You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2007.

It’s been two years since Hurricane Katrina.  Read what one survivor has to say.

How the so-called old media can make the internet work for them.

I know how this feels all too well.

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“Women really do prefer pink, researchers say.”

I’ll first note that I haven’t (yet) read the study this article references myself. However, as represented in this article from Reuters, this is some icky pseudoscience which apparently fails to take into account that the pink = femininity association is historically a very recent development, arising sometime in the past 100 years. Prior to that, in Victorian England, blue was the color for girls. In other parts of the world at other points in history, there are other associations. (No citations for my own arguments, alas, because I don’t have them handy and I’m too tired to search some out.)

In their experimental group, they seem to have found a gender divide between the colors preferred by women versus men. Then they proceed to “speculate that this sex difference arose from sex-specific functional specialization in the evolutionary division of labor.” Rather than a much simpler explanation: our color preferences are heavily influenced by our social environment. Consider how quickly a particular shade can pass from neutral to favored to distinctly dated in the fashion world. Color preferences are not static, and while individuals clearly have native preferences, it’s also clear that these preferences are shaped by our social groups.

Insisting that a pattern found in a small group (which was most likely taken from a pool of people who are all members of more-or-less the same cultural group!) must not only apply to all people around the world, but that this pattern necessarily has a biological and evolutionary basis is an overinterpretation of the data and is piss-poor science.

If any of my readers have a source through which I can read the original paper, I’ll be most appreciative. If they’ve addressed any of these points in the paper, I’d hate to be complaining unnecessarily. I suspect, though, that getting to read the original source will only allow me to skewer it more effectively.

And remember, boys and girls, when you’re doing science, look for the simplest explanation that accounts for all known data!  Sometimes a correlation is just a correlation.

I helped Acorn out of his bath tonight and wrapped him in a fluffy pink towel. Coaxed him into a diaper and his blue cotton dinosaur pajamas. “Now, pick out a book for Gran-Gran to read,” I croaked, “and I’ll tuck you into bed.” Mum and I gave each other a glance and shared a silent giggle when he chose (with a classic toddler’s view of what is seasonally appropriate) The Night Before Christmas.

A scant hour later, he woke crying. Mum reached his room before I did, and asked him what he needed. “Need my Mama.” So I left my spot in the doorway and took a spot by his bed. “Stay with me, Mama.”

I knelt down and leaned my head beside him. He held my hand in one of his, and clung to my hair with his other hand. “Did you have a nightmare?” I whispered after several minutes passed with no signs of him relaxing.

“Yes,” he said.

“What did you dream about?”

“The hook,” he said; or maybe it was, “The truck.” But he couldn’t tell me any more than that.

I stroked his hair with my free hand, and recited in a whisper the entire text of Goodnight Moon, of Where the Wild Things Are, of Dr. Seuss’s The Sleep Book, all I could recall of the first pages of The Hobbit. All the soothing stories that I know by heart, using all the voice I had left. Then, still sitting on the floor, I laid my head again on the bed beside my son, and rested there with him until I felt his body relax and his breathing slow as he passed again into sleep.

*Sudden Computer Death Syndrome.  It’s what happens when your hard drive and your logic board die at the same time, so that not only can’t it start up from the built-in hard drive, it can’t recognize any external bits and pieces, making booting from a different drive impossible.  So now I’m in the process of remembering all those passwords to various sites that I had simply saved on my computer for the past three and a half years, and entering them in the replacement.

Just a couple of links to share today, now that I’ve gotten back into my WordPress account.  I’ll be back with something I’ve actually written in the next few days.

First up, Meg Fowler has written a painfully honest accounting of her own life to date.  I’ve been enjoying her site for a while now; this post is a far cry from her usual belly laughs, but it gives me whole new reasons to respect her.

And second, if you’re more in the mood for belly laughs than for soul-searching, another of my internet crushes (Matthew Baldwin of Defective Yeti) posted a list of surprisingly funny comments he’s made around the internet — completely stripped of context.

Enjoy!