June 11, 2006

From the emailbag

On women's voices reportedly getting lower in pitch since 1945, readers respond:

- I wonder if the explanation for lower voices could have something to do with higher levels of testosterone? We know that behavior has an effect on testosterone - that both men and women in more "high power" professions tend to higher levels. Maybe women moving from the home and assuming more masculine roles has masculinized them. An interesting question would be if the feminization of males during the same time frame has increased their vocal pitch...

- Perhaps it has nothing to do with culture. Perhaps because women are getting a little taller, their vocal cords are getting a little longer resulting in a deeper voice. Good PhD topic.

A more general topic would be what gets longer when people get taller and what stays the same. My impression is that much of increased height goes into leg length.

- One explanation for a lowering of the pitch of the UK female's voice since 1945 could be a higher incidence of smoking and drinking among said females.

Yes, although they restricted it to women 18 to 25, probably to keep out the smoke-cured Lauren Bacall voices.

- We must be careful about the change in women's voices because all recording from, say, 1945 were analog, subject to a lot of wear and tear, and narrow-band in the extreme. No harmonics at all. But, that would seem to indicate that the upper notes are the ones most truncated. So where are we?


The World Cup: A reader riffs on things Americans might not know about soccer:

The codification of the game, after centuries of informality, is archetypally Victorian. Well-nourished public schoolboys dominated the early game, based on dribbling, before the undernourished proles invented passing.

Organization and skill, particularly with dead balls (requiring lots of practice), strongly correlates with European ancestry, blacks' strengths tend to be speed, reaction-time, improvisation and power.

Scots have been hugely influential on football in England: tactics, players, managers.

Then there are all the national tendencies within Europe: the British don't feign injury, Germans do, the French are elegant, Spaniards/Italians play dirty and devious.

The difficulty of scoring goals increases their psychological affect.

Argentina's generals are said to have doped players before the 1978 World Cup final, to ensure victory and a happy populace.

Pope John-Paul II once played in goal and owned shares in Barcelona FC, which is a central symbol of Catalan nationalism.

Clubs with Dynamo in their name (Moscow, Dresden) were run by the secret police under communism.

Betting syndicates in Asia try to rig games in Europe and particularly England.

Hooliganism by soccer fans resurrects hooliganism by Roman chariot-racing fans.

Another reader says:

The British used to play fair, but now you have former players advocating on the BBC that England players should 'dive' because everybody else does.

British fouls in the old days were just 'robust' play. Nobby or Norman would kick lumps out of the opposition but no attempt was made to disguise this and a more 'physical' approach was acceptable in those days anyway.

Germans do not feign injury either. British and German styles are identical except Germans have the grit and determination to play to the final whistle and make dramatic recoveries as a consequence. Brits just will not admit it. Their's is a grudging admiration for German doggedness.

The French are indeed elegant - particularly Thierry Henry and Zidane. Their team is mostly made up of immigrants and non-whites.

Spaniards are under- achievers in national football, given their dominance of club competitions. This may be due to an over-reliance on foreign players since the 1950s - Puskas and Hideguti from Hungary, and Di Stefano from Argentina at Real Madrid are examples.

Italians are negative. They get a one nil lead and just defend - very well. It is called 'catenaccio'.

The real dirty and devious players are South Americans, from Argentina and Uruguay. The biggest insult to the British view of the game is that they seem to delight in pulling the wool over the referees eyes and have no shame about sneaky fouls.


On Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavs: My reader who is an ex-NBA player writes:

I would venture to say I've followed Dirk more closesly than Yglesias has the last few years. I think the fact that he IS better is due to coaching rather than the absence of Nash. Avery Johnson demanded that he do more, and he has. Yes, Dallas is now a "no point-guard" team, but what has made them better is their defense and improved discipline.

Aside: Note that all the super-star scorers (except for Wade) are now sitting out the summer. Their points per shot weren't that high, even though their absolute points were. That makes your point about Garnett correct -- he should shoot more.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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