Women and men on campus: mixed messages galore

[Updated Wed 4/27/11]

Lately my head has been spinning as I try to understand whether women in colleges and high schools are helpless victims or the new dominant force.

Ann Althouse and Glenn Reynolds raised this topic again this morning with their take-downs of Caitlin Flanagan's shut-down-the-fraternities piece in the WSJ.

Contrast Flanagan's victim stance with Amanda Marcotte on Bloggingheads.TV.
I think anti-rape activism that has focused on shaming rapists instead of rape victims has actually been incredibly effective. The rape rate since the feminist movement took on rape as an issue has gone down eighty percent. It went down far faster than any other crime rate went down . . . Learning that "No means no" was a pretty big part of that.

It's great to see such a decline, but I was surprised at the 80% number because feminist anti-male/anti-rapist rhetoric remains so loud -- as if the rape rate were rising instead of falling.

This chart from the Bureau of Justice Statistics backs up Marcotte's 80% number:

In the Duke lacrosse case, there was a rush to judgment against the men. But now we find out that the female "victim" has been charged with murdering her boyfriend.

Rape is a terrible thing, but maybe it's time we recognized the progress that's been made in the past 35 years and stop being so quick to demonize men.

In a related vein, it wasn't so long ago that we worried that intellectually aggressive high school boys were shutting intimidated girls out of classroom discussions.

But last month a local local high school newspaper in Baltimore County ran a lead story on the front page titled: "The figures prove it: girls rule school." The article stated that girls "dominated" boys in leadership of school clubs & government, and "beat" boys handily in academics. The body of the article was filled with quotes from teachers and students explaining how and why girls are superior.

Few school adminstrators blink at this kind of thing or wonder whether the playing field is tilted against males in some ways. But in areas where high school boys often predominate or outperform girls -- science and math, for instance -- the schools tend to quickly declare a problem and start programs to recruit more girls and boost their performance.

But when will colleges -- and the high schools that feed applicants to them -- declare this trend to be serious a problem?

Proportion of 18-to-24-Year-Old Men and Women Enrolled in College, 1967-2005

Finally, these high school superwomen get to top schools and all of a sudden they are victims again. For example, lately we read about women bringing a Title IX lawsuit against Yale.

I'm encouraged that quite a few women are skeptical of this lawsuit, including Wendy Kaminer, and Cathy Young.

So, which is it? Are women victims or are we grooming them to be the new oppressors?


Climate change: the UN's hidden agendas

Eugene Volokh sees two of them:
One is to increase the institutional UN’s governance responsibilities, authority, legitimacy, and power. The other is to increase the amount of money that runs through UN mechanisms from rich countries to poor countries, with an administrative cut to the UN itself.

Environmentalists and climate change scientists seem sometimes unaware of the UN’s own agendas and history in these two institutional incentives. They thus seem sometimes insufficiently sensitive to the possibility that their own issue is not the first matter of apparently apocalyptic but also
immediate import requiring vast changes in the global political economy that has ever seized the UN.


Unintended consequences: How majority-minority districts hurt President Obama's agenda

A prescient John Fund, wrote this in June 2010 in the WSJ ("Racial Gerrymandering Backfires")
most of the 70 competitive House races polled by NPR (as well as most of the states with the closest Senate races) have below-average populations of black voters. Racial gerrymandering justified by dubious interpretations of the Voting Rights Act has concentrated blacks into mostly safe Democratic districts, meaning now that most competitive seats are more white than average. These districts are more likely to be hostile to President Obama's agenda, and thus more likely to be treacherous political terrain for Democrats. No wonder party strategists are so worried about this fall.
My suspicion is racial gerrymandering helps minorities in the short run, but hurts them in the long run.

Wikipedia on majority-minority districts:
The value of gerrymandering to create majority-minority districts is a matter of dispute both within and outside of minority communities. Some view majority-minority districts as a way to dilute the voting power of minorities and analogous to racial segregation
More from AEI on unintended consequences of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, here.


Our aging US Congress

Here's a very cool interactive chart from the WSJ showing the age distribution of Congress over time, from 1949 to 2011.

Lower turnout and a few glitches at second Balto County redistricting hearing in Owings Mills

When the public hearing started at New Town High School at 7 PM last night, only five or six citizens had signed up to speak their minds to the new Redistricting Commission. That compared to twenty or so speakers the previous night in Towson.

The five-member commission is collecting public input before fulfilling their task of proposing new council districts for Baltimore County. (For details on the process, rules, deadlines and district maps, go here.)

After a brief introduction by the commission's chair, Ed Crizer, six citizens spoke for two minutes each. Roughly twenty minutes after they had started, the Commission packed up to leave. Quite a few late-arriving citizens were surprised and disappointed to find that the whole hearing was over. A handful spoke with exiting Commission members at the main entrance to the school. At their request, the Commission graciously agreed to reconvene the session. Three more speakers signed up. When they were done, the commission members left quickly.

It still seemed like a brief, cursory meeting.

The evening left me wondering how serious this Commission is about gathering public input. If I had been in their shoes and only six people had signed up, I would have considered doing something ad hoc to get something useful from the speakers and audience members who had turned out.

Maybe give each speaker an extra minute or two, have a more informal Q&A with the audience, or just stand around having conversations with citizens. The commission didn't think to do anything like this. I didn't see such much impulse to think outside the box or go the extra mile.

After they had left, eight or ten us remained for a half-hour or so, sharing our thoughts about redistricting and what we thought of the hearing.
  • A couple of people told me they wished that a commission member had given an introductory talk explaining the redistricting process and how events will unfold over the next year or so. No one on the Commission did this. In his brief intro remarks Mr. Crizer spoke mostly about how the night's hearing would run.
  • Another person suggested that turnout might have been better if the session had been held at the local community center.
  • A third, who had been at the first hearing two nights ago in Towson, wondered why district maps had been posted the first night, but not on the second. She saw several other discrepancies, and felt that the Commission should be consistent in how they handle each session. She also had heard that the commission would be having another hearing around July to discuss their preliminary report with the public. If this meeting is on the schedule, it has not been widely publicized yet.
The third and last of the initial public hearings will take place on Thursday, April 28th at Patapsco High School in Dundalk.

Someone else pointed out that the Commission first met only a few weeks ago and hasn't really gotten rolling yet. Commissioners also got credit for volunteering their time (if they are paid, I'm not aware of it.)

Having the commission is a good thing. Ten years ago during the last redistricting, we didn't have a commission.

But there's room for improvement in this public hearing process.


Glenn Reynolds on what the State Department & Defense department can learn from the South

Something that most Northerners don't think about or value in Southern culture:

I mention this because of Antoine Clark’s remark that “I continue to despair at the difficulty that anglosphere writers have in comprehending the humiliation of occupation. Admittedly this is for the best of reasons: Washington DC was last under foreign armed occupation in 1812, London in 1066.” (Arguably, of course, London remains under foreign armed occupation, but we’ll let that pass by.)

In fact, of course, the American South knows what it’s like to lose a war, and to be occupied, which may possibly explain why the American South is also far more military-minded than other parts of the United States — or, for that matter, than London. And the American South certainly didn’t like being occupied. Reconstruction was very unpopular, and my grandmother can still tell stories that she heard from her grandmother about Union soldiers passing through and stripping the place bare of everything except what they were able to hide, and of the years (decades, really) of privation that followed the war.

But American southerners know something that apparently a lot of other people seem to have trouble with: how to lose a war and not hold a grudge. (Much of one, anyway).


I wish BCPS administrators would read Glenn Reynolds on the K-12 "lower education bubble"

Some highlights from Glenn's piece in the Washington Examiner:
In recent months, I've written in these pages about a "higher education bubble" [but] we're also starting to see the deflation of what might be called a "lower education bubble" - that is, the constant flow of more and more money into K-12 education without any significant degree of buyer resistance, in spite of the often low quality of the education it purchases.

. . . at the K-12 level, we've got an educational system that in many fundamental ways hasn't changed in 100 years - except, of course, by becoming much less rigorous - but that nonetheless has become vastly more expensive without producing significantly better results.

In the past, when problems with education were raised, the solution was always to spend more money. But as economist Herbert Stein once noted, something that can't go on forever, won't. Steady increases in per-pupil spending without any commensurate increase in learning can't go on forever. So they won't. And as state after state faces near-bankruptcy (or, in some cases, actual bankruptcy), we've pretty much hit that point now.

. . .

Getting rid of . . . overgenerous, underfunded public pensions is something states will have to do to remain solvent. But that's just the short term. Over the longer term - which means, really, the next three to five years at most - straitened circumstances and the need for better education will require more significant change.

. . .

Like striking steelworkers in the 1970s, today's teachers' immediate unhappiness may come from reductions in benefits. But their bigger problem is an industry that hasn't kept up with the times, and isn't producing the value it once did. Until that changes, we're likely to see deflation of the lower education bubble as well as the higher.


Oriole baseball hats among best-designed in the major leagues

I agree completely with Brett Lewis about the O's hats.

Here are Brett's top four hat rankings:
1. NY Yankees [Much as I dislike the Yanks, I have to agree that they have a nice logo.]
2. Philadelphia Phillies [Lewis overrates these. They're OK.]
3. Minnesota Twins [Top ten, yes, but at #3 they are overrated.]
4. Baltimore Orioles [Top four, absolutely. Great hats! ]
Others I like:

St. Louis Cardinals (not the first hat above, the last two. I guess I'm a sucker for realistically drawn birds -- no cartoons please -- and interlocking letters). Plus the LA Dodgers (more interlocking letters and Dodger blue is a pleasing shade), the Pittsburgh Pirates (nice font, excellent colors - that particular yellow goes great with black) and the Washington Nationals (I'm glad they retained the old "W" from the Senators).

Near the bottom of the list, in my opinion, are the Mets hats (Too seventies garish. I can't get past the HoJo-style color scheme. It's downright ugly. Don't like their droopy font either.)

Also near the bottom: Red Sox (I never liked the lumpy font they use for their "B".)

via InsideCharmCity


Required reading for holier-than-thou environmentalists

In his excellent book, Whole Earth Discipine: An Eco-Pragmatist Manifesto, Stewart Brand puts into words what I've been thinking (less articulately) for a long time:
The long-evolved Green agenda is suddenly outdated -- too negative, too tradition-bound, too specialized, too politically one-sided for the scale of the climate problem.
He follows with a trenchant observation that had not occurred to me:
Far from taking a new dominant role, environmentalists risk being marginalized more than ever, with many of their deep goals and well-honed strategies irrelevant to the new tasks. Accustomed to saving natural systems from civilization, Greens now have the unfamiliar task of saving civilization from a natural system -- climate dynamics.
He also talks about
a plethora of environmental newsletters that purport to be scientific but actually [have] more in common with hardball politics
Yes. And more:
The real story of Prince William Sound is how resilient many natural systems are and how rapidly they bounce back when human pressure backs off even a little.
This part really resonated with me:
Scientists freely criticize each other ... but they are weirdly polite with environmentalists. It smells of condescension.
One last bit:
When environmentalists are wrong, it is frequently technology that they are wrong about, and they wind up supporting parochial Green goals at the cost of comprehensive ones.
Okay, this is really the last one:
The charismatic expert who exudes confidence and has a great story to tell is probably wrong about what is going to happen. The boring expert who afflicts you with a cloud of howevers is probably right.
These quotes all come from Chapter 7 titled "Romantics, Scientists, Engineers." Read the whole chapter. Better yet, the whole book.