Sunday, November 12, 2017

Prophetic words from Samuel Huntington in 1996

In the post-Cold War world, the most important distinctions among peoples are not ideological, political, or economic. They are cultural. People and nations are attempting to answer the most basic question humans can face: Who are we? And they are answering that question in the traditional way human beings have answered it, by reference to the things that mean most to them. People define themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions. They identify with cultural groups: tribes, ethnic groups, religious communities, nations, and at the broadest level, civilizations. People use politics not just to advance their interests but also to define their identity. We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against.
--Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order (1996), on our present moment

What causes the gender pay gap?

According to a commonly used measure adopted by the United States Census Bureau, women in 2016 earned 81 cents for each dollar earned by men, both working full-time. ...

What’s more, the gap is a statistic that changes during the life of a worker. Typically, it’s small when formal education ends and employment begins, and it increases with age. More to the point, it increases when women marry and when they begin bearing children. ...

Correcting for time off and hours of work reduces the difference in the earnings between men and women but doesn’t eliminate it.

On the face of it, that looks like proof of disparate treatment. It may seem understandable that when a man works more hours than a woman, he earns more. But why should his compensation per hour be greater, given the same qualifications? But once again, the problem isn’t simple.

The data shows that women disproportionately seek jobs — including full-time jobs — that are more likely to mesh with family responsibilities, which, for the most part, are still greater for women than for men. So, the research shows, women tend to prefer jobs that offer flexibility: the ability to shift hours of work and rearrange shifts to accommodate emergencies at home.

Such jobs tend to be more predictable, with fewer on-call hours and less exposure to weekend and evening obligations. These advantages have a negative consequence: lower earnings per hour, even when the number of hours worked is the same.

Is that unfair? Maybe. But it isn’t always an open-and-shut case. Companies point out that flexibility is often expensive — more so in some jobs than others.

Certain job characteristics have a big impact on the gender earnings gap. I have looked closely at these issues, including the extent to which workers are:

■ Subject to strict deadlines and time pressure

■ Expected to be in direct contact with other workers or clients

■ Instructed to develop cooperative working relationships

■ Assigned to work on highly specific projects

■ Unable to independently determine their tasks and goals

Occupations with a lower level of these characteristics (like jobs in science and technology) show smaller gaps, corrected for hours of work. Occupations with a higher level (like those in finance and law) have greater gaps. Men’s earnings tend to surge when there are fewer substitutes for a given worker, when the job must be done in teams and when clients demand specific lawyers, accountants, consultants and financial advisers. Such differences can account for about half the gender earnings gap.

These findings provide more nuance in explaining why the gap widens with age and why it is greater for women with children. Whatever changes have already taken place in American society, the duty of caring for children — and for other family members — still weighs more heavily on women. And if you thought that moving to a more family-friendly nation would eliminate the gap, think again. In several nations, including Sweden and Denmark, a “motherhood penalty” in earnings exists, even though these nations have generous family policies, including paid family leave and subsidized child care.
--Claudia Goldin, NYT, on going deeper than "81 cents for each dollar"

Sunday, November 5, 2017

When pro athletes have to pee mid-competition

"Imagine you're an athlete, you've just consumed a ridiculous amount of liquid on a hot day, you can't get off the field and you're in terrible pain," [neurology professor Pete] Snyder says. ...

Thanks to Snyder's study, it now makes perfect sense why Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of all time, admits he lets loose in the pool. It might even provide a scientific explanation for the Red Sox phenomenon known as "Manny being Manny." In 2005, during a pitching change in Boston, outfielder Manny Ramirez claims to have stepped into the Green Monster to relieve himself -- an urge so bad he almost missed a pitch. ("I'm just glad he came back," said Sox skipper Terry Francona.) It also explains one of the NFL's dirty little secrets: At any given moment on a sideline, someone probably is relieving himself while hiding in plain sight. Or trying to. Former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder's solution was fairly simple: He says he wet his pants ... in every one of his 82 games as a pro. ...

"Guys are peeing all over the sideline in every game, into cups, on the ground, in towels, behind the bench, in their pants, everywhere," says Panthers center Ryan Kalil, who covered this topic and others in The Rookie Handbook, co-authored by Gross and Geoff Hangartner. ...

So many runners in the New York City Marathon pee off the sides of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at Mile 1 that race veterans can only giggle when they hear first-timers below them on the lower deck talk about the sudden "refreshing" rainstorm they experienced. World-class cyclists still speak in awe of the balletic way former Tour de France racer Dave Zabriskie was able to straighten his right leg, stand tall in the saddle and urinate off the side of his bike while whizzing through the French countryside at 30 mph. In 2005, when Zabriskie became just the third American to wear the appropriately named yellow jersey, it earned him the privilege -- according to the Tour's unwritten rules -- to decide when, where and for how long the peloton was allowed to pee. "That's when you know you've made it in our sport," says former teammate Christian Vande Velde. "It's like, 'I just made the whole peloton stop and pee; I'm the man.'"

Because of cultural and anatomical obstacles, female athletes are forced to plan better and hold longer than their male counterparts. Members of the U.S. women's hockey team have even been known to use the expulsion of urine to measure the force of an opponent's checks. ...

Brandi Chastain, a member of the iconic 1999 U.S. women's national soccer team, leaked into her cleats only once -- during one of her first World Cup practices in Haiti. She remembers it fondly. "Absolutely liberating," she says. "It's hard to feel loose when you have that kind of tension in your bladder." ...

It's common for female athletes to drink less -- and therefore perform worse -- simply because they're worried about how, or where, they'll go to the bathroom. ...

Boxing's golden rule is clear: Never put the gloves on early before a big fight. Once they're secure and the tape is initialed by a boxing commission official, they can't come off. After that, if a fighter is overcome by the combination of prefight hydration and jitters, his entourage has to play a high-stakes game of "not it."

Moments before he was supposed to be in the ring, [boxer James] Toney turned to [Freddie] Roach with a look on his face every trainer dreads. ... "Best way to do it," he says, "pull the cup out, pull the junk down, look the other way."
--David Fleming, ESPN the Magazine, on awkward biological moments