Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Math Is Harder for Girls . . . and also, it seems, for the New York Times.

Heather MacDonald blogs on that Science study touting average scores for girls and boys on the whole being equal.

The New York Times is determined to show that women are discriminated against in the sciences; too bad the facts say otherwise. A new study has “found that girls perform as well as boys on standardized math tests,” claims a July 25 article by Tamar Lewin—thus, the underrepresentation of women on science faculties must result from bias. Actually, the study, summarized in the July 25 issue of Science, shows something quite different: while boys’ and girls’ average scores are similar, boys outnumber girls among students in both the highest and the lowest score ranges. Either the Times is deliberately concealing the results of the study or its reporter cannot understand the most basic science reporting...................[more]

A NY Times blogger also differed with Lewin.

10,000 Diploma Mill Degrees

Spokane diploma mill recipients, from the Spokesman-Review.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama's $845 billion U.N. plan forwarded to U.S. Senate floor

It's always easier to be charitable with someone else's money. From WND:

Obama's $845 billion U.N. plan forwarded to U.S. Senate floor
'Global Poverty Act' to cost each citizen $2,500 or more

Posted: July 25, 2008
12:30 am Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

The U.S. Senate soon could debate whether you, your spouse and each of your children – as well as your in-laws, parents, grandparents, neighbors and everyone else in America – each will spend $2,500 or more to reduce poverty around the world.

The plan sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is estimated to cost the U.S. some $845 billion over the coming few years in an effort to raise the standard of living around the globe..............[more]

......He said the legislation, if approved, dedicates 0.7 percent of the U.S. gross national product to foreign aid, which over 13 years, he said, would amount to $845 billion "over and above what the U.S. already spends.".....[more]

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The National Debt, Deficit, and Liabilities

This year's deficit is about $162 million, that's small change compared to the total liability. From USA Today:

Taxpayers' bill leaps by trillions
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

The federal government's long-term financial obligations grew by $2.5 trillion last year, a reflection of the mushrooming cost of Medicare and Social Security benefits as more baby boomers reach retirement.

That's double the red ink of a year earlier.

Taxpayers are on the hook for a record $57.3 trillion in federal liabilities to cover the lifetime benefits of everyone eligible for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs, a USA TODAY analysis found. That's nearly $500,000 per household.

When obligations of state and local governments are added, the total rises to $61.7 trillion, or $531,472 per household. That is more than four times what Americans owe in personal debt such as mortgages. .......

......Big new liabilities taken on in 2007:

• Medicare: $1.2 trillion.
• Social Security: $900 billion.
• Civil servant retirement: $106 billion.
• Veteran benefits: $34 billion.

The multitrillion-dollar loss is a more meaningful financial number than the official deficit, says Tom Allen, chairman of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, which helps set federal accounting rules.
Medicare has an unfunded liability of $30.4 trillion.................

Friday, July 25, 2008

Some fun from the Times of London

July 25, 2008

He ventured forth to bring light to the world

The anointed one's pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action - and a blessing to all his faithful followers

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”............[more]

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Evidence of Sex Discrimination in the Sciences?

From a NY Times blog:

Debra Rolison, a chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory, gave a talk eight years ago at the National Academies of Science. It was called, “A Title IX Challenge to Academic Chemistry: Isn’t a Millennium of Affirmative Action for White Men Sufficient?” Now that her proposal to actively apply Title IX to physical sciences and engineering has been adopted at federal agencies (as I wrote in my Findings column), I’ve been looking at the evidence for bias against women in science. After considering physics last week, let’s examine chemistry and some other fields........

.......You’ll find sweeping assertions of discrimination in academia against female scientists if you read the executive summary of the National Academy of Sciences’ 2006 report, which was issued by a committee led by Donna Shalala. But if you look in the report for evidence of bias, you find studies showing that female graduate students in general (and those without children in particular) are as likely as men to finish their studies, and that they’re as likely to have mentors and assistantship support. According to the report, there were some differences in productivity — male graduate students published more than female students, and tenured male professors published about 8 percent more than female tenured professors — but when men and women were up for tenure, they received it at similar rates.........

........I was also interested to see Dr. Nelson’s comparable figures for white males, because it certainly looks as if their “millennium of affirmative action” has ended. Dr. Nelson found that white male Ph.D.’s are overrepresented among assistant professors in just three disciplines: chemistry, biological sciences and psychology. They roughly break even in two other fields, political science and sociology. And they’re underrepresented in everything else — 10 of the 15 disciplines surveyed by Dr. Nelson.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dumbest Generation

A book review.

Was Redlining Good?

Thomas Sowell's take on the mortgage crisis.

Create your own slide rule

Warning - ultra nerd territory here. I've been looking for a site that has PDF's of slide rules. I calculate gas mileage in my car and have found that calculators can't hold up in the heat of a car interior. I used a slide rule in H.S. as in the mid-70's calculators were still expensive, about $70 or I guess about $200 in today's money. Here's a good web site:


Friday, July 18, 2008

Generate a Barack Obama Quote!

Generate a Barack Obama Quote!

Click on the link above.

My entries:
Plural Noun
(something bad):
Plural Noun
(something really bad):
Plural Noun
(something really, really bad!):
Plural Noun
(something good):
Vague positive concept:

Vague negative concept:

Generate a Barack Obama Quote!

"You know, there's a lot of talk in this country about Global Warming. Well I think Americans are tired of the same old oil men. Ordinary Americans believe in Liberals, they want less
Republicans, they just aren't sure if their leaders believe in Jobs."
Generate your Barack Obama quote at Buttafly.com

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Declining Value of the College Degree - WSJ



A four-year college degree, seen for generations as a ticket to a better life, is no longer enough to guarantee a steadily rising paycheck.

Just ask Bea Dewing. After she earned a bachelor's degree -- her second -- in computer science from Maryland's Frostburg State University in 1986, she enjoyed almost unbroken advances in wages, eventually earning $89,000 a year as a data modeler for Sprint Corp. in Lawrence, Kan. Then, in 2002, Sprint laid her off....[more]

Graduate School Rankings by US News

Graduate School Rankings by US News

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An explanation of the housing bubble from Jerry Pournelle:

Published at MND:

Jerry Pournelle

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Law of Unintended Consequences

I told you it would happen. I’ve been telling you for years: you can’t pump money into the housing market, and keep lowering the interest rates, without creating a bubble; and eventually the bubble will burst. Water runs downhill. Eventually it reaches bottom no matter what you wish.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were invented to create a housing bubble. I can’t think that those who created those government owned private companies — they used to be really profitable for their stockholders — didn’t know that pumping more money into the housing market would drive housing prices to ridiculously high levels. Surely at least some Congress critters have studied elementary economics? If you make low cost guaranteed loans restricted to investing in Quaker Oats what do you think will happen? I wonder how many Congress critters profited from the bubbles? Either directly or in big campaign contributions from those who did?

The intent of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was to make it easier for more Americans to own a house. A noble ambition, and one that the FHA was doing pretty well with; but FHA didn’t insure loans that looked too risky. Not good enough. There were people out there who wanted a house. They had awful jobs, and often they were minority people, and they wanted to own a house. They were tired of renting. Like the chap who is losing his house in Anaheim: he paid $480,000 for a house, but his income is about $700 a month, and now he’s facing foreclosure. Big surprise. Add enough instances of this and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own a trillion dollars worth of unsalable housing. Unsalable at anything like the amount loaned on it, anyway. So: something must be done....[more]

Monday, July 14, 2008

Federal Student Aid Default Rates by Universities

With the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crises in mind what about the Federal Student Aid program? Here's a database.

Note added at 5:00 pm:

From Inside Higher Ed:

.......Why does all of this matter? Because the rapid expansion of student debt, combined with the soft-pedaling of debt’s true meaning, has served to forestall higher education’s inevitable day of reckoning when it comes to price. While a few massively wealthy institutions have recently taken steps to reduce borrowing at the margins for the middle- and upper-middle class, constantly rising prices and debt to match remain the norm elsewhere

There are two main culprits here. Traditional colleges and universities, protected from competition by regulatory barriers and buoyed by public subsidies and rising demand, have managed to avoid most of the difficult choices inherent to becoming more efficient and restraining price........

Sounds like the housing bubble?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gabriel's Revelation

Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection

JERUSALEM — A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.

It is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate.

Still, its authenticity has so far faced no challenge, so its role in helping to understand the roots of Christianity in the devastating political crisis faced by the Jews of the time seems likely to increase.

Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the University of California at Berkeley, said that the stone was part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day.

“Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism,” Mr. Boyarin said.....[more]

Also in that story:

Mr. Knohl said that it was less important whether Simon was the messiah of the stone than the fact that it strongly suggested that a savior who died and rose after three days was an established concept at the time of Jesus. He notes that in the Gospels, Jesus makes numerous predictions of his suffering and New Testament scholars say such predictions must have been written in by later followers because there was no such idea present in his day.

The Bibilical Archeology Review story:

Does a “Dead Sea Scroll in stone” cast new light on early Jewish and Christian views of the messiah? That is the question raised by an intriguing ancient text, a question now being debated in newspapers, web sites and blogs.

The text, called “Gabriel’s Vision” by Ada Yardeni, the Israeli scholar who first published it, is written in ink on stone and dates to about the late first century B.C. and early first century A.D. The text first came to wide attention when our print publication, Biblical Archaeology Review published Yardeni’s “A New Dead Sea Scroll in Stone?” in its January/February 2008 issue (Yardeni pointed out that had the text been written on leather, she would have thought of it as another Dead Sea Scroll fragment).

“Gabriel’s Vision” consists of 87 lines, divided into two columns. The text is written in the first person, apparently by someone named Gabriel, and contains numerous Biblical phrases. It is an apocalyptic text and seems to have been written by a supporter of the Davidic dynasty. You can read Yardeni’s BAR article by clicking on the link above and you can also see her transcription of the Hebrew text and her English translation.

But now the story has taken on a new twist. A major New York Times article (July 6, 2008) described research by Hebrew University textual scholar Israel Knohl, which claims that “Gabriel’s Vision” provides important new insights into the early Jewish and Christian concepts of the messiah. A more complete article tracking Knohl’s research—by the man himself—will be published in the September/October 2008 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review....[more]

The English Translation from BAR (note that there is no mention of a Simon):


Translation (Semitic sounds in caps and\or italics)
Column A
(Lines 1-6 are unintelligible)
7. [… ]the sons of Israel …[…]…
8. […]… […]…
9. [… ]the word of YHW[H …]…[…]
10. […]… I\you asked …
11. YHWH, you ask me. Thus said the Lord of Hosts:
12. […]… from my(?) house, Israel, and I will tell the greatness(es?) of Jerusalem.
13. [Thus] said YHWH, the Lord of Israel: Behold, all the nations are
14. … against(?)\to(?) Jerusalem and …,
15. [o]ne, two, three, fourty(?) prophets(?) and the returners(?),
16. [and] the Hasidin(?). My servant, David, asked from before Ephraim(?)
17. [to?] put the sign(?) I ask from you. Because He said, (namely,)
18. [Y]HWH of Hosts, the Lord of Israel: …
19. sanctity(?)\sanctify(?) Israel! In three days you shall know, that(?)\for(?) He said,
20. (namely,) YHWH the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Israel: The evil broke (down)
21. before justice. Ask me and I will tell you what 22this bad 21plant is,
22. lwbnsd/r/k (=? [To me? in libation?]) you are standing, the messenger\angel. He
23. … (= will ordain you?) to Torah(?). Blessed be the Glory of YHWH the Lord, from
24. his seat. “In a little while”, qyTuT (=a brawl?\ tiny?) it is, “and I will shake the
25. … of? heaven and the earth”. Here is the Glory of YHWH the Lord of
26. Hosts, the Lord of Israel. These are the chariots, seven,
27. [un]to(?) the gate(?) of Jerusalem, and the gates of Judah, and … for the
sake of
28. … His(?) angel, Michael, and to all the others(?) ask\asked
29. …. Thus He said, YHWH the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of
30. Israel: One, two, three, four, five, six,
31. [se]ven, these(?) are(?) His(?) angel …. 'What is it', said the blossom(?)\diadem(?)
32. …[…]… and (the?) … (= leader?/ruler?), the second,
33. … Jerusalem…. three, in\of the greatness(es?) of
34. […]…[…]…
35. […]…, who saw a man … working(?) and […]…
36. that he … […]… from(?) Jerusalem(?)
37. … on(?) … the exile(?) of …,
38. the exile(?) of …, Lord …, and I will see
39. …[…] Jerusalem, He will say, YHWH of
40. Hosts, …
41. […]… that will lift(?) …
42. […]… in all the
43. […]…
44. […]…
Column B
(Lines 45-50 are unintelligible)
51. Your people(?)\with you(?) …[…]
52. … the [me]ssengers(?)\[a]ngels(?)[ …]…
53. on\against His/My people. And …[…]…
54. [… ]three days(?). This is (that) which(?) …[… ]He(?)
55. the Lord(?)\these(?)[ …]…[…]
56. see(?) …[…]
57. closed(?). The blood of the slaughters(?)\sacrifices(?) of Jerusalem. For He said,
YHWH of Hos[ts],
58. the Lord of Israel: For He said, YHWH of Hosts, the Lord of
59. Israel: …
60. […]… me(?) the spirit?\wind of(?) …
61. …[…]…
62. in it(?) …[…]…[…]
63. …[…]…[…]
64. …[…]… loved(?)/… …[…]
65. The three saints of the world\eternity from\of …[…]
66. […]… peace he? said, to\in you we trust(?) …
67. Inform him of the blood of this chariot of them(?) …[…]
68. Many lovers He has, YHWH of Hosts, the Lord of Israel …
69. Thus He said, (namely,) YHWH of Hosts, the Lord of Israel …:
70. Prophets have I sent to my people, three. And I say
71. that I have seen …[…]…
72. the place for the sake of(?) David the servant of YHWH[ …]…[…]
73. the heaven and the earth. Blessed be …[…]
74. men(?). “Showing mercy unto thousands”, … mercy […].
75. Three shepherds went out to?/of? Israel …[…].
76. If there is a priest, if there are sons of saints …[…]
77. Who am I(?), I (am?) Gabri’el the …(=angel?)… […]
78. You(?) will save them, …[…]…
79. from before You, the three si[gn]s(?), three …[….]
80. In three days …, I, Gabri’el …[?],
81. the Prince of Princes, …, narrow holes(?) …[…]…
82. to/for … […]… and the …
83. to me(?), out of three - the small one, whom(?) I took, I, Gabri’el.
84. YHWH of Hosts, the Lord of(?)[ Israel …]…[….]
85. Then you will stand …[…]…
86. …\
87. in(?) … eternity(?)/… \

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Fall of the US Auto Industry

Forbes Columnist Jerry Flint outlines the reasons, and the solutions but the ultimate blame for the almost assured fall is:
  • But the blame has to fall on Detroit's executives. They didn't know enough about their own business to build better cars than the foreigners did, and they were unprepared for a change that was sure to come, sooner or later.
I blame the MBA-ization of American industry. Together with the education degree the MBA is a going to be the downfall of the USA. Both degrees are superficial treatments purporting to teach pupils 'how to' rather than a basal knowledge required to properly navigate their endeavors. Hence we have k-12 math teachers that know no math, industry managers that don't have the vision of their foreign counterparts. Outside of one year in the early 90's GM has never had a CEO that had experience in engineering, design, R&D, or manufacturing. They've all been bean counters, no car guys. GM is losing $1 billion a month with no end in sight. They just bean counted themselves to death. GM isn't the only American corporation that fits this mold, most do.