Are we not men?

Dr. Helen linked to this interesting video. The thesis is that "men" do not exist, unless they are doing something bad. When something good is done it's done by "firefighters", "soldiers" or other neutered "individuals". When a guy does something wrong he's not referred to as a "person" or "individual", but clearly as a derided male.

In addition, victims are always "women and children", never "men".

Steve Says: I saw this too. While I think a lot of it is pretty goofy, I think that this sort of analysis, with genders reversed, is typical of what you might find in Women's Studies courses at our universities. I wonder how Women's Studies professors would respond.

It's science!

I love this sentence:
The problem is that 71.3% of what passes as peer reviewed climate science is simply junk science, as false as the percentage cited in this sentence. [ Willis Eschenbach ]
That reminds me of this graph:


"The accuser" in the infamous Duke Lacrosse team alleged rape case has been arrested as the result of an alleged assault on her boyfriend:

Authorities charged her with attempted first-degree murder, five counts of arson, assault and battery, communicating threats, three counts of misdemeanor child abuse, injury to personal property, identity theft and resisting a public officer.

Wow! Those are some serious charges. Let's look closer. First, attempted first-degree murder:

According to police documents, Mangum scratched, punched and threw objects at Walker and told him, "I'm going to stab you, (expletive)!"

Hmmm... doesn't really sound like attempted murder to me. Next, five counts of arson:

She then went into a bathroom and set his clothes on fire in the bathtub, police said.

Hmmm... arson? I guess technically it's destruction of property using fire, but I don't think that's the sort of thing people think of as arson. Five counts? A shirt, pants, pair of socks and underwear? Beats me. Next, how about "identity theft:"

Police charged Mangum with identity theft because she gave them a fake name, "Marella Mangum," and age, authorities said.

Her real name is Crystal Gale Mangum. This is identity theft? Again, that's not what most people think of as identity theft.

This all seems way out of line to me. It also seems like I am seeing more and more of this kind of thing, i.e. prosecutors charging people with crimes way more serious than is warranted by the alleged deeds. I'm sure this sort of "overcharging" helps to gain plea bargains with minimal effort, but that doesn't make it right. When someone is put in legal jeopardy, the potential sentence should be in line with the seriousness of the crime. These sort of charges could result in Ms Gale spending a good portion of her life in prison for what looks like little more than a fight with her boyfriend.

It's time to end this sort of prosecutorial over-reach.

Out of the shadows

As the global warming collapse continues, and actually seems to be gaining speed, keep one thing in mind. All of the people now coming out with studies and statements against the old consensus were always there. They simply had been cowed into silence by the cabal at the top. Everything from the ability to publish to the receipt of grants was dependent on towing the line or keeping your head down.

With that dam broken, people who were always there are finally coming out of the shadows.

The 60-40 Split (II)

Speaking of Richard Whitmire, he has an article today in the Chronicle of Higher Education (link here, but he said it will turn into a paid page eventually.) The article focuses on a point in the educational system where things seem to come to a clash. It isn't high school graduation or sending out your applications to college. He notes a long-known fact that the problem shows up most in 9th grade, with what is known as the "9th Grade Bulge."

This is simply the point where failing or flailing elementary-school students reach the level where they can't handle the curriculum at all any more--when it turns from learning the basics of reading writing and arithmetic and into college prep:
Nationally in 2006-7, approximately 250,000 male students (12 percent of all ninth-grade boys) and 178,000 female students (9 percent of the girls) repeated ninth grade, says West. So about 72,000 more boys than girls repeated ninth grade that year.
The 9% figure for girls is pathetic, the 12% number for boys is even worse. Whitmire also points to a recent Johns Hopkins study called "Still a Freshman," which studies the issue.

As a counter-argument, however, I would say that these kids--who can't get through grade school and junior high--probably weren't ever going to be college-bound anyway. These are the kids who don't need college prep so much as they need life skills and technical training. These are the people who need hands on apprenticeships so that they can maximize what skills they have, instead of spending 4-years in frustration, wasting their time and going nowhere--or worse, dropping out entirely. (What exactly does a 15 or 16 year old drop out do with their empty days, anyway?)

However, the 9-12% drop out rate points to a bigger failure. These are just the kids who make the leap out of the school system at an early age, even more flailing kids stay in. How big is that number? How big is the number of kids who never get a real education, but either drop out later, or walk away with a meaningless piece of paper? Is that number 25%? 45%? Higher? It's certainly much, much higher in some school systems, especially for minority males. Here's a chart of graduation rates in some districts. The survivors of the Detroit system make up only 22% of the overall 9th grade student body--assuming that a disproportionate number of the graduates are women, and you can guess that the male graduation rate is probably more around 10%--that's graduation rate, not drop-out rate. Our home town of Milwaukee graduates only 43% of its students.

All of this goes to show that the problem isn't in the high schools or even the junior highs--who only get kids for 2-3 years. The problem lies firmly in the grade schools.

My solution is to eliminate all the experiential teaching methods--which believe that students will learn what they need to know through the osmosis of hands-on activities, and believe in student-directed, not teacher-directed learning. In other words, give the students nothing to go on, don't bother to attempt to actually directly teach them anything, then hope they figure it out on their own. Yeah, like that will work!

The 60-40 Split

The New York Times finally turns its attention to the problem of the 60%-40% imbalance between women and men at our nation's colleges. The specific problem being, of course, that it makes it difficult for all those women to get dates

Ann says: I follow this issue pretty closely and have read a ton of "Boy Troubles" books. The most recent is Richard Whitmire's "Why Boys Fail". Whitmire has a blog by the same name. Since he is making the publicity rounds, he and his book are the initial source for many of the recent stories, and this is his hang-up. For him, the main point is not that the US is losing out on a great deal of brain power, or that women are underrepresented in the sciences (being a physics BA and an engineering MS, I'd say that's by our choice) and thus the country is experiencing a massive dearth in students in the science and tech fields.

No, his main point is often: the chicks won't have anyone to date! Or the corollary: when females in a species far outnumber males, it turns out the males, having their pick of an overabundance of females, can treat women like s&%#, and women either have to go along with it, or go single.

In part, his argument is practical: with women and women's groups well set up for lobbying and being a dominant block of the Democratic party, and with a history that proves women's groups throw fits when you mention boys are doing badly in school, it's simply the only way that he sees the problem being addressed in the future--if women step up and address it. Otherwise, the odds will still be stacked against boys and men.

Sad to say, he's probably right there.

The best advertising

So, the superbowl ad with Tim Tebow has aired. A liberal friend over at the house rapidly proclaimed: "That wasn't it!" since she was expecting something horrid.

In the end, it turned out to be an absolutely brilliant ad. It might even be the most-brilliant ad in a half dozen years. Not because of the brief ad itself, which said next to nothing, but because of the overblown reaction to it.

More than anything else possibly could have, the reaction to the ad showed that a large chunk of the pro-choice movement isn't pro-choice at all, they really are pro-abortion.

This is the second time in a year and a half that this simple point has been made. One of the biggest gripes about Sarah Palin on the left was that she had the unmitigated gall to not have an abortion. Of course, that's the main reason she was chosen by McCain too.

Mann the baracades

ClimateDepot currently has a bunch of links on Penn State's decision to continue its investigation into climatologist Michael Mann:

Alert: Penn State Committee Report: 'Further investigation is warranted' into Climategate Prof. Michael Mann -- Inquiry 'moves to next phase'

Read Penn State's full report: 'Inquiry Report: Concerning the Allegations of Research Misconduct Against Dr. Michael E. Mann'

Rep. Issa Praises: 'Penn State U. deserves credit for advancing a very serious investigation into corrupted science by someone who put a political agenda ahead of science'

AP: Penn St. Moving Forward With Michael Mann Probe: 'An inquiry report said an allegation of inappropriate faculty conduct in scientific discourse warrants further investigation'

As much as I'd like to see Michael Mann go down, the investigation into his climate research strikes me as misguided. The academic world is supposed to be an area of free enquiry, not intimidation-by-investigation. It seems to me that Mann was enthusiastic about his position, maybe domineering in preventing other voices from being heard, but those aren't academic offenses. I don't believe anyone is accusing him of falsifying data. Looking only for evidence that supports your claim and rejecting other data may be bad science, but it isn't an academic offense. Poor statistics and poor modeling, again, isn't an academic offense.

Academic disagreements should not result in investigations.

Hang 'em high!

Recently, Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs said:
"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he's going to meet his maker," said President Barack Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs. "He will be brought to justice and he's likely to be executed for the heinous crimes that he committed in killing and masterminding the killing of 3,000 Americans. That you can be sure of."
As with anything anyone says, this can be analyzed two ways: 1) he was thoughtful and deliberate in his choice of words or, 2) he was talking without thinking and unloading a lot of b.s.

The second option makes what he said meaningless, but brings into question his further employment as the press secretary and main spokesman for president. If he is so thoughtless in speaking, he's not the right guy to be the president's mouthpiece.

The first option is more intriguing. Why would the president's spokesman--and I assume whatever political apparatus sent him out to blather on Sunday--choose to defend itself in this manner?

Usually politicians think through problems in this way: 1) Take some action. 2) Catch flak from opponents who think your action was something really stupid. 3) Figure out whether you really are being stupid or if the flak shooters are being stupid. 4) If the former, either stop being stupid or pretend real hard that you aren't being stupid. 5) If the latter, pretend the stupid flak shooters are smart while ignoring them and going about your business.

It's a fair bet that the current White House isn't going to decide that they were being stupid and reverse their policy. It's also pretty obvious that they aren't pretending that they aren't stupid...that is to say, what Gibbs said was so stupid, that they can't be pretending that they're really smart.

That leaves step #5, the pander--pretend your opponents are smart, agree with them publicly, while actually doing the opposite.

This option, however, relies on you having some understanding of your opponents. Does what Gibbs said show a belief that their opponents are worried about tainting the jury pool? Does it show that they understand their opponents objection that having the president's spokesmen come out and tell everyone the verdict and sentence before a venue has even been chosen might display a preordained verdict more like what you'd find in a thugocracy than in a justice-loving democracy? Does it show an understanding that their opponents are worried that what KSM could gain in intelligence from the discovery phase of the trial would destroy anti-terrorism actions around the world--as actually happened in earlier terror trials? Does it show that they too are concerned that putting prisoners of war captured on the battlefield into civilian courts means that our armed forces have to give Miranda warnings and act like CSI cops, carefully gathering evidence, possibly in the middle of a firefight and while catching the real kind of flak, not the pretend kind?

Nope, what Gibbs said is obviously a pander to their perception of the ignorant "bitter clingers," who in the White House's eyes are blood thirsty, hang-'em-high hicks.

That's their opinion of any American without a liberal worldview and an ivy league degree. Don't worry, you stupid Hillbillies, will kill the bastard for ya!

Wrong lesson

What a silly opinion:
BBC 'should learn from HBO and commission edgy shows like The Wire'

The BBC should learn from the US network HBO and commission more risk-taking dramas like The Wire and The Sopranos, a leading media industry figure has argued.
How about learning the lesson that privately-funded companies are perfectly capable of making high-quality television without ripping money out of everyone's hands with a heavy-handed tax, aka "license fee"?

Square Dots

I have a new post up on Square Dots.