June 30, 2011

US Army declares war on “toe shoes”

Filed under: Bureaucracy, USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 15:50

Apparently the toe shoe is too unmanly and detrimental to a proper military appearance for American soldiers:

Vibram, one of the leading makers of the trendy footware, claims that its FiveFingers shoe “allows our anatomy to work naturally and move more freely.” FiveFinger fanatics claim that the shoe strengthens muscles in the feet and lower legs and improves their range of motion, balance and agility.

But in the military, it seems to come down to image, not performance, reports the Washington Post.

“Effective immediately, only those shoes that accommodate all five toes in one compartment are authorized to wear” because toe shoes “detract from a professional military image,” states the military notice.

I have no idea if Vibram’s claims are true, but I do rather agree with Thomas Ricks, who wrote “An army that is more concerned with looks versus results IS a matter of national security”.

xkcd: The first rule of model train layouts

Filed under: Humour, Railways, Science — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 15:34

Jon sent me a link to this xkcd strip, which still amuses me:

Click to see the full image

Does exposure to porn increase the incidence of rape?

Filed under: Law, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 14:54

In brief, it appears not:

But while theorising is all very well, it is necessary occasionally to fine-tune such theories by looking at the empirical evidence. And the most obvious fact about porn and rape is that reported rape incidence — at least in the United States, where a National Crime Victimization Survey takes place every year — has been falling in recent decades as porn becomes ever more available.

[. . .]

Now yes, it is absolutely true that correlation and causation are not the same thing. But at first glance we’d have a hard time claiming that the greater availability of porn led to more rapes: simply because there are fewer rapes reported while there’s definitely more porn.

[. . .]

In D’Amato’s paper, he uses Freakonomics-style statistics (one of his colleagues wrote the Freakonomics abortion and crime paper with Levitt) to try to tease out evidence of something more than just correlation.

What he found is that the lower the internet penetration in 2004 in a US state, the higher the rape rate had risen and that the higher the internet penetration, the lower rate had fallen.

We expect, for those societal reasons, that the reported rape rate will have risen over the time period. And where there’s no or limited internet access, it has. Where there is high internet access it has fallen, the fall being greater than the general societal rise.

Thus we have an empirical connection between internet access and lower rape figures. Whether it’s porn or not is a different matter: they could all be playing Second Life instead. An unlikely way to bet though really.

Someone accidentally told the truth on network TV

Filed under: Humour, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 14:45

It’s okay, though, he’s been suspended indefinitely:

Joe Scarborough: Mark Halperin, What was the president’s strategy? We are coming up on a deadline and the president decided to please his base, push back against the Republicans. I guess the question is, we know a deal has to be done. Is this showmanship? A lot of times you go up there and both sides and they act tough so their base will be appeased, then they quietly work the deal behind the scenes.

Mark Halperin: Are we on the seven second delay?

Mika Brzezinski: Lordy.

Halperin: I wanted to characterize how the president behaved.

Scarborough: We have it. We can use it. Go for it. Let’s see what happens.

Brzezinski: We’re behind you, you fall down and we catch you.

Halperin: I thought he was a dick yesterday.

Scarborough: Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? i can’t believe — I was joking. Don’t do that. Did we delay that?

Halperin: I said it. I hope it worked.

Scarborough: My mom is watching! We’ll know whether it worked or not.

Either his apology will be accepted (eventually) or he’s managed to resign in the most public way imaginable.

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