G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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1.This “scam” is very common among college students, though for some reason it receives very little attention. People sign up for college classes in order to get low interest loans and, if they’re lucky, grants. Walter Russell Mead weighs in as well.
2. Scott Sumner on the “mysterious” rise in teen unemployment.
3. David Friedman looks at the oft-repeated claim that 97% of climate scientists believe in anthropogenic global warming. And Warren Buffett says that global warming was not causing recent extreme weather nor is it having an impact on insurance rates.
4. The lead singer of a band called Bright Eyes has filed a $1 million lawsuit against a woman who claimed on the internet that he raped her. Jezebel wrote it up. One passage:
5. Study finds no gender gap in tech salaries.
6. A 2006 Esquire essay from John Ridley, who is black, who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for “12 Years a Slave”, titled “The Manifesto of Ascendency for the Modern American Nigger“. Just one short passage on the Cincinnati riots:
If a gang of whites had done the same, the screams from the Blacktivists would’ve been of a roving racist pack. They, the whites, would’ve been called a lynch mob.
But the rioters were of color.
(h/t Rod Dreher)
That CDC obesity study – the PR blast for which Michelle Obama was allowed to comment and thereby drive the narrative that her Let’s Move! program had something to do with a large observed decrease in the obesity rates for children age 2 to 5 years – is not worth the cheery headlines it’s received.
The news grabber from the study was that obesity among children age 2 to 5 years fell from 13.9% in 2003-2004 to 8.4% in 2011-2012. The New York Times called the results “stunning”.
In a statement embedded in the CDC press release, First Lady Michelle Obama said “I am thrilled at the progress we’ve made over the last few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans.”
“With the participation of kids, parents, and communities in Let’s Move! these last four years, healthier habits are beginning to become the new norm.”
Anyway, the study didn’t show any overall improvement in obesity rates across the board. This conclusion from the study did not grab headlines: “Overall, there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence in youth or adults between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012.”
In 2003-2004, 17.1 percent of people 2 to 19 years old were obese. That number reached a low of 15.4 percent in 2005-2006 before jumping back up to 16.9 percent in 2011-2012. Obesity rates for women over 60 increased from 31.5% in 2003-2004 to 38% in 2011-2012.
What makes the “stunning” results seem so strange is that obesity rates for other children did not fall in sync with the headline number. Obesity rates for children age 6 to 11 years went: 18.8% in 2003-2004, 15.1% in 2005-2006, 19.6% in 2007-2008, 18.0% in 2009-2010, and 17.7% in 2011-2012.
Was something happening in pre-schools that was not happening for kids in elementary school? Or, was this just a statistical artifact, or is something wrong with the study, as Razib Khan and Kevin Drum have argued?
I won’t cite the experts by name here since I obtained their comments while working the story for a another news outlet, but there seems to be a lot of skepticism in this study. The fact that it was so widely circulated anyway shows the power of messaging. But here are some of the comments from the skeptics (all emphasis added):
“First, I think it is important that we interpret these results cautiously. A drop would be consistent with other data coming from some cities and states but the data from this study itself includes a substantial number of other inconsistent results that suggest we need to be very cautious with our conclusions. This was a secondary subgroup analysis that used unadjusted data, and a drop was not seen in any other age, gender or race or ethnicity subgroup, and the statistical tests were not adjusted for the many comparisons that were made — issues that were brought up by the authors of the report.““It was also a small sample that is subject to finding random misleading results, either high or low. This is not something that comes through in the press reports and press releases I have seen. So, it is possible that it is real but also possible that it is an artifact.“
“Alternatively, table 3 indicates the sample sizes for several of these ethnic groups/cells are less than 10, suggesting we need to be very cautious in stating any findings. We will need to monitor data in the future to see if the decline continues as these children get older (a cohort effect) or extends to other age groups (a more general effect – which wasn’t evident in these data).”I don’t think anyone has the foggiest idea why the obesity epidemic occurred in the first place, nor why there is apparently some evidence of possible subsidence. Lots of my colleagues have their pet ideas, almost always favoring their own research interests, but there is no consistent evidence for any one or combination of factors. My group has looked at lots of them, and we can’t find the cause or the solution.
At least 40 genes have been consistently related to obesity, and over 400 genes related in at least one study. Each gene represents a different pathway of influence. I suspect we will find (perhaps 30 or more years from now) that there are many causes, and each cause will require its own intervention as a solution. Which of those are active in the recent possible reduction among the 2 to 5 year olds is anyone’s guess.
2. Governments use scare tactics when they should instead use charm to get taxpayers to pony up:
Governments should adopt a very different policy. Rather than resorting to fear, they should use charm. They should rehearse the sound arguments that exist as to why paying tax is a deeply noble act, the essence of transcending the ego. Rather than shaming the avoiders, it should melt their hearts. It should set up prizes for those who pay the most tax, rewarding them with honours, respect and love. It should reconnect us emotionally with the benefits of our contribution to the common good. It should show off the new ambulances and the freshly painted schools. And it should say thank you all the time.
That’s the crux of my Big Salad argument for income redistribution.
3. Similarities between country and rap music. (h/t Robert VerBruggen)
4. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone made the argument that ‘True Detective’ is a condemnation of Christian voucher schools. Spoilers.
5. Survey shows that less than 8% of women in the Army want to go into combat units. No word on what percentage of men want or are willing to do so.
1. At Pando, Paul Carr highlights a lawsuit filed by former interns at Gawker Media who got paid nothing or shit wages. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal (and I think unpaid internships are great) if Gawker and its tentacle sites weren’t insufferable leftist hypocrites.
Carr called out a passage from a deposition given by Jezebel editor in chief, Jessica Coen:
The interns performed a wide variety of tasks in order to give them an understanding of how the site works as a while. They would crunch numbers for fashion week, which consisted of counting the number of models of color who appeared in the fashion shows… Simply observing what it is like to work at a place like Gawker is valuable, and internships at Gawker sites are good for a person’s resume…
What are some other #JezzieJobs that would put young interns to good use in the name of social justice?
4. The first link at #3 above is the Salon article written by “Professor Crunk” aka Brittney Cooper in which she laments the Michael Dunn trial outcome (she wrote the piece before one of the black Dunn trial jurors came out and said that race wasn’t a factor in the case and generally thought that first degree murder was not the right charge and also that she didn’t think Dunn was a bad guy). In the piece, the title of which says that there is an “open season on black teenagers”, Cooper writes:
The question is how should black people respond? Having seen a lot of violence in my childhood, I’m a deep believer in and practitioner of nonviolence. But in the face of unreasonable violence toward our children, why do black people owe the nation the safety of our reasonable, rational, nonviolent responses?
I would really love to have a face-to-face conversation with someone who says this kind of thing in real life. Does she think that Dunn’s motives and intent rises to the level of depravity of the completely unprovoked murders like the one in the second link of bullet point #3 above? Is Dunn being held to a higher standard because he’s middle-aged and should have better control of his emotions? Because he’s white? Because he claimed to be scared – and perhaps irrationally so – while the Knockout Kings and other random murderers are actively setting out to commit crimes?
6. David Epstein interviewed by Reihan Salam on the affect of genetics on athletic performance.
1. Sailer alerts us to a new piece of jargon that has been popping up a lot lately: “black bodies”. It’s right up there with “white privilege”, “heteronormativity”, “cisgender privilege”, and “microaggression” as one of those postmodernist buzzwords that have somehow made it from the liberal arts seminar to the mainstream media. I blame Twitter and Tumblr.
2. In his discussion of “black bodies”, Charles Blow writes:
And for many black children, when they go to school things don’t get much better. According to the Center for Effective Discipline, corporal punishment and paddling in school is allowed in 19 states; these include all the states except Virginia in the Black Belt, which stretches across the South.
I do recall my adopted grandfather, who was black and for whom I am named, as being the harshest disciplinarian I ever encountered in my childhood. It was nothing extremely bad or anything, but he would make whichever kid he was punishing go out and pick their switch of choice off of the willowtree in the backyard. And since Blow brought up race and corporal punishment, the bill that was being flirted with in the Kansas House which would allow school administrators to issue up to ten smacks on kids’ clothed bottom (with parental permission to do so) – allowing for enough wiggle room to leave red marks if it came to it – was proposed by a black Democrat named Gail Finney.
3. A photo of a priest carrying a shield through the carnage of the battle in Kiev.
4. And speaking of powerful photographs, The New Republic exhibits another example of “false but accurate” or “the noble lie”. A picture of a 4 year-old found wandering the Syrian desert wasn’t exactlly what it was billed to be, but that doesn’t matter, says TNR.
5. Matt Taibbi, of eXiled and Rolling Stone face, has sold out and will now do investigative journalism for First Look, the media company started up by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Taibbi’s former eXiled partner, Mark Ames, has been highly critical of First Look and rich people in general. Though that didn’t stop Ames from signing on with Peter Thiel-backed Pando Daily a while ago.
6. And speaking of hypocrites, Gawker Media, whose communist sympathies are never hidden far from view, is using its Cayman Islands tax haven status as a defense in a lawsuit issued by Quentin Tarantino who is suing Gawker for publishing one of his movie scripts.
7. Haven’t read yet: The Dark Power of Fraternities.
8. The genetics of being a daredevil from the NYT:
A thought-provoking 2006 study of twins, for instance, concluded that risk-taking behavior was shared by the pairs to a much greater extent than could be accounted for solely by environmental factors. If one twin sought out risks, the other was likely to do so as well.
I must have turned off my hoax-dar (aka TweetDeck) because I missed this story about two gay dads who supposedly received an RSVP to their kid’s party from a parent who didn’t want her daughter exposed to the “gay lifestyle”. The scene:
The fathers say they initially received a response from Beth after attempting to invite her son Tommy to their daughter’s tie dye birthday party. They received the invitation back, and instead of simply saying Tommy wouldn’t be there, Beth went on an anti-gay tirade.
“Tommy will NOT be attending,” wrote Beth on the invitation. “I do not believe in what you do and will not subject my innocent son to your ‘lifestyle’. I’m sorry Sophia has to grow up this way. If you have an issue or need to speak to me: [phone number].”
Lindy West from Jezebel got ahold of the story and treated it like a cupcake dinner. Tore right into it, blindly. She wrote:
Seriously, who are these people that just waste their own time on purpose? I wish I had the kind of leisure time it takes to be a homophobe. HEY, LADY. APPARENTLY YOU’RE BORED. HOW ABOUT READ A BOOK. GET A ROKU. GO OUTSIDE. DO A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT. WRITE A NOVEL. RUN FOR OFFICE (wait, please don’t). ARE YOU LITERALLY JUST TRYING TO KILL TIME WHILE YOU WAIT POINTLESSLY FOR DEATH!?!?!?!?
Deep breath, Lindy. Chew. She continues:
Of course, this note could be a fake just to get us all frothing and get this radio station’s name in the news. It kind of seems fake. What modern homophobe actually puts “lifestyle” in scare-quotes? Too on-the-nose, man. Also, who names their kid “Tommy” in the 21st century? Shoulda gone with “Bragen,” imo.
But, fake or not, “Beth”‘s homophobic mindset is real and common and gross. So froth away.
And completely unsurprisingly, the whole thing was faked by the two radio DJs who said that they merely wanted to have discourse on the topic of homophobia.
Mike Gannon offers a good treatment at Pocket Full of Liberty (h/t J. Arthur Bloom) of the history of this lefty tactic which has been well-documented over the past couple of years:
First formulated by the socialist thinker Georges Sorel, the “noble lie” was devised to address the problem of Karl Marx’s projections about economics and societal trends not coming to fruition. For Sorel, such details were unimportant. As long as people believed what Marx wrote to be true, they could be rallied to revolutionary action. Pillars of left-wing ideology were to be transformed from statements of objective fact into tenets of a new socialist faith.
Sorel’s intellectual heirs in America have defaulted to this tactic time and again. Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring is riddled with faulty math and shady logic. It doesn’t matter, because they served the pre-arrived conclusions and goals of the burgeoning environmentalist left. The same holds true for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). It hardly matters to the left if the Earth is actually warming or cooling — or if humans are indeed having an adverse effect on the environment. As long as concern for the state of the planet serves as the impetus to push through long-dreamed economic controls on industry and commerce, AGW serves it purpose.
And who can forget the forged Texas Air National Guard documents that surfaced right before the 2004 election? To liberals, it was important that the public view George W. Bush as privileged draft-dodger, so the fake records were reported without proper vetting. And then, once it came to light that they were transparent forgeries, the documents were defended as being “fake but accurate.”
We are seeing the exact same thing here. The only difference is that this time the lie is at the service of the gay rights movement, and no “inconvenient truth” can be allowed to interfere with the left’s agenda.
Lindy West’s initial post garnered just under 89,000 hits. Rebecca Rose wrote Jezzie’s hoax update post yesterday. Apparently West wasn’t available to correct her own story. So far it’s only received 28,478 hits. That’s very typical of he hoax-based journalism model. The first wave story always reaps more traffic and generates more revenue and outrage. The follow-up correction lands like a mouse fart. If I ever get the free time I’d like to figure out the average ratio between the number of hits the first wave hoax story generates and the number of hits the follow-up correction generates. A figure of 4:1 had popped into my head before, which is roughly in line with this case as well.
In the correction, Rose wrote:
Why is OK to play on our emotions and our willingness as a society to give the benefit of the doubt to people who seem to be in genuinely distressing situations? I get that the media’s rush to get stories like this out is low-hanging fruit for people who want to skewer the process of journalism these days. Fine. But doesn’t it occur to anyone behind these pranks how much damage they could be doing to people in the future who actually are experiencing this kind of discrimination or tragedy?
I guess Jezebel has finally at least given up the media outlet ruse. (Also, here is a post from Josh Barro, a gay columnist from Business Insider, who called the hoax. Not a hard feat, but interesting that his reasoning is very similar to the reasoning used by many of us here at this and similar blogs who have been called bigots in the past for merely questioning whether or not these incidents are fraudulent.)
Even though Ronald and Nancy Reagan are perhaps the most famous believers in astrology (though Hillary Clinton has used a medium in the past), belief that Zodiac signs and star patterns can be observed and interpreted in a scientific manner is held by more liberals than conservatives. Yet it is conservatives who get pegged as being anti-scientific quacks.
Chris Mooney at Mother Jones pointed to a National Science Foundation paper which reported that the percentage of Americans believe that astrology is “not at all scientific” fell from 66% in 2004 to 62% in 2010 to 55% in 2012. Not since 1983 – the heart of the Reagan years, mind you – have so many Americans not been skeptical of astrology.
James Lindgren of Northwestern University looked at General Social Survey data, as did Josiah Neeley of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Neeley created this graphic to show the breakdown of ideological belief in astrology-as-science:
Razib Khan’s view, when he wrote about this same topic in 2007, was that “political ideology has a strong correlation with adherence to theologically conservative Christianity”. So many Christians who also tend to be conservative do not believe that astrology is scientific. Of course, there are many people who also ridicule belief in God as mere quackery.
As Neeley wrote:
I point this out not simply as a means of making fun of left-wing scientific ignorance. There’s been a lot written in the past few years about the supposedly anti-scientific nature of conservatism and particularly of American conservatives. Chris Mooney, in fact, wrote an entire book on the subject (which I review here). But as the astrology example shows, anti-scientific views aren’t confined to any particular part of the political spectrum, and in some cases being liberal makes you more likely to accept an anti-scientific outlook.
I wanted to share all of that not just because it is interesting but also in order to segue into something else only weakly related to ideological belief in astrology. On my blog post from this weekend, commenter peterike linked to a street-level view of NYC mayor Bill de Blasio’s home. The Google map showed the name of the person who lives right across the street from him in that Park Slope (rich, white, liberal, conservative-mocking) neighborhood. It’s an astrologist named Deb McBride. Just for fun, I contacted McBride to see if she’d ever done a reading on de Blasio. She had never read him, but she did share a bit about her interaction with her neighbor, which I found kind of interesting. She wrote to me:
I have lived here for 17 years and frankly, I never saw him before he announced his candidacy in January of 2013. Kind of strange, I know – but that’s NYC, it’s always been that way, I think. I spoke to him and his wife for the first and only time at the polls on election day because obviously we vote at the same location. I just wished them luck. They seem like lovely people.
1. Dan Abrams: “Stand Your Ground” having nothing to do with either the Michael Dunn case or the George Zimmerman case.
3. A mothers breast milk may contain different levels of nutrients depending on the sex of her baby.
4. The liberal media is stingy in their praise for any news scoop obtained by the so-called conservative media. Only the liberal outlets are allowed to set any of the talking points that talking heads address. This on the Washington Free Beacon’s scoop of the Hillary papers:
What I did not expect was that the media would undergo such a tortured and dramatic breakdown, would struggle so laboriously to acknowledge the scoop while schizophrenically downplaying its importance. That a conservative online newspaper could have understood the significance of the archive, and actually examined its public contents, seemed too much an embarrassment for the staffs of the major newspapers and networks and magazines to bear. By being the first to report on the papers, the Free Beacon exposed the inanity and irrelevance of the mainstream media. We beat them. And they are sore losers.
5. Tied in with that, why the left hates citizen journalism.
My bullshit meter went off during a press conference held by NYC mayor Bill de Blasio and school chancellor Carmen Farina on Thursday. They were explaining to a curious press, angry parents, and Al Roker why they decided to keep schools open despite a heavy snowstorm that the National Weather Service alerted would blanket the city.
De Blasio and Farina said that they decided to not close schools in order to overcome “food insecurity” by providing “hot meals” and “fresh vegetables” and “liberal buzzword, liberal buzzword, liberal buzzword” to kids who need them (he didn’t actually say the words I put in quotes, but that’s what he was thinking).
De Blasio said:
So many families depend on their schools as a place for their kids to be during the day, a safe place where they are not only are taught, they get nutrition and they are safe from the elements…They are going to work, they have no choice. If they can’t get their kid to school, they don’t have another option. There are huge numbers of parents for whom their kid getting to school also means their child will have a good meal, and in some cases, two meals. And so, the fact is, it’s a very big deal to some parents.
Chancellor Farina was more pointed:
Many of our kids don’t get a hot lunch and, in many cases breakfast, unless they go to school. So it’s still a parent’s decision whether they send their kids to school or not. My decision is where the kids are safest and the most taken care of, and the answer to that is in schools.
That’s a pretty radical statement when you think about it, as James Panero touched on at The New York Daily News.
But there’s a paradox in this progressive 24/7/365, cradle-to-grave philosophy. Even though these safe-space schools are available for use, the kids who seemingly need them most – not only in terms of meals and shelter but also in terms of the education itself – for one reason or another do not partake. If schools are so crucial to prevent “food insecurity”, then why do the poorest kids tend to have the highest rates of absenteeism even on non-snowdays?
New York City schools have only closed for snow 11 times since 1978. Only four times since 2007 had attendance dipped below 66%. But on Thursday, only about 45% of students showed up for class, the lowest rate of attendance in years. That puts a bit of a dent in the claim made by de Blasio and Farina that the schools had to stay open in order to feed a bunch of hungry kids.
NYC provides daily attendance rates, but unfortunately, I didn’t think of the idea to check out Thursday’s school-by-school attendance until late Friday. But I think it will be interesting to obtain school level attendance figures for Thursday and compare it to each school’s overall percentage of low income kids – a statistic usually measured by the percentage of kids who get reduced or free lunches. My guess is that the schools with the highest percentages of students who receive free or reduced lunches will also have the highest rates of absenteeism.
There’s a little bit of information out now that gets us started.
The New York City Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies in Chelsea was mentioned in a New York Times article about Thursday’s school attendance rates. Ninety-two percent of kids at that school showed up despite Thursday’s snowstorm (40%+ of the student body is Asian, which of course looms large in this entire discussion). The school also happens to have a relatively low rate of students who receive free lunches. Thirty-six percent of kids at the school receive them compared to 62% of all NYC students.
I selected another school, Banana Kelly High School in the Bronx. It’s very poor – about 76% of its students receive free lunches. On Friday, the day after the would-be cancelled day, only 50% of its students showed up (though perhaps these statistics are picking up a lot of students who are de facto dropouts who are still on official school roles).
That’s only two data points, but there’s also plenty of academic literature which finds a positive relationship between family income (for which reduced lunch prices are a proxy) and school attendance.
It’s either very political or very utopian of de Blasio to make this kind of argument in the face of the snowstorm. It’s a diversion because at some marginal point, the cost of keeping schools open is greater than the benefit, even including the meals that kids would be provided. At some point the value provided by a “hot meal” does not surpass the safety from staying at home. Schools were closed for 5 days after Hurricane Sandy. Should schools have stayed open then so that kids could get “hot meals”? And getting back to de Blasio and Farina’s radical premise – are schools now community food centers? Is their purpose now to provide meals? Is it written in the mission statement? I mean, I know progressives would love it if schools took over that role, but how far can this go? How far should it go? How far will de Blasio take it?
This is too good. Anil Dash, the tech twit who stated his intentions to blacklist Pax Dickinson after that whole thing with Business Insider last year, announced, a propos of nothing, that he’s only been retweeting women for the past year. So take that patriarchy.
In anticipation of the mockery he deserves to receive, Dash also created a list of the “stupid things men will say” about his retweet policy. This self-fulfilling prophecy waiting to happen even spurred a female Dash fan to make one of those Sexism Bingo games that feminists still find useful.
Through his experiment, Dash was sprinkling a bit of his tech guru fairy dust on female Twitter users and female techies. He has half a million Twitter followers and created moveable type or something or other and wants to give back to the community.
What’s odd is that while Dash is supposedly doing all of this with women in mind, he only focuses on what men will say in response to the post. Does he think that no women will find his antics supplicating and offensive? Probably so. But Cathy Young (who writes for Reason and other similar outlets) and Christina Hoff Sommers brought these shenanigans to my attention (through their Twitter feeds, though I merely favorited the tweet because I have a policy against retweeting women). And even a feminist-seeming ally, Helen Rosner, nailed Dash to the board as well by calling his motives into question. Rosner tweeted:
Pulling a big reveal undercuts it all; makes it all about him, not about the women he theoretically “amplified”.
And you’d better believe Dash retweeted that.
As Rosner touched on, the basis of Dash’s deal was the dearth of women in tech, yet he basically stereotyped the reasons that women use the social media outlet . He wrote:
More broadly, I found the only times I even had to think about it were very male-dominated conversations like the dialogue around an Apple gadget event. Even there, I’d always find women saying the same (or better!) things about the moment whose voices I could amplify instead of the usual suspects. And for the bigger Twitter moments I love, like award shows and cultural events, there are an infinite number of women’s voices to choose from.
Yes, women like awards shows and such things more than men do, in general. Rosner pointed to this passage from Dash:
Conversely, when conversations such as #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen or #NotYourAsianSidekick or, say, any airing of Scandal takes place, the dialogue seems to be in surround sound, much more pervasive and all-encompassing than the usual “tucked away in the sidebar of another article” treatment such voices get.
So is Dash guilty of just noticing or is he exhibiting the same entrenched sexism as his tech industry targets?
Anyway, my prediction is that Dash will someday soon embark in a startup tech company and staff it only with women. That would be much better than all of this half-assed, slacktivist, no-money-on-the table posturing.