Friday, June 29, 2007

Dubious rape case

Here is news from a local rape trial:
Two women who knew Michael McClish testified Monday, June 25, that the Ben Lomond resident had pinned each of them to his bed but didn't do anything sexual in either incident. McClish isn't charged with any crimes related to those incidents. ...

The Press-Banner has a policy against naming the reported victims of sex crimes and domestic violence. In this case, we also are not naming the reported victim's relatives, because that would point to her identity.
These two women were not claiming to be victims of sex crimes; they were just public witnesses participating in a character assassination. Their testimony should not have been even considered relevant to the case.

The rape case seems very weak:
In the second week of the trial, the victim testified that she had an 18-month affair with McClish, often meeting him for consensual sex at a location on Old County Road in Ben Lomond that they called "up top."

One day she called McClish at home because of car trouble, she said. When he showed up and her car started, she said, they went to "up top." That was where he reportedly raped and sodomized her, dangled her off a cliff and threatened her with a hatchet.

Afterward, both returned to McClish’s house, and she didn't mention the incident to McClish's wife, she said. She also said she participated in family activities with the McClishes, including a trip to Disneyland after the alleged incident. Also after the incident, she said, she left her daughter with Melissa McClish for child care.
Note that the paper calls the accuser a "victim", even thoough no crime has been proved.

Here is the real reason for the prosecution:
She never reported the alleged incident to authorities. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office arrested McClish only after detectives, questioning market employees about the disappearance and killing of market cashier Joanna "Asha" Veil nine months ago, heard her story.
You can figure that the case is bogus when you see stuff like this:
Also Monday, an expert on "intimate-partner battery" -- the present term for what used to be called battered-woman syndrome -- told the nine-man, three-woman jury that victims of sexual assaults often are unable to remember clearly what happened and frequently stay with their abusers.
If they think that McClish is a murderer, then they should try him for murder. The rape charge is ridiculous. I don't believe that women goto Disneyland with their rapists, no matter what the so-called experts say.

Update (July 6): The verdict just came in:
After deliberating for just over two days, a jury of eight men and four women found Michael McClish guilty today of one count of rape, two counts of sodomy, assault with a deadly weapon and threatening the life of a woman he was having an affair with two years ago.

McClish, of Ben Lomond, was arrested in September and has been held in County Jail since his arrest. His bail remains at $1.5 million tonight.

He faces life in prison. Sentencing is set for August 3.

McClish had an 18-month affair with the woman, a 30-year-old Aptos resident he met when they both worked at the Ben Lomond Market. He hid the affair, one of four he had during his 9-year marriage, from his wife, Melissa McClish. She defended her husband in court, but has said she will divorce him.

The rape charges against McClish surfaced during the investigation of the killing of Joanna "Asha" Veil, a 28-year-old pregnant Ben Lomond Market employee who was found dead on Love Creek Road in mid-September.
Amazing. I don't see how the jury can reach that conclusion, unless they suspect him of killing Asha. Real rape victims just don't goto Disneyland with their rapists.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Science of Gaydar

The gay reporter David France writes in NY Mag:
And the cumulative findings support the belief now widely held in the scientific community that sexual orientation -- perhaps along with the characteristics we typically associate with gayness -- is biological. "We're reaching a consensus on a broad question," says J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University. Is sexual orientation "something we're born with or something we largely acquire through social experience? The answer is clear. It's something we're born with."
After 20 years of gay gene propaganda, there is no such consensus. It is an open scientific question.

Even young people who support same-sex marriage are not convinced. A new NY Times poll asked:
48. Do you think being homosexual is something people choose, or do you think that it is something they cannot change?
34% of all adults say they choose, while 43% of 17-29 year-old said they choose. If there were really some scientific proof, then no one would have to bother with these silly arguments and polls.

Those folks aren't learning what is being taught in Maryland, according to this:
According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological cause for homosexuality. But now the Montgomery County Board of Education has done what science and medicine could not do by declaring in its newly approved curriculum that homosexuality is "innate" or inborn. The board could not produce any factual evidence for what it will now teach students -- only political "pledges" and payoffs for last year's school board elections as claimed by gay rights activists.
Homosexuality could be innate without any specific biological cause being known, but there is no proof that it is innate either. There are some known correlations with innate characteristics, just as there are for IQ, criminality, and other mental properties.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Men avoiding accusations

Glenn Sacks writes:
If dad goes for a walk with his daughter and holds her hand, apparently Virginia Department of Health officials wants you to pick up the phone and destroy his life by reporting him as a possible sexual abuser.

From Campaign advocates recognizing, reporting suspected abuse (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 6/21/07):
For years, campaigns to stop child sexual crimes have focused on encouraging children to speak up about abuse.

State health officials are trying a new tactic. The latest push, at least in Hampton Roads, is to educate adults on how to spot - and stop - sexual offenders. ...

Billboards and posters show an adult hand holding a child's hand, with the words: 'It doesn't feel right when I see them together.'

A national help line number is listed, and through it callers can get advice about what to do.

Rebecca Odor, who directs the sexual and domestic violence prevention division for the state Department of Health, said officials hope to reach people who might feel uncomfortable reporting a relative or acquaintance to law enforcers.
I do hope that people feel uncomfortable about reporting a hand-holding relative to the police.

Meanwhile, another blogger reports:
"We have a serious challenge facing our organization," said Mr. Kobara, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. "For every 10 people inquiring about becoming a 'Big Brother' or 'Sister', only three are men.

Actual participation by men may well be even less, otherwise it would have been mentioned instead of the irrelevant stat about inquiries. In any event, that's well below the national rate for all types of volunteering. During 2006, 42% of all adult volunteers were male.

The article sets out a number of possible reasons men don’t volunteer at BB-BS in greater numbers – but the fact that the rate at BB-BS is less than the overall average for volunteer-based organizations moves me to throw out an undiscussed possibility: men are afraid of having their lives destroyed by a false accusation, and fear the BB-BS will protect itself by throwing its resources behind the accuser.
I don't understand how the BBBSA operates. It supposedly checks out each mentor to make sure his (or her) motives are pure. For the sake of nondiscrimination, it allow homosexual mentors and doesn't tell the parents. But men only mentor boys, and women only mentor girls. So sex discrimination is okay but sexual preference discrimination is not, I guess. Maybe a lot of men are turned off by the whole organization, and don't want their scrutiny.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Phony H-1B tactics exposed

Slashdot reports:
Congress is now calling for a Dept. of Labor investigation into a Pittsburgh law firm after a video showing its attorneys advising employers how to game the immigration system was posted on YouTube. has more info on how lawyers train big businesses to skirt the law and hire foreigners on H-1B visas over Americans. It even has examples of phony want-ads that are designed purely to justify hiring a foreigner over an American.

Average can be more than median

A new US CDC sex survey has gotten a lot of attention, some of it confusing. Here is one AP story:
NEW YORK — The average American man has sex with seven women during his lifetime, compared to four male sexual partners for the average woman, according to a federal survey that used high-tech methods to solicit candid answers on sexual activity and illegal drug use.
Here is another:
The median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four. ... (This version CORRECTS that figures for lifetime sexual partners were median figures, not averages.)
Use of "median" and "average" makes a difference because the average number of sex partners is actually about the same for men and women. Most women don't have so many sex partners, but a few highly promiscuous women raise the average for all women enough to match the average for men.

Use of medians is probably better because it is more likely to reflect typical men and women, but it is just not right to say that the average man is having more sexual intercourse than the average woman.

If you don't believe that women lie about how many sex partners they've had, just read this letter to an advice columnist:
I'm a 35-year-old woman, and met a very handsome 43-year-old man named Daniel. We've been dating for five months now and still haven't slept together.

My problem is that in the beginning, Daniel asked me how many men I've slept with. Being a little scared of his reaction, I lied and told him seven. But after a few months, I could not live with the lie and finally decided to tell him the reason why I still haven't slept with him yet.

I told him I didn't want to make love because I was scared that he'd lose respect and eventually leave me like all the other men. At this point he asked me again, just how many men were there, to which I replied forty-three.

His reply was, "Hmm, one for each of my birthdays." And from that day on, I never heard from him again. I don't get it Curt, why is it that when men sleep around, they're studs , yet when women sleep around, they're sluts ? Why can't women have their fun too?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bad Astronomer misreads Bush

The popular Bad Astronomy blog says:

Whether you think stem cell research is immoral or not, this little trope needs to be dealt with.

President Bush vetoed a bill last night to fund stem cell research. He then made a statement which is, to be blunt, a lie:

If this legislation became law, it would compel American taxpayers for the first time in our history to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos.

This is 100% absolutely untrue, and there is no way to interpret the bill to mean this. The bill would provide funding for additional research to use embryos which were going to be discarded anyway.

If the President were really trying to prevent what he thinks of as murder of humans, then he should block any attempts at in-vitro fertilization, which is what creates so many zygotes in the first place. Instead, he goes this route, which satisfies his far-right fundamentalist base without having to deal with actual, y’know, reality, in any way.

His statement is a lie. It is partisan pandering. It is putting ideology before science. It is distorting science.
The Bad Astronomer is just another lying Bush-hater. The embryos were going to be discarded, but not with taxpayer money. Some people do indeed have some moral qualms about in-vitro fertilization, and federal tax money does not support it. Bush is consistently objecting to forcing taxpayers to pay for killing embryoes.

So President Bush's statement is correct. You can find more about federal stem cell funding here. The feds are spending 100s of millions of dollars on stem-cell research, including embrionic stem cells. State governments, universities, and private companies are spending billions of dollars.

A comment on the Bad Astronomy blog points out what a dope the Bad Astronomer is, but he persists in his error anyway. I just call people like that lying Bush-haters. If he disagrees with Bush policy, he should just say so, but when he accuses Bush of distorting science, he is just being a dope.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pediatrics policy

News from pediatricians:
The influential American Academy of Pediatrics is reviewing its neutral stance on circumcision following recent studies showing the procedure may have reduced HIV infection rates in African men.

The organization, which represents 60,000 pediatricians and helps set pediatric policy for the larger American Medical Association, is expected to issue a new policy statement in six to 12 months, academy president Dr. Jay E. Berkelhamer said.

Berkelhamer, a pediatrician in Atlanta, said the organization's researchers are in the "literature review" stage, and that it's too early to know whether they plan to endorse routine circumcision. But he wouldn't go so far as to recommend the surgery to expectant or new parents, noting that he's "not terribly uncomfortable with policy as currently written."
A year for a literature review? The Bible describes recommendations for circumcision dating back 1000s of years, but I doubt that the peds will be reviewing that.

My guess is that the peds are dying to tell everyone what to do, but don't want to admit that it is based on the possibility of African promiscuity. They should admit that personal choice, customs, and circumstances are factors here, and there is no best universal policy. The pediatricians have a long history of making recommendations that are based more on ideology than science.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kilimanjaro not a victim of climate change

Seattle Times reports:
The shrinking snowcap atop Mount Kilimanjaro has become an icon of global warming.

Pictures of the African peak, which has lost 90 percent of its ice cover, were featured in Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." Greenpeace activists once held a satellite news conference on the summit to sway participants in an international climate conference.

But most scientists who study Kilimanjaro's glaciers have long been uneasy with the volcano's poster-child status. ...

Rising nearly four miles from the plains of eastern Tanzania, Kilimanjaro has seen its glaciers decline steadily for well over a century — since long before humans began pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Mote points out. ...

Also, recent data from Kilimanjaro show temperatures on the 19,340-foot volcano never rise above freezing. So melting triggered by a warmer atmosphere can't be the reason the small summit ice sheet is retreating about 3 feet a year, said Georg Kaser, co-author of the new article and a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. ...

Models predict global warming will increase rainfall in Eastern Africa, which could actually be the thing that saves the "shining mountain's" snowy crown.
So those pictures of Kilimanjaro are really evidence that we don't have enough global warming yet.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ritalin use doubles after divorce

Psychiatry news:
TORONTO (Reuters) - Children from broken marriages are twice as likely to be prescribed attention-deficit drugs as children whose parents stay together, a Canadian researcher said on Monday, and she said the reasons should be investigated.More than 6 percent of 633 children from divorced families were prescribed Ritalin, compared with 3.3 percent of children whose parents stayed together, University of Alberta professor Lisa Strohschein reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study of more than 4,700 children started in 1994, while all the families were intact, Strohschein said. They followed the children’s progress to see what happened to their families and to see what drugs were prescribed.

"It shows clearly that divorce is a risk factor for kids to be prescribed Ritalin," Strohschein said.

Other studies have shown that children of single parents are more likely to get prescribed drugs such as Ritalin. But is the problem caused by being born to a never-married mother, or some other factor?

"So the question was, 'is it possible that divorce acts a stressful life event that creates adjustment problems for children, which might increase acting out behavior, leading to a prescription for Ritalin?'", Strohschein said in a statement.

"On the other hand, there is also the very public perception that divorce is always bad for kids and so when children of divorce come to the attention of the health-care system -- possibly because parents anticipate their child must be going through adjustment problems -- doctors may be more likely to diagnose a problem and prescribe Ritalin."

Ritalin, known generically as methylphenidate, is a psychostimulant drug most commonly prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.

There is a big debate in much of the developed world over whether it may be over-prescribed — given to children who do not really need it. In March, a University of California, Berkeley study found that the use of drugs to treat ADHD has more than tripled worldwide since 1993.
No, those really aren't the only possibilities. Maybe the misbehaving child caused the parents' divorce. Maybe no one wants to marry a single woman with a misbehaving child. Maybe parents with ADD genes are more likely to get divorced. Maybe the child doesn't have ADD at all, but is given ritalin as a way of scapegoating him or pretending that problems are being addressed. Maybe the child is doing just fine, but the single parent has trouble coping with normal misbehaviors and tries ritalin. Maybe there is no such thing as ADD, but ritalin is still a useful tool for lazy parents, and especially useful if no spouse is helping. Maybe the child is misbehaving because he is learning from the misbehavior of his parents, and not suffering emotional stress.

Conventional wisdom is that divorcing parents cause problems for kids, and not the other way around. But a scientific study should consider all the possibilities. There is no obvious link between emotional distress and attention deficits, so some of those other explanations seem more likely to me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tech execs lobby Senate on H-1B visas

The Si Valley newspaper reports:
WASHINGTON - Silicon Valley executives, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi lobbied Congress on immigration Wednesday as the tech sector made some headway in getting employer-friendly provisions in a massive Senate bill. ...

"We're caught in a vise on immigration, and we're worried that this point system will mean a lot of job needs go unmet," said Bill Coleman, CEO of San Jose-based Cassatt. He noted that 53 percent of Silicon Valley engineers are foreign-born. ...

The Senate bill raises the cap on H-1B visas for skilled workers from 65,000 to 115,000, but does not exempt holders of advanced degrees, as last year's Senate bill did. The Cantwell-Cornyn amendment includes that exemption - which executives said was crucial in filling specific jobs quickly - and raises the cap to 140,000.

Many visa-holders wait years for a green card, and that backlog "is causing a massive recruiting and retention crisis for employers," the TechNet executives said in a letter to senators. ...

Some critics of the visa program say employers have abused it to hire foreign workers at lower wages. Tech representatives say such abuses are few ...
So it is a crisis that only 53% of our engineers are foreign-born? How many do they want? 80%? 90%?

All H1-B visas are for the benefit of employers hiring foreign workers at lower wages. There are always American workers available for the same jobs. Aliens of extraordinary abilities get EB-1 visas.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mohammedans taking over England

UK news:
Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found. ...

Scholars said that the name’s rise up the league table was driven partly by the growing number of young Muslims having families, coupled with the desire to name their child in honour of the Prophet.

Although the official names register places the spelling Mohammed at No 23, an analysis of the top 3,000 names provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) puts Muhammad at No 2 once the 14 spellings are taken into account. If its popularity continues – it rose by 12 per cent last year – the name will take the top spot by the end of this year. It first entered the Top 30 in 2000. ...

Overall, Muslims account for 3 per cent of the British population, about 1.5 million people. However, the Muslim birthrate is roughly three times higher than the nonMuslim one.
In a few years, there will be millions of Mohammads all over Europe.

The funny part of this article is where they had to consult scholars to say that the trend has something to do with Muslims.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Should English be the official language

I was surprised that none of the major Democrat candidates will willing to answer positively to this question:
Show of hands question: Should English be the official language of the United States?
It seems to me that the safe answer would have been to say that English is already the official language. They could still support translations into other languages when practical.

Just remember, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say that English should not be the official language.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Early sex correlated with low self-esteem

NY Times reports:
Girls who have sex at an early age are at slightly greater risk than their peers for feeling depressed, a new study has found. But their self-esteem suffers only if the sex occurs outside a romantic relationship. ...

First sex was associated with a decrease in self-esteem, but only among girls who were younger than the average age and not in a romantic relationship. Girls who had sex at the average age or later had no increased risk for depressive symptoms compared with those who had not had sex. ...

"I think this is a good study," Dr. Lindberg said. "I'm struck at how much you have to recognize that teen sexual behavior occurs in a social context."

"One of the big findings here," Dr. Lindberg continued, "is that it's age norms and not the actual age that matters, and these norms vary depending on what group in society you’re in."
I think she is trying to say that it is psychologically healthy for young girls to have sexual relations as long as everyone else is doing it.

The trouble with these psychologicsl studies is that all they can really do is tell you about behavior that is outside social norms. They can't tell whether the behavior is good or bad. I am not sure they can even say that early sex causes low self-esteem; maybe young girls with low self-esteem are more likely to have casual sexual relations.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

NASA says climate may not be optimal

NASA administrator Michael Griffin was interviewed on NPR:
INSKEEP: It has been mentioned that NASA is not spending as much money as it could to study climate change — global warming — from space. Are you concerned about global warming?

GRIFFIN: I'm aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we've had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent. I'm also aware of recent findings that appear to have nailed down — pretty well nailed down the conclusion that much of that is manmade. Whether that is a longterm concern or not, I can't say.

INSKEEP: Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?

GRIFFIN: I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.
You wouldn't expect any of this to be controversial, but look at the reaction:
James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist: "It's an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement. It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change."

Michael Oppenheimer, Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University: "It's astounding that the head of a major U.S. science agency could hold such attitudes — basically ignorance about the global warming problem. It's so astonishing that I think he should resign."

Gavin Schmidt, NASA climate scientist: "Griffin's comments seem surprisingly naive. We are not in a situation where we are shopping around for an ideal climate, but that we have adapted to the climate we have, and that therefore large changes to it are not likely to be beneficial."

Berrien Moore, Director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire: "I don’t understand it. I'm really stunned he would say something like that. I mean, I just really find it shocking."
They don't want a NASA official to be saying stuff like that, but the criticisms are more political than scientific. There is no scientific paper that shows that the Earth's current climate is optimal. Yes, we have adapted well to the climate, but we might adapt even better to a different climate. At any rate, NASA has no business taking a stand on what sort of climate the Earth should have anyway. It should just gather info and make predictions.