Archive of July 2009

The War We’d Like to Forget

I had high hopes for Ross Douthat’s column at the Times, but haven’t often found myself reading him since the move from The Atlantic. When I do take a minute to check on what he’s been writing about, he simply seems out of place. Perhaps the Times really can’t handle a conservative voice like his.

Male and female brains are hardwired differently

Dan Benjamin pulls this from John Cloud’s Time story Why Girls Have BFFs and Boys Hang Out in Packs,8599,1911103,00.html:

Perhaps it’s evidence that evolution has programmed boys to compete within large groups, so they can learn to eliminate rivals for women — and that girls have been programmed to judge, one-on-one, who would be the most protective father for offspring.

Am I the only one who thinks these kinds of articles are idiotic? Why is Dan Benjamin linking to this, much less agreeing with it? First of all this is a story in Time magazine — not exactly a bastion of rigor. Second of all, the only thing an fMRI study like this shows is that by the time boys and girls have reached this age (8 to 17, according to Time), their brains have become “hard-wired” to function differently in social situations. This says nothing of the possibility that social factors — which, oh, by the way, have taught these kids language — have forged these “hard-wired” distinctions. But please, go ahead and assume that studies prove what you already accept as common knowledge. Take it away Dan:

This may not come as a huge surprise to parents of teenage kids, but now there’s some science to help explain the difference.


Why Are People Waiting to Marry and Have Kids?

Part of what is appealing about Andrew Sullivan’s blog is that he has Patrick Appel and Chris Bodenner there who clearly help prepare a lot of his posts, and I imagine make the construction of the blog an actual conversation. I also like that he often posts readers’ emails in full when they make a good point, no matter what their view. Here, Patrick is filling in while Andrew is taking a break, and continues the practice of posting thoughtful emails from readers. A taste:

Domenech asks why less [sic] Americans are married with kids at my age, and the best he can come up with is that tired old socially conservative canard of uppity women and a pornography-filled society. Does he really want to know why there is a greater delay in marriage and rearing children than there was in 1970? One word: cost.

Of course, the act of posting these in such a respectful way encourages other readers to send in their own thoughtful emails.

Black & White Clock

I want one:

Digital clock: only figures, no case, only the necessary – only accurate time. Each figure has self-contained power supply and independent control, it can be fixed to any surface autonomously. A light sensor will switch the clock to an invert mode: the figures are white in the dark time of day and black at daytime.