Sunday, May 31, 2009

People like me are weird

Census data from 2005 tell us that only 28 percent of American adults have a bachelor's degree. As for how many adults took the "traditional" path and received their BA within four years of high school, some rough number crunching of federal education data shows that the percentage dips to below 10 percent. By definition, that's no longer traditional. It's radical, and it makes you wonder why we still call them four-year colleges.
--Neil Swidey, Boston Globe, on the exoticism of the BA degree, never mind getting it four years after high school

The perils of fashion

Should skinny jeans be worn only in moderation?

Regardless of what the fashion police might decree, one Yale doctor definitely agrees.

In an ABC News article published Friday, School of Medicine neurologist Orly Avitzur said the hipster staple may cause meralgia paresthetica, which is a pain or numbing sensation that extends from the spinal column to the thigh.

In times past, the condition was found in girdle wearers, Avitzur said. Nowadays — though girdles may be out of fashion and all — the condition is apparently reappearing in “women and young hipster men,” as the article put it, who often wear tight, lycra-infused denim.

Meralgia paresthetica begins when a nerve in the groin is compressed by tight clothing. ... Once started, the condition can linger for weeks or sometimes months if the damage is extensive, even after the afflicted individual has cast aside the skinny jeans responsible, Avitzur said. She estimated that four in 10,000 people have suffered from the condition.
--Yale Daily News on fashion before health

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Negative wages

[The Huffington Post] is currently auctioning off a summer internship to raise money for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. And there appears no shortage of interest in the position.

Ten bids have already been placed for the gig, with the highest bidder having offered $13,000 for the two- to three-month internship. The winner will get to decide whether to work at HuffPo’s headquarters in New York or its political office in Washington.
--Yale Daily News on one way to make the journalism business economically viable. But wait, aren't these the same folks who want higher minimum wages?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lying and details

Liars do not avert their eyes in an interview on average any more than people telling the truth do, researchers report; they do not fidget, sweat or slump in a chair any more often. They may produce distinct, fleeting changes in expression, experts say, but it is not clear yet how useful it is to analyze those.

Nor have technological advances proved very helpful. No brain-imaging machine can reliably distinguish a doctored story from the truthful one, for instance; ditto for polygraphs, which track changes in physiology as an indirect measure of lying. ...

Still, forensic researchers have not abandoned the search for verbal clues in interrogations. In analyses of what people say when they are lying and when they are telling the truth, they have found tantalizing differences.

Kevin Colwell, a psychologist at Southern Connecticut State University, has advised police departments, Pentagon officials and child protection workers, who need to check the veracity of conflicting accounts from parents and children. He says that people concocting a story prepare a script that is tight and lacking in detail.

“It’s like when your mom busted you as a kid, and you made really obvious mistakes,” Dr. Colwell said. “Well, now you’re working to avoid those.”

By contrast, people telling the truth have no script, and tend to recall more extraneous details and may even make mistakes. They are sloppier.
--Benedict Carey, NYT, on detecting lies