Links 7/26/08

Unexpected fall in puffin numbers BBC

Girls = Boys at Math Science

Weight Drives the Young to Adult Pills, Data Says New York Times

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Predicts Hard Times Ahead The China Vortex (hat tip reader Michael)

All Economic Analysis is Counterfactual Tom Bozzo, Angry Bear

If a Bailed Out Homeowner Gets Foreclosed a Second Time, Has the Government Helped Them? Dean Baker

The “Foreclosure Crisis” and Exploitation of a Suicide Tanta. In the unlikely event you missed this….

Worst TSLF of all Times Alea. I’m a bit late to this, but it is both significant and underreported.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo Hasten Mortgage Changes to Stem Foreclosures Bloomberg. Key quote;

“We have heard wildly different things about how much modification is going on,” said Representative Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat. “We have heard from industry that they are modifying like crazy. And we’ve heard from consumer advocates that they are hardly modifying at all.”

Some Judges Stiffen Foreclosure Standards Wall Street Journal

The Heart of the Economic Mess Robert Reich

No Free Bubble Roger Lowenstein, New York Times

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Richard Kline

    Re: TSLF schlubbfest, *ouchie, ouchie, ouchie* Do you think that Mr. Banker and his brother Mr. Wanker are a few pennies short on their capital rent come month end? . . . Tough love is only for the low net worth. Blutocrats with a blood blister on their tokhus get bandaids ‘n’ pretty nurses. : (

  2. Anonymous

    Tanta was interessting discussing the nuts and bolts of the mortgage business but her recent attempts to bring the mass media into line by being objective and learning the facts before publishing is getting to be quite foolish, she appears to be someone with great knowledge of the mortgage lending business but otherwise watches daytime TV.

  3. Anonymous

    anon at 10:37

    To the contrary. I think Tanta is a vital woman recuperating at home. I think she is becoming aware that the infiltration of sleeze in this country goes far beyond the mortgage business.
    I do wonder what exactly in her behavior you are criticizing?Is it support of the mass media or despair that it can ever be corrected?

  4. Anonymous

    that fact she is now becoming aware of the the mass media sleeze is not news, maybe to her, but mass media reporting has been biased since its inception and gets worse not better. This topic has been and is covered widely with far more in depth issues then whether a lender has gotten a bum rap by the local press. How about the 15 men recently released in Dallas due to DNA testing, want to go back and review the media coverage of their trials and arrest and who said what when? the Vietnam War, Iraq War just to name a few situations that the media had totally dropped the ball and provided misleading and false information but again this is old news and if Tanta wants to explore how the media is unfair to lenders so be it, that is her right as a blogger but as a reader I can rightfully say, so what!

  5. Anonymous

    No, boys and girls are not the same at math. What happens is, boys are over represented in the very high scores and also in the very low scores. Their mean score, and that of girls, is the same. But the variance is different.

    If one reduces the difficulty of the curriculum, this will of course ensure that all the very good are ranked with the good, and all the very bad now move up to the merely bad. So it will be possible to show a distribution where both the mean and the variance of the subjects are identical. This however does not prove their abilities are identical. It merely shows that one has been able to choose a measure which fails to measure the differences which still exist.

    Something like this has happened in the UK on different kinds of examinations. The result has been that now it is impossible to use them to distinguish between the good and the very good, and so universities are reduced to setting their own entrance examinations.

    Basically, when the facts are politically inconvenient, fudging them only helps for a very short time. After that you have the same problem again.

  6. Anonymous

    2:29, you are missing the point. It was long assumed that girls are less good than boys at math due to genetic differences, as opposed to nurture. I suggest you read the literature on expectancy theory to see how powerfully expectations influence performance.

    Similarly, not that long ago, you NEVER saw women in professional orchestras, they always lost the entrance competitions until a law in Germany required them to be blind (as in the aspirants performed behind a screen, so no one could see their gender). You saw female representation in orchestras shoot up to near equal levels to men. The examiners no doubt would have strongly resisted the idea that they were prejudiced against female musicians, but the results show beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were.

    Little signals have a tremendous impact on how students perform. Even the result you decry as merely politically convenient, that girls now score as well as boys on elementary and middle school math, would have been regarded as impossible a generation ago.

    The jury is out on whether the better performance of men at higher math is genetic or cultural.

  7. Richard Kline

    Without disputing your relevant comment re: expectations Anon 3:23, I’m fully with Anon 2:29 regarding the distribution issues. I do not believe that ‘scores have normalized on a gender basis,’ since they will never normalize in distribution at least. The issue that test designs have smudged accurate categorization needs a furthe look, but may well be in play in the testing results discussed in the article linked from Yves’ post. There are meaningful distinctions in gender-specific performance—just not the ones that we are conditioned to expect.

  8. Anonymous

    This is 2.29

    You have a hard time to argue that the differences are environmental. Somehow, you’ve got to account for three things. One is the overrepresentation of boys at the high end. Now this is fairly easily imaginable to be the result of teacher and parent behaviour. Maybe they encourage very promising boys more than similarly promising girls. One can imagine that.

    However then you have to account for the over representation of boys at the low end on environmental grounds. That’s getting a lot tougher. And finally you have to account for the relative lack of extremes at both ends for girls. Why are there fewer girl low scorers?

    This seems to be one of those cases where people defend a point of view in defiance of the observed facts, but also without any need. We should not worry one way or the other if there are differences in distribution of ability. The really important thing is that for almost all cases where it is relevant to employment, there is no issue. This is what the matching of the distribution at anything but the extremes shows. For posts in science, engineering, business, you can just assume that men and women are equivalently able at math. One may be better than another, but it won’t have to do with gender. So, equal opportunity programs on that basis for those fields will be fine.

    However, when it comes to the very high end of mathematical creativity, do not go after institutions because boys are overrepresented in such programs. And also, do not go after schools if boys are overrepresented in remedial math classes. Neither is evidence of discrimination.

    There is a strange paradoxical result of dumbing down to the middle level. What happens is, the bright or more talented get utterly bored and irritated and paradoxically may perform less well. If you can read a set book in an afternoon, you will probably not do well in a class where they are taking a month to read it one word at a time.

    Take another area. Suppose we find that language learning is differently skilled. Suppose we find that children brought up by single mothers speak and read better and earlier than children brought up by single fathers. We would not be particularly surprised, surely, if subsequent studies purported to show that women are better at teaching languages on average, and that more of them have very high scores than men. We can easily imagine this is a trait which just is not changeable no matter how we bring up our sons and daughters. But it does not matter. Just as we now seem to agree that children need fathers, and also need mothers, and get different but overlapping things from them. Why worry about it, why deny it? We are not exactly the same, some abilities are slightly differently distributed. There’s a lot of overlap in abilities. And generally men and women can pretty much match each other on abilities. But there are some exceptions both in average and distribution shape. On some things women will be better, on others men will be. Its a case by case thing. Why is this any cause for concern?

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