Saturday, December 28, 2019

Vox Fires Workers Supposedly Helped By Legislation It Supported

They will never learn.


Source at Vox, and blowback at CNBC.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Review: The Two Popes

At the opening of The Two Popes, things are going badly for Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), so it comes as something of a surprise when Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) summons him to Rome. They are opposites, Bergoglio a reformer, Benedict a conservative, but what unites them is something we discover over the course of the first half of the movie: both wish to resign their posts, but only one can. Benedict, we learn, has run out of options, no longer able to hear God, and so he has invited his harshest critic to take over the Holy See from him. Bergoglio won't have it at first, and so much of the balance of the movie is about Benedict convincing the future Pope Francis to step in.

Another large part of it is finding Bergoglio's catastrophic failure to protect his priests in the aftermath of a 1976 military junta in Argentina. The euphemistically named "National Reorganization Process" murdered and tortured tens of thousands, rounding up anyone who might have even been near a Peronist or uttered a socialist thought. Joe Morgenstern's review in the Wall Street Journal notices that virtually all of the film (or its most important parts, anyway) are "mostly the luscious fruit of [screenwriter Anthony McCarten's] imagination", so it's not to be taken too literally. But it's a visual feast, and a fantastic character study by two actors at the top of their craft.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Is Feminism or Racism The More Profitable Grievance? Jezebel vs. The Root

I have been somewhat curious for a long while to determine which of the grievance studies disciplines are the more profitable in the private sector. While there's no good, simple way to determine this, it seemed likely that the commercial websites in this space might serve as a decent proxy for broader data. Particularly, it occurred to me after I wrote my analysis of TechCrunch's diversity problems that there might be other profitable avenues to explore among the grievance studies candidates in the private sector.

Sure enough, Jezebel and The Root have some interesting numbers once you dig down to the About pages. Particularly, among writers and editors listed as either active or emeritus (ignoring video editors, who won't get written bylines very often, and will serve to drag down the totals in both cases):
  • Jezebel: 31,178 bylines over 12 (now nearly 13) years, written by 21 individuals, with an average of 1,484 bylines per writer. The most prolific: Kelly Faircloth, writing since November 21, 2013, with 3,460 bylines.
  • The Root: 13,918 bylines over about 10 years, written by 14 writers, with an average of 994 bylines per writer. The most prolific: Stephen A. Crockett, Jr., with 2,020 bylines (the last in August, 2019).
So there you have it: Jezebel has 50% more writers (21% more if you remove emeritus staff), has been active two and a half years longer, and sports more than double the bylines. Presumably all of them are compensated, which strongly suggests that feminism wins hands down in the battle of the clicks. Supporting source material may be found here.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Review: Harriet

The hazards with Harriet are many, and start with the casting; Julia Roberts at one time was suggested as Tubman (rilly?). This having caused a stir and subsequently rejected, the film eventually got made on what passes for a shoestring budget in Hollywood these days ($17M), quickly earning that back and more (currently at $33M).

The more obvious hazard is that of any telling the story of any larger-than-life figure, and that is the temptations of hagiography. Tubman is in some ways a Joan of Arc figure in that she represented a woman embodying the virtue of action who also had a strong religious component to her motivations. Having grown up on a farm in slave-holding Maryland with the nickname Minty, she learns she is about to be sold further south, never to see her family again. With help from a preacher, her father, and an abolitionist, she eventually reaches safety in Philadelphia (though not before narrowly escaping her former master, and almost drowning along the way).

In Philadelphia, she sheds her given name of Araminta Ross, and takes her free name from which we know her today, Harriet Tubman. After a year, she goes back to fetch her husband (who refuses to follow her, having given her up for dead and remarried), and ultimately, 70 slaves, losing none along the way, as one of the most prolific conductors on the Underground Railroad in its history.

The scenes of slavery and its consequences are horrifying, the movie an unstinting witness to the terrors slaves lived under every day: the beatings, the family dismemberments, the hundred petty cruelties. Where it really falls down — and this seems a common theme among detractors — is that it is so afraid of doing anything wrong it doesn't ever take any big risks. (As Adam Graham in Detroit News wrote, "Harriet often feels in awe of its subject, like it's staring at her through museum glass.") The film slips too often into Joan of Arc mode, with Tubman drifting into religious delirium as a (confusing) way to advance the plot. She's not made out as a plaster saint, thank God, but neither is she fully formed in this telling. Still, I never once felt the urge to check my watch, and as history lessons go, this one's a keeper.

More Link Dumping

  • Annie Wilkes, Part 1: Ford vs. Ferrari: now the subject of one of those Annie Wilkes reviews. "Best left dead", sheesh.
  • The best thing The Federalist has published all year: "Climate Worship Is Nothing More Than Rebranded Paganism". Excerpt:
    The reality is, of course, completely different. Much less than destroying the planet, climate change isn’t even a settled science. Conservatives don’t disagree that climate is changing. That is a straw man. Conservatives, however, are opposed to hysteria, have skepticism about the rate of the climate change, and would like to see an actual cost-benefit analysis of the radical changes being demanded.

    More important than that, conservatives understand that climate change is cynically used by a certain section of people to justify their political goals of steering the West away from its way of life, a way they perceive to be evil and harmful, hetero-patriarchal, and capitalist. How? Appealing to the faith-based part of human brains, the need for subservience, and propping up children as human shields.
  • California de facto bans fracking by making all new wells subject to a "scientific" (read: captive of the greens) panel. 
  • Annie Wilkes, Part 2: Annie Blames The Audience:  No, really, Elizabeth Blanks has preemptively blamed men if her Charlie's Angels reboot fails.
    She stated, “Look, people have to buy tickets to this movie, too. This movie has to make money.” She added, “If this movie doesn’t make money it reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies.”
    This is an odd place to go given recent successes with Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Mad Max: Fury Road. The 2000 reboot took in $125M at the domestic box office, so maybe it's just you, Liz?
  • Annie Wilkes, Part 3, Corncob Edition:
  • I am glad to see our courts beavering away at the important question of whether women can consent to a threesome. And to think, this poor man almost had his freedom snatched away from him.
  • Elizabeth Warren fires the opening shot in banning cars:
  • Sully gets it right again on the intersectional left's long-term political goals:
    Every now and again, it’s worth thinking about what the intersectional left’s ultimate endgame really is — and here it strikes me as both useful and fair to extrapolate from Kendi’s project. They seem not to genuinely believe in liberalism, liberal democracy, or persuasion. They have no clear foundational devotion to individual rights or freedom of speech. Rather, the ultimate aim seems to be running the entire country by fiat to purge it of racism (and every other intersectional “-ism” and “phobia”, while they’re at it). And they demand “disciplinary tools” by unelected bodies to enforce “a radical reorientation of our consciousness.” There is a word for this kind of politics and this kind of theory when it is fully and completely realized, and it is totalitarian.
    Also, homosexuals are now under attack by — wait for it — the woke left, for the crime of not hewing to the trans lobby's worldview:
    Of course, anyone can and should like whatever they like and do whatever they want to do. But if a gay man doesn’t want to have sex with someone who has a vagina and a lesbian doesn’t want to have sex with someone who has a dick, they are not being transphobic. They’re being — how shall I put this? — gay. When Rich suggests that “it’s not just possible but observable and prevalent to have ‘preferences’ that dog-whistle bigotry,” and he includes in the category of “preferences” not liking the other sex’s genitals, he’s casting a moral pall over gayness itself. Suddenly we’re not just being told homosexuality is “problematic” by the religious right, we’re being told it by the woke left.
  • I Am Shocked, Shocked That Mothers Want To Be With Their Children, but this apparently is huge news to the New York Times. A study of California, which in 2004 instituted mandatory paid maternity leave, found women worked fewer hours and earned less a decade later, results that are consistent with the results in Sweden, where the labor pool is the most sex-segregated in the OECD.

The Case of Mary Cain

Who is responsible for what Mary Cain became? I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around that. On the one hand, it's Nike's training program, or at least that of Alberto Salazar, that left her a physical wreck:
“An all-male Nike staff became convinced that in order for me to get better, I had to become thinner, and thinner, and thinner,” she explains in the video. Salazar gave her an “arbitrary number” for her to hit on the scale. She became fixated on her weight instead of her performance. Salazar’s mandates took an extreme toll on her body: She didn’t get her period for three years and, due to a lack of estrogen, broke five bones. “I was emotionally, and physically, abused,” she says in the video of her experience.
The beauty pageant aspects of this story are appalling, as if Nike and Salazar were interested in performance only as a secondary matter. But the fact that this appears to be a frequent occurrence throughout women's track suggests that it's not just Salazar who thinks this way:
Amenorrhea—the term for when your period goes away in the absence of pregnancy—is part of what led elite runner Tina Muir to quit the sport altogether in 2017. “There are SO MANY people out there who lose their cycles, yet no one talks about it,” she wrote in post on her website. She’d seen a slew of specialists, was healthy, and ate plenty. Failed by medical science and wanting to get pregnant, the only option she felt was left was to stop logging miles and allow her “body to come out of panic mode.” One estimate suggests that the majority of female runners might experience amenorrhea, which can affect not just fertility, as Christine Yu explains here in Outside, but can also damage cardiovascular health and bone strength. Bones break more easily when the body has been stressed like this, as Cain’s did. And yet still, losing your period can be “a badge of honor, a sign that you’re tough and working hard,” writes Yu. The mythology around amenorrhea enforces running as an act of control against the body.
Certainly, we should decry Salazar for his approach, but does Cain have some responsibility, too? Barry Bonds gets only opprobrium for his efforts; is the difference the fact that he was so dominant, that he won for so long? Or is it, because he is male (and yes, black), he is accorded full responsibility for his actions?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Scaffold For Prejudice

It has been a while since I encountered what is anymore becoming one of the most predictable genres at the intersection of feminism and motherhood (of necessity, a small intersection on the Venn diagram), i.e. that of “mothers raising the enemy”, i.e. third-wave feminists trying to reconcile their generalized and unfocused rage at males with the fact that they have created male life. The first such I found at the now-defunct K.M. O’Sullivan’s blog (link from the Internet Archive), but then there was Wendy Thurm’s baffling “Adequate Man” trash in Deadspin, and Jody Allard’s depressing Washington Post byline that makes me sympathetic to her son who attempted suicide.

This latest example by the extremely unfrolicsome Jan Frolic at Women of Influence provides a kernel of hope that not all such women are so blinkered, but only just a little. Frolic, you see, is not entirely insensible to the idea that collective guilt is a bad idea:
I was just recovering from a year-long depression over Trump becoming President when I found myself at my desk, being turned inside-out, watching Christine Blasey Ford testify in the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. I listened intently as she began to turn her life into a circus for the greater good of humanity. I was concentrating on her tortured face when my 16-year-old son approached me, holding out his phone with some image on the screen, and asked me point-blank: “Why is this me?”

I could feel it and see it in his eyes — a cross between sadness and hurt and anger. What he was showing me was Shannon Downey’s cross-stitched rendition of “boys will be boys,” with the final “boys” stricken out and replaced by “held accountable for their fucking actions.” This craft has gone viral twice, once with Trump and again with Kavanaugh.

I had no answer for my son. No good answer, at least. Part of me was cheering on the inside, but my heart also felt like it was stopping and I couldn’t breathe because I hurt so much. And I was scared.
Well, yes, especially given the vaporous nature of the charges hurled at Kavanaugh, which score ended with zero eyewitnesses to the purported assault and serious questions as to whether the party Christine Blasey Ford claimed to have been raped at even took place. That is to say, Frolic was predisposed to hate Kavanaugh on the grounds that he stood accused of a heinous crime, evidence be damned. So when she asks
How, as a society, have we created a narrative where boys are blamed for men like Kavanaugh and Trump?
it’s actually a complex question, but the answer lies right in Frolic’s mirror. The business of modern feminism isn’t really about understanding men, but about coming up with justifications for hating them — a framework, or scaffold, for prejudice. It’s about blaming men for everything that goes wrong in women’s lives while ignoring the many things men do to lift those burdens. Her boypro-ject (PDF) asks the questions (as though they were new!):
What does it mean to be male today? Who do I want to be when I grow up? Where do I look for role models when it feels like everyone and everything is in question?
Congratulations, Ms. Frolic, you have discovered a core problem confronting humanity everywhere: how to civilize young men. Normally, the strange creature known as a father grapples with this task, but Frolic, a lesbian, appears to have none to hand, and so goes badly armed into the coming battle. She twists in the iron maiden of her own making, caught between the love of her child, and dogmatic rage at men generally.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

More Magic Words: "OK Boomer" Hits The Social Justice Trifecta

TIL "OK Boomer" are the new Social Justice "magic words", having lately been used to shut up heckling in the New Zealand parliament. As usual, Urban Dictionary has a mess of similar definitions, but all of them, it seems, hit on three things generally critical to the Social Justice mindset:
  1. It purports to shut someone up, generally without engaging their arguments, whatever they may be.
  2. It allows the user to silence a person based on innate and immutable characteristics, i.e. their birthday.
  3. It grants the user a moral righteousness for themselves, and contempt for the other, based on the speaker's identity, i.e. how could you possibly know what it is like to be me because my life is so much harder than yours.
 This damned locution cannot die fast enough.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Time For Another Links Post


  • The case of Katie Hill bothers me at multiple levels, not least because I largely think whatever people decide to do with their genitals in their private lives is their own affair. Yes, it was gross that her vengeful ex-husband leaked photos. Yes, it violated House ethics rules for her to sleep with an underling — but is that reasonable? Is the presumption now that all consensual sex between subordinates and supervisors is intrinsically unfair and coercive? I find myself agreeing, in part, with Jessica Valenti’s assessment of the situation (she was taken down by “revenge porn”), but this is the #MeToo world Valenti and her compatriots designed. Arguably, Hill created a #MeToo victim in the staffer, and those are the stakes here. For Valenti, women can only ever be victims, which says a great deal about her thought processes.
  • Remember when Wired didn’t suck? It has to have been 20 years ago or more. The only reason I can think of for them to write this disingenuous, lazy piece, “Trans Athletes Are Posting Victories and Shaking Up Sports“ is to garner hate-clicks:
    Transgender athletes are having a moment. At all levels of sport, they’re stepping onto the podium and into the headlines. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard won two gold medals at the Pacific Games, and college senior CeCé Telfer became the NCAA Division II national champion in the 400-meter run. Another senior, June Eastwood, has been instrumental to her cross-country team’s success. At the high school level, Terry Miller won the girls’ 200-meter dash at Connecticut’s state open championship track meet.

    These recent performances are inherently praiseworthy—shining examples of what humans can accomplish with training and effort. But as more transgender athletes rise to the top of their fields, some vocal opponents are also expressing outrage at what they see as transgender athletes ruining sports for cisgendered girls and women.
    “Training”, I suppose, which equals “going through male puberty and then simply declaring yourself to be female”. The question of motive inevitably arises, and while, yes, it’s easy to impute the urge for easy podium places and trophies as the primary draw of this cheating approach, it also is irrelevant. (CeCe Telfer particularly strikes me as mercenary enough to be in this class.) Biological males are stronger than women, on average and especially at the right side of the bell curve. This is not hard. Bending over backwards to cater to the delusional, narcissistic, and even sociopathic is absolute nonsense.
  • Deadspin was at its best when pursuing stories other sports media wouldn’t touch. I seem to recall they were unafraid of the Joe Paterno fall to earth caused by his covering for Jerry Sandusky and the latter’s buggering of young boys, and they likewise went after Ray Rice (though that story broke on TMZ Sports). Now comes the news that editor Barry Petchesky has been fired amid a “stick to sports” edict from new owners G/O Media (the second rebranding since they were spun off the old Gawker Media in bankruptcy court). I have a hard time mustering much concern for him and those who quit in sympathy, mainly because a site that feels it meet to give airtime to a grown-ass woman rape-shaming her pre-sexual son has not only lost its way, it has gone insane.
  • A free press is only interesting to people who work in it if they can get paid, apparently, so former Time editor Richard Stengel is penning stupid op-eds in the Washington Post claiming we need to gut the First Amendment, because, reasons.
  • Emma Sulkowicz is now fun at parties because, libertarian, or something. Protip: apologize to Paul Nungesser, then I might believe some of this stuff is anything other than a stunt to get your name back in the news.
  • First Circuit Court of Appeals to John Doe in Doe v. Boston College, scheduled for argument next week: sorry, Jeanne Suk Gearson, your attorney whom you have paid for many weeks if not months of preparation, may not defend you in court, because, reasons. This is the court putting its finger on the scales of justice, and if I were a betting man, I would put money that this is a politicized punishment.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Whaddya Know: American Women “Marrying Down” In Terms Of Education

A terrific new study out from the Institute for Family Studies, showing that college-educated women, contra the suppositions from Dateonomics, are actually marrying “down” in large numbers in terms of education. It’s not yet large numbers, but the trend is undeniable:


Of particular interest is the 23-32 group of women on the right side. Just under 40% of women with a bachelor’s degree are marrying men without one, which is astonishing. Of course, given the tiny number of marriages occurring among millennials, this could easily be the product of a systemic bias problem:

That is, the relative few women marrying men without college degrees are marrying from the cream of the blue-collar or undegreed ranks. It does not seem a scalable trend.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Rachel McKinnon Wins Another Women’s Cycling World Title

M2F transsexual cyclist Rachel McKinnon is in the news again, having won a women’s sprint world championship, and earlier, setting a world record qualifying time in the 200m event. As usual, she is full of the same lame justifications as to why she should be allowed to participate in women’s cycling:
"All my medical records say female," she said. "My doctor treats me as a female person, my racing licence says female, but people who oppose my existence still want to think of me as male.

"There's a stereotype that men are always stronger than women, so people think there is an unfair advantage. By preventing trans women from competing or requiring them to take medication, you're denying their human rights."
Luckily, the Sky News piece goes on to mention (without linking to) the Karolinska Institute study showing M2F transwomen retained the vast majority of their leg strength even after a year of hormone therapy. On Twitter, she was even more uninhibited, claiming
Pressed on the Karolinska study as to whether she retained an advantage, McKinnon weaseled her way out: "Is it possible? Yes it is possible. But there are elite track cyclists who are bigger than me.“ Needless to say, this is less than satisfying. The main reasons why transwomen’s stature within women’s sport is what it is come down to a number of causes:
  1. The bullying of trans advocates to gain M2F transsexual entry to biological women’s sporting events. It is telling that the IOC’s position statement on transwomen participation contains not a single reference to any scientific papers.
  2. The small sample sizes available even in the limited number of quality studies available in this space (c.f. the Karolinska Institute study linked above, n=11 for transwomen, and n=12 for transmen).
  3. The minuscule number of M2F transsexuals actually participating in biological women’s sporting events.
McKinnon routinely elides the strong evidence that transwomen retain a huge advantage over biological women in athletic events, expressing the narcissism, feigned ignorance, and contempt that has been her hallmark ever since she started winning UCI races. I have to believe this is typical of the whole of trans activists. When do any of them express any kind of empathy for the fourth place biological woman denied her place at the podium?

Update: McKinnon has written off participating in the 2020 Olympics, and I can only wonder at the reasons. Is it because she can’t compete among the best (younger) women in the world? Or because she knows what a firestorm she would face if she won on that stage? Consider her differing photos from victories in 2018 versus 2019:

2018

2019

McKinnon literally towers over her second- and third-place competitors in 2018 (per this Velo News article, she is six feet tall), but has been apparently shot to minimize her height advantage in the 2019 photo. I have not been able to find Kirsten Herup’s height thus far, but assume six feet (183 cm) is unlikely.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Richard Stallman Stays On As "Chief GNUsance"

Richard Stallman refused to resign his position as head of the GNU project, per Slashdot. His personal website says
I continue to be the Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project.

I do not intend to stop any time soon.
His disturbing politics otherwise, I am heartened to see he is refusing to let the bullies go after him in his technical capacities.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Melinda Gates Declares War On Men

All the old feminist malarkey about chimerical wage gaps and the absence of women on corporate boards, in STEM fields, etc. The Harvard Business Review story on the subject is both depressing and predictable, hitting on the “we’re not showing enough women in STEM and positions of power in Hollywood” nonsense, raising the obvious rebuttal of many people believe gender inequalities in professional advancement are a reflection of women’s own choices” while failing to seriously grapple with the real arguments behind it — the usual feminist hand-wave that accompanies such facile, boilerplate dogma.

Then there’s the business of eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace. Here’s their big idea:
That’s why it’s so important that companies, philanthropists, and activists follow the lead of organizations such as TIME’S UP and the Collaborative for Women’s Safety and Dignity, both of which are committed to fighting for equity foreverywoman in the workforce. TIME’S UP is partnering with major organizations like the National Women’s Law Center and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to promote an unprecedented policy and advocacy agenda to expand rights and protections for women, whether they work in the C-suite or on the factory floor. The Collaborative for Women’s Safety and Dignity is focused on ensuring that survivors of sexual harassment — and women of color in particular — have a central role in creating solutions to end gender-based violence in the workplace. The Collaborative’s early ideas include building an evidence-based communications hub to help drive more-effective messaging, and seeding and scaling data-driven programs that develop leadership capacity among survivor-led movements.
This is all boilerplate, dogma that assumes “survivor” first, as though every lame effort at a pass were the same thing as violent rape. And we can’t have a whole paragraph without kneeling before the intersectionalists (“women of color”)! She then stumps for mandatory paid time off for caregiving, never mind Sweden’s outcomes there. She observes that women are underrepresented in Congress versus their overall numbers in the population, and opines that “When you look at the data, though, you see that the problem isn’t that women don’t win; it’s that they are less likely to run.” So ... she’s going to force women to run for elected office? Randomly boot male candidates for office?

The muddle-headedness continues ever on. Why do women leave the field? They gamely try to answer:
The Kapor Center, an organization dedicated to diversity in tech, commissioned the Tech Leavers study in 2017, a “first of its kind national study examining why people voluntarily left their jobs in tech.” The study found that workplace culture plays a significant role in driving turnover — especially for women and underrepresented minorities. Nearly two-thirds of the 2,000 respondents indicated that they would have stayed in their jobs had their employers fixed their culture. The study also found that culture problems are expensive — costing the industry more than $16 billion each year.
If you actually dig down to the Kapor Center/Pew survey of people who left the tech field (PDF), on page 24 you will notice a chart of all the reasons why people experienced unfairness; many of them are similar across the board (more white/Asian women were likely to complain about bad management [47%] than any other group, but it was the most popular single complaint of all surveyed), and many are similar across sexes. Particularly striking is the fact that 10% of white/Asian women surveyed had experienced unwanted sexual attention — in contrast with 7% of white/Asian men! If the big problem is inept management, it's hard to see how diversity voodoo would fix that.

The eyelids start to droop. We have read this all before, the tendentious assumption of guilt, the painful, earnest, and venal belief that shamans could right these non-problems. At last, she gets to the real point: she’s going to harangue and pressure companies to make stupid decisions based on whether they have “enough” women (emboldening mine):

Those of us eager to increase women’s power and influence can’t rely on other people’s sense of ethics or self-interest. We need to amplify the pressure they’re feeling. Three constituencies — shareholders, consumers, and employees — hold disproportionate influence over institutions. By mobilizing they can translate that influence into targeted pressure.
Translating back to English: there is no upside to companies for any of this insane program because we have nothing to offer them but pain. There is no quid pro quo for hiring more women — and frankly, there never will be, because people who think as she does operate based on a victimhood ideology that blames men for every disparate outcome, divorcing women from volition, agency, and responsibility. As John Barry writes in Quillette,

A world that has been told—falsely—for decades that gender is merely a social construct, is a world in which a well-intentioned multi-billionaire can throw a huge amount of money at gender equality, despite admitting that this is “only a small fraction of what’s necessary.” But what if the reality is not so much a leaky pipeline as an unstoppable tidal [wave] of women’s choices? What if money can’t make mother nature go away?

California’s Toothless Statewide Rent Control Law

Suppose you were a progressive rent control advocate, and suppose you were an idiot — but I repeat myself. California‘s legislature, now in full thrall of the loony left, has lately passed a statewide rent control law, with all the predictable consequences thereof:
Economists and other policy experts have long criticized rent control for reducing the supply and quality of rental housing in the long-run. California's rent control bill is no exception says Michael Hendrix, state and local policy director at the Manhattan Institute.

"What we are going to get is a reason for landlords to convert apartments to condos," says Hendrix. "The net result of that is potentially more units being taken off the market, and long-term this housing crisis getting worse, not better." Hendrix argues that landlords, when faced with limits on how much they can raise their rents, will simply take their rental units off the market, converting them into condominiums that can be sold at market price.

A study of rent control in San Francisco published in the journal American Economic Review this month found that "while rent control prevents displacement of incumbent renters in the short run, the lost rental housing supply likely drove up market rents in the long run, ultimately undermining the goals of the law."
Economics? Bah, say the progressives who imagine themselves smarter (or at least more virtuous) than landlords. Gavin Newsom cashed in on that sentiment when he tweeted his support for the measure:

Of course, what makes this interesting is what precipitated the measure: rapidly rising rents. The bill caps increases at 5% plus inflation. So, how fast was rent rising in California overall? I looked at my former home turf of Orange County, and found this:

So, if we look at the Orange County figures as typical (they probably aren’t, the slope on the other two markets is slightly higher, and the LA County figure is about 31%), amortizing this backwards over the eight years covered in this graph, the annual average rent increase is 2.5%. In steeper Los Angeles County, the average annual rent increase is 3.8%. All of which is to say, the rubes have been conned again, just as they were in Oregon, which has a crazy high 9.9% annual rent increase limit.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Andrew Yang Forgets Korematsu

Andrew Yang is, I take it, a smart person, according to various reports, but this is something like ethnic suicide:
 Absent SATs, how do we determine who gets seats in UC and Cal State schools? Oh, right, that would be a project for the intersectionalists, who would insist upon equal proportionality based on overall population. Asians are over-represented in higher education, something that was not lost on them when in 2014, the California legislature threatened to reinstate affirmative action; the biggest losers would be (wait for it) Asians, who were instrumental in killing that bill. The whole point of standardized tests is to emphasize merit over skin color, sex, or any other arbitrary measure. Yang's universal basic income is a stupid, virtue-signaling effort at vote-buying; this attacks what should be a group of core supporters, only he's too dumb to see it.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

M2F Transsexuals Retain Strength Advantage Even After One Year Of Hormone Therapy

Fair Play For Women brings us a new Swedish study showing that even after one year of hormone therapy,
[There was] no change in a transwoman’s thigh muscle strength after 12 months of hormone therapy. Still a full 50% higher than female thigh strength. Even still higher than the thigh strength of a transman after 12 months on high T.
The number of trans women was still small (n=11), but the study was performed with much more rigor than prior studies in this area. The Fair Play piece concludes:
The IOC must immediately suspend its eligibility guidelines saying that male-born trans athletes can play in female teams if they reduce their T to 10 nmol/L for 12 months. There is no credible science to support this position.

They must also stop tinkering around the edges having meaningless debates on whether to lower the rules on T from 10nmol/L to 5 nmol/L. It doesn’t matter how low you set the T levels. Male muscle strength stays the same even at <1nmol/L FACT.

Sports bodies where thigh muscle strength gives a clear advantage in competition must suspend their trans eligibility rules immediately. Like Cycling, Rugby, Weight lifting, Athletics etc. No more women must lose their place on the podium to males.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

More On Eve Fairbanks’ Stupid Confederate Analogy

Adam Rowe has another excellent rejoinder to Eve Fairbanks' dumb Washington Post column likening people like Jonathan Haidt to slavery apologists.
Free speech principles were often at stake in the antebellum controversy over slavery. In every case, proslavery advocates took the offensive in seeking to suppress the rights of their adversaries. Abolitionists attacked slavery as an institution, but they never seriously questioned the right to advocate on its behalf. Slaveholders, by contrast, fought to suppress free speech whenever they had a plausible chance of doing so. They fought to “gag” the reading of abolitionist petitions in Congress, and to prevent the postal system from circulating antislavery writings in the South.
The mechanism for enforcing this ideological conformity did not, contra Jonathan Marks in Commentary, mainly come from the state, but rather the power of the mob (emboldening mine):

It is true, however, that the violent reaction of Southerners to any criticism of slavery did not entail a flat repudiation of free expression in principle. The history of the antebellum South shows how a society ostensibly protected by the first amendment can suppress dissent. While traveling in the antebellum South, the journalist and Irish immigrant E.L. Godkin explained why Southerners preferred to rely on mobs rather than laws:
The fact is, I imagine, that while every man in the country feels it to be necessary to the safety of the existing state of things to prohibit, absolutely and completely, all discussion as to the right of the masters to their slaves, no one likes to establish a censorship of the press by statutable enactment. This would be rather too close an imitation of absolutism. As long as it is only ‘the mob’ or ‘the public’ that maltreat a man for free speech, the credit of the state is saved…
The emperor of Austria, Godkin continued, could only dream of angry mobs willing to do his dirty work for him, gratis. How that Emperor would have swooned at the glorious potential of Twitter!
 Moreover, the analogy of the social justice left taking the side of the south becomes even clearer once you factor in Lincoln's remarks from the debate at Alton, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." Demands for others' work products — medical care particularly, but also free tuition, the voiding of debt, etc., etc., etc. — are their stock in trade, as the early dialogue has proceeded. They do not oppose slavery, or even fractional slavery, so much as they object to its being racist.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

A Girl's Gotta Have Her Standards

Ahem:
These synthetic husbands have an average income that is about 58% higher than the actual unmarried men that are currently available to unmarried women. They also are 30% more likely to be employed (90% vs. 70%) and 19% more likely to have a college degree (30% vs. 25%). Racial and ethnic minorities, especially Black women, face serious shortages of potential marital partners, as do low socioeconomic status and high socioeconomic status unmarried women, both at the national and subnational levels.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Defenders Of Free Speech Must Be Confederates

Eve Fairbanks, apparently a moron, thinks that anyone defending free speech is using the same rhetorical strategy as Confederates. These days, anyone who crosses the left gets the treatment, and while she may indeed have found a live racist in law prof Amy Wax, the rest of her list is pretty weak (emboldening mine):
The reasonable right includes people like [Ben] Shapiro and the radio commentator Dave Rubin; legal scholar Amy Wax and Jordan Peterson, the Canadian academic who warns about identity politics; the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt; the New York Times columnist Bari Weiss and the American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, self-described feminists who decry excesses in the feminist movement; the novelist Bret Easton Ellis and the podcaster Sam Harris, who believe that important subjects have needlessly been excluded from political discussions. They present their concerns as, principally, freedom of speech and diversity of thought. Weiss has called them “renegade” ideological explorers who venture into “dangerous” territory despite the “outrage and derision” directed their way by haughty social gatekeepers.
In these plaints, she hears echoes of the southern Civil War rhetorical style:
In Dave Rubin, who says that “if you have any spark of individualism in you, if you have anything about you that’s interesting or different, they” — the left — “will come to destroy that,” I hear the pro-Southern newspaper editor Duff Green: Abolitionists’ intent is “to drive the white man from the South.”
Following the link to a RedState interview with Rubin, we discover that Facebook refused to run certain political ads "because the school administrator’s refused to identify as partisan." So essentially, she sidesteps the issue of politically-motivated deplatforming by just calling Rubin a racist (or the next worst thing, a Confederate). But, you see, the real problem is that the left is a buncha patsies:
...[T]he reasonable right has recruited the left into serving its purpose. Media outlets and college campuses now go to extraordinary lengths to prove their “balance” and tolerance, bending over backward to give platforms to right-wing writers and speakers who already have huge exposure.
 Wow, one whole overblown incident where a thin-skinned Twitter blue-check causes some soul-searching? How about the FIRE disinvitation database, where two-thirds of the incidents are caused by liberal hecklers and/or gadflies? Jonathan Marks in Commentary had maybe the best response to this swill:
Neither Fairbanks nor the Post’s fact-checkers can be bothered even to verify that the objects of her smear are, you know, conservatives. For example, she gives us Jonathan Haidt, co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind. Haidt is a self-identified, and seemingly actual, centrist. Then there’s Sam Harris, the militant, and by no means conservative, atheist. But that doesn’t matter because Fairbanks is simply using the term “conservative” to apply to anyone with the gall to criticize left-wing intolerance. The individuals she names—from Haidt to Harris to Bari Weiss of the New York Times—have nothing in common apart from the opinion that freedoms of speech and thought should be defended against efforts to curtail them.

That’s the problem for Fairbanks, you see, because one of the arguments that Southern slaveholders made was that the North was infringing on their freedom of speech and thought. Advocates for slavery, she explains, “anointed themselves the defenders of ‘reason,’ ‘free speech’ and ‘civility.’” Get it? By her bizarre logic, while advocates of free speech and thought aren’t slaveholders, per se, they sure are slaveholderish.

There’s not much more to Fairbanks’s disgraceful argument than that, and in truth, it all goes the other way around. As Nadine Strossen has observed, the claim that certain speech should be suppressed because it inflicts “emotional injury” was made by slavery defender John C. Calhoun. Free speech advocates often point out that abolitionists like Frederick Douglass were on their side of the argument, whereas the proslavery crowd, where it could, made anti-slavery speech a crime.
The routine equating of anyone defending free speech with odious people in the past will eventually backfire ... won't it?

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Hunt Is This Season's Blair Witch

So, revenge fantasy The Hunt apparently got pulled by its studio Universal, with people clucking their tongues as to why (somehow, Donald Trump subtweeted something or other), possibly due to recent gun violence in the news. But given the paltry $15M budget and the overall contraction of first-release movies to streaming services, what seems more likely is that audiences are being played, and Universal never intended to do a theatrical release at all. This was always going straight to streaming; as with The Blair Witch Project, where the marketing was the smartest thing about the movie, this bears the field marks of a clever promotion, a "banned" movie that will resurface one day on Netflix.

Update: I guess I should say NBCUniversal's not-quite-ready-for-prime-time streaming service, whatever it ends up being called.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Molly Ratty Finally Writes A Post On Drug Patents, And It's Fantastic

Molly Ratty (@molratty on Twitter) has an excellent, excellent post on the Popehat blog about patent reform as applied to pharmaceuticals. Excerpt:
Since Hatch-Waxman passed, we’ve experienced an explosion in the number and size of generic drug companies and the availability of generic drugs. But there’s a problem if generic drugs cannot get to market because of patents, particularly in the case of patents that were never worthy of being granted in the first place. That’s what we have now. We have a patent system skewed toward granting and upholding patents that never should have issued. What’s worse, branded companies erect thickets of multiple patents on a single product that have the effect of extended the patent life cycle of the product. (Any readers in the tech industry should be familiar with the problem of “patent trolls”.)
The New York Times ran a dreadful op-ed full of horrible ideas, including patent seizure (why not just limit patent eligibility, and rescind patents no longer adhering to the new standard?), price fixing, and incredibly, using the FTC to undo what the USPTO has done. The whole thing is a stew of basic failures to understand how significant parts of the government actually work.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Australian Cricket Accepts Transwomen In The Women's Game, Gets An Earful

The usual inanity about "inclusion":
Luckily, @FondOfBeetles is on it:
Full thread at threadreaderapp.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Andrew Sullivan's Rightly Worried About Immigration, Trans Advocacy

Two very good essays by Andrew Sullivan at New York magazine's "Intelligencer" column, the first about immigration:
Courts have also expanded asylum to include domestic violence, determining that women in abusive relationships are a “particular social group” and thereby qualify. In other words, every woman on the planet who has experienced domestic abuse can now come to America and claim asylum. Also everyone on the planet who doesn’t live in a stable, orderly, low-crime society. Literally billions of human beings now have the right to asylum in America. As climate change worsens, more will rush to claim it. All they have to do is show up.

Last month alone, 144,000 people were detained at the border making an asylum claim. This year, about a million Central Americans will have relocated to the U.S. on those grounds. To add to this, a big majority of the candidates in the Democratic debates also want to remove the grounds for detention at all, by repealing the 1929 law that made illegal entry a criminal offense and turning it into a civil one. And almost all of them said that if illegal immigrants do not commit a crime once they’re in the U.S., they should be allowed to become citizens.

How, I ask, is that not practically open borders?
Then, trans advocacy sinking the ship of lesbian/gay civil rights successes. The polling numbers are earthshaking:
The number of Americans 18 to 34 who are comfortable interacting with LGBTQ people slipped from 53 percent in 2017 to 45 percent in 2018 — the only age group to show a decline,” according to the annual [GLAAD] Accelerating Acceptance report.
Sullivan rests this sad state of affairs squarely on the shoulders of the trans advocates, who he imagines (I think correctly) will not readily relinquish their newfound power:
...[T]here is almost no chance that the gay-rights Establishment will relinquish the “LGBTQ” label. They, like most extensions of the Democratic Party, have completely embraced postmodern critical gender and queer theory. My fear is that this will fail to win support and that, as the trans movement keeps pressing and pressing, the backlash will grow and gays and lesbians will become collateral damage. The T activists, having embraced an extremist theory of gender, could undermine not just their own case but also equality for the Ls, Gs, and Bs. They could swiftly reverse the gains we have won. They sure have made a good start in turning the next generation against us.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Never Speak Ill Of A Woman: Taking When Harry Met Sally Personally

I have fond memories of When Harry Met Sally, at least in part because I saw it in first runs back when Hollywood made movies for actual grownups, ones that didn’t involve the whole cast in gaudy spandex uniforms. The film itself did quite nicely at the time, hauling in $92.8M, and a good bit of critical acclaim as well (viz. Roger Ebert’s contemporaneous review). I have my criticisms of it; Billy Crystal’s excellent comedic acting takes the edge off Harry Burns’ self-absorption. His character in isolation is a real ass, something screenwriter Nora Ephron drew from an early interview with director Rob Reiner after the latter’s recent divorce. Reiner has always struck me as something of a narcissist, so this goes a long way toward my own bias confirmation.

But as everyone knows now, We Can’t Have Nice Things, at least not so long as women come in for any sort of criticism at all, and thus the motive for Megan Garber’s “The Quiet Cruelty of When Harry Met Sally. I can’t tell if the author is trying to live out Sally Albright’s life as a woman who thinks she’s low maintenance but is actually high maintenance, but she apparently lives in timorous fear of being so labeled. That is, she takes the movie as a 30-year-old attack on her:
What I did think about, though, every once in a while, was whether the text message I was about to send might make me seem high-maintenance. What I did sometimes wonder, packing a carry-on for a week-long trip, was whether I might be, in spite of myself, “the worst kind.” Movies’ magic can take many forms. Their words can become part of you, as can their flaws. Thirty years after When Harry Met Sally premiered, in this moment that is reassessing what it means for women to desire, it’s hard not to see a little bit of tragedy woven into comedy’s easy comforts. Sally may have gotten a happy ending; she waited so long for it, though. And waiting is not as romantic as her movie believes it to be. Maybe there were times along the way when she almost said something to Harry but didn’t, understanding how easily her preferences could be dismissed as inconvenient. Maybe she questioned herself. Maybe she knew that, despite it all, women who just want it the way they want it are still assumed to be wanting too much.
Never mind that the author behind this terror was an actual woman, no; never mind that, maybe, just maybe, being overly demanding impedes actual happiness. Men mansplain, they manspread on subways, and women get awards for designing uncomfortable furniture to suppress the latter. The slings and arrows of life are fine for men, who must comport themselves to women, but women are always and ever above criticism, even the mildest sort, lest they collapse in a heap of neuroses, as the author.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The New York Times Falls For 50-Year-Old Soviet Virtue Signaling

The old Soviet Union was big on public virtue signaling, being as they had a lot of real crimes to ignore or whitewash. A few days ago, the aptly-named Sophie Pinkham reminded us why Walter Duranty was so easily able to hoodwink the New York Times, and get a Pulitzer besides, with a profoundly dumb piece about Soviet women in space. Aside from @hollymathnerd wrecking this agitprop with actual facts, now comes Karol Markowicz rebutting this nonsense:
As the USSR retreats into the rearview mirror of history, there is a growing tendency to romanticize its disastrous reign through the lens of contemporary wokeness.

Sure, Communists tortured and executed dissidents, starved their own people by the millions and operated gulags — but have you heard about their amazing space feminism and space intersectionality?
The NYT in 2017 ran an editorial series in part rehabilitating the Soviets as part of a May Day commemoration, to which The Federalist published a blistering response by Robert Tracinski; you may find the links there. The commie apologists stuck around at the Gray Lady long after the Berlin Wall fell, and it shows.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Aziz Ansari And The Wild Ride Down At Babe.net

You will read few weirder things this week than this story at TheCut.com about the self-immolation of Babe.net in the wake of their Aziz Ansari story that went explosively viral. Excerpt (emboldening mine):
Every internet era gets the insurgent women’s site it deserves. Jezebel broke new ground with an article about a tampon stuck up a writer’s vagina; xoJane, a microgeneration later, outdid that with a cat hairball found in the same cavity. The Betches defended their right, as feminists (or not, who cares), to Brazilian-wax their vaginas, via sorority-girl screeds. Like the Betches, babe.net certainly wasn’t built to be feminist in any kind of traditional sense (after all, Murdoch was a funder and anarchic page-view-getting was the ethos). And yet babe.net was created during an era when to be a woman saying just about anything online was now, theoretically, classified as feminist. When I asked them about it, the site’s writers described theirs as “not the brand of feminism where we have to unconditionally support every woman no matter what she does. Because women can be problematic too.”
Unusually, the final quote in that graf shows a surprising amount of self-awareness in an era when the brand is, shall we say, a bit tarnished. Of course, no salacious story like this, one in which “28-year-olds managed 24-year-olds who managed 20-year-olds” and sloppy after-work drinks led to hookups led to professional and sexual jealousy, would have any ending other than
And so, a group of five staffers — including three writers who produced much of the site’s content — decided to organize their rage, which had boiled over, at last and all at once. They weren’t just mad about the after-work drunken sloppiness that had seeped into the professional groundwater. They were mad about a lot. They were mad about the whole power imbalance inherent to working for a website that translated their most intimate experiences and identities and beliefs into clicks. They were mad that their female managers didn’t better protect them. When Aburto was asked to star in a video series called Fight Me, she told her managers that the content they wanted her to produce forced her to perform as a caricature of a black woman. Her managers apologized and told her she didn’t have to, but the damage was done. Even now, some former Babe staffers talk about their grievances in the language of raw betrayal; they can’t quite express what was different about the site or the office environment, but the workplace had become, they all make clear, a catastrophe; $30,000-odd a year just wasn’t worth it.
This latter sum is really head-scratching: who signs up to live in famously expensive New York, even Brooklyn, at such a sum? Are these daughters of privilege churning out article after article of drunken sexual liaisons? But no, in the next sentence, we learn that one writer, the pseudonymous Chloe, “would have quit, but financially ... couldn’t”. The stillborn strike amounted to naught, and eventually the grand Facebook ad retooling claimed them. Somewhere, a screenplay beckons.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Women's Soccer Players Make Less Money Because They Draw Smaller Audiences

With the US Women’s soccer team doing well at their World Cup bid (and a fracas involving whether or not they want to meet Donald Trump, yick), comes now the accusation that because the women's team has better TV ratings than the lackluster men's team, they should (at least) get paid as much as the men. Eric Boehm has a good explainer on Reason about why this is as it is. For some things (such as per diem and other related travel expenses), there's little justification for gender imbalance:
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. men's and women's teams have generated about the same amount of revenue from games played since 2015, although those totals account for only about half of U.S. Soccer's annual income. Yet, as Rosen again points out, the women's team continues to get shortchanged when it comes to the percentage of the federation's budget spent on "advertising and P.R., travel and training budgets, and…per diems for food."
Okay, but those aren't the big ticket item of salary (something Bill DeBlasio recently demanded be leveled):
Major League Soccer teams drew an average of 21,000 fans last year, while NWSL games drew about 6,000. The TV contract MLS has with ESPN and other broadcasters generates $90 million a year. While neither league discloses revenue figures, it's a safe bet MLS earns considerably more—and, thus, its players do too.
Sensibly, Megan Rapinoe has some advice for how to close that gap:
"Fans can come to games," Rapinoe said. "Obviously, the national team games will be a hot ticket, but we have nine teams in the NWSL. You can go to your league games, you can support that way. You can buy players' jerseys, you can lend support in that way, you can tell your friends about it, you can become season ticket-holders."
Given the terrible, bitter fans (at least that one!), and greater male interest in sports generally, this seems a tall order.

More Internet Troll Ad Campaigns

I’ve written previously about Paul Feig’s stupid marketing campaign for the Ghostbusters reboot, merging social justice nonsense with intentional efforts to annoy potential moviegoers. That effort bombed so badly that the film earned a $70 million loss, and resulted in Sony handing the keys to the franchise back to originator Ivan Reitman. (Subsequent coverage shows that there will be a new Ghostbusters franchise sequel made, with Jason Reitman at the helm, but with no ties to the Feig 2016 cast or plot lines.) The “get woke, go broke” mantra may be overdone, but it’s not entirely without some basis in fact.

This failure does not seem to have dissuaded would-be marketeers from following in Feig’s dubious footsteps, and so we have a couple new examples in late weeks:
  • Disney has planned a live-action Little Mermaid reboot starring black actress Halle Bailey. The Washington Post ran a piece by Brooke Newman claiming there was some sort of backlash, based on the thinnest speculation. The only cite she gives is the hashtag #NotMyAriel, but the mentions there are exclusively virtue-signalers in favor of the casting.
  • The latest Terminator franchise (they’re still making those?) has its own baffling anti-Internet-troll marketing blitz, because, wasn’t Sarah Connor supposed to be proof that a Kickass Female Character™️ can make box office bank without resorting to slagging on half their potential audience?
 Usually when an auteur starts a marketing campaign, it's for the widest possible audience. These seem aimed at only social justice warriors. Is this a recipe for success? It seems unlikely.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Biological Girls Sue

Not that it is likely to find much of a friendly reception, but three Connecticut girls are filing suit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. The complaint itself is a wonder, explaining in detail things that should not need explaining to any athletics body — but these days, the insane and the politically correct have overrun virtually every field. I wish the girls every bit of success, but fear they won’t get it.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Bureaucracy Explosion In Medicine And Higher Education Is Killing Both

You can safely ignore virtually all of this New York Times editorial about medicine, save for one paragraph:
The health care system needs to be restructured to reflect the realities of patient care. From 1975 to 2010, the number of health care administrators increased 3,200 percent. There are now roughly 10 administrators for every doctor. If we converted even half of those salary lines to additional nurses and doctors, we might have enough clinical staff members to handle the work. Health care is about taking care of patients, not paperwork.
 This is the same problem besetting academia, with administrative staff growing at twice the rate of student populations. It is responsible for the staggering cost of both. And in both places, such bureaucrats must be laid off.

But who will do it?

Friday, June 7, 2019

CeCe Telfer The Latest M2F Transsexual To Whup College Women

Is there a dumber argument in favor of trans women competing against biological women than “doesn’t win every time”? Outsports seems determined to die on that hill, which is getting harder and harder for the heavily politicized trans lobby to justify to the broader public. Let’s Run has a good summary of the situation pre-transition:
Prior to joining the women’s team this season, Telfer was a mediocre DII athlete who never came close to making it to nationals in the men’s category. In 2016 and 2017, Telfer ranked 200th and 390th, respectively, among DII men in the 400 hurdles (Telfer didn’t run outdoor track in 2018 as either a man or woman). Now she’s the national champion in the event simply because she switched her gender (Telfer’s coach told us that even though she competed on the men’s team her first three years, her gender fluidity was present from her freshman year).

The fact that Telfer can change her gender and immediately become a national champion is proof positive as to why women’s sports needs protection. Telfer ran slightly faster in the 400 hurdles competing as a man (57.34) than as a woman (57.53), even though the men’s hurdles are six inches taller than the women’s hurdles. Yet when Telfer ran 57.34 as a man, she didn’t even score at her conference meet — she was just 10th at the Northeast-10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2016. Now she’s the national champion.
The shabby, data-free arguments used to justify M2F trans inclusion in sports are unraveling before our eyes, in a sort of open-air experiment being performed before the whole public.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

JayCee Cooper And Media Stenography, Deadspin Edition

More trash from Deadspin. Jesse Singal:

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Univariate Fallacy, Caster Semenya, and Testosterone

Colin Wright continues his excellent string of explainers, this time on the Univariate Fallacy:


He goes on to talk about several different pieces deploying this fallacy — which he later describes as
One of his examples is a New York Times editorial claiming that "The Myth of Testosterone" is what fuels Caster Semenya's run (and the athletic superiority of men over women more generally):
Testosterone’s “authorized” biography, with its pat story about how it fuels male-typical athletic performance, is a powerful distraction from the hormone itself, occluding its fascinating, diverse and contingent actions within the body. Testosterone doesn’t drive a single path to athletic performance, nor even a small set of processes that can be linearly traced from more testosterone to more ability.

The idea that testosterone is the miracle molecule of athleticism, and, accordingly, that people with higher levels would obviously perform better, combines several beliefs: that “athleticism” is a kind of master trait that describes similar characteristics in different athletes, that “athletic performance” across different sports generally requires the same core skills or capacities, and that testosterone has a potent effect on all of them.

But that’s simply not true. The problem with trying to flatten athleticism into a single dimension is illustrated especially well by a 2004 study published in The Journal of Sports Sciences. The study analyzed testosterone and different types of strength among men who were elite amateur weight lifters and cyclists or physically fit non-athletes. Weight lifters had higher testosterone than cyclists and showed more explosive strength. But the cyclists, who had lower testosterone than both other groups, scored much higher than the others on “maximal workload,” an endurance type of strength. Across the three groups, there was no relationship between testosterone and explosive strength, and a negative relationship between testosterone and maximal workload. Though small, that study isn’t an outlier: Similar complex patterns of mixed, positive and negative relationships with testosterone are found throughout the literature, involving a wide range of sports.
In other words, the authors lard their argument with a straw man that ignores the main point — testosterone drives male puberty, which increases muscle mass, bone density and size, and a host of other side effects beneficial to athletic achievement. They also conveniently omit the fact that Caster Semenya is genetically male, despite being phenotypically female:

1) Caster Semenya Has XY Chromosomes

It’s absolutely mind-boggling that virtually every major outlet in the world reporting the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling yesterday has failed to mention one of the most important facts of the entire case. Caster Semenya has XY chromosomes. It was generally accepted by people following the case closely that Semenya was XY, but now it’s been confirmed as fact since the CAS press release specifically says, “The DSD covered by the Regulations are limited to athletes with ’46 XY DSD’ – i.e. conditions where the affected individual has XY chromosomes.” If she wasn’t XY, the IAAF’s regulations wouldn’t apply to her and she’d have no reason to challenge them.

(In case you forgot what you learned in junior high biology, typically females have XX chromosomes while males are XY).

How the Associated Press, Reuters, NY Times, NPR, Washington Post, and BBC could all leave this CRUCIAL fact out of their reporting is beyond me. Not a single one of them mentioned it at all. It should have been in the lead paragraph of every story so people like my mother, who sent me a confused email after she saw an article on Semenya, can really understand what this is all about. Instead, the closest we get to the truth was that some of the articles talked about how Semenya has intersex “traits” or “characteristics.” Let’s be real, if you are an XY woman, you are the very definition of what virtually everyone would think of as intersex.
The woke academy has taken over science discussion.

Warren Buffett Refuses The Diversity Kool-Ade

Warren Buffett is not one of my favorite people, mainly because of his love of higher taxes. Nonetheless, this is refreshing (emboldening mine):
“We are not going to tie up resources doing things just because it is the standard procedure in corporate America,” Mr. Buffett said.

Mr. Munger added: “When it comes to so-called best corporate practices, I think the people that talk about them don’t really know what the best practices are. They determine that on what will sell, not what will work.” He added: “I like our way of doing things better than theirs and I hope to God we never follow their best practices.”

In its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Berkshire explicitly states that it does not consider diversity when hiring board members: “Berkshire does not have a policy regarding the consideration of diversity in identifying nominees for director. In identifying director nominees, the Governance Committee does not seek diversity, however defined. Instead, as previously discussed, the Governance Committee looks for individuals who have very high integrity, business-savvy, an owner-oriented attitude and a deep genuine interest in the company.”
Mr. Buffett made a persuasive argument that the obsession among corporate governance experts with appointing so-called independent directors to company boards was one of the great hoaxes perpetrated on public investors.

The independent directors in many cases are the least independent,” Mr. Buffett said. He explained that many independent directors need the money that comes with being a director, usually an annual fee of about $250,000. “They aren’t going to upset the apple cart,” he said, explaining that these independent directors get put on the compensation committee because they can be controlled.

“How in the world is that independent?” Mr. Buffett exclaimed. “You don’t get invited to be on your boards if you belch too often at the dinner table.”
This obvious point needs to be made again and again, apparently: Silicon Valley, which is rife with this kind of garbage thinking, is also increasingly a political and corporate echo chamber.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Case Of JayCee Cooper And The Media's Trans Activist Stenography

It is hard, truly hard, to think of a dumber piece about athletic sanctioning bodies permitting M2F transsexuals to compete against biological women, yet here is NBC parroting the trans activist party line. "It’s not fair to genetically eliminate an entire group of people," said JayCee Cooper, whom Powerlifting USA banned from female competition. @SwipeRight put together an excellent thread response on Twitter, the key parts of which are these two tweets:


Transgender activists thus employ ignorance at the heart of their arguments, disguising the lack of actual data on M2F transgender athletic performance as a justification for permitting such individuals to compete with women. The poor quality of the data is a feature, not a bug, as made very clear by Dr. Antonia Lee in Medium, who chides the IOC for using politically-motivated, low-power studies that aren't even well-constructed.
 I’ve written about the methodological flaws in the work of IOC consensus meeting participant, Joanna Harper before (5). Let me be as clear as possible: if you decide to do an observational study, you need to follow the appropriate, recognised and demanding observational study guidelines (6). Failing to do so means that, “any claim coming from an observational study is likely to be wrong” (7). I have nothing against Harper personally; my point is that she is neither an epidemiologist nor a sports scientist and simply doesn’t seem to know how to carry out meaningful health or sports science research.
But you would learn none of this from reading the NBC News story, which frames the whole matter as one of "inclusion", with opponents unfairly "dehumanizing" M2F transsexuals. Despite the spin, USA Powerlifting's position paper is clear — and fair, to biological women:
Through analysis the impact of maturation in the presence naturally occurring androgens as the level necessary for male development, significant advantages are had, including but not limited to increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue.  These advantages are not eliminated by reduction of serum androgens such as testosterone yielding a potential advantage in strength sports such as powerlifting.
The IOC (and the International Powerlifting Federation) have not endorsed M2F powerlifters, surprisingly, and the current rules permit individual sports the option at their discretion to include transsexual women. Hopefully, other sports will expand exclusions in the name of fairness to biological women.