Scientific Evidence of Gaydar?

An Eye for Sexual Orientation — Kaplan 2008 (118): 3 — ScienceNOW

Ambady and colleague Nicholas Rule, both at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, wondered about sexual orientation. They showed men and women photos of 90 faces belonging to homosexual men and heterosexual men for intervals ranging from 33 milliseconds to 10 seconds. When given 100 milliseconds or more to view a face, participants correctly identified sexual orientation nearly 70% of the time. Volunteers were less accurate at shorter durations, and their accuracy did not get better at durations beyond 100 milliseconds, the team reports in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. “What is most interesting is that increased exposure time did not improve the results,” says Ambady.

Abortion rate continues to drop, but still a ways to go Nation/World Section

The most comprehensive study in years of abortion in America underscores a striking change in the landscape, with ever-fewer pregnant women choosing abortion and those who do increasingly opting to avoid surgical clinics.

The number of abortions has plunged to 1.2 million a year, down 25 percent since hitting a peak in 1990, according to a report being released today — days before the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

The abortion rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1974, the first full year after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the procedure nationwide.

The annual rate has been falling steadily since 1981, paralleling a sharp decline in the number of abortion providers.

Since abortion on demand is still the law of the land, much of this decline is likely due to a choice of life, the only truly valid choice. The article says that pro-choice advocates are claiming this decline is due to increased use of contraception, but given that there has also been an increase in the birthrate recently, a likelier explanation is that women are choosing to keep the children they have conceived.

However, 1.2 million abortions is still 1.2 million innocent lives ended; 1.2 million people who never got the chance to grow up, to live, to play in a field, to love, to have children of their own. We all need to continue to work to remind women of the wonderful gift they have been given and help them understand that even if they can’t handle this gift, there is someone who would be glad to receive a “re-gift.”

But the good news is, more women are choosing life, and while their pocketbooks may be lighter, they are richer for it.

Hat Tip: The Corner

Thompson would wait on economic stimulus

Thompson would wait on economic stimulus – Yahoo! News

More seriously, he said he was not ready to embrace a stimulus package.

“We’re all concerned about the direction of the economy,” said the former Tennessee senator. “We’ve had a good run, but we can’t take growth for granted.” He said “we’ve got to have a potential stimulus package on the table to be discussed if it would make sense to be used in short order, but we’re not quite there yet.”

And doing nothing might leave the economy stronger, he said.

“There’s a case to be made for that,” he said. “And it just requires strong heads at the table and not snap judgments, you know, by politicians on the road trying to think of something smart to say in 30 seconds.”

Every time I read something about Fred Thompson I like him more. While the rest of the political world is running around outbidding each other in the size of the stimulus they want to provide (Hillary bid $70 billion then Obama bid $75. Or maybe I have that backwards, it’s not like it matters. And apparently Bush is pushing for a $150 billion package. Geez.) Thompson is alone in recognizing that all of this is pointless, and possibly harmful if we do it the wrong way. A few reasons why none of these proposals will likely do any good:

1) They’re just passing money around, not creating new wealth: all these proposal are doing is taking money from column A and putting it into Column B. That’s not a stimulus, that’s redecorating. The money will either come from borrowing money (which means the government will be crowding out others from the bond market), new taxes (which will be robbing Peter to pay Paul in the truest sense of that phrase), or the worst case scenario, creating new money, thereby adding to inflation and decreasing the value of the money we already have.)
2) Most estimates put this at a short and shallow recession, if one occurs at all. Given the slowness of the political process and the federal bureaucracy, by the time this whole process plays out the recession may be over, if it ever happens at all.
3) If you really want to help the economy, don’t do it with a short-term outlook, do something that will help for a long time: cut taxes permanently. Businesses aren’t going to increase their hiring or output based on a short-term policy change: that would bind them to a higher staffing level in the long term for a short-term gain. So, do something that will give them the confidence that this change will last: cut their taxes, remove regulatory impediment. If businesses see that any gain in production will be short-lived, they’ll just get through it with increased overtime or temporary workers. If we want a more lasting increase in employment, we need to give them a reason to do so. So them some reason to believe that government will get out of their way for an extended period of time.

I’ve long felt that Thompson was the only candidate in the race with a pair, but now it seems he’s the only one with a brain too.

Did Microsoft call a user back about a 10 year old support ticket?

10-year, tech-support ‘hold’ amuses the blogosphere

According to the story, Bic’s parents got a call late on Jan. 8, which they ignored. The next morning, they checked their voice mail and discovered a call purportedly from Microsoft Technical Support asking if Bic’s problem had been solved.

At first, they thought it was an attempt to phish for identity information. But after checking the callback number and finding it to be legit, Bic recalled that he had called Microsoft about technical problems three times. The most recent time was within the past year, and Microsoft did call back. But then he remembered the first time he called was probably a decade ago. He looked at the top of his keyboard, and has a sudden flash of insight: Could a tech support person working on Jan. 7, 1998, have typed a note to call back Bic the next day … but instead of typing 1/8/98, typed 1/8/08 instead? One character and 10 years off?

Bic doesn’t give any clue to his identity in his profile, nor does he supply an e-mail address. And the posting is only the second one at the blog “Bic’s Bickerings.” Moreover, the blog is hosted at the BlogSpot network owned by Microsoft’s enemy, Google Inc.

Despite all of these red flags, that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from taking the account seriously. It is looking into the case “to identity what may have caused the delayed outreach,” wrote a Microsoft spokeswoman via e-mail.

She cast doubt on the likelihood that any outstanding technical support case could go on for 10 years and then suddenly be revived.

“The process that we use to track cases, verify case age and identify idle reports is very thorough. Our process takes into account the age of each case as well as the number of hours and days since the support team has worked on the incident,” she wrote. “Due to the integration of all of these components, outstanding cases, such as Bic’s, are reviewed regularly so that we can ensure we’re resolving customer issues in a timely fashion — regardless of the callback commitment set by the agent. Nonetheless, no system can ensure complete accuracy.”

I’m leaning towards myth, bu it would be interesting if true.

Quote of the Day

“The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.”

— Fisher Ames (speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 15 January 1788)

Reference: The Works of Fisher Ames, W.B. Allen, ed., vol. 1 (546)