Friday, 28 September 2007

Best use both fingers and toes

Psychologists have found a justification for the male strangehold on Nobel prizes – there are twice as many men as women in the brightest 2% of the population.

But although men may win the top prizes, they cannot claim a clear-cut victory in an intellectual battle of the sexes. The study shows that men also cluster at the opposite extreme, with twice as many men as women stuck in the least intelligent 2%.
Ah, yes, the old 'men are both smarter and dumber argument.'  Not like that's been advanced before.

So now let's ask a question: what percentage of Nobel winners are female?
There was no significant difference in the average intelligence of men and women, when all the test results were taken together. However, the analysis showed that men were far more likely to be be found at extremes of the intelligence scale. At the time of the study, men had been awarded 545 out of the 557 Nobel prizes for science. [Emphasis mine]
Now, since I'm a woman, my female brain doesn't allow me to do maths.  Okay, actually, I can use a calculator.  And my calculator tells me that twelve Nobel laureates out of a pool of 557 is equal to... <carry the two> ... 2.2 percent.

So great! That's solved the reason that women don't win Nobel Prizes.  Well, except for this dratted sentence from the article I'm quoting:
[T]here are twice as many men as women in the brightest 2% of the population.
Now, let's accept that argument.  Even if one assumes that the tests measured had no intrinsic gender bias in the way they were formatted, and even if one assumes that the tests measure innate intelligence and not "book-learning," and even if one assumes that brothers and sisters have the exact same parenting from their parents, and even if one assumes that all Nobel laureates would test above the 98th percentile (a questionable proposition at best), and even if one believes that this observed gender difference is the overwhelming reason that women do not achieve at the same levels as men, even if you accept all of that, you still reach the conclusion that women make up fully one-third of the most intelligent people.  And given that, one would expect there to have been... <carry the four> ... 186 female Nobel winners.

There have been twelve.

So what does one make of such disparity? Well, I'll tell you what: I'm going to suggest that this study proves, once and for all, that sexism is the overwhelming reason that women do not achieve at the same level as men. After all, this study argues that women should only account for one-third of Nobel Prizes rather than one-half -- a difference of about 93 winners. My theory accounts for the other 174 women who didn't win the prize, but would have in a truly egalitarian society.

When women are winning the Nobel prize at least a third of the time, come back, and we'll talk about whether there are differences in the raw intelligence of women and men.  It will still be a stupid and wrongheaded argument, but at least we can pretend at that point that gender is a meaningful factor. Until we get a lot closer to equality, though, I think it's doubtful that we're going to get the right answers anyhow.
So in the interim will the inadequate Neanderthals please STFU  :O)

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Ahmadinejad huh

Sensible people everywhere were pleased that NYC didn't allow Iranian President Ahmadinejad to place a wreath at the WTC site and that Columbia University rescinded the offer to let him speak.  If you let a foreign idiot like that express his  views, before long the entire world will want freedom of speech.

I hate Ahmadinejad for all the same reasons you do. For one thing, he said he wants to "wipe Israel off the map."  Scholars tell us the correct translation is more along the lines of wanting a change in Israel's government toward something more democratic, with less gerrymandering.  Huh, only brown-nosing-to-terrorist crinoids listen to scholars when the tabloids offer their own helpful monosyllabic interpretations.

Ahmadinejad also called the holocaust a "myth."  Well he can go stick his head up a dead bear's bum!  A myth is something a society uses to frame their understanding of their world, and act accordingly.  It's not as if the world created a whole new  country because of holocaust guilt and gives it a free pass no matter what it does.
That's Iranian crazy talk.

Those Iranians need to learn from the American example.  In the USA if the clear majority of the public opposes the continuation of a war, their leaders will say they're terrorist-loving traitors and they'll do whatever they damn well please. They might even increase taxes expressly in order to do it. That's called leadership.

If Ahmadinejad thinks he can be our friend by honouring the victims of terrorism and opening a dialogue with the West, he underestimates our ability to misinterpret him. Anyone would think that Americans weren't the only nationality killed at the WTC.  What a twat.

Showing off

My granddaughter Grace has today got her swimming cert for 1000 metres - 40 lengths.  Good eh? 

Sunday, 16 September 2007

St Martin

Walking up 8th Avenue we came across a street barred off from traffic by no less than 9 baton twirling and very insouciant New York cops and so naturally we turned into the street to see what was going off.  Luckily for us it wasn't a riot, but a very local celebration of St Martin's Day -  St Martin apparently being a great fave with people from South America.  An image of the saint had been brought from the neighbourhood church and was being carried a short way up and then down the narrow street by a strange and very slow sideways shuffle.  Most of the people carrying the image were no spring chickens and one poor chap looked fit to drop with the strain.  When the image had to be turned around to parade up and down the street a supervisory type man struck a huge gong to direct the movements of the bearers.  Frankly the sudden loud clash seemed more likely to give them a heart attack.

The image was followed on it's several trips up and down by a small and somewhat discordant  band and by several people wearing the ethnic clothing of their region of origin.  People threw flowers and everyone appeared to enjoy themselves hugely in the great friendly atmosphere.

Speaking of local neighbourhood things, we were astonished to hear, and see for ourselves, that what famously used to be a significant feature of Manhattan, Little Italy, has now reduced to one street, Mulberry St, which is really little but a fairly short row of restaurants.  The remainder has been taken over by their ever-expanding neighbours, the Chinese.  China Town is huge and still growing.  Away from the tourist area of Canal St where all the knicknack shops and eating houses are located we saw considerable poverty.  One good thing was that all of the little 'parks' and squares were taken over by old Chinese people playing MahJong and cards and a very obscure Chinese game that we just couldn't puzzle out.   A park full of gambling pensioners makes a nice change to yobs loitering round the kiddie swings tho  :O)

Fashion Rocks!

The week of our holiday was NYC's Fashion Week and we had the good fortune to come across a 'Fashion Rocks'  TV filming while we were looking for something to eat on Central Park South.  We were given wristbands to come back after lunch to be part of the selected audience for a public performance by Martina MacBride in Grand Army Plaza.  Martina has been an icon of the country music scene for quite some time and is a fave of ours so we were thrilled to be there to see and hear her at such very close quarters.  She sang 3 songs, one of them 3 times for the sound recordist, but all beautiful.  She's a Christian and writes her own lyrics which reflect aspects of her belief.  If you've never heard of her, then go Google and catch a listen.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

More pics

These are two of my favourite photographs from NYC.  I shall make an attempt to paint this one as I think it's a simply fabulous building.  I have no choice than to be an impressionistic painter   :


Times Square of course needs no introduction.  It's a much 'cleaner' location since Guilliani's crackdown on filf but just as busy.


Friday, 14 September 2007

No Sale

During our week in NYC we took the ferry to Staten Island to visit a shop famous among acoustic musicians the world over, Mandolin Brothers: MANDOLIN BROTHERS LTD Center of the Acoustic Universe!  The 30 minute ferry ride is absolutely free btw, so if you're ever in Manhattan, don't forget to get this view for no charge:  

Staten Island was a complete surprise, it was so suburban and leafy - hard to believe that it's one of the 5 New York boroughs.  Sadly as my hub had very specific requirements, ie for a (really) Vintage Vega open-backed 5 string banjo, he ended up buying nothing.  All in all it was a very inexpensive morning but he had a great time anyway, playing some of the world's most rare and expensive guitars and doing his nerdy music talk and jamming with the even nerdier but very friendly and welcoming staff. 

That evening I had a similar hugely enjoyable but abortive experience in Bergdorf Goodman's Fur department where, in absolute desperation, the suave gentleman hoping to sell me the latest fur trimmed mohair 'drape' ( Yankee for poncho type thing) said that in fact, if Madam decided to purchase, he would like my contact details in order to invite me back at Bergdorf Goodman's expense to model it at their pre-Christmas show as it suited me so well LOLOL.  If I could have afforded their fur I wouldn't have been interested in a free weekend trip!  As it was I got neither.  They really had nothing I could garden in anyways <gg>


Thursday, 13 September 2007

New York

I thought that the very first photograph of New York might appropriately be one of the AOL/Time Warner Tower.  4 Floors comprise a hotel which costs from $1200 to $23,500 per person per night.  The hotel has a Sushi bar which caters for only 9 customers a time.  Seats are $500 per head.  Goodness knows what they'd charge if they were expected to actually cook the fish!

This 2nd photograph is of Central Park, imho the very best bit of Manhattan.  We spent almost a whole day there watching baseball, at the zoo, the model boat pond, the various gardens and at the castle.  It's a beautiful park with numerous lakes and wooded hilly areas and New Yorkers use it in their masses, running, roller blading, cycling and riding on the pedestrian-only cross-park roads, and there are charming horse drawn carriages or bicycle rickshaws for those who don't want to walk. There are enclosed areas for dancing, musicians scattered across the whole park, and childrens' entertainers abound - really good ones too with storytelling, group singing, juggling and magic tricks.  During the whole day we saw no bad behaviour whatsoever, no shouting, no booze, no trouble at all. Just people enjoying themselves.  Fantastic.