Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mathematical ability in females

For around 100 years, IQ testing has consistently found that females have better verbal ability and males have better mathematical ability. But that is of course politically incorrect so Leftist researchers have been scratching around for an explanation of differences in mathematical achievement that does not involve innate ability. The latest such is below and it will no doubt be much quoted in future.

One glance at it shows that it disproves nothing. No one has ever claimed that ability is the only influence on achievement. Remember that funny old concept of "hard work"? All that the study below does is confirm that the power of example has an influence on achievement too -- which is hardly news either.
Female teachers' math anxiety affects girls' math achievement

By Sian L. Beilock et al.


People's fear and anxiety about doing math-over and above actual math ability-can be an impediment to their math achievement. We show that when the math-anxious individuals are female elementary school teachers, their math anxiety carries negative consequences for the math achievement of their female students. Early elementary school teachers in the United States are almost exclusively female (>90%), and we provide evidence that these female teachers' anxieties relate to girls' math achievement via girls' beliefs about who is good at math. First- and secondgrade female teachers completed measures of math anxiety. The math achievement of the students in these teachers' classrooms was also assessed. There was no relation between a teacher's math anxiety and her students' math achievement at the beginning of the school year. By the school year's end, however, the more anxious teachers were about math, the more likely girls (but not boys) were to endorse the commonly held stereotype that "boys are good at math, and girls are good at reading" and the lower these girls' math achievement. Indeed, by the end of the school year, girls who endorsed this stereotype had significantly worse math achievement than girls who did not and than boys overall. In early elementary school, where the teachers are almost all female, teachers' math anxiety carries consequences for girls' math achievement by influencing girls' beliefs about who is good at math.



Dear Mr. President: Why We Are Not Hiring

When an administration makes its hostility to business clear, reasonable businessmen pull down the shutters

Mr. President, did I really hear you say that businesses aren't hiring because they can't get bank loans? Are you kidding me? Please indulge me for a moment, and we can get to the actual reasons.

But first, I must add that every time you step up to the microphone -- for example, your impromptu presser on Tuesday -- the painful decision to shut down my business of eighteen years is validated by your words. And I should thank you for that. For the record, that decision was formalized on November 5, 2008. Check your calendar. Some fifteen months later, I can say that it was the best business decision I have ever made. With your hands on the levers of the government and the economy, I wanted to have as little at risk as possible.

Don't get me wrong -- it was a torturous and gut-wrenching decision that went against every fiber of my being. I had to betray deeply rooted entrepreneurial instincts and set some more mundane material goals. And while it might seem extreme, I think my mindset speaks to the real reason businesses are not hiring now.

So what is that mindset?

It's not complicated. I am neither a swooning David Brooks enamored of your pant crease nor a silver-spoon trust-fund baby like Christopher Buckley. I've simply had some twenty-five entrepreneurial ventures -- with a good number of strikeouts to be honest -- and real-world experience told me exactly who you are and exactly what the business climate under your rule would be like. And I was exactly right....

The fuel price domino nudged the subprime mortgage domino -- itself an outgrowth of liberal lending policies -- and we have all seen the unraveling of a financial system underpinned by real estate values. Those valuations were the basis for any number of derivatives and credit default swaps and so on. Putting the Wall Street talk aside, the net result to business of this massive wealth-destruction is that employees are more desperate for money, and customers are less willing to buy and slower to pay when they do.

This is the Main Street carnage of "unfettered government" on small business and families. It is the destructive fruit of environmental leftists, the Fannie-Freddie cronies in government, and other corrupt liberals and crony capitalists in positions of unmerited influence.

It crushes the bank account and the spirit of the entrepreneur -- and it is all caused by government incompetence from beltway bureaucrats with zero business know, like you and practically your entire administration.

I'll admit that the prospect of running a small business under a McCain administration with Reid and Pelosi running Congress was not all that enticing, either. But it was your election that inspired me to pull the plug. After all, I saw how your Illinois buddies refused to let Republic Window even close down on their own terms, so I figured I better get out before your government and some union figured out a way to prevent me from quitting a business that I dreamed up, financed, created, and built from scratch.

Things were getting bad enough with Bush and other Republicans unable or unwilling to fight the encroaching liberal governmental infestation of our lives, but the thought of having a president who believes in that infection -- who would champion it and push it -- just scared the hell out of me. It beat the entrepreneurial spirit out of me, too.

So I decided to sit the risk-reward world of business ownership out for a while. Like many, we are no longer willing to take all of the financial and legal risks and aggravation of owning and running a business...not with even higher taxes, more regulation, more litigation, and more emboldened bureaucrats on the horizon. People who have a dream to build a better life by taking risks and starting a business instinctively know when those principles are under attack.

And with you, Sir, in the White House, these principles are indeed under attack. Why this surprises anyone is a mystery to me. Jeremiah Wright hates these principles. So did Saul Alinsky. So do Van Jones and Bill Ayers and Andy Stern. I don't know any "structural feminists," but I bet they hate them too. And so do you. This is part of the America that you promised to "fundamentally transform."

I knew what that meant. I could sense the bulls-eye on my back. This is who you are. And since you clearly do not understand business at all, let me give you a short primer:

Any business idea, from the first day it is hatched, is nothing more than a series of cost-benefit analyses that the idea-holder either acts on or passes on. Sometimes the first decision is to forget the idea. Sometimes the first decision is to move ahead and invest some cash.

Perhaps a few million cost-benefit analyses later, you might have Microsoft or Home Depot or ESPN. Or you might have Bill's Plumbing or Johnson's Quality Homes or a café or an electrical wholesaler, and so on. And those businesses still operate on a constant stream of risk-reward decisions. In the business world, there is no neutral gear.

(There: Now you have more useful information than Jamie Gorelick or Franklin Raines got from Harvard.)

And when we have a president and ruling class who are clueless about and hostile towards business, the risk-reward equation shifts dramatically against further investment of time, talent, and capital. And that's where we are today.



Think Twice Before Opening Door to Census Worker

Can governments do ANYTHING right?

Despite reports last fall that the Census Bureau had severed ties with community-organizing group known as ACORN, Americans might want to think twice before opening their doors to canvassers for the 2010 Census after reading what I discovered this morning.

According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office Oct. 7, approximately 785 employees with disqualifying criminal records could still end up working for the Census Bureau this year. Excerpts (below) show the exact wording of the agency’s frightening information about the people who go door to door conducting interviews and collecting information for the 2010 Census:
The Bureau’s efforts to fingerprint employees, which was required as part of a criminal background check, did not proceed smoothly, in part because of training issues. As a result, over 35,000 temporary census workers — over a fifth of the address canvassing workforce — were hired despite the fact that their fingerprints could not be processed and they were not fully screened for employment eligibility.

…of the prints that could be processed, fingerprint results identified 1,800 temporary workers (1.1 percent of total hires) with criminal records that name check alone failed to identify. Of the 1,800 workers with criminal records, approximately 750 (42 percent) were terminated or were further reviewed because the Bureau determined their criminal records — which included crimes such as rape, manslaughter, and child abuse — disqualified them from census employment.

…we estimate that approximately 785 employees with unclassifiable prints could have disqualifying criminal records but still end up working for the Bureau.

In addition to the news about the criminal element aspect of the 2010 Census, the 2009 report contained an estimate of the total cost of the 2010 Census being some $3.4 billion higher than the estimate in a 2006 GAO report. Compared to ex-cons knocking at my door, I guess I can live with cost overruns.



Marvel Comics Apologizes for Capt. America's Tea Party Bashing

Comics now being used by Leftists to brainwash the young

Holy irony of ironies, Batman! The developers of some of the most patriotic cartoon heroes ever produced are now having to back down from bashing some of the most patriotic people in America today.
Since 1941, Captain America has been one of the most popular comic book characters around. The fictional super-patriot fought Nazis during World War II, took on those who burned the American flag during the Vietnam era, and raked in hundreds of millions of dollars for Marvel Comics along the way. Now, the appearance that he is taking on the Tea Party Movement in a storyline about investigating white supremacists has forced Marvel to apologize for the comic hero.

In recognizing their superhero faux pas, which was first noted by Todd Huston on Publius' Forum, Marvel first argued, then finally apologized, thus:
Where Mr. Houston [sic] is correct is in our accidently [sic] identifying in one of the held up signs, the group as being a part of the Tea Party instead of a generic protest group. That's something that we need to apologize for and own up to, because it's just one of those stupid mistakes that happened through a series of stupid incidents.

Stupid keeps coming back as the simplest, most accurate description of those too-clever-by-half elitists with their leftist agendas. It will take a lot more than a few hijacked superheroes to keep those "Teabaggers" down.

Comic books are produced by artists, writers and editors. This "mistake" was made through all three, and to explain it that way is stupid in and of itself.



The Economist Gets Tea Parties

While the American news media coverage of the Tea Party movement has been dominated by the likes of Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, and David Shuster giggling like 11-year-olds over the word "tea-bagger," Britain's The Economist approached the Tea Party movement with real objectivity.

The US Media (including, as TMH notes, the comic book media) dutifully portrays the Tea Parties the way the Obamacrats want them portrayed... as eiher a dangerous collection of ignorant hillbillies and birthers riled up by a cabal of corporatists, talk radio hosts, and FoxNews. But The Economist, using the radical journalistic technique of attending tea party events and reporting objectively, reaches a rather different conclusion.
Even after a long weekend of speeches and workshops in Nashville, the precise composition, aims and ideology of this movement remain hard to pin down. That is because the tea-party is precisely what its supporters say it is: not an artificial "Astroturf" creation of the Republican Party, but a genuine grassroots movement, highly decentralised and composed of many people who have not participated in politics before. They have no agreed platform and no unified national organisation: the Tea Party Nation is itself only one of many tea-party organisations that have sprung up spontaneously around America. These people are learning their trade, honing their tactics and defining their politics as they go along.

Which sounds about right. The media went out of their way to portray the radical anti-Bush movement as regular folk, ignoring the ties to George Soros, ignoring the involvement of ultra-radical organizations like International ANSWER, and proving fawning, soft-focus interviews with shrieking deranged harridans like Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan. The only thing you can count on about the MSM is that they will portray every issue exactly 180 degrees from reality.




John Hawkins has put up what he thinks are "The Best Quotes From Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism". Well worth a read. Even better to buy the book, of course.

Dong sags: "Vietnam's devaluation will help shore up its currency system, but inflation and a big trade deficit mean the government has more work ahead—and that could include further devaluations and sharply higher interest rates.... Vietnamese residents have responded by hoarding dollars and gold out of fear the currency—the dong—will become even less valuable in the future. The State Bank of Vietnam on Thursday lowered by 3.4% the official value of the dong.

It's not Republicans who are blocking bipartisanship: "A bipartisan group of senators forged agreement on a jobs bill that drew the White House's blessing Thursday - but hours later Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scuttled the deal and replaced it with his own Democrat-written measure. Scrambling to show Democrats are taking action to lower the 9.7 percent unemployment rate, Mr. Reid said the bipartisan proposal strayed too far from job creation and into special-interest giveaways. "The message is so watered down, with people wanting other things in this big package that we're going to have to come back and finish [the jobs agenda later]," Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, told reporters. He said there is no reason for Republicans to oppose the smaller bill. But Republicans said it was an about-face for Mr. Reid and accused him of kicking bipartisanship to the curb despite his and President Obama's repeated calls for the parties to work together."

Poll finds most Americans are unhappy with government: "Two-thirds of Americans are "dissatisfied" or downright "angry" about the way the federal government is working, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. On average, the public estimates that 53 cents of every tax dollar they send to Washington is "wasted." Despite the disapproval of government, few Americans say they know much about the "tea party" movement, which emerged last year and attracted voters angry at a government they thought was spending recklessly and overstepping its constitutional powers. The opening is clear: Public dissatisfaction with how Washington operates is at its highest level in Post-ABC polling in more than a decade -- since the months after the Republican-led government shutdown in 1996 -- and negative ratings of the two major parties hover near record highs."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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