rewards can female suicide bombers expect?
It gives several answers, including this:
One of the inmates, Ayat Allah Kamil, 20, from Kabatya, told me why she had wanted to become a martyr: "Because of my religion. I'm very religious. For the holy war [jihad] there's no difference between men and women shaid [martyrs]."

According to the Koran, male martyrs are welcomed to Paradise by 72 beautiful virgins. Ayat, as with many of the women she is incarcerated with, believes that a woman martyr "will be the chief of the 72 virgins, the fairest of the fair".
I wonder what the Mohammedan leaders say about this.

Leftist blogs use more dirty words

Some bloggers are complaining that Ann Coulter used an offensive term as part of a joke to a conservative audience. It is funny how most of them are either unable or unwilling to say exactly why they are offended (if they really are offended).

The NewsBuckit did a comparison:
But how different are the Rightosphere and Leftosphere when it comes to "dirty" language? ...

And this is what I found, using what I deemed ... to be the 18 biggest Lefty blogs, and 22 biggest Righty blogs. ...

So how much more does the Left use Carlin's "seven words" versus the Right? According to my calculations, try somewhere in the range of 18-to-1.
This study is not surprising. The Left does far more coarse name-calling than the Right.

Remember it was John Edwards who launched a bigoted gay-baiting attack on Cheney's family on national TV in 2004. Running mate John Kerry didn't disavow it; he followed it up with his own anti-gay attack on national TV. The entire Democrat Party applauded.

Single women do less housework

The UK BBC reports on a new study by UK labour economist Helene Couprie of Toulouse University:
And by examining information on more than 2,000 people, she concluded that on average, an employed woman does 15 hours a week of housework when she lives with her employed partner, up from 10 hours when single.

Meanwhile the men, who do seven hours while living alone, do only five when they co-habit.

The findings are partly, Ms Couprie suggests, due to influences that people have grown up with - where traditionally women have taken on the lion's share of domestic tasks.

She says that as long as children see their parents stick to certain tasks, such trends become hard to change.

Ultimately, she adds, "it is the work of social evolution".

And evolution takes time, she insists - perhaps another 20 years for the situation to really change in terms of the division of labour.
Her conclusions don't really follow from her data. If she really wanted to test whether housework habits are really based on seeing a parental division of labor, she could have looked at people reared by single parents or who otherwise grew up seeing a different division of labor.

She also could have looked at male roomates, and at female roommates. My guess is that a woman with a female roommate will do more housework than a single woman. If so, memory of seeing parental role models could have nothing to do with it.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Mexican domestic violence law

Mexico news, via Dr. Helen:
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican men who display extreme jealousy or avoid sex with their wives could be tried in court and punished under a new law, the special prosecutor for crimes against women told a local newspaper on Friday.

Men who phone their wives every half hour to check up on them, constantly suspect them of infidelity or try to control the way they dress are committing the crime of jealousy, special prosecutor Alicia Elena Perez Duarte told Excelsior newspaper.

Those who stop talking to their wives, avoid sex or try to convince suspicious spouses they are "crazy" even if they are caught red-handed having an affair, are guilty of indifference, she said.

Men found guilty of jealousy or indifference could face up to five years in prison, the newspaper said. Mexico's individual states will determine the punishments, it said.

The progressive new law was passed this month to protect women from domestic violence. ...

Perez Duarte said indifference, jealousy or lack of love were crimes against women just as much as physical violence.

"Jealousy produces a particular type of stress in the person that comes up against it," she said. "It is exactly the same. They are wounds, psychological scars identical to physical scars."
I thought this was a joke, at first. I have ridiculed domestic violence law before, but this is beyond what I thought possible. She is saying that if a man avoids sex with his wife, then he has committed a crime of domestic violence just the same as if he had beaten her up. Amazing.

Here is another article:
President Felipe Calderon, sworn into office in December, backed the law despite fears among women's groups that he would not ratify it.

Some lawyers argue the law may bump up against constitutional guarantees in granting the Interior Ministry extra powers, for instance. And the definitions of gender-based violence are too broad, they say.

"To tell sexist jokes in a bar is misogynous conduct that often goes unpunished. Is that femicide?" said Luis de la Barreda, the former Mexico City rights ombudsman and now director of a citizen-based legal center.
Jokes are often unpunished? Just what is the usual punishment for telling a joke in a bar? Weird.

Most Research Findings Are False

The 2005 John P. A. Ioannidis paper Why Most Published Research Findings Are False became an instant cult classic, and now has a couple of follow-ups by others: But a Little Replication Goes a Long Way and When Should Potentially False Research Findings Be Considered Acceptable?

These articles are particularly important for understanding medical studies that seem to have practical significance.