December 26, 2011

AP Report on Institute Burning in Egypt an Exercise in Reality Avoidance

A month ago, Aya Batrawy at the Associated Press’s Egyptian bureau described those who ransacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo as “protesters,” and absurdly asserted in the face of contrary evidence I was able to find in about five minutes that “the historic 1979 peace treaty with Israel … has never had the support of ordinary Egyptians.”

Last week, in the wake of the burning — more like the gutting — of the Institut d’Egypte in Cairo and the destruction of and serious damage to thousands of priceless books, manuscripts, documents, and artifacts, Batrawy attempted to deflect blame to the military (which did have a role, as will be seen later) for not sufficiently protecting the building instead of placing it on the arsonists who did the damage. And of course, you’ll search in vain for any references to the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafi radicals, or Islam. I guess Batraway didn’t want anyone to get any kind of crazy idea that this “Arab Spring” enterprise which Western news outlets so gullibly embraced earlier this year isn’t exactly working out. Here are several paragraphs from the AP repoter’s dispatch (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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AP Howler: A Successful College Football Team Lowers Male Students’ Grades Campuswide

Filed under: Education,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 6:43 pm

I hope that the nominations for dumbest wire service item of the year are still open, because the December 20 report by Associated Press Education Writer Jay Pope on the alleged negative impact of a successful college football team on the grades of male students on campus must be placed in the running.

Based on an eight-year study of grades by economists at just one school, the University of Oregon, who are either getting grant money they don’t deserve or have totally run out of productive things to do, a three-win improvement by a football team can increase the differential between male and female students’ grade-point averages by as much as 0.0144 points. Seriously. Pope never disclosed the degree of difference I just cited, and wasted almost 900 words on a story which should never have been written. What follows is some of the AP writer’s vapid verbiage:

Study: When a football team wins, male grades drop

On campus, a successful football team is a cause for celebration.

So much celebration, in fact, that three economists have found a link between a winning season at one big-time football program and lower grades for male students.

In a new paper, the economists at the University of Oregon chart the grade point averages of students there alongside the fortunes of the football team between 1999 and 2007. Their findings could give ammo to critics of big-time college sports.

Their conclusion: When the Ducks were winning, students celebrated more and grades suffered. And that doesn’t bode well for upcoming report cards – the Ducks are 11-2 this season, Pac-12 champions for the third straight year, and headed to the Rose Bowl.

… Women’s grades held up better than men’s when the team was doing well – and the drop in men’s grades compounded a GPA gender gap that was already present at Oregon, as it is on many campuses.

On average, men were earning GPAs of 2.94, compared to 3.12 for women. But the more the team won, the more the gap widened; three extra wins amounted to an approximately 8 percent increase in the difference.

Seriously, Jay, if you would have dusted off your calculator for a few seconds, you would have realized how infinitesimal the supposed effect of a successful football season is:

  • The average male-female differential is 0.18 points.
  • Three extra wins widens that difference by 8% to 0.1944 points (0.18 x 1.08).
  • That means the average male GPA dropped from 2.94 to 2.9256. That's the equivalent of 14 out of every 1,000 male students getting a "C" instead of a B in one course during each fall quarter or semester. Oh the humanity!

All kinds of other influences, including runs of bad or good weather on campus perhaps moving some students to study out of sheer boredom, could easily be as important or more important than how the football team happens to be performing.

The caption at the photo accompanying the story reads in part: "When the college football team was racking up wins on the field, the men in classrooms partied so hard their grades took a dive." Words fail.

Instead of showing that "Their findings could give ammo to critics of big-time college sports," as Pope claims, what they instead show is that a certain Associated Press writer needs to go back to school to learn something about statistical significance, so that he (and his editors) won't be deceived by a bunch of academics attempting to push utter garbage on the public.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

What Time of Year Is It? In the Press, ‘Holiday Shopping Season’ Still Dominates

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 11:16 am

ChristmasVsHolidayWishListThis is the seventh year I have looked into how the media treats two Christmas-related topics: The use of “Christmas shopping season” vs. “holiday shopping season” and the relative frequency of “Christmas” and “holiday” layoff references.

Unfortunately, the hints of improvement late last year, when 20% of stories in the late December pre-Christmas search referenced the “Christmas shopping season,” largely disappeared this year. Well, at least the combined results of this year’s three sets of searches (at Google News, done shortly before Thanksgiving, about two weeks later, and a few days before Christmas) show that last year’s overall gains compared to the two previous years held. But, as will be seen after the jump, news reports still use the term “holiday shopping season” seven times as often as “Christmas shopping season.”

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Worst Recovery Since World War II Update

Filed under: Economy,General,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:40 am

From CalculatedRisk, the two key graphs showing job loss and recovery:

(Related CalcRisk post)

JobsChartPostWW2recessionsNov11

(Related CalcRisk post, with the same data centered on each downturn’s employment trough)

JobChartUpdateAllPostww2RecessionsCenetersNov11

At the current rate of “recovery” in the job market, it will be at least three years before employment returns to where it was at the end of 2007 (which is where the charts peg the recession’s beginning) — even before considering population growth during the intervening period. It will take many more years to catch up to that moving target at the current rate of “recovery,” because the roughly 2% increase in employment during the past 21 months isn’t much greater than the country’s 1.5% growth in population during that time.

The recession technically ended in June of 2009 when the economy officially resumed positive though historically tepid growth. But job-seekers everywhere are still asking the same question they’ve been asking for nine quarters: “Rebound? What Rebound?

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122611)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

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Good“Hosting and domain registrar company Go Daddy has lost more than 37,000 domains in the past two days due to the company’s wishy-washy stance on the Stop Online Piracy Act.” I’d like to see OH-01 Congressman Steve Chabot lose at least that many votes as a result of his SOPA cosponsorship.

Update, Via Instapundit: “GoDaddy: ‘We’ve listened to our customers. Go Daddy is no longer supporting the SOPA legislation.’”

Update 2: The pre-Christmas markup hearings at the House Judiciary Committee “adjourned its markup session on the measure without a vote,” and delayed further debate “until after Congress returns from its winter recess.”

Update 3: A current list of SOPA-supporting companies and entities contains many disappointments. In my view, the top five supporters who deserve special infamy include (in alpha order): American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA); Ford Motor Company, especially because GM and Chrysler aren’t, or at least aren’t listed; News Corporation, which includes the Wall Street Journal and Fox News (but most other broadcasters are also on the list); Screen Actors Guild (Hollywood elitists all too willing to stifle everyone else’s rights); and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

One list member I’m not convinced belongs on it is Concerned Women for America, which would be particularly bad if true; but I found no evidence of support at their site, and I’m having a hard time believing that this group would really be behind it.

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Pet peeve purged: Sometime somewhat recently, the folks at Hot Air finally made their news headlines available going back to mid-August 2007. I always wondered why this wasn’t the case from the get-go. It’s not searchable, but if you remember one of Allahpundit’s quirky headline titles, you can at least Google it, and you will find it.

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Jeff Jacoby has written an excellent pair of columns (first; second) on how affirmative action efforts in higher education have been brutally counterproductive with their intended beneficiaries. The second has a term which should be committed to memory:

… the cruelty of affirmative-action “mismatch” — the dynamic by which racial preferences steer minorities to schools where they are underqualified and therefore less likely to succeed. Absent such preferences, black and Hispanic students would attend universities for which their credentials better suited them. Many would earn higher grades or degrees in more prestigious and challenging fields; more would go on to graduate school and careers in academia or the professions. If it weren’t for race-based admissions policies, in other words, underrepresented minorities wouldn’t be so underrepresented.

Once again, good intentions which alter the rules of fair play make things worse.

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The state of Georgia has lost 13,000 jobs this year through 11 months, the only GOP-led state to do so this year. It will get worse if the state gives in and levies new or increased excise taxes (HT Politifact via Hot Air) on alcohol, sweet beverages, and other items, which will drive Georgians who are close enough to do so across state lines to buy them.

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RIP … Lynn Samuels.

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At PJ Media, Theodore Dalrymple makes a great point about how the smoking and anti-smoking lobbies are both vested interests, but misses a big one concerning another possible motivation for the Dutch government’s “not to provide medical assistance to those who say they cannot give up smoking, though there are nearly 20,000 premature deaths caused annually by smoking in the Netherlands” — namely that a country with what is the world’s most aggressive “voluntary” euthanasia regime (which now includes “loneliness” and “finances” as examples of “unbearable suffering” justifying the practice) doesn’t mind the premature deaths all that much.

Positivity: Nun’s remains miraculously healed New York woman, Vatican says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Honolulu (HT Hot Air):

December 24, 2011, 5:06 p.m.

Mother Marianne Cope is elevated to sainthood after the Vatican authenticates a second miracle that was a result of her intercession — the use of her bone fragments to cure a woman with acute pancreatitis.

The second Vatican-authenticated miracle leading to the sainthood of Mother Marianne Cope involves the healing of a New York woman who had an infection destroying her organs, fellow nuns have revealed for the first time.

Details on the purported miracle were revealed last week by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, N.Y. A bag of soil containing Marianne’s bone fragments from the Hawaii peninsula where leprosy patients were exiled was pinned to Sharon Smith’s hospital gown, Sister Burkard said.

Marianne cared for leprosy patients at the Kalaupapa settlement on the island of Molokai in the 1880s. She died in 1918 of natural causes and was buried there. The pope proclaimed her a saint last week after the Vatican authenticated two miracles that were a result of her intercession. The first miracle involved the unexplained cure of a New York girl who at 14 was diagnosed in 1992 with germ cell ovarian cancer.

Smith, now healthy and in her 60s, was hospitalized for nearly a year in Syracuse after being diagnosed in 2005 with acute pancreatitis, which tore a hole between her intestines and stomach. A friend shared Smith’s diagnosis with a stranger sitting in the hospital waiting room who recommended praying to Marianne, Burkard said.

The nuns had kept a bag of Kalaupapa soil containing Marianne’s bone fragments after her body was exhumed in 2005 and her remains taken to Syracuse. They pinned the bag of soil to Smith’s gown and began months of praying to Marianne.

Doctors then started to remove tubes from Smith’s body. “She thought it was his way of saying there is no more hope,” Burkard said. “He said to her, ‘I don’t know what you did but you are cured.’” …

Go here for the rest of the story.