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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Links - 5th January 2013

"The war between the sexes is the only one in which both sides regularly sleep with the enemy." - Quentin Cris


Woman's Mouth 'Falls Pregnant' With Twelve Squid Organisms

American Christianity and Secularism at a Crossroads - NYTimes.com - "we frequently overestimate medieval piety. Ordinary people often skipped church and had a feeble grasp of basic Christian dogma. Many priests barely understood the Latin they chanted — and many parishes lacked any priest at all. Bishops complained about towns that used their cathedrals mainly as indoor markets or granaries. Lest Protestants blame this irreverence on Catholic corruption, the evidence suggests that it continued after Martin Luther nailed his theses to the Wittenberg church door. In 1584, census takers in Antwerp discovered that the city had a larger proportion of “nones” than 21st-century America: a full third of residents claimed no religious affiliation... Rates of church attendance have never been as sterling as the Christian Right’s fable of national decline suggests. Before the Civil War, regular attendance probably never exceeded 30 percent, rising to a high of 40 percent around 1965 and declining to under 30 percent in recent years... For most of our history, the loudest defenders of the separation of church and state were not rogue atheists, but Protestants worried about Catholics seeking financing for parochial schools or scheming their way into public office to take orders only from mitered masters in Rome. Activists on both the left and the right tend to forget this irony of the First Amendment: it has been as much a weapon of religious oppression as a safeguard for liberty"

Belle de Jour's history of anonymity - ""If there's one thing the history of literary anonymity teaches you, it's that very often anonymity has nothing to do with wanting to stay hidden," says John Mullan, professor of English at University College London. Anonymity is a useful tool for people whose lives are outside the mainstream. Letting go of your name frees you to tell a truth that many people never see, or try desperately to ignore. It gives certain things more weight, a kind of everywhere-and-nowhere sense where the reader feels they might even be reading the inner thoughts of someone they know. It's a powerful tool. In the internet age, we have become increasingly concerned about the effects of anonymous online commentary. Anonymous bloggers can have enormous global audiences. "Trolls" can bring criticism straight to the computer screens of the people they disagree with. These trends are solidly in the tradition of literary anonymity - from unsigned political tracts to biting satirical graffiti, we've seen it all before... Without Anonymous, there are so many classics we would not have had - Gawain and the Green Knight, virtually all of the Bible and other religious texts. Anon is allowed a greater creative freedom than a named writer is, greater political influence than a common man can ever attain, and far more longevity than we would guess"

Viewpoint: Why are couples so mean to single people?
At least this didn't try to pain them as yet another oppressed minority

Chinese firm rules out Scorpios, Virgos: report - "The report quoted a woman in charge at the unnamed firm as saying she had done research and found Scorpios had strong personalities and were moody, while Virgos were hugely critical and did not stay in one job for long. "I hired people with those two star signs before, and they either liked quarrelling with colleagues or they could not do the job for long"... State media reported in 2004 that one of the requirements for women applying to join the civil service in the central province of Hunan was for their "two breasts to be symmetrical""

delanceyplace.com 10/10/12 - how good are CEOs (and business books) really? - "stories of success and failure consistently exag­gerate the impact of leadership style and management practices on firm outcomes, and thus their message is rarely useful... The average profitability of the companies identified in the famous In Search of Excel­lence dropped sharply as well within a short time. A study of Fortune's 'Most Admired Companies' finds that over a twenty-year period, the firms with the worst ratings went on to earn much higher stock returns than the most admired firms... the original gap was due in good part to luck, which contributed both to the success of the top firms and to the lagging performance of the rest. We have already encountered this statistical fact of life: regression to the mean. Stories of how businesses rise and fall strike a chord with readers by of­fering what the human mind needs: a simple message of triumph and failure that identifies clear causes and ignores the determinative power of luck and the inevitability of regression. These stories induce and maintain an illusion of understanding, imparting lessons of little enduring value to readers who are all too eager to believe them"

delanceyplace.com 10/24/12 - I fail to see what use woman can be to man - " Some traditions of early Christian commentary reveal a strong strain of hostility toward the female body, sexuality, and family life, despite the recognition of their necessity. Augustine, a Christian philosopher and theologian who lived from the fourth to the fifth century CE, for example, wrote 'I fail to see what use woman can be to man ... if one excludes the function of bearing children.' In his writings on marriage Augustine held up celibacy as the highest spiritual state... Tertullian's views on sexuality drew upon the tradition of blaming Eve for the introduction of sin into the world. 'You,' Tertullian wrote to Christian women, 'destroyed so easily God's image, man.'"

Women can tell a cheating man just by looking at them: study - "Women's ratings of unfaithfulness showed small-moderate, significant correlations with measures of actual infidelity... More masculine-looking men (were) rated as more probable to be unfaithful and having a sexual history of being more unfaithful."

Boushra Almutawakel: Photographing variations of the veil (PHOTOS). - "“I want to be careful not to fuel the stereotypical, widespread negative images most commonly portrayed about the hijab/veil in the Western media. Especially the notion that most, or all women who wear the hijab/veil, are weak, oppressed, ignorant, and backwards”... Almutawakel’s latest project for the hijab series shows how men’s traditional clothing can be similar to women’s in the Middle East. Her pictures show a woman dressed in long, loose masculine outfits that include a head covering"

China's job agencies say Singapore no longer the preferred work destination - "He said salaries in Singapore are now almost on par with what workers would get if they stay in China. And the latest bus driver incident has deterred some considering Singapore as a work destination... Job agencies said skilled labour workers now prefer to work in Europe, Japan and South Korea over Singapore for work because they get three to five times more for the same position. And with the growth of internet use and social media in China, workers including those in the rural areas are becoming more aware of labour laws and workers' rights, therefore making them more choosy about their workplace destination choices."
"Complacency" runs many ways

Israel's Acceptance of the Two State Solution - "In 2000, Israel made a series of two-state proposals which (contrary to popular myth) eventually included almost all of the West Bank (plus additional territory from Israel proper), the entire Gaza strip, Palestinian control over East Jerusalem, and a $30 billion solution for the Palestinian refugees. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat not only refused – he made no counter-offer, abandoned negotiations, and immediately began planning the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Arafat was heavily criticized for this, both by the American mediators and by fellow Arabs and Palestinians."

Did Israel Use “Disproportionate Force” in Gaza? - "Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, explained that international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur.” The attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does)... Israeli population centers in southern Israel have been the target of over 4,000 rockets, as well as thousands of mortar shells, fired by Hamas and other organizations since 2001. The majority of those attacks were launched after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. Indeed, rocket attacks increased by 500 percent (from 179 to 946) from 2005 to 2006."

Chinese Talent Female Pavarotti SELLING FOOD SONG.mp4 - YouTube
Sequel: China Got Talent Season 2 55-years-old vegetable peddler Opera 2 - YouTube

On Singapore: the unexpected perils of meritocracy in an overly dense society - "The Dutch journalist Robert Biebels once commented in his insightful travel journal ‘De Olieprins en De Opiumboer’, that Chinese Singaporeans are surprisingly ‘chinezer dan de Chinezen’, observing that the Chinese Singaporeans have somehow come to embody typical Chinese values like money-mindedness, superstition and future orientation in a much more exaggerated manner than their forefathers. Perhaps this could be explained by a joint publication in 1995 called “Kinds of Third-Party Effects on Trust” by Ronald Burt and American organizational sociologist, Marc Knez, which explains that a lack of structural holes, coupled with a dense social network, produce situations in which the actors obtain consistent (but not necessarily correct) information about others, which incline them towards having extreme opinions about the trustworthiness about others, probably as an adaptation to reduce arguing about each other’s opinions in such tight networks. This can veer opinions in either the direction of extreme trust or extreme distrust."

Kat Banyard: 'We were sold a lie on an almighty scale, that equality had been won, the battle was over' - "Another perennial feminist dilemma is the tension between personal choice and duty to principle. Every woman who gets breast implants can't help but reinforce the message that it's perfectly normal and sensible to spend thousands of pounds being cut open and stuffed with fake breasts. I ask if she thinks feminists who do so are letting other women down. "It doesn't work like that," she says very firmly. "Not at all. The whole point is that feminism is about tackling the cultures that led women to feel like they didn't look good enough in the first place. I don't believe anyone has the right to judge another woman for the choices she makes in a highly sexist culture. Women have to find ways to survive and get by each day, and how we do that will depend upon our circumstances. I think judging other women on that basis is the antithesis of what feminism is about. And we need to have our sights set on the structures and the industries which feed this culture, who are the ones driving it and reaping the profits from it.""
Translation: Women have no agency and are incapable of moral responsibility; If a woman does something bad for feminism, you can't blame her. If a man does something bad for feminism, he is an evil, insidious tool of the patriarchy. Or, more simply, men are evil.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Einstein on Determinism and Free Will

"I am a determinist. As such, I do not believe in free will. The Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine philosophically. In that respect I am not a Jew...

I believe with Schopenhauer: We can do what we wish, but we can only wish what we must. Practically, I am, nevertheless, compelled to act as if freedom of the will existed. If I wish to live in a civilized community, I must act as if man is a responsible being. I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime; nevertheless, I must protect myself from unpleasant contacts. I may consider him guiltless, but I prefer not to take tea with him." - Albert Einstein


Also quoted as:

"I am a determinist, compelled to act as if free will existed, because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly. I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him."

Keywords: we must act as if free will, sit beside murderer, philosophy, free will, Einstein

The latest bet I've lost

"If man made it, don't eat it"; "If it tastes good, spit it out" - Jack LaLanne on nutrition



Muhd. Ibnur Rashad: Hi, Mark! I believe you may need to inform your Facebook Photo team that when I click on 'Edit' on a photo, there's no option for the year '2013'. Wondering if you would respond to a kind request from Singapore, Zuck ; )

Me: If he replies I'll buy you lunch

Muhd. Ibnur Rashad: Neh.. I doubt he'll respond to me. Who am I :| Definitely not the President of the United States of America.


Hey, Gabriel! Zuck did not reply but his Director (Ads) did... But I kinda cheated as he's a friend and mentor who helped me at SV. Don't think that will qualify for a lunch :|

Mark Zuckerberg: This should be fixed now. Let me know if it's still not working for you.

Me: Damn, I think I owe you lunch

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Links - 3rd January 2013

"Exercise relieves stress. Nothing relieves exercise." - Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata


Atheist Census - Numbers matter. Be counted. - "Atheist Census is a project to count and collect demographic information on the world’s atheists."

Reducing Risks Of Sexual Assault | AWARE Singapore - "It is advisable for women to take the safety precautions to minimise their risks."

Severed Cinema - "The follow-up to the 2006 "Cannibal," Marian Dora's "Melancholie der Engel" -- translated in English as "The Angels' Melancholy" -- is the most notorious, undeniably hardcore German release to date. Clocking over 2 hours of length, the film is an epic portrait of pain and suffering. An ultimate personification of pure evil, the visuals suggest an illustration of man's inhumanity to man. I must admit I viewed the film without English subtitles, as its German release is the only version currently available. Without subtitles, it is fairly difficult to gauge a clear understanding of the "plot." As of now, there is no way to know if the dialogue is pretentious and filled with pseudo-intellectual nonsense or not."
First film review I've seen where the reviewer doesn't understand the language

Mozart's scatological disorder.

Sydney lass plays lady in waiting - "Joining the discussion were a couple of flirtatious Australian women, who started debating whether hairy or hairless was sexier... at one point all the women in the group were rubbing their common hands over the very princely torsos to compare which was the more sensual... "All the girls around the table were discussing what is best, the man with a hairy chest or a man without hair, and the princes were wearing open shirts," said Ms Tarnawski"

PCWIN Speaker Record Free - A tool that will record the sounds of your speakers. - "PCWIN Speaker Record is a handy utility designed to record everything you hear from your speakers. No configuration required- works even if your sound card does not support recording from speakers. Record from Internet radio stations. "

Circumcision - Does the Quran Approve it? - "The Qur'an deals with Prophet Ibrahim's construction of the Kaba and other matters - but does not say he was told to cut off a part of his private parts... In numerous Verses of the Qur'an, Allah tells us that He has created everything, including human beings, in the most perfect form... when a baby leaves the mother's womb, he or she is in the most perfect of shape down to the finest detail. Nothing needs alteration"

“He Said—She Said”: The Role of the Forensic Evaluator in Determining Credibility of Plaintiffs Who Allege Sexual Exploitation and Boundary Violations - "From a clinical perspective, the perception of having been victimized may lead to symptoms similar to those that occur when someone is actually victimized. For example, if a woman perceives that she was powerless to stop a sexual encounter, then she may develop symptoms similar to those of a woman who actually has been raped, such as feelings of betrayal, fear, embarrassment, guilt, depression, and anxiety and even symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. It may not matter that the alleged perpetrator considered the sexual encounter to be consensual. From a clinical perspective, the victim's symptoms are likely to be based on her perception. Stress-related symptoms are shaped by the internal psychological experience of the event"
We can extrapolate and say that similarly, what determines if negative outcomes is not whether someone is discriminated against - but whether he *thinks* he is being discriminated against.

No means no. But what about yes? - "Of course “no” means “no”, but sex is an act that rarely has an explicit “yes” attached to it. Sometimes a lack of consent means we’re not sure – not because we’re weak, vulnerable or under male pressure, but for our own reasons: “I shouldn’t stay as I’ve an early work meeting but I’m tempted”; “I should say no as I’m married but I really like him”; “I’m tired but I love him”; “I’m drunk and might regret it, but what the hell”. Surely women and men need space for such ambivalence, to negotiate the delicate ins and outs of interpersonal and sexual relations? In truth, sex and relationships are often a tangle of false starts, uncertainties and messy complications; active consent is no guarantee of romantic or sexual bliss. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the new Act is that it sets out ­situations where there can be no free agreement, such as where someone is deemed to be “so drunk they are unable to give any meaningful consent to sexual activity”... “yes” doesn’t always mean “yes”, according to the new law. Does this mean that a man should wait for a woman to sober up before taking her at her word? Is it in women’s interests to have an official ban on sex while drunk? A man can never claim he’s too much the worse for wear to elicit consent from a sober woman. This legislates that a drunken man is accountable for his deeds, but a drunken woman is not, thus negating even the presumption of equal rights before the law... absolving women who engage in drunken sexual liaisons of responsibility for their actions is not liberating; it’s demeaning... the effect of blurring rape with ambivalence and regret can mean we lose a sense of perspective. A society that sees no difference in scale between hesitant acquiescence and brute violation will have difficulty in doling out justice. My fear is that if we relativise rape and portray it as a commonplace risk of all inter-sex ­relations, juries and the public at large will find it even harder to weigh up the seriousness of allegations"

"He Said She Said" rape convictions: Really happens? - "One case that I did study last semester in Evidence has some parallels: Papakosmas v The Queen [1999] HCA 37. It's not an exact parallel, because it wasn't just a "he said/she said" case. But it's an example of a jury convicting an accused on the basis of the credibility of the complainant's claim that she did not consent. Papakosmas (the appellant) and the complainant were at the office Christmas party. They had both been drinking. One thing led to another and they had sex. The key fact in issue was not whether the sex took place but whether the complainant consented to it. She said that she hadn't consented. What's more, she made that claim to several other people at the party straight after the alleged offence. So it wasn't just the complainant's word, but also that of all her colleagues. They hadn't witnessed the alleged act of sexual intercourse, but they were able to testify about what the complainant had told them straight afterwards. At trial the jury believed the complainant's story (backed up by her colleagues' hearsay evidence) over that of the appellant. A sort of modified "he said/she said". Papakosmas was convicted of having sexual intercourse with the complainant without her consent and was sentenced to three years' gaol. He lost his appeal to the NSW Supreme Court and his subsequent appeal to the High Court (the linked case above)."

China's sex addicts struggle to find help - "In his opinion, sex addiction is a concept created by factions such as the extreme right wing or religious groups, as a means of discrediting sex and promoting abstinence. Fang compared sex addiction with other passions, such as an overwhelming interest in food or autos. "Every day people want to indulge their passion and do something that has no negative affect on society. The desire to normalize the condition has resulted in those who believe themselves afflicted feeling the need to classify it as a disease and search for a, largely nonexistent, 'cure'," he said... Whenever she finished her study assignments, the first idea that came into her mind was hooking up... Sex - with her boyfriend, a "benefit" friend or via a one-night stand - made her feel good and gave her bags of energy, she said. "If we both feel good, I don't think sex bothers anyone. And there's nothing wrong with frequent sex, or as, we say, so-called sex addiction," she said. "It's just like eating; some people eat a little, while others eat more. If sex makes you feel good, loved and energetic, why attribute blame?""

You’re Addicted to What? - "The schadenfreude is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Moralism stands in for sympathy. High dudgeon stands in for nuanced understanding. From all corners, we hear a Greek chorus of voices linking someone’s extramarital affairs to feminism, testosterone, the Internet, sadomasochism, consumerism, or even 9/11... these public thrashings are a chance for the audience to condemn sexual acting out while vicariously enjoying it... here’s my evaluation of almost everyone who is diagnosed as a sex addict—by themselves, their loved ones, or an addictionologist: it’s someone who is unhappy with the consequences of their sexual choices, but who finds it too emotionally painful to make different choices... it’s not about the sex. It’s about the immature decision-making... Perhaps the most interesting thing about the sex addiction movement—and certainly the most telling—is that it did not arise from the field of sex therapy or any other sexuality-related field... Almost thirty years after its invention by Carnes, “sex addiction” is still not a popular concept in the fields of sex therapy, sex education, or sex research... the diagnosis of sex addiction is in many ways a diagnosis of discomfort with one’s own sexuality, or of being at odds with cultural definitions of normal sex, and struggling with that contrast... Exactly how sophisticated can a psychiatric diagnosis be if (1) a professional can diagnose someone without ever meeting them, and (2) lay people with no training whatsoever can use the diagnosis?... I also resent the repeated statement that if I don’t conceptualize these people as sex addicts, I’m either ignorant or I lack compassion. When some progressive Colonial physicians refused to diagnose patients as possessed by the devil, that didn’t mean they lacked compassion. They just didn’t believe in the diagnosis... Sex addiction and porn addiction crusaders complain that porn is terrible sex education. I agree, just as watching a car chase in an action movie is a terrible way to learn to drive... When a patient is diagnosed as possessed by the devil instead of schizophrenic it clearly matters: it determines the treatment to be used, and who is qualified to administer the treatment... The addiction model starts with “we admitted we were powerless.” The therapy model starts with “you’re responsible for your choices; I wonder why you keep doing what gives you what you say you don’t want?”"

Report a PAP Internet Brigade (IB) - "Who are the PAP IBs?
1) A group of Young PAP members have been put under the ‘intelligence’ service
2) They operate in shifts starting from 6am each day monitoring the chats on discussion forums and facebook etc.
3) Some of them have created fake IDs to counter opposite views. If they can’t rebut, they will seek to disrupt discussion or to confuse by posting wrong information.
4) Some have started, but most will be stepping up on their activities."

The Dark Secrets That Dolphins Don't Want You to Know - "Dolphins are violent predators with a predilection for baby killing and rape"
I wonder how many who attended the "Candlelight Vigil and Memorial Service for Wen Wen" (the dead RWS dolphin) knew the truth about dolphins. I felt like crashing the event, crying "freedom for all animals!" and releasing 100 chickens into the crowd

Don't Have the Wool Pulled Over Your Eyes - ""Virtually every medical achievement of the last century has depended directly or indirectly on research with animals." Furthermore, consider that over the past 40 years only one Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine did not depend on animal research for the fundamental discoveries that led to the prize... paralyzed dogs have regained their ability to walk as a result of research conducted in rodents and dogs... even if all testing were done in humans, our pets would lose the benefit of some medications whose usefulness was not found in humans"

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New blog picture - 2nd January 2013

Putting the cat in the caterwauling

On the futility of women/minority role models

"Lies are like children. If you don't nurture them, they'll never be useful later." - Randy K. Milholland


A common, sexy, commonsensical claim is that having women/minority role models will motivate other women and minorities into being high-achieving.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this claim has been repeatedly tested (and not at all surprised that this research is never cited when people talk about the importance of said role models).

"For many years academic researchers, governmental officials, and the lay public have assumed that the number and type of role models available to a student will have an important influence on that student’s performance in school and selection of a career. These assumptions became highly visible in the 1978 Supreme Court case of Regents of the University of California y. Allan Bakke (438 U.S. 265, 1978)...

[Speizer] reviewed studies on mentors and sponsors. Speizer found that most of the relatively few studies that claimed to show an influence of role models have severe methodological problems, which bring their conclusions into doubt.

In her conclusion, Speizer wrote: “Role models, mentors, and sponsors are concepts which still need to be defined and studied. Despite their almost universal acceptance, there is very little supportive evidence for their validity. Until methodologically sound studies are conducted on large, randomly selected populations, these concepts should be considered as suggestive rather than proven” (Speizer 1981, p. 712).

Our more recent search of the large literature on role models found virtually no studies of the type that Speizer called for over twenty years ago. Most papers on role models simply assume the importance of same-gender and same-race/ethnicity role models on a large variety of dependent variables. An example is Janice C. Bizzari’s “Women: Role Models, Mentors, and Careers” (1995), in which she states, “According to recent studies, evidence suggests, potential can be denied or lost for women in certain male-dominated careers for lack of women mentors or role models in the field” (p. 145). The studies she cites are either qualitative or nonsystematic.

There are a few exceptions, in which the concept of role model is looked at systematically using relatively large data sets. All of these studies have been done by economists, and most appear in an issue of Industrial and Labor Relations Review edited by Ehrenberg (1995). One study that did not appear in the Ehrenberg volume is that reported by Mark O. Evans (1992). Evans conducted a study of the influence of same-gender and same-race role models on how much students learned in high school economics classes. Evans used data from the Joint Council on Economic Education’s National Assessment of Economic Education Survey con ducted in the spring of 1987. From that survey he had information on 2,440 students who took a high school economics course, including the results of a test of economic knowledge, which Evans used as his dependent variable. From his careful study, Evans concluded that there is no evidence of same-gender role model effects but that black students do slightly better on the test when they have black teachers, particularly when their mothers do not have a college degree. The effect, although statistically significant, is relatively small. It should he noted that Evans (like the studies reported later from the Ehrenherg volume) considered the race and gender of the teacher, but did not determine whether the students looked upon the teacher as a role model.

Ronald Ehrenberg, Daniel Goldhaber, and Dominic Brewer (1995) reanalyzed the data collected in the 1960s by James Coleman (see Chap ter 1) to see if matching the teacher’s and student’s race had any effect on the amount that students learned. Their main conclusion was that African American teachers did not help African American students and under some conditions had a negative effect on how much white students learned. Donna Rothstein (1995), a student of Ehrenberg’s, used the “High School and Beyond” data set (a longitudinal study conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics) to investigate the effect of attending a women’s college on labor market and educational outcomes. She found that when appropriate input variables were controlled, single- gender schools conferred no advantage on young women. But she also found that among those who attended women’s colleges the percentage of female faculty had a small positive effect on postcollege wages...

None of the studies in the Ehrenberg collection, although all based on large systematic data sets, determined whether the students considered their teachers to be role models. Despite this fact, the papers in the Ehrenberg collection do offer some interesting and suggestive findings.

Harvey Rosen and Brandice Canes (1995) studied how the number of female faculty in science and engineering fields might influence the number of women entering the fields. They correctly point out that a cross-sectional analysis would not answer this question because the same factors that make a particular field attractive to women professors might make it attractive to women students. Instead, Rosen and Canes chose to look at change over time in the number of women professors. They found no evidence that this variable had any effect on the number of women who majored in the sciences.

Sara Solnick (1995) studied female students at women’s colleges and at coeducational institutions and found that the women at the all-women schools are more likely to shift from “traditionally female” majors to either neutral or traditionally male majors. She found no evidence to support her second hypothesis: that women who begin in traditionally male majors would be more likely to persist in those majors if they attend a women’s college. Solnick’s research does not specify the mechanisms through which the women’s colleges have their influence. indeed her results could easily be due to the self-selection of particular types of students into women’s colleges.

Donna Rothstein (1995) examined how the percentage of female faculty at a college or university might influence the likelihood of women’s attaining an advanced degree and later earnings. She found that the pro portion of women had no direct effect on earnings hut that it had a small indirect effect on earnings through the proportion of women who go on to attain an advanced degree. Again, in order to understand fully these findings we would have to know more about how the students attending colleges having a high proportion of women as faculty might differ from those who attend colleges with a lower proportion of women as faculty.

In a study conducted by Rothsrn and Ehrenberg (1994) the authors found that “attendance at a HBCU substantially enhanced the probability that a black college student would receive a bachelor’s degree within seven years after starting college; however, on average, it had no apparent effects on the student’s early career labor market success (as measured by 1979 earnings) or the student’s probability of enrolling in graduate school” (Ehrenberg 1995, p. 484). jill Constantine (1995) asked the same question but uses earnings data from a later period in the career history of the students she studied. She found that attending an HBCU does have a significant influence on later earnings. The reasons for the difference in findings between the two studies are unclear. However, Ehrenherg (1995) points out that the 1986 wave of the NLS-72 data, which Constantine utilized in her study, was a subsample of the original sample and oversamples college graduates who earn more money than nongraduates. This may account for the difference between her findings and those of Roth stein and Ehrenberg.

Finally, Ehrenberg, Goldhaber, and Brewer (1995) used data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 to determine whether the race or gender of the teacher has an influence on how much students learned. They found that the gender and race of the teacher have no significant influence on how much the student learns but that they do influence how the teacher evaluates the student. Thus white female teachers were more likely than were white male teachers to evaluate their white female students highly. They noted that their data provide no evidence that black students will learn more when they have black, rather than white, teachers. They add that there are two interpretations that can be given to their data:

At face value, our findings may be interpreted in either of two conflicting ways. On the one hand, if it is argued that what is crucial is how much students learn in classrooms, one might conclude that teachers’ race, gender, and ethnicity per se do not matter. On the other hand, if it is argued that teachers’ subjective evaluations of students mirror the encouragement they provide these students and the “track” on which they place the students or to which they encourage them to aspire, our results suggest that in some cases teachers’ (race, gender, and ethnicity) do matter. (Ehrenberg, Goldhaber, and Brewer 1995, p. 560)

Our general conclusion remains the same as when J. R. Cole published his book on women in science: SO far, there is no systematic evidence that same-gender or same-race/ethnicity role models have significant influence on a range of dependent variables that they are assumed to influence, including occupational choice, learning, and career success."

--- Increasing Faculty Diversity: The Occupational Choices of High-Achieving Minority Students / Stephen COLE, Elinor G. Barber

This undermines what is the key rationale for having gender/racial quotas, and a key rationale for affirmative action.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Links - 1st January 2013

"Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything." - John Kenneth Galbraith


“You can resign and go to SBS,” the drivers were told - ""The MOM takes the workers' actions very seriously," said yet another spokesperson. >From my adumbration above of the events that unfolded, not over five days, I remind you, but over almost six months, MOM only took their actions seriously when they had the potential to challenge the government in a very public way. When the workers were content to carry their concerns through Mr Foo’s ‘due process’, the government, the corporation and the trade union simply ignored them. For Mr Foo and General Tan to now pretend that they did not follow ‘due process’ is, at the very least, disingenuous... Let us turn then to how the government does in fact deal with dispute? It locks people up as it did this week. It deports them or refuses to allow them back in, as Dr Ang Swee Chai found, or revokes their citizenship if that is possible, and Tan Wah Piow found this to his cost. It tortures people. It bankrupts people or silences them through the threat of defamation suits. It writes threatening letters as Ng Eng Hen did last week. It fabricates evidence – as Dr Vasoo did twenty years ago – to deprive people of their living... It is not a culture of equals. It is a culture of supplicant and benefactor. The polity that the PAP has habituated us to is one where our just deserts can only come from a Cabinet in a good mood or facing a General Election... What, fundamentally, does a trade union do? It does not exist to manage supermarkets and chalets, good though these amenities are in themselves... make no mistake about it, our government will have on hesitation in dealing with us in the same way it has dealt with the Chinese bus drivers. None whatsoever. Do not rest content that the PAP carries a torch for the Singaporean worker; it does not... These Chinese workers, by doing what we have been cowed from doing ourselves so long, have in fact widened the democratic space for us. And in time to come, when we are less afraid to think for ourselves, we will come to thank them."

The kitty washing machine - YouTube

Gabriel Seah's answer to Les Miserables (2012 film): How important was it that the actors in Les Miserable were filmed singing live instead of lip-synching? - Quora - "- The actors do some lines speaking rather than sung
- They shout a lot (e.g. "Confrontation")
- They don't always hit the pitch of their notes exactly
- They vary the timing and duration of their notes. It's especially jarring when it's out of sync with the orchestral accompaniment
- They are sometimes breathless so they cannot hold notes for very long
- They can be hoarse (from fatigue or crying) so their singing is not very clear (e.g. "Valjean's Soliloquy")"

Wheel of Lunch
Find a place to eat X miles from you (where X is a user-chosen variable)

Neuro-linguistic programming - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Reviews of empirical research on NLP say that NLP contains numerous factual errors, and has failed to produce reliable results for the claims for effectiveness made by NLP's originators and proponents. According to Devilly, NLP is no longer as prevalent as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Criticisms go beyond the lack of empirical evidence for effectiveness; critics say that NLP exhibits pseudoscientific characteristics, title, concepts and terminology. NLP is used as an example of pseudoscience for facilitating the teaching of scientific literacy at the professional and university level. NLP also appears on peer reviewed expert-consensus based lists of discredited interventions. In research designed to identify the "quack factor" in modern mental health practice, Norcross et al. (2006) list NLP as possibly or probably discredited for treatment of behavioural problems. In research on ineffective addiction treatments, Norcross et al. (2010) list NLP in the top ten most discredited interventions, and Glasner-Edwards and Rawson (2010) list NLP as "certainly discredited""

Charm And Rigor — Richard Morgan - "Many states continue to frame laws so that men cannot be raped -- and women cannot be rapists -- unless the victims are sodomized... In 1988, the Journal of Sex Research published a study of nearly 1,000 college students. Its most surprising finding was that far more men than women reported having suffered unwanted intercourse -- 62.7 percent to 46.3 percent. A 2001 study of 285 women at a private midwestern university identified 52 as sexually "coercive" - - based on self-reported admissions of verbal manipulations, and insistent, deceptive, or threatening (including physically) behavior. Of those women, 30 reported "becoming so sexually aroused that they felt it was useless to stop even though the partner did not want to have sex"... 51 percent of college-age women polled admitted they had once taken advantage of a man who was drunk or high. "If we were applying the same standards as we apply to men," says Anderson, "these women would be talked about as date-rapists.""
It seems women raping men may not be as rare as the feminists claim; sexual coercion seems more common practised by women than men

Economics Letters - Physical appearance and wages: Do blondes have more fun? - "Using U.S. panel data, we find that blonde women receive large wage premiums."

Perth people 'more racist' than others - "Of the 850 people surveyed in Perth, more than 14 per cent said they were prejudiced against other cultures, compared with a national average of about 12 per cent."

British Frozen Dinners Beat TV Chefs' Recipes for Nutrition

Telecommuters Work Longer Hours Than Office-Goers - "the proportion of people who work remotely remained unchanged from the mid-’90s to the mid-2000s the most recent data available. Second, those who do telecommute are more likely to work overtime, an additional 5 to 7 hours on top of the standard 40."

What does the WDF_VIOLATION BSoD Error Mean? - "WDF_VIOLATION was very rare before Windows 8, but has cropped up a bunch since people have begun installing it. It’s appearing most often when syncing files from your iPhone or iPod to iTunes. Though the problem was more frequent in iTunes 10, it’s still cropping up in iTunes 11.
This is happening because you have a combination of three things: Windows 8, the driver that comes with your device, and the driver included with iTunes. The combination of all three of these is causing the crash."

Running too far, too fast, and too long speeds progress 'to finish line of life' - "Vigorous exercise is good for health, but only if it's limited to a maximum daily dose of between 30 and 50 minutes... The idea that more and more high intensity exercise, such as marathons, can only do you good, is a myth say the US cardiologists, and the evidence shows that it's likely to more harm than good to your heart."
The editorial in Heart is titled "Run for your life … at a comfortable speed and not too far" and talks about ‘Phidippides cardiomyopathy’ and "We are not so much born to run as born to walk"

Woman Sued for Rescue Effort in Car Crash - "No good deed goes unpunished, or so goes the saying. Such was the case with Lisa Torti, who is being sued for pulling a now-paralyzed friend from the wreckage of a Los Angeles car accident in 2004. The victim's lawyers claim the Good Samaritan bumbled the rescue and caused injury by yanking her friend "like a rag doll" to safety. But Torti -- now a 30-year-old interior designer from Las Vegas -- said she thought she had seen smoke and feared the car would explode... The California Supreme Court ruled this week that Van Horn may sue Torti for allegedly causing her friend's paralysis. The case -- the first of its kind -- challenges the state's liability shield law that protects people who give emergency assistance"

Rescuers suing woman they saved from crash - "The lawsuit claims that Tanner operated her vehicle "intentionally and/or recklessly and/or negligently," resulting in the vehicle crashing and catching on fire. It claims that Kelley and Kinkaid received "severe bodily injuries" as a result of Tanner's actions and that "all or some of these injuries are permanent in nature resulting in permanent disability"... Apparently, good samaritans who sue those they rescue isn't uncommon, according to Stan Darling, a professor at Capital University Law School. "The precedent is clear: danger invites rescue...and if you've acted recklessly or negligently and someone gets hurt rescuing you, you could be in trouble""

Japanese robotics expert creates incredible transforming RC car

Have 'quota system' to allocate new BTO flats to singles - "In a worst-case scenario, a brain drain of talented Singaporean singles emigrating to greener pastures might result if this group perceives themselves as being alienated from the mainstream"

Yes, Randi Zuckerberg, Please Lecture Us About 'Human Decency' - "Yes, Randi Zuckerberg, speak to us about human decency. Because a photo that you posted on Facebook got shared on the Internet.

How awful this must have been for you! How... invasive. What a violation. How terrible that someone might take something that belongs to you and use it in ways that you had not anticipated, and for which you had not given explicit permission! What kind of world are we living in when just because you post something on a website someone else can just take your stuff and do things with it? Oh wait."

Date King - "Horny but repressed, Emo Girl reads books by Virgina Wolf (sic) and Ayn Rand. She owns at least two black plastic thick-framed spectacles, has a cat named Socrates, and has once blogged about her experiences while backpacking through a village in Thailand"

Foreign worker policies through lens of economics - "The argument that Singaporeans should be paid more because they have more needs or face higher costs is also misguided. Wages should reflect the marginal productivity of the worker, not his needs. If wages are based on needs, workers would be justified in demanding a wage increase from their employer for having more children... In the short run, the only way to assure Singaporeans of wage increases is to continue tightening our foreign worker policies. The reduction in the supply of cheap foreign labour would raise wages, particularly in those sectors which have been more reliant on cheap foreign workers. But there is a price for this. Rising wages would translate into rising prices - unless productivity, or output per worker, increases at a faster rate... Akerlof and Kranton also found that in organisations where employees had a strong identification with the organisation, the pay needed to induce higher effort (and higher productivity) was lower than that for organisations with low worker identification. The worker's identification with the employer in turn derives from his sense of being fairly treated and remunerated. The economics of identity challenges standard notions of cost savings. Encouraging companies to "invest in identity" and job satisfaction among employees may raise business costs in the short run but reaps benefits for our economy in the long run"

Monday, December 31, 2012

How I'm spending the last few hours of 2012: the Singapore Workforce (2012)

"It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like." - Jackie Mason


I must be one of the few people fascinated by the MOM report on the Singapore Workforce (2012).

Some choice bits:
- 74% of women between 25 and 54 worked (vs 92.7% for men)
- The total employment rate for 55-64 is a whole 19% lower than for 25-54. Women evidence a larger decline than men
- 11.5% of resident employees were on term contract and this has been quite steady since 2006
- Despite what you might be lead to believe by www.transitioning.org (no, not a trans-gender site), PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives & Technicians) have quite a low unemployment rate (2.3% vs 3.4% total)
- The industry with the lowest unemployment is Real Estate (1.6% vs 3.4% total)
- As long as you work for 1 hour in the week, you are considered employed

And the most interesting part (the reason why I started reading the report in the first place) is on economic inactivity.

A plurality of men (44.5%) who are not economically active are in school, on course or training.

43.3% of women residents say that they are economically inactive because of family responsibilities (including "housework, childcare and care-giving to families/relatives"). Unfortunately there is no breakdown of this, as those who give the first reason only are either very finicky about cleanliness or are just using it as an excuse.

Meanwhile, I have heard of many cases (I've lost count) of girls leaving the workforce (many in their 20s!) to "take a break" (or otherwise - being NEET), but only 3 cases of guys doing the same thing: one could say that he was studying for his CFA, another was (is) traveling the world and a third was sick of Mammon.

However, the gender gap in the data is much less than these anecdotes would suggest: 14,600 men and 16,000 women (of course, some will give "housework" as the reason for economic inactivity). Ironically I've been looking for this kind of data for a long time, when all along MOM had it.

There are also more discouraged men than women (5,500 vs 4,100). This could be because of social expectations that men be the breadwinners - so when they are unable to find work, women are not discouraged.

On Wisdom and Hating Evil

"My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated but not signed." - Christopher Morley


"I think the essence of wisdom is emancipation, as fat as possible, from the tyranny of the here and now. We cannot help the egoism of our senses... No one can view the world with complete impartiality; and if anyone could, he would hardly be able to remain alive. But it is possible to make a continual approach towards impartiality, on the one hand, by knowing things somewhat remote in time or space, and on the other hand, by giving to such things their due weight in our feelings. It is this approach towards impartiality that constitutes growth in wisdom ...

We are told on Sundays that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. On the other six days of the week, we are exhorted to hate. But you will remember that the precept was exemplified by saying that the Samaritan was our neighbour. We no longer have any wish to hate Samaritans and so we are apt to miss the point of the parable. If you want to get its point, you should substitute Communist or anti-Communist, as the case may be, for Samaritan. It might be objected that it is right to hate those who do harm. I do not think so. If you hate them, it is only too likely that you will become equally harmful; and it is very unlikely that you will induce them to abandon their evil ways. Hatred of evil is itself a kind of bondage to evil. The way out is through understanding, not through hate. I am not advocating non-resistance. But I am saying that resistance, if it is to be effective in preventing the spread of evil, should be combined with the greatest degree of understanding and the smallest degree of force that is compatible with the survival of the good things that we wish to preserve.

It is commonly urged that a point of view such as I have been advocating is incompatible with vigour in action. I do not think history bears out this view. Queen Elizabeth I in England and Henry IV in France lived in a world where almost everybody was fanatical, either on the Protestant or on the Catholic side. Both remained free from the errors of their time and both, by remaining free, were beneficent and certainly not ineffective. Abraham Lincoln conducted a great war without ever departing from what I have called wisdom."

--- Knowledge and Wisdom / Bertrand Russell

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A poem on Free Will

"Life is a long lesson in humility." - James M. Barrie


At the Fair
---Christmas, 1984

At this summer's fair,
I asked an attendant if,
being at the head of the line at last,
I might ride the next train
of his roller coaster.

Was I sure I wanted to? he asked,
as this ride was known for high
acceleration, breathtaking plunges,
and being impossible to control
once underway.

Having survived lesser rides,
I assured him I was ready.

Then he laughed and told me
I had been for some time in the last car
of the already departed train,
having no choice anyway.

The rest of his words were lost
in exhilaration as I was
ripped out into the starlight.

--- Gary Cruse

L'enfer, c'est les autres

"J'aime mieux me faire chier tout seul que d'être heureux avec les autres. J'ai horreur de partager un plaisir quel qu'il soit, avec une bande de cadres ou un troupeau de handicapés. C'est pas de ma faute, je hais l'humanité. C'est dur à vivre, pour moi. Plus je connais les hommes, plus j'aime mon chien. Plus je connais les femmes, moins j'aime ma chienne."

--- Accents toniques / Pierre Desproges
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