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Archive for February 22nd, 2006

Keep an Eye on the Ugly Ones

Posted by glasscastle on 22nd February 2006

"I’m too ugly to get a job."

— Daniel Gallagher, a Miami bank robber, after police captured him in
2003

The hapless Mr. Gallagher may have been ugly, but he was also wise.

Not only are physically unattractive teenagers likely to be stay-at-homes
on prom night, they’re also more likely to grow up to be criminals, say
two economists who tracked the life course of young people from high school
through early adulthood.

"We find that unattractive individuals commit more crime in comparison
to average-looking ones, and very attractive individuals commit less crime
in comparison to those who are average-looking," claim Naci Mocan
of the University of Colorado and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University.

from the Washington Post

This is the kind of social science study that raises more questions
than it answers. It is easy to imagine or invent causality to explain
the link between ugly people and crime:

  • The ugly are rejected by play groups as children and grow up with feelings
    of aiienation and a desire to get back at an unfair society and popular peers.
  • Physically attractive kids get more attention and encouragement in school,
    and as a result do better, graduate at a higher rate, and have more successful
    careers. Lack of education and high drop-our rates are correlated to crime.
  • Good looking people learn early to get others to do things for them, like
    the dirty work. Many attractive people may be living off of others, or
    gettting others to committ crimes for them.
  • Ugly people have a harder time getting hired, or being successful in
    jobs involving face-to-face interaction with clients. They may be more inclined
    toward crime as their careers flounder.

However, it is dangerous and difficult to make connections without
solid evidence, of the sort that these studies can never provide. Clearly,
more
attention and speculation need to be turned on this topic.  How do
changing standards of beauty affect the equation? How about cosmetic
surgery? What strategies do ugly people develop to compensate for their
disability? How ugly would we have to be to qualify for disability
payments?

Posted in Wacky News | Comments Off on Keep an Eye on the Ugly Ones

Life is a Video Game, Sometimes

Posted by glasscastle on 22nd February 2006

MALIBU, Calif. — Authorities are investigating the circumstances
behind a spectacular crash on Pacific Coast Highway that destroyed a
rare Ferrari Enzo estimated to be worth more than $1 million.

The red Ferrari was going at least 100 mph when the driver lost control
and struck a power pole, investigators said. The car — one of only 400
made — shattered, with its engine coming to rest on the highway and its
wreckage scattered.

Sheriff’s investigators identified the owner as Stefan Ericksson, 44, of
Bel Air, who escaped the wreck with only a cut lip.

"For $1 million, you get a very good passenger-safety system, and
apparently in this case it did work," said Sgt. Philip Brooks of the
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities said Ericksson told them he was a passenger and the driver
was a German acquaintance he knew only as Dietrich, who he said ran into
the nearby hills. A three-hour search failed to turn up anyone, and officials
said they were skeptical of the account. Only the driver’s side air bag
deployed, Brooks said.

from the
LA Times

Actually, we think we know that guy Dietrich. He was driving OUR car the
night it jumped the railing on Route 2, skidded across four lanes of traffic,
and ended up pinballing around the lot of Rt. 2 Audi BMW. After the accident,
he ran off into the nearby hills (do we detect a pattern of criminal behavior
here?), leaving behind anything that may or may not have been discovered
in the tan canvas bag in the trunk.

Posted in Wacky News | 1 Comment »

School’s Out for Summers

Posted by glasscastle on 22nd February 2006

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. –In his five-year tenure at Harvard University,
President Lawrence H. Summers frequently found himself in the spotlight
because of rifts with faculty at the Ivy League institution.

Tuesday, facing the second no-confidence vote by faculty members in
a year, Summers announced he would leave June 30, bringing to a close
the briefest tenure of any Harvard president since 1862, when Cornelius
Felton died after two years in office.

from the Boston Globe

Just five years? It seemed like 50! Larry, we hardly knew ye. If there
is a lesson in here somewhere it is that, yes, the President of Harvard
has to be a master politician, and yes, the President of Harvard has
to be a master fund-raiser, but first and foremost, the President of
Harvard has to be smarter than you and me, and smarter than all the other
university presidents in the land. If you try to give the job to a normally
smart political fund raiser, he or she is doomed to fail, if only because there are so many naturally obstreperous world-class intellects in the 02138 zip code.

If the person is smart enough, in an academic sense (which means knowing
more about some obscure subject than anyone else in the world, even if
it is so obscure than hardly anyone else knows or cares about it), nothing
else matters. In order to protect the reputation of the institution,
Harvard has over the centuries had to keep several notable Presidents
under wraps, so to speak, relegated to windowless back rooms in the bowels
of Civil War era architectural behemoths and only brought forth on ceremonial
occasions, bundled in pharmacological blankets and surrounded by stout
Trustees to avoid embarrassing mishaps.

It just wouldn’t look good for Harvard to be changing Presidents as
frequently as, say, an upstart institution like the Federal government.
Why, previous Harvard President Neil Rudenstine had a complete mental
breakdown while in office, reduced to staring out the window of Harvard
Hall while playing with his peas and carrots, and was forced to take
a "Leave of Absence" while they got him back to the point where he could
sign his name again, and he still lasted 10 years.

Given Summer’s recent propensity for stepping into deep doo doo over
topics like innate vs. acquired sex differences and recruiting minorities
for the faculty, it is less shocking that the Harvard brain trust
is showing him the door than is the selection of his successor. Who even
knew that Derek Box was still alive? The man was named President of Harvard
in 1971, the year the Dowbrigade arrived on campus as a freshman. The
guy was ancient before WE even got kicked out the first time! James Michael
Curley was still Mayor of Boston!

We guess we should be happy that the World’s Greatest U has turned
back the clock to the guy we will still always consider "our" Harvard President,
but we may have forfeited our right to criticize.  After all, we
currently work at a Major Boston University which dismissed its President
the day BEFORE he was to be inaugurated,  necessitating a payoff
of several million dollars to just go away.

Actually, the Dowbrigade is thinking of throwing his hat into the ring
on this Harvard job. How long can Bok actually last, after all? And how hard can it be to preside over the World’s Richest School? After
400 years, isn’t it time for something completely different.

from the
Boston Globe

Posted in Education | 1 Comment »