September 14, 2013

Politicians like power

Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, who ousted PM Kevin Rudd in internal Labour Party infighting, only to be ousted by Rudd in turn, writes in The Guardian:
Losing power is felt physically, emotionally, in waves of sensation, in moments of acute distress. 
I know now that there are the odd moments of relief as the stress ekes away and the hard weight that felt like it was sitting uncomfortably between your shoulder blades slips off. It actually takes you some time to work out what your neck and shoulders are supposed to feel like. 
I know too that you can feel you are fine but then suddenly someone’s words of comfort, or finding a memento at the back of the cupboard as you pack up, or even cracking jokes about old times, can bring forth a pain that hits you like a fist, pain so strong you feel it in your guts, your nerve endings.

College graduates' salaries

Here's a table from a company called PayScale claiming to represent starting and "mid-career" salaries for graduates of different colleges. Number one overall in terms of mid-career salary is Harvey Mudd of the Claremont Colleges, which my friend Peter Schaeffer raves about. It's like nearby Caltech, except the faculty's job is to educate undergrads, not win Nobel Prizes.

The colleges that do best here tend to be either STEM schools like Harvey Mudd, Annapolis, and Caltech, or business schools like Babson.

You can look up other tables of salaries, such as by major, by region, and by type of school (party v. sober).

One problem with this kind of table is that there's no adjustment for cost-of-living of where graduates wind up. Home prices vary radically across the country, and almost all of these colleges are in highly expensive regions. For example, I presume the modal mid-career residence of Naval Academy graduates is the Washington D.C. area. There really needs to be a standard of living adjustment.

Also, there should be a value-added calculation for how much graduates over or underperform relative to their high school grades and test scores.
West Coast
Private Schools, Liberal Arts, Engineering
South Atlantic
State Schools, Liberal Arts, For Sports Fans
3 - tie
West Coast
Private Schools, Research Universities, Engineering
3 - tie
Private Schools, Research Universities, Engineering
Private Schools
Private Schools, Research Universities, Ivy League, For Sports Fans
State Schools, Liberal Arts, For Sports Fans
8 - tie
West Coast
Private Schools, Research Universities, For Sports Fans
8 - tie
Private Schools, Research Universities, Ivy League, For Sports Fans
8 - tie
Private Schools, Research Universities, Ivy League, For Sports Fans
Private Schools, Research Universities, Engineering
12 - tie
Private Schools, Liberal Arts, For Sports Fans
12 - tie
Private Schools, Research Universities, Ivy League, For Sports Fans
14 - tie
Private Schools, Research Universities, Engineering
14 - tie
State Schools, Engineering
14 - tie
Private Schools, Engineering

Lehman Brothers +5

With the fifth anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing Great Financial Crash coming up on Sunday, I dug up an over-written book, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, by a Lehman employee named Lawrence G. McDonald. He's not the best prose stylist in the world, but he sounds like a Wall Street guy, all right. Here's a description of Lehman in the mid-2000s:
One of these was our corporate president, Joe Gregory, the right-hand man of the reclusive CEO, Dick Fuld. ... But Joe Gregory was a regular, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum financial sycophant, devoted to his master, Richard Fuld, ... Joe’s fixation was a subject called diversity. He was consumed with it. His aim was the mission of inclusion. He had an entire department devoted to it, headed up by a managing director. Great rallies were staged in New York’s auditoriums, with free cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served for up to six hundred people, all listening to Joe or one of his henchmen pontificating. “Inclusion! That must be our aim!” he would yell, as if we were running a friggin’ prayer meeting. ... Which was all very well, but down in the trenches, where a trader  might sweat blood to make a couple of million dollars, most of us were a bit tetchy about Joe Gregory going off and spending it on a cocktail party for six hundred people. 
... Especially when it emerged that the top dog in diversity was earning well over $2 million a year and that the diversity division had a bigger budget and more people than risk management!  
Joe’s mission for diversity drove [Christine Daley, head of distressed-debt research] mad. She had no time for any of it, but Joe Gregory had us all over a barrel: he had major control over our bonus compensation, and he made it clear there would be extra money for those who rallied to his cause. Most of us did not care about the cause, but the prospect of this thirty-first-floor sycophant lopping a couple of hundred thousand off our annual check because we weren’t in there pitching for the cause of the day was seriously irritating. Harsher judges than I considered Joe hid behind his unusual fixation, appearing to fight the world’s woes while staying well clear of the gundeck. 
Christine’s view of the market was it was behaving irrationally and almost certainly showing classic signs of a top, with dozens of corporations trading at values far, far beyond reality. She also believed that when the president of a trading investment bank was spending his time staging hugely expensive rallies for minority groups, that might have been the ultimate demonstration of a market peak. There was too much undeserved cash flying around, it was all too easy, and there was too much time to find oddball ways to spend it. 

Sunstein: "Could Bowling Leagues and the PTA Breed Nazis?"

Cass Sunstein is a Harvard Law School professor and former Obama Administration official who is married to US UN ambassador Samantha Power, who is always advising Obama to hurl cruise missiles at Libya or Syria.

Sunstein is a very smart guy who is ironically lacking in self-awareness. For example, in 2008 he declared that the solution to online conspiracy theories is for the government to mount secret conspiracies against conspiracy theorists: "cognitive infiltration" was the reassuring name Sunstein came up with.

Now, Sunstein is worried that if Americans ever stop "Bowling Alone" they might become Nazis.

From Bloomberg View,
Could Bowling Leagues and the PTA Breed Nazis? 
By Cass R. Sunstein Jul 30, 2013 7:30 AM PT 
In recent decades, many social scientists have drawn attention to the importance of “social capital.” The term is meant to capture the value, economic and otherwise, that comes from social networks, through which people frequently interact with one another. But what if social capital ends up contributing to the rise of extreme movements, including fascism? 
It is well-established that individuals and societies can gain a great deal from civic institutions, such as parent-teacher associations, athletic leagues, churches and music clubs. High levels of social capital have been associated with numerous social benefits, including improvements in health, promise-keeping, trust, altruism, compliance with the law, child welfare and individual happiness.

Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam has done a great deal to explore the beneficial effects of social capital. In his book “Bowling Alone,” he documented what he saw as its decline in the U.S., connecting that decline with a wide range of social problems. 
Pointing to research by Putnam and others, many people have argued that the U.S. and other nations should make a sustained effort to measure and increase social capital, with particular attention to civic associations that help to generate it. 
At the same time, social capital can have a dark side. If people are in a social network whose members are interested in committing crimes, the existence of social capital will promote criminal activity. A fascinating recent study called “Bowling for Fascism” goes much further: It shows that the rise of Nazism was greatly facilitated by unusually high levels of social capital in Weimar Germany.
... In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Germany had an exceptionally vibrant civil society that included clubs involved in hiking, animal breeding, shooting, gymnastics, bowling, firefighting and singing. The authors’ principal finding is that in cities with dense networks of clubs and associations, Germans were far more likely to join the Nazi Party.  
No one should doubt that private associations are desirable and valuable, and that they can produce a dazzling range of social goods, including checks on the power of government. But Satyanath and his co-authors reveal another possibility: that such associations can facilitate the spread of extremism, ultimately laying the groundwork for serious challenges to democracy itself. 
(Cass R. Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University professor at Harvard Law School, is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is the former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the co-author of “Nudge” and author of “Simpler: The Future of Government.”) 
To contact the writer of this article: email Cass R. Sunstein here.

Apparently, the masses won't be coming after Cass with their pitchforks, but with their bowling balls. I mean, "kegler" is a German word, right?

In a saner world, Sunstein would have read over his first draft and said to himself: "You know, people are just going to laugh at my Jewish Paranoia. Better come up with something less embarrassing. I mean, I'm the guy whose wife started a war in 2011, so it would be pretty comical for me to be publicly worrying about the Bowling Nazi menace."

In this world, however, "Jewish paranoia" is such a powerful force that practically nobody finds it funny, or even noticeable: a Google search for "Jewish paranoia" find few usages.

Sunstein's column helps explain the bipartisan elite enthusiasm for more Mexican immigration: Mexicans have so little social capital that they are not even a potential threat to the power of people like Sunstein and Power.

Heightism and presidential nominees

Clinton, Beavis, Perot
Thinking about the unsatisfactoriness of American presidents leads to the question of how to draw from a wider pool of talent. Short men would be an obvious underexploited source, except that nobody cares about discrimination against them. Height is not an identity politics category.

There is a widespread bit of urban folklore that the taller candidate always wins (so parties should nominate a tall man). This Wikipedia table shows that there is some truth to that, but not all that much. Over the course of American history, we see:

- 26 elections in which the taller man won (but those include three of the wheelchair-bound FDR's four victories -- I had no idea FDR was 6'-2" -- that probably helps explain how he got the VP nomination in 1920 before his polio)

- 20 elections in which the shorter man won

Wendell Wilkie, Elwood, Indiana, 1940
- 4 elections in which the candidates were the same height (including FDR v. Wendell Wilkie, both a strapping 6'2." This famous Life photograph by John D. Collins of Wilkie coming to accept the GOP nomination in his wife's hometown does't have much to do with height, but it's worth using an excuse to post it).

- 3 unopposed

- 4 in which nobody anymore remembers how tall C.C. Pinckney, Rufus King, or Horatio Seymour were

The shorter candidate has won three of the last four elections.

I was struck by how tall losing candidates have been. In recent years, Big Stiffs who lost included the following six-footer-pluses: George McGovern, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole (the height of 73-year-old Dole, who spent much of 1945-49 in military hospitals, varies in photos: he apparently could muster up the energy to stand almost as tall as Clinton at times), Al Gore, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney. And this isn't just a recent phenomenon. The two three-time losers in American history are William Jennings Bryan (5'11", which was well above average for the time) and Henry Clay (6'1"). In other words, the American political system has long been biased toward the tall, perhaps more than the small difference in election results justifies.
Ha-ha, he's short!

In recent years, the only average or below-average in height nominees have been Jimmy Carter (5'9.5"), John McCain (5'9" ... and probably substantially less when he ran at age 72), and Michael Dukakis (5'8"). Dukakis was much laughed at for his lack of height. McCain's war record and age mostly spared him. Before that, Thomas Dewey was snickered at as "the little man on the wedding cake" for being 5'8" and dressing fastidiously.

John F. Kerry on
the campaign trail
To me, Howard Dean, the Democratic frontrunner throughout 2003, looked like a Norman Rockwell illustration of a promising presidential candidate. Except, Dean was a stumpy old wrestler, which helped make his wrestling coach roar after he lost a primary seem terminally funny. So, the Democrats immediately dumped Dean for the Lurch-like John Kerry. How'd that work out for them?

No candidate in the 20th Century was shorter than Ross Perot, who was no more than 5'6". (James M. Cox, who lost to Harding, is also listed at 5'6".) Perot lost, but earning almost 19% of the vote with an improvised third party run is extraordinary. So, maybe being short isn't as much of a detriment with voters as the experts assume?

It's tautological that individual height is caused by some combination of nature and nurture. In the old days, being tall was a pretty good sign that you didn't suffer developmentally from hunger, illness, or general deprivation as a child. In the past, it was not unreasonable to assume that the imposing height of quasi-aristocrats Washington (6'2") and Jefferson (6'2.5") was a reassuring sign that they hadn't missed out on crucial nutrients and the like. 

However, over time, height has become more correlated with nature than nurture, as the average level of nurture becomes good enough for people to attain close to the full height that their genes have allotted them. We don't really know if the genes for being tall correlate with other desirable genes (I'd guess a low but positive correlation), but mostly height is just a genetic fluke these days. But, old prejudices remain.

By the way, here's an amusing Maureen Dowd article from 1992 about Perot's height, which includes the following anecdote told by extremely tall economist John Kenneth Galbraith about the very tall statesman Charles de Gaulle:
Mr. Galbraith wrote: "I said he [de Gaulle] obviously agreed with me that the world belongs to the tall men. They are more visible, therefore their behavior is better and accordingly they are to be trusted. He said that he agreed and added, 'It is important that we be merciless with those who are too small.' "

With alarming de Gaulle anecdotes like this, I can never tell if the great man was trying to be funny. They are funnier if we assume he wasn't.

To Dowd, as to many people, heightism is funny while sexism is no laughing matter.

September 13, 2013

Liberalism: Waging war on the problems of people without real problems since 1968

In my column on the much lamented woes of women at Harvard Business School, I mentioned that the modern left is most comfortable comforting the unafflicted. I'm not exactly sure who Julie Chen is: she's somebody on TV, but it's important that we know she was the victim of racism:
Julie Chen Got Plastic Surgery Because Her "Asian Eyes" Hurt Her Career 
By Katy Waldman | Posted Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at 4:59 PM 
The five hosts of The Talk have been divulging secrets all week. When Julie Chen’s turn came around, she started by showing a clip of her 25-year-old self newscasting for a local network in Dayton, Ohio. ... 
After the up-and-coming Chen offered to fill in for vacationing anchors over the holidays, he gave it to her straight. “You will never be on this anchor desk, because you're Chinese,” she recalls him telling her. 
“He said 'Let's face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we really have in Dayton?

I suspect Ms. Chen's strongest reaction was: Who said I want to develop a relationship with Dayton? Connie Chung was the lead anchor on CBS in Los Angeles two decades ago in 1976. Malibu is more my style than Dayton.
... On top of that because of your heritage, because of your Asian eyes, I've noticed that when you're on camera, when you're interviewing someone you look disinterested and bored

sic ... oh, why bother ... not only the word, but the concept of disinterestedness is lost and gone forever ...
because your eyes are so heavy, they are so small.'"
Chen’s reaction was heartbreaking: She developed a deep insecurity around her eyes. She started taping her segments on a VCR and playing them back at the end of the workday, evaluating the heaviness of her lids. Though she knew her boss was being racist, she worried he might be right about her career. When a “big time agent” refused to represent her unless she “got plastic surgery to make [her] eyes look bigger”—the man then “whipped out a list of plastic surgeons” and assured her a few swipes of the scalpel would take her “straight to the top”—Chen decided to go for it. 
“I will say, after I had that done, the ball did roll for me. Which I struggle with. You know, wow. Did I give in to 'the man' and do this?”  ...
“My lifelong dream was to one day be a network news anchor,” Chen reveals early in the segment. You could argue that Chen sacrificed one part of herself to save another; that she ultimately achieved a platform from which she could advance our conversations about race more effectively than if she’d remained obscure. And certainly her talking about this now does that. But career aspirations should not have required her to tone down her ethnicity. "No one's more proud of being Chinese than I am," Chen told her colleagues. The way she talks about her old eyelids—“too much fat,” “excess skin”—doesn’t quite line up with that statement. I wonder how she'd feel about those eyes if they were still hers? 
The pressure Chen faced was vile, unfair—and worth resisting. We know the problem: racism. ...

So, here's who Julie Chen is, from Wikipedia:
Julie Suzanne Chen Moonves (born January 6, 1970) is an American television personality, news anchor, and producer for CBS.[1] She has been the host of the U.S. version of the CBS reality-television program Big Brother since its debut in July 2000 and is the longest-serving host of any country's version of the show. She is also a co-host and the moderator of the CBS daytime show The Talk. Previously, she was a co-anchor of The Early Show on CBS.
Julie Chen was born in Queens, New York. Chen's mother, Wan Ling Chen,[2] is Burmese Chinese and grew up in Rangoon, Burma, where Chen's grandfather was a leading industrialist. Her father was born in China, and was one of the top leaders in the Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek. Consequently, her family moved everywhere in China, eventually fleeing to Taiwan. ...
Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Television, began dating the Big Brother host during his marriage to Nancy Wiesenfeld Moonves. On April 22, 2003, a week after Les Moonves signed a five-year multimillion dollar contract with Viacom,[20] his wife [and mother of his three children] filed for divorce in L.A. Superior Court ... 
On December 23, 2004, Chen and Moonves were married in a private ceremony ... Following an old Chinese wedding tradition, Chen walked down the aisle with a coin in her shoe to guarantee prosperity.

The coin in the shoe thing seems to be working for the Moonves-Chen family. From Les's Wikipedia page, we learn his:
Salary $69.9M in 2011 (includes other compensation) [2]

September 12, 2013

Dawkins: Why not Pinker for Nobel Prize in Lit?

Richard Dawkins is in the news a lot these days. Here's an idea he tossed out in an interview:
Why is the Nobel Prize in Literature almost always given to a novelist, never a scientist? Why should we prefer our literature to be about things that didn’t happen? Wouldn’t, say, Steven Pinker be a good candidate for the literature prize?

Nonfiction writers who won the Nobel Prize in Literature include politician / journalist Winston Churchill, mathematician / philosopher / journalist Bertrand Russell (those late Victorians could really write), German historian of Rome Theodor Mommsen, Henri Bergson (philosopher), and R.C. Eucken (an idealistic philosopher whom I'd never heard of).

Other winners who did both creative and well-known nonfiction writing include Jean-Paul Sartre (best known as a philosopher, although he was an entertaining novelist as well), Alexander Solzhenitsyn (whose most recent book before his prize, The Gulag Archipelago, was nonfiction after three novels), Elias Canetti (whose most famous books are a long autobiography, a novel, and a nonfiction study of crowd behavior), Czesław Miłosz (poet and essayist), George Bernard Shaw (dramatist and prominent critic and controversialist), Andre Gide (novelist and essayist), Albert Camus (novelist and essayist -- somebody recently put forward the argument that Camus was the better philosopher and Sartre the better novelist), and V.S.. Naipaul (novelist and travel writer).

But no science writers to speak of.

Tallest famous men not famous for being tall

A long-time commenter points out that NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio (born Warren Wilhelm) claims to be 6'5", but looks taller. That raises an old question about how many extremely tall men there really are. The fame of basketball stars inures us to how unusual 7-footers are, until you see a famous basketball player in a civilian setting. 

A long time ago, Colby Cosh raised the question of how many extremely tall men have been famous for reasons unrelated to their being tall. 

Here's a random list, using heights that I have one source for. Of course, sources disagree, and there are inevitable questions about height in shoes or barefoot, at prime age or in old age, etc.

Michael Crichton, novelist, 6'9"
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, 6'8"
Crown Prince Leka, rightful heir of Zog, King of Albania, described as anywhere from 6'5" to 7'0"
John Maynard Keynes, economist, 6'6"
Thomas Wolfe, novelist, 6'6.5" (novelist Tom Wolfe claims his namesake wrote standing up using the top of a refrigerator as his table)
James Cromwell, actor, 6'5.5"
Peter the Great, Czar, 6'8"
Charles de Gaulle, Frenchman, 6'5"
Jim Pinkerton, pundit, 6'9"
Tommy Tune, Broadway dancer, 6'6.5"
Mikhail Prokhorov, oligarch and owner of Brooklyn Nets, 6'8"

Here's an 1866 list of the height of U.S. Senators. The tallest were Edgar Cowan and Charles Sumner at a little over 6'3". Abraham Lincoln, another victim of wounded Southern amour propre, is usually said to have been 6'4".

Bush and Fox
Here's a graph of Presidential heights. And here's a table of winners v. losers in Presidential elections. It's not at all true that the taller candidate always wins (for example, the tallest candidate listed is Gen. Winfield Scott, loser in 1852, at 6'5"), but it's clear that men of below average height have trouble getting nominated. 

Heightism is like anti-sinisterism (bias against lefthanders) -- it's one of those things that people tsk-tsk about, but there's little organized opposition that fights discrimination against the short because height, like left-handedness, is distributed somewhat randomly around the population.

Bush and Gutierrez
This makes it harder to organize around than more powerful identity politics traits such as race, ethnicity, language, religion, sex, and sexuality.

Even where shortness is concentrated, such as among Mexican-Americans, there's no organized anti-heightist effort. Instead, tall Cubans like Carlos Gutierrez step forward to tell their fellow Republican what short Mexicans want.

Question: Syrian air defenses?

Russian weapons makers are claiming that the air defenses supplied to Syria are almost foolproof against manned aircraft and can shoot down half the Tomahawk missiles. (Half doesn't sound like a winning strategy, though.) Some of my readers know vastly more than I do about military affairs, so, how much of this is marketing and how much is reality?

Greenwald on Israel's spying on Americans

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel
• Secret deal places no legal limits on use of data by Israelis
• Only official US government communications protected
• Agency insists it complies with rules governing privacy

One of the smart things Glenn Greenwald did in managing the drip-drip-drip of Edward Snowden revelations was to push revelations about Israel way back in his queue. I pointed out 3 months ago that reporters like Carl Cameron and James Bamford had long ago revealed some of how Israel spies on Americans, but that's not what Americans, especially the American press, are interested in hearing. For example, Cameron's multipart 2001 series on Israeli spying on Americans was deleted from Fox's website almost immediately. 

Greenwald, smartly, avoided the obvious Israel Connection questions until now.

Why did the lesbian Democrat lose so badly in NYC?

The Establishment candidate in the NYC Democratic primary was City Council speaker Christine Quinn, an Irish lesbian. But she only got 15.5% of the vote.
In Quinn’s Loss, Questions About Role of Gender and Sexuality 
In July, two dozen accomplished women — bankers, law firm partners and technology executives — sat Christine C. Quinn down in a conference room in the Met Life building for some honest talk about her quest to become New York’s first female mayor.
The participants, including Mary Ann Tighe, the real estate executive, and Diana L. Taylor, girlfriend of the current mayor, warned Ms. Quinn that a woman seeking power always faced perils and that the very qualities that had brought her this far — drive, ambition, toughness — could make her unlikable to many.
 ... Afterward, a few of the women privately concluded that Ms. Quinn just did not get it. She needs a voice coach, one said, and a less naïve attitude about the magnitude of the gender challenge she faced.

Sir Laurence Olivier arranged voice lessons for Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s. She learned to sound less shrill and more calmly authoritative.

That reminds me that in the first half or so of the 20th Century, it was common for ambitious people in various walks of life to take enunciation lessons from actors or other experts. But that mostly seems to have gone underground after the anti-formality revolution of the 1960s. For example, I did a lot of speech and debate in high school, but don't remember much emphasis on improving the sound of our voices. Diction coaching had typically been used by social climbers to lose lower class accents (e.g., My Fair Lady), so it was falling out of fashion with the 1960s increased emphasis on authenticity and anti-snobism.

Still, I suspect many successful people today have paid for training of their speaking voices, even if it doesn't get talked about as much as it used to. After all, sounding like a distinguished individual is not a bad step toward getting yourself treated like a distinguished individual.

Getting totally off topic here ... What predicts success in speech training? I suspect singing ability, for one thing. The natural timbre of my voice is okay-sounding, but I have no sense of rhythm (I dread being exposed during audience-clap-alongs). And the notion of staying on key while singing remains a wholly abstract concept despite my wife patiently explaining it to me whenever I ask her again (because I've forgotten that I didn't get it the last time she explained it). Also, I'm poor at doing impressions and accents: the summit of my competence is Pepe Le Pew. I can't even say "Put another shrimp on the Bar-B" with a recognizable Australian accent. Hence, it's not surprising my speaking abilities are undistinguished and I prefer to communicate via keyboard, where I can edit before sending.
... Exit polls showed no gender gap in the results and indicated that Ms. Quinn lost for a number of reasons — her close association with the plutocratic incumbent mayor, her rivals’ ability to outmaneuver her on the issue of stop-and-frisk policing, and her inability to be a change candidate in an election in which voters sought new direction. 
Still, her supporters wonder: Why has New York, home of tough, talented women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Wintour, proven resistant to female candidates? And was it simply too much to expect the electorate to embrace a candidate who would be not just New York’s first female mayor, but its first openly gay one, too?

New York is becoming what Paris was a century ago, and what Los Angeles was, to a lesser extent, a half century ago: the dream destination of heterosexual women.

I've never lived in New York, but I visited Manhattan often from, say, 1979-1986. You'd see a few models and other ultra-beautiful women, but for average level of female attractiveness way back then, Manhattan lagged the west side of Los Angeles. (Milan might have been ahead of even L.A. Paris, however, was disappointing.)

My impression from a couple of short visits in this decade, however, is that New York has now pulled well ahead of L.A. in feminine beauty. Lower Manhattan in the evening now looks like one giant set for a romantic comedy movie.

Why? Well, the decline in street crime certainly helps. Yet, the endless Wall Street boom that began in 1982 is likely the single biggest factor in attracting attractive women to Manhattan, and now Brooklyn. According to Charles Murray's Coming Apart, in 1960 Beverly Hills was, by far, the highest average income community of some size in the U.S. But by 2000, the Upper East Side in NYC had pulled well ahead of Beverly Hills in income.

Wall Street is one of the most sexist industries in America, so women with options in life are of course fleeing all those ex-lacrosse player bond salesmen for places where women are respected for their strength, like Northhampton, MA. Oh, wait, that's not actually happening ...

It's almost as if Henry Kissinger was on to something when he said there will never be a final victor in the Battle of the Sexes because there's too much fraternizing with the enemy.
In perhaps the most painful twist for the candidate, Democratic women rejected her, voting for Bill deBlasio instead, by more than two to one, according to exit poll results from Edison Research.
“There is a perception that women will support women, and that’s just not necessarily true,” said Wendy Gruel, who lost a brutal race for the Democratic mayoral nomination in Los Angeles earlier this year, and is friendly with Mr. de Blasio from their days in the Clinton administration. “You cannot run a race where you expect people to do that.” 
Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, only one has a female mayor — Annise D. Parker in Houston.

Who is a lesbian. We were at Rice U. at the same time, but I don't recall her.
And as the City Council speaker, Ms. Quinn is already an outlier; the state and city are considered tough terrain for female candidates. 

In general, New York is one of the big leagues of male v. male competition (look at the current mayor, who is also a self-made eleven-figure billionaire in the top ten of the Forbes 400). All else being equal, the farther out to the right various bell curves extend, the more male-dominated they will be.
Some of New York’s highest-profile elected women have been exceptions: Hillary Rodham Clinton, who catapulted into the state from her perch as first lady, and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, who was first appointed to a vacant Senate seat. 
“Democratic party politics, dominated by men, have been less hospitable for women in New York,” Ester Fuchs, a professor of political science at Columbia, said. Women are “getting into the primaries but they’re not winning,” she added. 
Part of the problem, she said, is that contrary to the hopes of Ms. Quinn and her campaign aides, women almost never vote as a bloc in city races, in which issues like abortion figure very little. 

It's almost as if all the talk about the Gender Gap over the last 33 years was kind of missing the point.
Without a women’s vote, a gay vote — which never really materialized 

See "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay." Is there a gay male plus lesbian bloc in NYC? Does anybody know? Or is its existence once of those things that everybody just assumes because that's the name of the category, the way that the Republican brain trust knows that Mexican-Americans will vote like crazy for Cuban Marco Rubio for President because the name of the Census category is "Hispanic?"

New York City's economy seems like it would attract more gay men than lesbians. Gay men often make a living selling beautiful things to rich men's wives. And NYC has lots of rich men.
— or a powerful ethnic affiliation, like with Jews or Hispanics, she said, Ms. Quinn was left without a base. 
“She’s Irish,” Ms. Fuchs pointed out, noting that many Irish voters have left the city. “That was a bigger problem for her than anything.” ...
Ms. Steinem, who endorsed Ms. Quinn, said that the city’s very might makes it more difficult for women to break through. “Wherever there is more power, there is more opposition,” she said, adding, “If you’re tough enough to run New York City, you’re too tough to be considered acceptably feminine.”

Update: Here's a funny analysis of Quinn's shortcomings from CityCouncilWatch.

September 11, 2013

Why elite MBA schools ban disclosure of grades

In my Taki's column about a lesbian feminist dean's campaign to stop women students at Harvard Business School from acting sexy to attract the men students -- all for the putative purpose of helping the female students close the Grade Gap, not out of lesbian resentment, of course -- I mentioned that I don't recall MBA program grades being terribly important. 

A friend writes:
My XXXX went to Wharton for her MBA and she was not allowed to disclose her grades on job interviews, (which she found annoying as she was in the top 5% of the class, exception that proves the rule, I guess). 
This is true at Booth, Stanford, Columbia and most of the other top Business School programs, though I think it doesn't exist at Harvard; though (they had non disclosure until recently).  Regardless, your intuition that grades don't matter much at elite business schools is correct.   
The idea is that these schools want the best employment statistics and by nature of being at a top business school most people could get some good jobs. 
However, some employers would be reluctant to hire the bottom of the barrel, even if it's a high quality barrel.  The people at the very top can usually manage to find a way to distinguish themselves, but no one is the worst. 
You can't get away with this if you aren't a top school, though.

My recollection of B-School was that it was more fun than hard. I worked intensely on the courses I admired, but was content to get Bs in the more bogus ones. (That said, I presume that if you want to be, say, a Wall Street rocket scientist, you should work very hard in the hardest B-School classes, since your competition is STEM grad students.)

Here's a Freakonomics post by Matthew Philips on the subject:
Grade non-disclosure policies are a quirk of MBA programs. You won’t find them in medical or law school. In fact, the only place you do find them is among top business schools. Of the 15 most selective MBA programs, 9 of them have some form of a grade non-disclosure policy. But of the schools ranked from 20 to 50, none do. 
A new paper from a pair of Wharton economists examines why this is. Wharton, it should be noted, has grade non-disclosure, and while the faculty (according to the authors) is fairly vocal in its opposition to the policy, it’s typically approved by the students each year by a wide majority. The paper begins with a discussion of what economists call signalling, where trusted information is transferred through signals we send. The job market is one of the leading areas where we do this, as explored by economist Michael Spence in his 1973 signalling model. The idea is that without knowing whether you’re good at a job like valuing bonds or putting together marketing proposals, employers rely on the signal we send by way of an MBA from a top business school. 
Students typically argue that non-disclosure policies allow them to take greater risks and harder courses without having to worry about an embarrassing transcript. ...
The authors argue that students at these schools “reduce the accuracy of their signal by passing grade non-disclosure policies.” Why would they do that? Students typically argue that non-disclosure policies allow them to take greater risks and harder courses without having to worry about an embarrassing transcript. But in the face of evidence that self reported levels of learning have mostly fallen since the introduction of grade non-disclosure policies, this seems a little dubious. According to a Wharton Journal article, surveys showed a 22% decline in the time students spent on academics during the first four years after the school passes a grade non-disclosure policy. ...
As long as employers keep valuing a degree from Harvard Business School over MBA’s from mid-tier programs, grade non-disclosure policies aren’t likely to go away. Are we surprised then that the smartest business students in the country have figured out a way to game the system in their favor?

Isn't it wonderful how American elites make life easier for themselves at the expense of the less elite?

Another feature of the ease of B-School versus the other professional school rivals is that there are no licensing exams, like there are for lawyers, doctors, and accountants.

So, whenever I read discussions about how we need more affirmative action in law schools and medical schools, I ask: Why work harder to lure marginal black and Hispanic kids into expensive educations where they might repeatedly flunk the licensing exam? (I don't believe there is any affirmative action on bar and medical board exams, while there is plenty in admission.) Let them go instead to business school, where there are no high stakes post-school tests.

The black wife advantage

The New York City Democratic mayoral primary was won by Bill de Blasio, a very tall liberal white guy with a black wife. Second place was Bill Thompson, a moderate, uncharismatic Tom Bradley-like black pol who was jobbed out of getting elected mayor in 2009 when the term limit rules were changed to allow billionaire Michael Bloomberg to run for a third term. Despite near-universal prestige press enthusiasm for Bloomberg, Thompson still almost pulled off an upset. I thought it would be fair if Thompson won to make up for 2009 but few in New York seemed to care.

Jonathan Capehart, a black Washington Post columnist, writes:
After a piece last month about a second poll showing Bill de Blasio was not a one-poll wonder, a New York political operative close to the New York City public advocate e-mailed me with a prediction. De Blasio has “staying power.” When I asked whether it was possible for his candidate to snatch the black vote from the only African American in the race, the answer was succinct. “Yup. I do. Particularly amongst black women,” he replied. He was right on both counts. 
De Blasio won just about every demographic. You name it, he won it. ...
But let’s focus on African Americans. Former city comptroller Bill Thompson was the only African American in the race. He and de Blasio tied for the black vote with 42 percent each. Now, let’s take a deeper dive. Thompson beat de Blasio among black men, 49 percent to 36 percent. As predicted, De Blasio won black women, 47 percent to 37 percent. But here’s the kicker: While black men were 12 percent of voters, black women made up 17 percent. 
... But when it comes to Thompson and the black vote, I believe there was something else at work. As we all know, de Blasio’s wife Chirlane is African American. But my unscientific and generalized analysis after more than four decades of observation says that a white male public person with a black wife or girlfriend gets major approval from African Americans in general and black women in particular. It’s the most tangible sign that “they” all don’t hate us and that some of “them” not only understand us but also know us. 

That last sentence is kind of boring and out of date and detracts from the better parts before . A more contemporary analysis is that black women like having the sexiness of black women publicly affirmed by examples of successful men, black or white, marrying them. Black women tend to have a high opinion of their own attractiveness, and are not pleased by evidence that this opinion is not universally shared.

Thus, Obama had to dump the Australian ambassador's daughter in New York and then the white anthropology grad student in Chicago and marry Michelle to have a political career among black women voters.

O.J. Simpson was seduced by a conniving white woman, but he finally saw the light, which the numerous black women on his jury just couldn't seem to hold against this prodigal son.

This may also shed light on New Jersey senatorial candidate Cory Booker's dilemma. Little is known about the ex-Stanford tight end's private life, which leads to the widespread assumption that he's gay. A less common rumor, however, claims that he has a white girlfriend in Brooklyn. I have no idea what's true about Booker, but you can see the problem the latter would pose for an ambitious black male politician. Unlike Obama, who didn't impress many people with his Presidential potential (or even his leadership skills in general), until he got to Harvard Law School at 27, people have been kind of thinking of Booker as a future President since he was elected student body president at Stanford.

By the way, as we all know, the worst thing in the world is to attempt to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality, except that liberal paladin de Blasio converted the ex-lesbian Mrs. de Blasio.