catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Archive for February 2006

Annals of psychological research: No correlation between soccer skills and IQ

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Yesterday’s news but still worth a laugh at someone else’s expense:

ENGLAND captain David Beckham has confessed he is befuddled by his six-year-old son Brooklyn’s maths homework.

Beckham, 30, admitted to being baffled when Brooklyn recently asked for help with a school assignment and had to turn to his former Spice Girls popstar wife Victoria to help out.

“Their homework is so hard these days. I sat down with Brooklyn the other day, and I was like, ‘Victoria, maybe you should do the homework tonight’,” Beckham told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

“I think it was maths, actually. It’s done totally differently to what I was teached (sic) when I was at school, and you know, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t do this’.

“Brooklyn was like, ‘Please do it with me’, and I’m like, ‘I’ll read your book with you’.”

The Real Madrid midfield player’s son attends the exclusive Runnymede College in the Spanish capital, which follows the British national curriculum.

The paper gave examples of some national curriculum maths questions set for seven-year-olds.

They include: “Bet went to the shop at 11.45. She came back half an hour later. What time did she come back?” and “What is 12 divided by three?”

Beckham also admitted he has no “lucky” pre-match routines, with them too being tough to remember.

“I find that if I follow a routine … it gets to the stage where you are thinking, ‘Right, was it the left side … the left boot I put on first, or the right side?’

“There are so many things that can go through your mind.”

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February 28, 2006 at 4:02 pm

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50 years on …

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Compilation of comments on the Feb 1956 speech by Nikita Khrushchev that sparked worldwide consternation among the faithful and provoked some premature enthusiasm for freedom (in Hungary for instance).

Happy reading comrades!

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February 28, 2006 at 12:17 pm

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The betrayal of liberalism

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A review of The Betrayal of Liberalism: How the Disciplines of Freedom and Equality Helped Foster the Illiberal Policies of Coercion and Control. Edited with an Introduction by Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball. 1999.

This collection of papers explores various aspects of the decline of the liberal movement, ostensibly dedicated to peace and freedom, sweetness and light, into the coercive utopian form that dominates in the western world at the present time. As a result of this process the term liberalism has ceased to mean anything unless it is qualified in some way. As John Silber wrote in his contribution, “has any word been used in more senses? Is there another word whose definition is so constrained by time and context?” For this reason, those of us who are not entirely convinced that we are conservatives have to parade as market liberals, evolutionary conservatives, classical liberals, libertarians or “Old Whigs”, the last being the terminology favoured by Hayek in his important statement “Why I am not a conservative”.

The Introduction describes the (socialist) liberal consensus that was supposed to prevail in intellectual circles in the 1950s. This was celebrated by Lionel Trilling’s famous statement to the effect that ‘we are all liberals now’ which must rank in the lexicon of famous last words with Richard Nixon’s ‘we are all Keynesians now’.

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February 28, 2006 at 9:43 am

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Wireless Internet update

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Some more updates on the wireless Internet market. This week, more statistics on the decline of PSTN and the rise fo fixed to mobile substitution, Voda and Optus cut their upfront hardware prices, Unwired still a long way off break-even and that cheap iBurst rumour seems to have lacked any substance (so far). More after the jump…

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February 28, 2006 at 6:41 am

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Derbyshire v Bethell

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A sign of the times at the intellectually refreshing if archconservative National Review magazine was when its premiere columnist went from being the literate and wry Florence King to the sophomoric Jonah Goldberg.

It is indeed unfortunate that the most politically neanderthal writers on NRO also tend to the most intelligent and sensible ones. So credit where credit is due to the politically neanderthal but scientifically literate John Derbyshire as he debates the creationist conservative author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, Tom Bethell.

Incidentally here’s a money quote from Derbyshire:

I am at a loss to know how creationism has got mixed up with conservatism. I have always thought of conservatives as the cold-eyed people, unafraid to face awkward facts, respectful of rigorous intellectual disciplines, and decently curious, but never dogmatic, on points of metaphysics. Conservatism thus understood is, in my view, the ideal outlook for free citizens of a free society. Contrariwise, pseudoscientific fads, metaphysical dogmas like “dialectical materialism,” magical explanations for natural phenomena, and slipshod word-games about “agency” and “design” posing as science, arise most commonly in obscurantist despotisms. The old USSR was addled with such things, Lysenkoism being only the best known. You may say that an obscurantist despotism can be conservative in its own way, and you may have a terminological point; but that’s not the style of conservatism I favor.

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February 27, 2006 at 10:03 pm

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Getting the policy gong?

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The first radio interview on my new paper on why the FEE-HELP loan cap should be increased was on the local Melbourne ABC station 774AM, with Red Symons. Having grown up watching Hey, Hey It’s Saturday, Symons wasn’t an easy person to talk to. The Red Faces segment he made his own was hilarious when happening to other people, but all I could think of while talking to him was the very low scores he used to give the segment’s hapless contestants, and I was half-waiting for him to hit the gong, as he did when the act was so bad that he couldn’t take it anymore. Luckily the interview seemed to come to a natural, if not very successful, conclusion.

Overall, I’ve been happy with the media on this one, with the various papers focusing on different aspects of my proposal: The Advertiser on my suggested increases to the loan cap, The Age on retrieving money from HECS debtors living overseas and deceased estates, and the AFR quoting quite a few other people and organisations in favour of increased lending. People agreeing with me is a novel experience. By pure coincidence, of course, the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee today put out a press release supporting a higher FEE-HELP cap (though typically dodging any difficult decision to raise money to pay for it). The Australian Council for Private Education and Training has also issued a press release, calling for the extension of FEE-HELP to vocational education. I agree with this, but having written more than 7,000 words just talking about universities decided not to make my message even more complex by arguing for it.

I did however get the gong from the National Tertiary Education Union, from nutty Kerry Nettle of the Greens, and from Jenny Macklin, scoring her favourite adjective ‘extreme’ (twice!), but missing out on being labelled ‘ideological’. She seems to think that the paper calls for real interest rates on student debt, though beyond advocating a debt charge – which Labor incorporated in the original HECS scheme – it doesn’t. Surely there was enough controversial material in there to attack without having a go at things I didn’t say?

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February 27, 2006 at 3:48 pm

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Andrew Bolt speaks

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The Currency Lad has a reproduction of Andrew Bolt’s speech at the launch of his book “Still not Sorry”.

An interesting selection of episodes and an interesting comment from one of the “stolen generation”.

The media gives the microphone to one side and ignores the other. Take Lowitja ODonoghue (former ATSIC chairwoman). One side says she was stolen. She was not. I said to her that everyone including her nephew knows she was not stolen. {O’Donoghue then substituted the term “removed”}.

Nancy Barnes, the first Aboriginal to be head of a kindergarten in the NT/SA Education Dept, wrote her autobiography Munyi’s Daughter, and her first line, which has never got a mention on the ABC, was, “We are referred to as the ‘stolen generation’. I consider myself saved.”

For a fair and reasonable comment on the “lost generation” issue I will later post a link to some statements by Ron Brunton who acknowledged the tragic aspects of the episode and also the gross exaggeration of the numbers and the upside in the case of people who were genuinely saved.

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February 27, 2006 at 6:58 am

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