Sunday, March 30, 2008

Females give ambiguous signals

Here is some psychology research:
Males are apparently clueless when it comes to interpreting sexual intent from females, according to a recent study (PDF) from Indiana University's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Men were found commonly to perceive more sexual intent in women's behavior than women were intending to convey. (A campus survey showed that 68% of college females had an experience where a male mistook signs of friendliness for affection.) However, the study also shows that men were quite likely to misperceive sexual interest as friendliness. 'Rather than seeing the world through sex-colored glasses, men seemed just to have blurry vision of sorts, overall,' according to the article. If you're a male who ever mistook the meaning of a barista's smile, looks like you're not alone.
The main point of this seems to be that men are not just oversexualizing signals, and that seems to be a valid point. But why is it being reported that the men are clueless, when it is the women who are putting out the ambiguous signals? It makes more sense to say that the women are clueless about communicating their intentions.

The study really had no way of knowing whether anyone's intentions had been miscommunicated. Everyone knows anecdotes where a girl smiles at a boy, the boy asks her out for a date, and the girl turns him down. The usual interpretation is that the boy misinterpreted the girl's signal. But it is much more likely that the girl was being deliberately ambiguous. She also could have wanted the boy to think that she was interested in a date, even if she had no such interest.

Dr. Helen also commments on this.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Children do not have consensual sex

Jacob Sullum writes on a libertarian site:
This 20/20 story aired a couple weeks ago, but I missed it: John Stossel tells the tale of a Texas man condemned to a life of stigmatization as a "sex offender," lumped in with child molesters and serial rapists, because he had consensual sex with his not-quite-16-year-old girlfriend when he was a 19-year-old high school senior.
No, a 15-year-old Texas girl did not have "consensual sex". It is impossible for her to do that until she reaches the age of consent.

Some comments suggest that there is some difference between the legal and common definitions of "consent". Even if there is, it is the legal definition that is relevant here. An article would not say that someone was convicted of premeditated murder if he were really convicted of manslaughter. In this case, the man was convicted of nonconsensual statutory rape, and it is wrong to say that he was convicted of consensual sex.

Faulty rules blamed for gun's firing

Inadequate handgun rules designed by Department of Homeland Security officials are to blame for last weekend's accidental discharge of a pistol by a commercial pilot during landing preparations, a pilots association said yesterday.

"The pilot has to take his gun off and lock it up before he leaves the cockpit, so he was trying to secure the gun in preparation for landing, while he was trying to fly the airplane, too," said David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance. "In the process of doing that, the padlock that is required to be inserted into the holster pulled the trigger and caused the gun to discharge." ...

Pilots who have completed training to become federal flight deck officers (FFDOs) and carry weapons must use a holster used primarily as a home child-safety lock. A padlock is inserted through the holster and trigger guard, but, if inserted backward, it can trigger the gun, pilots say.
In other news of TSA stupidity:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today stood by its decision to require a Texas airline passenger to remove a nipple ring with pliers before boarding a flight, but says more discreet screening procedures may allow the sensitively placed piercings to be worn in the future.

"TSA acknowledges that our procedures caused difficulty for the passenger involved and regrets her discomfort with the situation," said TSA spokesman Christopher White.

"In the future, TSA's procedures will meet the security need while giving additional flexibility for this kind of screening situation," Mr. White said. "This could include a visual inspection without removal."
The pilots should not be using trigger locks, and TSA should ignore the nipple rings.

Cheerleading is not porn

The Sacramento Calif Bee newspaper reports:
Gilbert Chan, a business reporter at The Bee, pleaded not guilty Friday to a felony charge of possession of child pornography.

Chan, 52, of Davis was arrested after trying to conceal a camera he was using to videotape a youth cheerleading competition at UC Davis on Feb. 3, police said.

Yolo County prosecutors filed a complaint alleging a single felony count of possessing obscene matter depicting sexual conduct of a person under 18.

Chan's lawyer, Steven Sabbadini, questioned the charge. "What he did was film fully clothed cheerleaders during a public performance," he said. "The question is whether that fits the definition of child pornography."
I am getting the impression that most child porn charges are bogus. This case is an insult to cheerleaders.

Here is another California story about an overreaction to an innocent and harmless teacher:
SOUTH PASADENA - District officials are investigating an incident in which a substitute teacher allegedly reprimanded a student inappropriately, authorities said Friday.

Police were called to South Pasadena Middle School on Wednesday following a report that a teacher had assaulted a child, said Cpl. Craig Cooper of the South Pasadena Police Department.

After investigating, police closed the case, determining no abuse had occurred, Cooper said.

The teacher "used the tip of her finger and patted (the student) on the forehead," Cooper said. "She was all, `Come on, you, you can do better than that."'

School officials, who also made a complaint to Los Angeles County child services representatives, are continuing to look into the case, said South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Brian Bristol.

"There was a substitute teacher that engaged in conduct that we consider to be physically and verbally assaultive," Bristol said, declining to confirm details about the alleged forehead-tapping.

"She made a poor choice, and we do not tolerate that. Such conduct is unacceptable," Bristol said of the teacher, adding that she will not be allowed to teach in the district again.
The school officials lack common sense. Many other states allow teachers to spank the students.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene

Here is a funny video about gay scientists looking for a Christian gene.

I am not sure what point the producer was trying to make. It looks like a parody of Christian scientists looking for a gay gene. But I thought that it was mainly gay scientists who promote the gay gene theory. Maybe it is a parody of gay scientists looking for a gay gene.

I am not sure which is more ridiculous, a gay gene or a Christian gene. Most behavior is some complex combination of nature and nuture, as far as anyone knows.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Japanese mindreaders

Here is a new study:
How do you know how someone is feeling? For people in Western societies, it is usually easy: look at the person’s face.

But for people from Japan and other Eastern societies, a new study finds, it may be more complex — having to do not only with evaluating the other person’s face but also with gauging the mood of others who might be around.

The differences may speak to deeply ingrained cultural traits, the authors write, suggesting that Westerners may “see emotions as individual feelings, while Japanese see them as inseparable from the feelings of the group.”
In other words, oriental mindreader don't just focus on one mind; they try to read a bunch of minds at once. Perhaps orientals conform to their group more because no one notices their individuality anyway.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy marriage and blood pressure

AP reports:
A happy marriage is good for your blood pressure, but a stressed one can be worse than being single, a preliminary study suggests.

That second finding is a surprise because prior studies have shown that married people tend to be healthier than singles, said researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad. ...

Analysis found that the more marital satisfaction and adjustment spouses reported, the lower their average blood pressure was over the 24 hours and during the daytime.

But spouses who scored low in marital satisfaction had higher average blood pressure than single people did.
The study is not freely available.

I don't see how they can conclude that a happy marriage causes low blood pressure. Maybe it is the opposite -- that low blood pressure causes marital happiness. Maybe people with low blood pressure are less irritable and easier to get along with.
Holt-Lunstad said her next step was to study couples participating in marriage counseling to see if improvement in the marriage translates into improved health.
While she is at it, maybe she should test whether blood pressure lowering drugs improve happiness in marriage.

Here is another new study:
Stressed parents aren't just damaging their own health - they may also be making their children more vulnerable to illness.

Stress is well known to affect a person's own physical health, but the effect on their children's health was unclear. To investigate, Mary Caserta and her colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York asked the parents of 169 children aged between 5 and 10 to monitor their child's health over three years, recording symptoms of illnesses and taking their temperatures. ...

Caserta's team found that the total number of illnesses, both with and without fever, was significantly higher in the children of parents who reported high levels of emotional stress.
Okay, maybe the stress is causing illness, but it seems just as likely to me that the parents are stressed out because their kids are sick all the time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hillary has a female agenda

From the Fox News TV channel:
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: What is the downside of having a woman become the president of the United States? ...

RUDOV: ... The main problem I have is if a woman has a female agenda. If she doesn't have a female agenda, if she just wants to be an executive for all the people, then all I care about is if she's qualified. And I have no qualms about having a female president.

But if we take Hillary Clinton, she specifically does have a female agenda. All you have to do is look at her Web site. Now let's go back a couple of months to around January 11, where she was campaigning in Las Vegas, and a man from the crowd — and you can check this out on the Internet — a man from the crowd yelled out, "Please help me. My wife is an illegal." And her response was, "No woman is an illegal." And that's exactly what I mean by a female agenda. ...

But Hillary embodies the female agenda. She wants to be the feminist in chief. She represents women. It says so on her Web site. And a lot of women are voting for her because she's a woman. ... Contrast that with Barack Obama.
Not any more. Obama is now running as a black man with a black agenda. He desperately wants to identify with blacks who are always whining about alleged injustices that happened decades ago, and blaming white America for everything. He even blamed his white grandmother for harboring racist thoughts after some rude black man hassled her while she was waiting for a bus. All the pundits are praising Obama's recent speech on race, but I think that it was a disaster for his campaign. Those who think that it would be wonderful to elect a president who transcends race will have to look for a new candidate.

Update: Obama clarifies (with audio here):
The hosts asked Obama about his speech at the Constitution Center.

They zeroed in on comments he made about his white grandmother and her racial phobias.

"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity," he said. "But she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know. . .there's a reaction in her that doesn't go away and it comes out in the wrong way."
He needs to shut up.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Indian outsourcers get all the H-1B visas

Business Week mag reports:
Guess Who's Getting the Most Work Visas
Indian outsourcers top the list of companies bringing foreign workers to the U.S. on the H-1B program

Overall, six of the top 10 visa recipients in 2007 are based in India; two others among the top 10, Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH) and UST Global, are headquartered in the U.S. but have most of their operations in India.

Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) are the only two traditional U.S. tech companies among the top 10. Microsoft received 959 visa petition approvals, or one fifth as many as Infosys, while Intel got 369.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Man accused of 200 rapes

Penn. crime news:
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — A man raped a woman nearly 200 times over a 13-month period at her home and his, threatening to cause her further harm if she ever told her husband or police, authorities said.

Roy Chamberlin, 29, would regularly sneak into the woman’s house after her husband left for work, then rape her, police said. ...

When she finally did talk with police, she said one alleged assault occurred just nine days after she had undergone surgery. She went to the emergency room and was treated for a bruised chest.

The woman’s husband told police he saw bruises on his wife about two dozen times and arrived home early one day in June to find her yelling at Chamberlin with the door locked.

Confronted by her husband, the woman declined to discuss the encounter, and her husband said he dropped the issue because of his wife’s ailing health, police said.

The husband said he also confronted his wife after an encounter at Chamberlin’s house, but the woman again declined to talk about it.
That is not rape. She had an affair with the man, and is now calling it rape to save her marriage.

Mom faces trial for leaving toddler in car

The AP reports:
CHICAGO - Treffly Coyne was out of her car for just minutes and no more than 10 yards away.

But that was long and far enough to land her in court after a police officer spotted her sleeping 2-year-old daughter alone in the vehicle; Coyne had taken her two older daughters to pour $8.29 in coins into a Salvation Army kettle.

Minutes later, she was under arrest — the focus of both a police investigation and a probe by the state’s child welfare agency. ...

The 36-year-old suburban mother is preparing to go on trial Thursday on misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and obstructing a peace officer. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined $2,500, even though child welfare workers found no credible evidence of abuse or neglect.
This sounds like a joke, but it is yet another example of our nanny state having gone too far.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blaming cyclists is part of tragedy

A letter to the editor of the local paper says:
Once again, we hear the tragic news about cyclists killed on the road (Page 1A, March 10), and once again, the tone of the article implies that it is the cyclists' fault. Toward the end of this otherwise fine article, we read the following.
Cyclists along the well-traveled stretch of road talked Sunday about the dangers of their sport - everything from speeding cars to drivers who blare their horns in an attempt to intimidate them. One of the most dangerous things cyclists can do, they said, is ride two abreast. That practice is not illegal but can be extremely dangerous on narrow, winding roads with a large amount of traffic.
So, a sheriff's car crosses a double-yellow line and plows into a group of cyclists, killing two of them, and what we read is sympathy for the distraught driver, and words that shift the blame to the dead and injured cyclists, with absolutely no evidence presented that they were doing anything wrong. This is appalling.

Mark Flynn
San Jose
The paper says the cop fell asleep:
Sunday morning around 10:30 a.m. Council crossed a double yellow line on Stevens Canyon Road and struck a group of cyclists in the opposite lane. Matt Peterson, 29, of San Francisco, and Kristianna Gough, 30, of Oakland, died.

Daniel Brasse was the first to come on to the scene of Sunday's crash. There was no screech, no bang - no noise to warn bicyclist Brasse about what was coming around the corner.

A sheriff's patrol car was facing the wrong way on the wrong side of the road after slamming into Brasse's three riding partners. A deputy was walking around in a daze, later telling at least two witnesses he had fallen asleep.

Peterson was already dead. Another of Brasse's friends, Christopher Knapp, 20, was writhing in agony, with two limbs broken. And Gough, her leg severed and her head bleeding, was gasping for air.
As far as anyone knows, the bicyclists were riding in a safe and legal way. It is a lightly traveled road, and there is no bicycle lane.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Women lag in the physical sciences

Christina Hoff Sommers writes:
Math 55 is advertised in the Harvard catalog as “prob­ably the most difficult undergraduate math class in the country.” ...

Math 55 does not look like America. Each year as many as 50 students sign up, but at least half drop out within a few weeks. As one former student told The Crimson newspaper in 2006, “We had 51 students the first day, 31 students the second day, 24 for the next four days, 23 for two more weeks, and then 21 for the rest of the first semester.” Said another student, “I guess you can say it’s an episode of ‘Survivor’ with people voting themselves off.” The final class roster, according to The Crimson: “45 percent Jewish, 18 percent Asian, 100 percent male.” ...

Professor was soon everywhere in the press and on April 8, 1999, was invited to attend an Equal Pay Day event at the White House. Referring to Hopkins and her team, President Clinton said, “Together they looked at cold, hard facts about disparity in everything from lab space to annual salary.”

But cold, hard facts had little to do with it. After reviewing the available evidence and interviewing some insiders, University of Alaska psychologist Judith Kleinfeld con­cluded, “The MIT report presents no objective evidence whatsoever to support claims of gen­der discrimination in laboratory space, salary, research funds, and other resources.” Readers are told in the summary report that women fac­ulty “proved to be underpaid.” we also learn that the “salary data are confidential and were not provided to the committee.” So on what basis did they conclude there were salary dis­parities? Hopkins and the other authors explain, “Possible inequities in salary are flagged by the committee from the limited data available to it.” But “possible” soon became “actual,” and by the time it reached President Clinton it had morphed into “cold, hard facts.”
The article describes misguided attempts to use Title IX methods to get more women into the hard sciences.

Today's NY Times has a review today of Susan Pinker's new book on the gender gap.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Woman on dumb women

The Wash Post published this amusing rant:
What is it about us women? Why do we always fall for the hysterical, the superficial and the gooily sentimental? Take a look at the New York Times bestseller list. At the top of the paperback nonfiction chart and pitched to an exclusively female readership is Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." Here's the book's autobiographical plot: Gilbert gets bored with her perfectly okay husband, so she has an affair behind his back. Then, when that doesn't pan out, she goes to Italy and gains 23 pounds forking pasta so she has to buy a whole new wardrobe, goes to India to meditate (that's the snooze part), and finally, at an Indonesian beach, finds fulfillment by -- get this -- picking up a Latin lover!

This is the kind of literature that countless women soak up like biscotti in a latte cup: food, clothes, sex, "relationships" and gummy, feel-good "spirituality." This female taste for first-person romantic nuttiness, spiced with a soup├žon of soft-core porn, has made for centuries of bestsellers -- including Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel "Pamela," in which a handsome young lord tries to seduce a virtuous serving maid for hundreds of pages and then proposes, as well as Erica Jong's 1973 "Fear of Flying."

Then there's the chick doctor television show "Grey's Anatomy" (reportedly one of Hillary Clinton's favorites). Want to be a surgeon? Here's what your life will be like at the hospital, according to "Grey's": sex in the linen-supply room, catfights with your sister in front of the patients, sex in the on-call room, a "prom" in the recovery room so you can wear your strapless evening gown to work, and sex with the married attending physician in an office. Oh, and some surgery. When was the last time you were in a hospital and spotted two doctors going at it in an empty bed?

I swear no man watches "Grey's Anatomy" unless his girlfriend forces him to. No man bakes cookies for his dog. No man feels blue and takes off work to spend the day in bed with a copy of "The Friday Night Knitting Club." No man contracts nebulous diseases whose existence is disputed by many if not all doctors, such as Morgellons (where you feel bugs crawling around under your skin). At least no man I know. Of course, not all women do these things, either -- although enough do to make one wonder whether there isn't some genetic aspect of the female brain, something evolutionarily connected to the fact that we live longer than men or go through childbirth, that turns the pre-frontal cortex into Cream of Wheat.
A feminist replies:
A far more important question is this: Why did The Post publish this nonsense? I can't imagine a great newspaper airing comparable trash talk about any other group. "Asians Really Do Just Copy." "No Wonder Africa's Such a Mess: It's Full of Black People!" Misogyny is the last acceptable prejudice, and nowhere more so than in our nation's clueless and overwhelmingly white-male-controlled media.
She says a male editor should have been "afraid of being seen as a total caveman".

Monday, March 03, 2008

Why the Oscars stunk

I think I figured out why the recent movie Academy Awards (Oscars) got such lousy TV ratings. Of the 113 nominations, only 8 of those went to movies that were among the top 10 money-grossing movies of 2007.

The most popular movie to win a prize was The Bourne Ultimatum, but it just won obscure editing prizes. The next most popular movies to win prizes were Ratatouille, a Disney cartoon, and Juno, a very annoying feminist message move. I criticized Juno below.

I think that people want to see their favorite movie stars win prizes. If they cannot, then there is no point to watching the Oscars.

Truth about gals' serial fibbing

The NY Post reports:
Most females lie "more cleverly and successfully than men" about everything from infidelity and facelifts to barhopping and shopping binges, according to a new book. ...

Barish said a Rockland County woman stripped of her secrets on Fox TV's reality show "Moment of Truth" last week proves her research true.

Lauren Cleri, 26, admitted on air she had cheated on her NYPD cop husband and preferred an ex-boyfriend. But she failed a polygraph, and lost $200,000, by answering "yes" when asked if she believed she was a good person.

"It supports my thesis that women are talented at lying - but perhaps not enough to pass a lie-detector test," Barash said.
That TV shows seems to have taken reality-show humiliation to a new level. Some reality shows portray people trying to accomplish something; others just try to humiliate people. There must be a lot of people who enjoy others being humiliated.

This research is biased, but I think that it is correct that women lie a lot more than men do.

More comments on Dr. Helen's blog.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Bonds transcript released

The Barry Bonds grand jury transcript has been released, and it includes gems like this:
Q. Just to follow-up on the grand juror's question, is that -- if you're giving gifts of $15,000 or $20,000 a year to individuals, is that something that you declare on your tax returns as a gift?

A. I didn't declare it on my tax returns at all, no. Because they didn't want to have to pay tax on it. I'm thinking: "Fifteen grand, whoop-de-doo. You know, slap me on the hands, and I'll pay my taxes on it."
I suppose a lot of people are going to read this, and decide that Bonds is a jerk. But I read this, and wonder what justification the grand jury had for asking questions like this. It appears to me that the DAs were just trying to set a perjury trap for Bonds.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Bicycles and the Law: The Case of California

Here is a good summary of California bicycle law, by Alan Wachtel. A lot of people seem to think that bikes have to ride on the shoulder, or have to get out of the way of cars, or cannot occupy an entire lane. In reality, bikes have more or less the same road rights as cars. Other states have similar laws.