Archive for September 29, 2006
In August, two Princeton economists released a study titled “Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes.” The aim of the paper, by Anne Case and Christina Paxson, was to attempt to explain why tall people generally earn more than short people. The question is not a new one. More than a hundred years ago, social scientists established the correlation between height and socioeconomic status, and they’ve been trying to solve the enigma of what has been called the “height premium” ever since. In 1915, a study found bishops to be taller than preachers and sales managers to be taller than salesmen. A 1968 paper identified peer perception as a cause of the earning discrepancy. Separate studies in 1993 and 2006 concluded that discrimination is a key factor. Case and Paxson’s work presents another explanation: On average, taller people earn more because they are smarter.
The study was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonpartisan think tank in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During the paper’s first week on the N.B.E.R.’s Web site, it was downloaded by a handful of academics and government types. The authors received e-mails from fellow-economists who sent brief accolades such as “This is great” and “Fascinating” and “I didn’t know this” and “WOW”—the resonant pings of quiet kudos in academe.
A week later, Reuters published a story on the paper under the headline “TALLER PEOPLE ARE SMARTER—STUDY.” Within days, Case and Paxson had received dozens and dozens of e-mails from outraged readers. “I have no idea if it was the fact that women had written the study, but half of the ones I got were from short men,” Case said the other day. “Some of them were actually obscene.” Most of the e-mails were hostile: “Shame on you!” scolded one man (4″ 9′). “I find your hypothesis insulting, prejudicial, inflammatory and bigoted,” said another (5″ 6′). “You have loaded a gun and pointed it at the vertically challenged man’s head” (no height given). “I want to thank you and your colleague for perpetuating the crusade against short people” (5″ 6′). “On a personal note it was very nice to be reminded that I really am a loser and will never be held in ‘high’ esteem by society” (5″ 4′). “LEAVE THIS ALONE YOU’RE NOT HELPING ANYBODY,” another read.
The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days–
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.
The above was written, completely off the cuff, in a blog comment by John M. Ford, to whom we must now affix the adjective late to go along with the already applied great.
He was the definition of diversity in writing. He wrote the single best poem about September 11th, 110 Stories, which compelled me to take a month and make a multimedia version, and he was touched that I’d done so. He wrote the Star Trek novels that both Trekkies and militant non-trekkies love. He won awards for his RPG sourcebooks. I performed in a live musical revue he wrote, “Another Part Of The Trilogy”, which skewered every fantasy trope with wit and aplomb and almost on-key. I consistently nominated in every web poll I could find that had a “Best Commenter” award.
And I’m sad that I never got the chance to ask him to write a Munden’s Bar story, and never find another brilliant gem from him.
One more for the road ahead, also from Mike:
THE FINAL CONNECTION
Why are there so many songs about hearses?
The way to the uttermost side,
Hearses go fast, and traffic parts for them,
But who’s in a hurry to ride?
Wagons and roads are an eloquent metaphor,
Gentling and straightening the way,
Everyone takes that last exit to Brooklyn,
Home at the end of the day
Remember the start of Magnificent Seven?
Steve and Yul drove to Boot Hill,
Just a small fable of folks being equal,
And going to sleep where you will.
Tickets and transfers and waiting for answers
At something so common yet strange,
Someday you’ll ride it, the last train to Clarksville,
All classes, all stations . . . all change.
Look out the window and wave to the strangers
What do they see in the glass?
Up ahead, can you see, we’ve stopped for Emily,
There will be more as we pass.
Savor the journey, however you’re going,
It’s been your whole life to get there,
Someday I’ll travel, without reservations,
I hope I’ve two coins for my fare.
Comparing official mortality data with the number of Americans who have been killed inside the United States by terrorism since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma reveals that scores of threats are far more likely to kill an American than any terrorist — at least, statistically speaking.
In fact, your appendix is more likely to kill you than al-Qaida is.
With that in mind, here’s a handy ranking of the various dangers confronting America, based on the number of mortalities in each category throughout the 11-year period spanning 1995 through 2005 (extrapolated from best available data).
S E V E R E
Driving off the road: 254,419
Accidental poisoning: 140,327
H I G H
Dying from work: 59,730
Walking down the street: 52,000.
Accidentally drowning: 38,302
E L E V A T E D
Killed by the flu: 19,415
Dying from a hernia: 16,742
G U A R D E D
Accidental firing of a gun: 8,536
L O W
Being shot by law enforcement: 3,949
Carbon monoxide in products: 1,554
One note: by selecting the time frame that they did, they added a lot of additional “other threats” that probably don’t belong there. If they did it over 5 years, or one year, etc. we’d get very different numbers.
But how do I talk like a pirate? Look no further.
People For the American Way – Defending Science Education in Your Community: an online kit to help fight anti-intellectualism, should you happen to live in a place where you need it.
I was going to write something about this, but Jim Macdonald beat me to it:
President Bush had a press conference yesterday. The first thing that struck me about it was the angry, hectoring tone that he took. What was Bush so angry about?
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Questioning of suspected terrorists “won’t go forward” unless Congress clarifies a U.S. standard for the treatment and interrogation of detainees, President Bush warned Friday.
The remarks appeared to be an attempt to put Congress on the spot about the future of a program that Bush says has helped thwart terrorism.
Yes, friends, Bush was saying, in almost so many words, “If you don’t make torture legal, I’m going to stop torturing people!”
Personally, I don’t see a down side to that.
I was going to say “That’s a feature, not a bug” myself. And only a bounder would suggest that the President of the United States would just hold his breath until he either turned blue or got his way. Besides, I think GWB has experienced enough oxygen deprivation to his brain for a lifetime, don’t you?
Many Dutch are much taller than average. So many, in fact, that four years ago the government adjusted building codes to raise the standards for door frames and ceilings. Doors must now be 7-feet, 6 1/2-inches high.
Hmm. A place where I would fit in…
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
The United States calls itself one nation under God, but Americans don’t all have the same image of the Almighty in mind.
A new survey of religion in the USA finds four very different images of God %u2014 from a wrathful deity thundering at sinful humanity to a distant power uninvolved in mankind’s affairs.
Forget denominational brands or doctrines or even once-salient terms like “Religious Right.” Even the oft-used “Evangelical” appears to be losing ground.
Recommended, if you’re trying to figure out your neighbors.
While President Bush and other Republican politicians spent the day exploiting the memory of those we lost five years ago, the nation overlooked a grim milestone: More Americans have now died in Iraq than died on 9/11. Iraq didn’t attack us on that day, and our misguided policy there has now taken more American lives than Al Qaeda.
Here are the numbers: 3,015 Americans have died in Iraq as of September 9. 2,666 of these were military deaths and 349 were civilians…. A total of 2,973 people died on 9/11. Most, although not all, were Americans.
September 13, 1999 marks the 7-year anniversary of the tragic events at Moonbase Alpha, where all 311 of the base’s inhabitants were lost and presumed killed after terrorists set off a thermonuclear chain reaction on the moon’s Nuclear Waste Disposal Area 2.
Let the Eagles soar.