Wednesday, January 30, 2019

NYT Discards The Right Cause For "The Insulin Wars"

The New York Times somehow recognized that patent protection is behind the whack-a-mole madness of insulin prescriptions, yet mostly elides that as causal:
There are several reasons that insulin is so expensive. It is a biologic drug, meaning that it’s produced in living cells, which is a difficult manufacturing process. The bigger issue, however, is that companies tweak their formulations so they can get new patents, instead of working to create cheaper generic versions. This keeps insulin firmly in brand-name territory, with prices to match.

But the real ignominy (and the meat of the lawsuit) is the dealings between the drug manufacturers and the insurance companies. Insurers use pharmacy benefit managers, called P.B.M.s, to negotiate prices with manufacturers. Insurance programs represent huge markets, so manufacturers compete to offer good deals. How to offer a good deal? Jack up the list price, and then offer the P.B.M.s a “discount.”
Minus spurious patents, this kind of tomfoolery wouldn't happen. Patent reform as it applies to medicine, is absolutely a precondition to fixing pharma pricing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

More Thoughts On Toxic Masculinity

Being mostly just bullet points:
  • Gad Saad reminds us that the answer to rhetorical headline questions is always "no" with his essay in Psychology Today, "Is Toxic Masculinity A Valid Concept?" Excerpt:
    ... [M]ost of the traits and behaviors that are likely found under the rubric of “toxic masculinity” are precisely those that most women find attractive in an ideal mate! This is not a manifestation of “antiquated stereotypes.” It is a reality that is as trivially obvious as the existence of gravity, and no amount of campus brainwashing will ever alter these facts. Let us stop pathologizing masculinity. Instead, let us appreciate the endless ways by which men and women are similar to one another, as well as the important ways in which the two sexes differ.
  • An unusual good piece in the NYT from Thomas Edsall on the new APA guidelines, quoting David French, Steven Pinker, Ryan A. McKelley, and a number of others.
  • In case you wondered whether Harry's was an alternative, in 2017 they, too, ran with the idiotic "toxic masculinity" trope. (I saw the tweet as recently as a couple days ago, but it's been since deleted. The subsequent deletion of the tweet might just be read as corporate ass-covering, in which case at least they understood what it was they did.
  • A closing point: "toxic masculinity" appears to require transmission by some cultural means, and is frequently asserted (as with the Gillette ad) to be either tacitly accepted or actively encouraged. Yet, if this is the case, why isn't there some culture where this is no longer active or has been stamped out? The whole affair looks, as described, to be a sort of conspiracy theory. 
  • Update 2019-01-23: Ran into this City Journal piece by Kay S. Hymowitz via Christina Hoff Sommers yesterday but only today got around to reading it. This pulls in the dumb Covington High fracas and ties it back to "toxic masculinity". Money graf:
    Now you could argue—and I have—that contemporary American society has not done a great job of taming and channeling juvenile aggression or of developing young men and women into the best they can be, to use the words of the Gillette ad. But “toxic masculinity” goes much farther than that. It evokes a society dedicated to creating and stoking the raw male desire for dominance. I’m hardly the first to point out that males engage in more violence and dominance behavior than females in every known human society, as well as in every primate troop. When the authors of the APA guidelines get to the section on bullying, however, they locate its cause in “constricted notions of masculinity emphasizing aggression, homophobia, and misogyny,” that is, in social teaching.

    ... The ad’s writers miss the possibility that “boys will be boys” is not guidance or an excuse; it’s a warning. Far from encouraging boys’ aggression, the American “patriarchy” tries in its own crude way to squelch it, as any decent society must do. That’s why the country is awash with anti-bullying programs and public-service announcements.
  • Drifting off to the Covington Catholic fracas: Ross Douthat in the NYT who steals a page from Scott Alexander. Neatly done almost to the end, where he writes himself an excuse note with "Cuck".

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Only Kind Of Masculinity Is "Toxic"

So now comes Gillette with a stupid ad decrying "toxic masculinity" and yammering at men, instead of, you know, selling razors. The video itself has just short of 500,000 dislikes, and 167,000 likes, suggesting the reaction is, among those who care to register an opinion, strongly negative. If this is a reaction to the increasingly unshaven millennial generation, it's hard to see how alienating your existing customer base is exactly going to help your sales.

The business of labeling all masculinity "toxic" is one that the American Psychological Association lately has taken on. Andrew Sullivan is on it:
At the very start of the document, for example, this “traditional masculinity ideology” (TMI) is deemed the reason why men commit 90 percent of murders (and always have in every culture and every moment in history). That’s an extraordinary claim, and presumably requires urgent intervention. If a terrorist group, defined as adhering to an ideology, were to kill more than 15,000 Americans a year (the total number of murders committed by men in the U.S. in 2017), we would surely respond with a deep sense of urgency.

What is TMI? The definition varies throughout the document, as it flings various slurs at half the human race. Here’s one such definition: “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.” Just weigh that list for a minute — and how expansive it is. Men are exhibiting a dangerous ideology when they seek to “achieve” things, when they risk their lives or fortunes, when they explore unfamiliar territory — and these character traits are interchangeable with violence. As you read the guidelines, you realize that the APA believes that psychologists should be informing men that what they might think is their nature is actually just a set of social constructs that hurt them, murders thousands, and deeply wounds the society as a whole.
The APA's sordid diatribe-posing-as-therapeutic "reminded me of the way psychologists used to treat gay men: as pathological, dangerous, and in need of reparative and conversion therapy". He's not the only one to make that leap:

It would be nice if we didn't have this institutionalized misandry. We'll be fighting it a good long while, it appears.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Conspirator In The James Damore Firing Comes Forward (Anonymously)

One hell of a story.
We needed to make an example of Damore. Looking for some excuse to fire him, we spied on his phone and computer. We didn't find anything, although our spying probably made his devices unusably slow, preventing him from organizing support within the company. When we did fire him, our reputation and integrity took a hit, but at least other employees were now afraid to speak up.


To control the narrative, we planted stories with journalists and flexed Google's muscles where necessary. In exchange for insider access and preferential treatment, all we ask for is their loyalty. For online media, Google's ads pay their paycheck and our search brings their customers, so our influence shouldn't be underestimated.
Damore himself apparently finds it credible, because it hits on things only an insider could know:

Monday, January 7, 2019

More Obvious Stuff On Sexual Attraction And Marriage

  • "Why Aren't More Wives Outearning Their Husbands?" asks Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. The distribution of the wife's share of income has a hard break around 50%, as shown here, with a significant disparity on the right side. This is not a normal distribution (emboldening mine):

    This drop-off is simply too steep to be explained by randomness or classical economics. If men and women were forming marriages without concern for relative incomes, we'd expect a smoother distribution curve...

    In a cool new paper, Marianne Bertrand, Jessica Pan, and Emir Kamenica pose a theory that some people might find controversial but others might find intuitive: What if there's a deficit of marriages where the wife is the top earner because -- to put things bluntly -- husbands hate being out-earned by their wives, and wives hate living with husbands who resent them?

    If this were true, we would expect to see at least three four other things to be true. First, we'd expect marriages with female breadwinners to be surprisingly rare. Second, we'd expect them to produce unhappier marriages. Third, we might expect these women to cut back on hours, do more household [chores], or make other gestures to make their husbands feel better. Fourth, we'd expect these marriages to end more in divorce. Lo and behold (as you no doubt guessed), the economists found all of those assumptions borne out by the evidence.
    The assumption that women have nothing to do with these choices is a peculiar one, especially considering the next item...
  • "Different impacts of resources on opposite sex ratings of physical attractiveness by males and females", Guanlin Wang, et al., Evolution and Human Behavior, March, 2018, pp. 220-225. Abstract:
    Parental investment hypotheses regarding mate selection suggest that human males should seek partners featured by youth and high fertility. However, females should be more sensitive to resources that can be invested on themselves and their offspring. Previous studies indicate that economic status is indeed important in male attractiveness. However, no previous study has quantified and compared the impact of equivalent resources on male and female attractiveness. Annual salary is a direct way to evaluate economic status. Here, we combined images of male and female body shape with information on annual salary to elucidate the influence of economic status on the attractiveness ratings by opposite sex raters in American, Chinese and European populations. We found that ratings of attractiveness were around 1000 times more sensitive to salary for females rating males, compared to males rating females. These results indicate that higher economic status can offset lower physical attractiveness in men much more easily than in women. Neither raters' BMI nor age influenced this effect for females rating male attractiveness. This difference explains many features of human mating behavior and may pose a barrier for male engagement in low-consumption lifestyles.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Being Links I Found Interesting

  • The NYT Fails Sexual Units Reduction: Of course this NYT piece focusing on activities smartphones keep people from doing has some spectacularly crazy numbers, but what everyone keeps talking about is the claimed 16,000 times you might engage in sex over the course of a year. This is based on a lovemaking session lasting 5.4 minutes (5:24), which seems terribly ... brief. Some math:

    16,000 sex events/year * year/365 days * 24 hours/day/16 waking hours/day * day/1,440 min = 1 sex event/22.9 min

    That, of course, is a prodigious pace for any man. The human post-coital refractory period averages around a half hour for men, with younger men having times around 15 minutes, and men in their 70s around 20 hours. A gifted few are capable of zero-duration times, but such superhuman feats require a Hugh Hefner at his peak level of dedication to the task. (Women may or may not have such a period, but it seems unlikely they would engage in such extended bouts.)
  • Godfrey Elfwick is back!
  • New Jersey, New York, and Illinois are the top three states people are moving away from, per United Van Lines' annual survey. Vermont, Oregon, and Idaho are the top three inbound.
  • "Achievement motivation" may explain part of the gender wage gap, but only a small (5%) part.
  • Women's marches in Eureka, CA and New Orleans have been canceled, the former because 80% white Eureka has too many white people marching. A long-form article at Tablet suggests the real problem is funding.