Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Care bear meta-ethics.
  2. For the fast, advice.
  3. So, is this the origin of the “slut/prostitute” claim? … condoms cost what? $.50 each? $3000 per year sure buys a lot of ‘em … Speaking of which, the 98% of Catholic women use contraception claim … there are 22 million Catholics in this country and 12 million women use contraception … by which we can estimate that almost no non-Catholic women use contraception. Odd that.
  4. Useful remarks on Mr Rush’s apology can be found here.
  5. One more on that front.
  6. The Lorax, not a tale of environmentalism, but one against stupid supply chain management.
  7. Apparently we are to believe that teachers cannot figure out which teachers are good and bad. Sorry, that’s not tenable or even credible.
  8. So, the left espouses separate but equal?
  9. Speaking of inner city … a book recommended.
  10. Get into the zone.
  11. Let’s see a company mismanages funds, cuts back … however when it occurs is that the reaction? No, if not why not?
  12. “Reduce costs by reducing births?” … uhm, hello? People produce stuff. Zero people -> zero production.
  13. Trend our government wants to achieve? Hope, change and progress, eh? If we reduce the number of hospitals that will reduce money spent on healthcare (consider the limit).

17 responses to “Monday Highlights

  1. Re #3, the 98% of Catholic women figure is correct, or pretty close to correct. The problem is the base of the percentage. It’s not ‘all Catholic women’. The question is do Catholic women follow the Church’s teaching on contraception. The answer to the question then is to ask what Catholic women who want to avoid pregnancy do to avoid it. Catholic women who do not want to avoid pregnancy, or who can’t get pregnant do not count. You shouldn’t count a 70 yr old widow who doesn’t use the pill as complying with Church teaching for the same reason you don’t count the fact that 100% of Catholic men do not use birth control pills as an automatic min. 50% compliance rate with Catholic teaching in regards to the pill.

    7.Apparently we are to believe that teachers cannot figure out which teachers are good and bad. Sorry, that’s not tenable or even credible.

    Not sure what you’re trying to say here. The teacher ratings NYC has done are not teachers rating other teachers but a very compliated metric that basically tries to ask what would kids be ‘expected’ to have accomplished on their own and then to rate the teachers as adding or subtracting value from that. The reason you need such a metric is the same reason you can’t just doctors based simply on how many patients live or die. By that measure the world’s best oncologist would probably look pretty shitty next to a dermatologist who specializes in teen acne problems.

    Having teachers rate other teachers may be useful but you need to take the info with a grain of salt just as you would with employees rating other employees. Do you trust other employees to really be honest here and tell you someone should be fired? If they do an you trust that the person really should be fired beause he is a poor performer or might it be politics with his peers?

    I think the evidence that ‘bad teachers’ are much of a problem is pretty clear, they aren’t. Some students do good, some do bad, many do average yet there’s very little in the way of actual evidence that what determines that is due to being exposed to ‘good teachers’ or ‘bad teachers’.

    I think the anlogy that makes the most sense of this is a personal gym trainer. If I give the average person 3 hours a week of a average or even slightly below average personal gym trainer, then the person is going to get in better shape. Why? Because 3 hours of exercise a week will improve most people’s shape. A good or bad trainer won’t make that much of a difference, though maybe a really horrible or really great trainer may make a slight difference. If, though, you have a athelete who is in peak form, then giving him the world’s greatest trainer will make a difference versus an average trainer.

    If you needed to figure out who the world’s greatest trainers are then, you’d need to find people who are already in near perfect shape, who are already maxing out on everything else they can do. With that population you an then probably see who is the better trainers. But then what is the value of finding that info? It doesn’t mean that giving the average slobbish person the world’s best trainer will make that much difference.

    Reduce costs by reducing births?” … uhm, hello? People produce stuff. Zero people -> zero production.

    Yet another stupid non-insight by the right.

  2. In today’s contribution, Mark — hero of religious freedom — says a Jew who goes to a synagogue with enough people to form a minyan is basically Bull Connor in a yarmulke. Undoubtedly, it’s contributions like this that will cause Jews to flock to the Republican Party.

  3. The more I think about this, the more outraged I get — I’m actually shaking with rage over this. And it is worth noting just why Mark’s comment is, in all likelihood, the most virulently anti-Semitic comment anyone has ever directed at me. It is Gilad Atzmon-style anti-Semitism, in that it claims that the existence of the Jewish community is intrinsically racist.

    What did the study show? That Jews who know and have relationships with a significant number of other Jews feel less like outsiders in America than Jews who are comparatively isolated from other Jews. Mark objects to the former quality — Jews knowing more than a few other Jews — as embodying Jim Crow. It is a racist act for Jews to form relationships with other Jews. Every synagogue, every JCC, every summer camp, every day school, every neighborhood where the Jewish population is more than trivial — all of these are racist. It is racist for there to be a Jewish community. It is, in essence, racist for Jews to exist as Jews.

  4. ondoms cost what? $.50 each? $3000 per year sure buys a lot of ‘em

    Yeah, but condoms are only good for avoiding pregnancy and disease — they don’t do anything for ovarian polyps and cysts.

    The question is, do you side with cancer and Limbaugh, or with women and good health. Had you bothered to get the facts, to get the woman’s testimony, you’d understand what the issue was. Georgetown’s student plan won’t pay for drugs that can be used for contraception even if their intent is to cure a disease or prevent cancers.

    In short, it’s an unhealthy, Not What Jesus Would Do sort of plan.

    Condoms don’t help at all.

  5. Interestingly the issue isn’t ‘separate’ in the Jewish inclusion study and observation. I don’t have the best words to describe it but the concept seems to be a ‘non-ghetto ghetto’. Consider Seinfield, for example. Every major character on the show was Jewish. But the show certainly didn’t feel like it was separate from the mainstream US culture (well maybe it was New York City culture). Why does that feel different than, say, Good Times which seemed to be set in a world many white Americans were not familiar with? Another example might be the Cosby Show, which again had nearly all the major characters being black yet did not feel like a show set in a black universe.

    Sorry all these references are to sitcoms but I think they provide a useful point of a common context to have a discussion about this if its possible.

  6. More importantly, health coverage is earned by the employee. The employer should have no more right to veto their employee using their health coverage to have contraception than a population control minded employer should be telling a worker that his wife shouldn’t be having yet another kid. If this presents a tramatic moral problem for someone then that person isn’t fit to hire people.

  7. Apparently we are to believe that teachers cannot figure out which teachers are good and bad. Sorry, that’s not tenable or even credible.

    Follow the links. We’re talking about the multi-million-dollar programs in several cities set up by politicians like George Bush and Barack Obama to track down who are the bad teachers and fire them.

    My experience is that the teachers can tell very well. The programs the administrators set up can’t tell at all, and in fact label good teachers as “bad” at least as often, and maybe more often, than the really bad teachers.

    So, the drive to “just fire the bad teachers” has cost us millions, but provided no improvement in education. It probably has cost us a lot of good teachers, though.

  8. Ed

    I take a slightly different view on teachers. Of course some teachers are going to be good and others bad. In fact the normal distribution almost gurantees it. As a result it makes sense to seek out ways to shift the normal curve upwards by attracting good teachers and removing bad ones.

    But again the question has to be addressed in terms of cost versus benefit. Imagine we were trying to make the average American more healthy. What would work better, getting more people to hit the gym once a week for an hour or making sure every gym had the best quality trainers and equipment? I think the answer is certainly the former rather than the latter. Does that mean that trainers and equipment mean nothing? Not at all. A trainer who can craft Olympic level athletes has a very valuable skill. But its ‘value added’ level only appears when you’ve maxed out all other variables. Take a flabby middle aged man who will only work out once a week at most. It will probably be pretty hard to see the difference between the results of giving him an hour with the world’s greatest trainer versus the world’s most average trainer.

    In other words, for the average flabby American, about zero percent of the variation in their level of ‘in-shapeness’ is coming from whether or not they have great personal trainers. It’s all coming from variation in their activity levels, diet, genetics etc. If you’re goal is to reduce flab in America, the most bang for the buck would come from addressing those issues first. Absent that, a program to make all trainers skilled enough for Olympic atheletes might actually work, but fail to do anything for the ‘average flab level’ in the US.

    So let me ask this question, what do you all think would do more to, say, boost reading scores in the US. Option 1: A massive program to datamine student scores, identify good teachers and ensure the distirbution of math teachers is shifted upwards to match their level. Option 2: Get parents to insist that their kids do at least ten minutes of recreational reading every day. Just ten minutes min., nothing crazy.

    I gurantee you option 2 would show much more dramatically positive results than option 1. That does not mean, however, that a ‘good reading teacher’ is not better than a bad one or that if you’re a reading teacher it doesn’t matter how you do your job.

  9. David,
    I didn’t object to anything at all. You had noted

    That Jews who know and have relationships with a significant number of other Jews feel less like outsiders in America than Jews who are comparatively isolated from other Jews.

    and that this was a good thing. Let’s see, how do you get such relationships? Oh, wait you have to have communities which are predominantly or mostly of a single ethnic identity. You have to separate from the herd. I’m not the racist here. I haven’t offered whether its good or bad. I’ve just noted what you termed as “good” sounded like separate but equal. [edit] I didn’t so much as criticize but point out the irony in your post, i.e., here you advocated separate but equal but likely didn’t think that slogan very useful in a historical context [\edit]

    Seems to me that the term “separate but equal” has a lot of baggage for you that I’m not carrying. ‘Cause I don’t think you’re saying that the Jews in “every synagogue, camp, &etc” should separate but somehow be then marked as unequal.

    In point of politics, this (if it becomes one) will likely be a weird discussion. Seeing as I’m in favor or political solutions which encourage formation of communities in which we can be, as it were, separate but equal more than now. Where less and less of decisions which we’d prefer to fight over in Washington at a federal level get made by those smaller localized communities.

  10. Ed,
    Yah. I got that. So the failure of the teachers and teacher’s unions to identify and weed out the poor performers leads to … an unintended consequence. The union policy of protecting everyone means that it “cost us millions … and a lot of good teachers too”.

    Good work.

  11. Ed,

    Oh, your right I didn’t read the testimony. She has cancer? Why isn’t that in the news stories. Gosh.

  12. Boonton,

    Yet another stupid non-insight by the right.

    Hmm. OK. Let me see if I can unpack the White House comments. Let’s see, she says “reduce costs by reducing births” … which costs which births. Oh, wait. This is in the context of abortion. She’s saying that those moms who want to abort, can’t they’re going to cast the children and their care to be a burden for the state (or that they can’t pay for the care for the children). And we can reduce those costs … I see. Y’all are racists. Abort the minority children, they’re gonna cost us too much. Hark back to early feminist leaders. Sounds about right. That’s how you fix the broken inner city family problem, kill the kids and voila no more families.

    Having teachers rate other teachers may be useful but you need to take the info with a grain of salt just as you would with employees rating other employees. Do you trust other employees to really be honest here and tell you someone should be fired? If they do an you trust that the person really should be fired beause he is a poor performer or might it be politics with his peers?

    Do you know the selling point of unions in the trades? That their workers are well trained, qualified and meet the highest standards to which non-union workers allegedly do not. Isn’t that what a union has to do, use the epistemic insight of working the job to make sure that their members are the better trained … and that they cull out those who can’t make the grade. You’re going to lose your blue Dem card if you start doubting union magicks.

    The problem is the base of the percentage. It’s not ‘all Catholic women’.

    Except that all the quotes and sound bites don’t include or link or even allude to that. They just say 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives.

  13. (A) “Separate but equal” is a Jim Crow-era legal doctrine stemming from Plessy v. Ferguson, permitting the state to require de jure separation of facilities amongst races so long as they are (nominally) equal (that last part was generally honored in the breach). It obviously doesn’t have literal — or even particularly metaphorical — applicability to in what communities Jews voluntarily choose to live in — a New York City sort of place (many Jews) or an Elko, Nevada sort of place (very few Jews). Hence, the only reason it makes sense to use it is for its symbolic meaning as perhaps the quickest and most prominent form of short-hand for Jim Crow. If you don’t mean to evoke an analogy to Jim Crow, then don’t use Jim Crow symbology.

    Of course, it isn’t true that for Jews to know substantial amounts of other Jews, they need to live in places that are “predominantly or mostly” Jewish. They just need to be areas where one can know a significant amount of other Jews. For example, I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, and there were plenty of Jews around — being Jewish wasn’t abnormal or strange at all. But the MoCo is hardly “predominantly” Jewish — it’s about 9.1% of the total population (probably higher in Bethesda, but I’d be skeptical it’s higher than 20%). The argument doesn’t promote hermetically sealed separatist communities, so much as Grutter style “critical masses” (which, as I recall, you oppose).

  14. In terms of Jewish communities the distribution does not look like ‘separate but equal’ but more like simply varying levels of concentration. Separate but equal was really about top down enforced separation for purposes of enforcing an unequal distribution of opportunity. While the US has communities that are more Jewish than others, it has nothing like the European ghettos of old where Jews had to live in segregated sections of cities.

    Yah. I got that. So the failure of the teachers and teacher’s unions to identify and weed out the poor performers leads to … an unintended consequence.

    What failure? Where? The metric under discussion wasn’t created by the union but by administration and the fact that it fails to reliably detect bad teachers says nothing about the union. In fact, maybe the union has done a good job weeding out the bulk of bad teachers, which would be consistent with a metric having trouble finding any.

    To be fair, the metric ‘fails’ because it has a huge confidence margin. The scale might be 0-100 and a given teacher might have a score of 30 but with a +-50 points which means the teacher’s real score might be as high as 80 making her well above average or as low as 0 making her the worst teacher in the system. The reason for this is because there’s only about 5 years of good data giving a sample of only 5 classes or so per teacher. The metric might actually be pretty good once more data comes in and the confidence intervals narrow to more reasonable levels.

    That still doesn’t address the real issue, there’s no evidence this will do any real good. While of course grossly bad teachers should be removed, there’s no evidence that any population wide education problems are due to ‘bad teachers’ or could be improved by a quest to find ‘good teachers’. I suspect all you’re going to get from the metric is a ‘random walk’ which means that you’ll get some teachers who rate above or below average simply by the luck of the draw. If you asked 20,000 teachers to flip a coin ten times in a row, you’re going to get a few teachers who get ten heads in a row and others who get ten tails. It would be a fallacy to conclude, though, that you discovered the few ‘expert coin tossers’ and the few ‘bad coin tossers’.

    Oh, your right I didn’t read the testimony. She has cancer? Why isn’t that in the news stories. Gosh.

    It was but she didn’t have cancer, her friend had an ovarian cyst which required it’s eventual removal. Birth control pills could have been used to treat the cysts before they got to the point of requiring the removal of an ovary. Amazing isn’t it, it’s almost as if the right just wants to achieve 0% support among women.

    Hmm. OK. Let me see if I can unpack the White House comments. Let’s see, she says “reduce costs by reducing births” … which costs which births. Oh, wait. This is in the context of abortion.

    Errr no the context was health care coverage and contraception and it’s a statement of fact. Health policies that covers contraception have lower cost than those that don’t even though one might think they should cost more since they ‘cover more stuff’. The most obvious explanation would be that contraception is cheaper than either abortion or live birth. Other less obvious factors IMO might be things like contraception requires at least one or two check ups per year by people who generally appear healthy and might otherwise not bother with a checkup. That too might lower costs by catching health problems early or simply getting patients more into the mindset of paying more attention to their health than they otherwise would have.

    She’s saying that those moms who want to abort, can’t they’re going to cast the children and their care to be a burden for the state (or that they can’t pay for the care for the children). And we can reduce those costs … I see. Y’all are racists. Abort the minority children, they’re gonna cost us too much. Hark back to early feminist leaders. Sounds about right.

    Please stop smoking crack before posting your comments. You’re ruining the nice new look you gave your blog.

    Do you know the selling point of unions in the trades? That their workers are well trained, qualified and meet the highest standards to which non-union workers allegedly do not.

    I think you’re confusing teachers unions with construction unions. Teachers unions represent the teachers. They don’t hire and fire teachers, they don’t get to decide who is or isn’t a teacher. They can and do advocate and lobby for standards for teachers but unlike many construction unions they can’t deny membership to anyone who has meet them.

    Except that all the quotes and sound bites don’t include or link or even allude to that. They just say 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives.

    As you know it’s easy to get percentages wrong, let’s say the Catholic Church’s success rate at getting the faithful to adopt their teaching on contraceptives is about 2%.

  15. Boonton,

    It was but she didn’t have cancer, her friend had an ovarian cyst which required it’s eventual removal. Birth control pills could have been used to treat the cysts before they got to the point of requiring the removal of an ovary. Amazing isn’t it, it’s almost as if the right just wants to achieve 0% support among women.

    So her friend couldn’t get hormone therapy prescription? Or she couldn’t get the therapy covered? This is where the left begins its objections to the loss of freedom that is entailed by the prescription monopoly?

    Errr no the context was health care coverage and contraception and it’s a statement of fact

    No its not. Abort all the babies and nobody contributes. If you want to suggest that a byproduct of bi-annual checkups is the real benefit, then why don’t insurers give a cost break for doing that. It was also noted that individuals can contract independently for riders that support contraception. Odd that Ms Fluke didn’t do that, she’s a law student and the paperwork shouldn’t have been onerous, that’s what she’s training to do.

    I think you’re confusing teachers unions with construction unions. Teachers unions represent the teachers.

    And construction unions represent construction workers. Construction unions can have qualifications for entry. So can teachers unions. Just because they don’t deny membership doesn’t mean that they can’t.

  16. David,
    I said the symbolism didn’t carry the emotional freight for me that it does for you, that era was before my time (and yours oddly enough). As I noted as well, I was just pointing out the irony inherent in your suggestion. I’m sorry that it got you shaking with rage and/or that you interpreted it as somehow (I still don’t see how you get there) as racist on my end.

  17. So her friend couldn’t get hormone therapy prescription? Or she couldn’t get the therapy covered? This is where the left begins its objections to the loss of freedom that is entailed by the prescription monopoly?

    The point is you don’t have to show up in front of a priest and explain your prescription is for prevention of cysts rather than prevention of pregnancy and hope he hears you out before jumping to the conclusion that you’re just a slut who wants to have sex without condoms before you even get the words out. That’s between you and your doctor and your health coverage.

    While you’re at it, knock this shit about the ‘left prescription monopoly’ off. No one on the right is or has advocated anything like getting rid of prescription laws. At most that’s a fringe libertarian idea, which is fine if you want to embrace it but don’t pretend you’re opposing some creation of Ted Kennedy here. More importantly, that’s a totally different debate. Whether or not a drug requires a doctor’s script has nothing to do with how that drug is covered.

    No its not. Abort all the babies and nobody contributes

    Whose saying abort all babies? In fact no one is even saying abort some babies! Again stop with the delusional rants and start addressing the actual issues. Classier blog now means you gotta up the content!

    If you want to suggest that a byproduct of bi-annual checkups is the real benefit, then why don’t insurers give a cost break for doing that.

    It has been observed that plans that expanded to offer contraception coverage experienced no increase in cost. Why that is is ultimately irrelevant. My hypothesis was simply to demonstrate that it’s most likely not as simple as “let’s abort all the babies so we’ll never have to pay for live births”. That’s also pretty deceptive because health plans do NOT make those decisions. In general if you have health coverage you can have babies or abortions or anything in between. I’m aware of no health plan that says to its members anything like “since you had two kids already we’ll only cover abortions and contraception, no more prenatal or live births”.

    On to teachers:

    And construction unions represent construction workers. Construction unions can have qualifications for entry. So can teachers unions.

    I believe construction unions can go a step beyond and actually choose their members, teachers unions cannot. The state typically sets the requirements for being a teacher (which the union can advocate for or against, but they get no special say in) and the schools can hire from those that meet those requirements. The union cannot deny membership to teachers just because it may not like them for whatever reason.

    More importantly, you’re still ignoring the fact that the metric under debate is not a union creation but an administration one and remains unreliable.

    On Jewish communities versus Jewish loners

    I’m sorry that it got you shaking with rage and/or that you interpreted it as somehow (I still don’t see how you get there) as racist on my end.

    I’m not really sure I get your statement and how it relates to the blog post you were citing. How is it ‘the left’ advocates ‘seperate but equal’ there? Did ‘the left’ assign every Jewish person in the US their address at some point in the past that I’m unaware of? Who or what exactly are communities with many Jewish people ‘equal too’ and in what ways are they equal? Are Jewish communities in midtown Manhattan equal to rural white communities in PA? By what metrics or standards? I think you were trying to make some type of clever statement knocking liberals without bothering to actually think anything through and in the end you just made a statement devoid of any substance.

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