The changing sex ratio in South Korea

In South Korea, once one of Asia’s most rigidly patriarchal societies, a centuries-old preference for baby boys is fast receding. And that has led to what seems to be a decrease in the number of abortions performed after ultrasounds that reveal the sex of a fetus.

According to a study released by the World Bank in October, South Korea is the first of several Asian countries with large sex imbalances at birth to reverse the trend, moving toward greater parity between the sexes. Last year, the ratio was 107.4 boys born for every 100 girls, still above what is considered normal, but down from a peak of 116.5 boys born for every 100 girls in 1990. The most important factor in changing attitudes toward girls was the radical shift in the country’s economy that opened the doors to women in the work force as never before and dismantled long-held traditions, which so devalued daughters that mothers would often apologize for giving birth to a girl.

The NY Times attributes this sea change to things like an advertising campaign by the government. An explanation that I had given in Freedomnomics was that as the ratio of men to women rose, women would become more valuable. In competition to marry women, men would be forced to offer them more and it would open opportunities for women. Nothing more than simple supply and demand is needed to explain the societal changes.


Another Review of Freedomnomics

The cost of animal and car crashes

Jim Robbins details the increasing cost of accidents from deer and other animals.

Wildlife-related crashes are a growing problem on rural roads around the country. The accidents increased 50 percent from 1990 to 2004, based on the most recent federal data, according to the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University here.

The basic problem is that rural roads are being traveled by more and more people, many of them living in far-flung subdivisions. Each year, about 200 people are killed in as many as two million wildlife-related crashes at a cost of more than $8 billion, the institute estimated in a report prepared for the National Academies of Science.

Ninety percent of the accidents occur on rural two-lane roads, and the most common animal involved is a deer. . . .

The human death toll has risen from 111 in 1995 to around 200 in 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available. Officials say better designed highways would help lower the number.

An 80 percent increase in 10 years is pretty amazing. One cause that he doesn't mention in the piece is the increases in the number of animals. As the number of animals increases, the animals move into areas where people live.


Does Porno Lead to Rape?

DALLAS — Texas, where strip clubs have given rise to Anna Nicole Smith and many other less-generously endowed performers, is about to make it more expensive to watch a little bump and grind.

In what some have dubbed the "pole tax," the Lone Star State will require its 150 or so strip clubs to collect a $5-per-customer levy, with most of the proceeds going to help rape victims. The tax goes into effect on New Year's Day.

Club owners and some of their customers say the money is going to a noble cause, but they argue that the tax infringes on their First Amendment right to freedom of expression, that it will drive some bars out of business and that it unfairly links their industry to sex crimes. . . . .

Well, this might provide a test for the claims of sex clubs on crime rates. So if people go less to strip clubs, does that reduce rape? The problem with the test in this case is whether the "help" given to rape victims encourages more of them to come forward. It is possible that the evidence is biased against finding a drop in rapes from a drop in people going to strip clubs.


Ditching 90 percent of earmarks in Federal Budget?

John Fund at OpinionJournal.com's Political Diary writes:

After expressing disappointment at the thousands of earmarks stuffed into the foot-tall Omnibus spending bill passed by Congress, Mr. Bush told reporters: "I am instructing the budget director to review options for dealing with the wasteful spending in the omnibus bill."

The president gave no details, but South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, a vocal critic of earmarks, has an idea what the president may have in mind. He has long cited a Congressional Research Service opinion that 90% of earmarks are suspect because they were slipped into committee reports and not written into law. "These non-legislated earmarks are not legally binding," Mr. DeMint says. "President Bush could ignore them. He doesn't need a line-item veto." The Club for Growth reports that Mr. Bush might be planning an executive order that would tell federal agencies simply to ignore Congress' earmarks if they aren't written into law and spend the money on higher priorities.



The UK Government's Chief Scientific (Political Chosen) Adviser: Warns Women about Sport Cars

Women must stop admiring men who drive sports cars if they want to join the fight against global warming, the Government's chief scientist has urged. . . . .

Of course, a lot of scientists here and here would suggest that women who spurn men simply because they drive nice sports cars are daffy.

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The impact of MPG regulations

GATHER ’round, children: a long time ago, before S.U.V.’s roamed the earth, families great and small piled into something called a station wagon.

It was a primitive thing, often paneled in wood — yes, it is true — and later a man-made, nostalgic variety thereof. These pioneering wagons served Americans well, though today you young’uns would be seized by child protective services if they spotted you bouncing in back, innocent of seat belts and such notions as parental supervision.

Younger generations can be forgiven if they see station wagons as hazy boomer memories. Some companies stubbornly roll out new wagons, but buyers mostly ignore them. Mazda recently axed its terrific 6 wagon after selling just 12,249 retail copies in 2004-7. Dodge has announced the end of its muscular but weak-selling Magnum.

Do you want to know what happened to the station wagon? It is called CAFE regulations. The MPG regulations were imposed on station wagon and not SUVs. Not a deep mystery, but with Bush signing the new MPG regulations this week it shows how important these regulations are in pushing people away from the cars that they otherwise would have purchased.


News Items from the UK

Having guns makes a teacher unfit to teach in England:

A TEACHER police feared could become "the next Thomas Hamilton" has been banned from the profession. Firearms enthusiast Stewart Nicoll, 56, is to be struck off by the General Teaching Council for Scotland after being found guilty of professional misconduct at Grantown Grammar in the Highlands.

He had previously been suspended by the local authority on full pay after his civil case against the police to win back his guns hit the headlines. . . . .

It appears that someone as young as eight years of age has been allowed to fire a shotgun in England:

Children as young as eight are being issued gun licences by the police, figures showed yesterday. # Have your say: Is eight too young for a gun?

Forces granted 1,291 shotgun certificates to those aged 16 and under in England and Wales during the 12 months to October.

Police said that there was no minimum age requirement for a holding licence and that a certificate would be issued to anyone who was not banned under the Firearms Act or did not pose a risk to public safety.

Campiagners expressed shock last night that those so young were being given licences. However, police said that children were not allowed to own a gun unless they were over 16 and licences were not issued until they were satisfied that security measures were in place and that adults were supervising correctly. . . . .

Thanks to Bruce Mills for these links.

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"Nebraska may consider assault weapons ban"

Well, here is one fall out of the recent mall attack in Nebraska: "Nebraska may consider assault weapons ban"

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Appearance from Thursday on The Greg Knapp Experience

"Lou Pate filling in for Greg talks to John Lott about why what Congress did yesterday would NOT have stopped the VA Tech shooting." For a copy of the interview go here.


Another mention of Freedomnomics


Steroids for Academics?

So why if this is wrong for athletes, isn't this wrong for academics? Will we soon have congressional hearings on this?

While caffeine reigns as the supreme drug of the professoriate, some university faculty members have started popping "smart" pills to enhance their mental energy and ability to work long hours, according to two University of Cambridge scientists who polled some of their colleagues about their use of cognitive-enhancing drugs.

In a commentary published in Nature on Thursday, Barbara Sahakian and Sharon Morein-Zamir revealed the results of an informal survey they conducted of a handful of colleagues who are all involved in studying drugs that help people perform better mentally.

Ms. Morein-Zamir said they asked "fewer than 10" colleagues in different fields who have done research on cognitive-enhancing drugs, such as Provigil, which is approved in the United States to treat narcolepsy and other severe sleep disorders. "We know that some people—academics—they could be philosophers or ethicists or people who do neuroscience, they chose to take some of these drugs," said Ms. Morein-Zamir.

The notion raises hackles in some parts of academe. "It smells to me a lot like taking steroids for physical prowess," said Barbara Prudhomme White, an associate professor of occupational therapy at the University of New Hampshire, who has studied the abuse of Ritalin by college students. Revelations about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball have stirred public interest recently, and she sees parallels between athletes and assistant professors. "You're expected to publish and teach, and the stakes are high. So young professors have to work their tails off to get that golden nugget of tenure." . . .

Worries About Side Effects

. . . . For example, she notes, cheating the body of sleep suppresses the immune system and impairs brain functions. "There's no reason to believe that modafinil is protecting you from these really bad effects of long-term sleep deprivation," she said.

In fact, although cognitive-enhancing drugs have been on the market for decades (The Chronicle, June 25, 2004), it sometimes takes that long for side effects to become apparent. A major study published in August by the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry showed that children with ADHD who had taken stimulants grew less than did children with ADHD who did not take the drugs. . . . .

Unfair Advantage?

Even with such warnings, the allure of chemicals that confer an advantage may be hard to resist for academics, given the pressures they face. If there were a cognitive-enhancing drug that did not have side effects, said Ms. Prudhomme White, "would I be tempted? Damn right I would. ... Who wouldn't be?"

In their Nature commentary, Ms. Sahakian and Ms. Morein-Zamir asked people to consider whether and when cognitive-enhancing drugs are acceptable. While many people might agree that students should not be allowed to use such compounds during, say, a college-entrance exam, society might decide that it was worthwhile for surgeons or air-traffic controllers to use them. . . . .

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Op-ed on New Jersey Eliminating Its Death Penalty

"400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims"

For a list of the 400 scientists and their statements please see this.

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Kyoto curtailing carbon dioxide emissions?

You would think from all the attacks on what a terrible country the US is that we have the largest increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Who has done the best since Kyoto in controlling carbon dioxide emissions? The Kyoto signers or the ones who haven't signed?

Change from 1997 to 2004

Kyoto signers 21.1 percent
Worldwide 18 percent
non-signing countries 10 percent
USA 6.6 percent

US had a slower increase in emissions than 75 percent of the countries that signed the treaty.

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Using a tragedy to pass unrelated gun regulations


Government Regulation: Our mistake, you pay

Bill Akins describes how his Akins Accelerator operates when a rifle is attached. The patented device, which allows target shooters to convert a rifle into a simulated fully automatic weapon, has been declared a machine gun by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

By Christian Wade of The Tampa Tribune

Published: December 18, 2007

HUDSON - It was a simple idea, with big potential.

For years, marksmen have been using a technique called bump firing, shooting a semiautomatic rifle from the hip and allowing the weapon's recoil to pull the trigger.

With federal regulations keeping fully automatic weapons out of their hands, it was one of the few ways for firearm enthusiasts to enjoy the thrill of firing a machine gun.

If there was only a way to simulate that action, Bill Akins wondered, by creating a device that mechanized the recoil resistance to fire more rapid, and accurate, bursts of bullets.

Thus, the Akins Accelerator was born.

Akins, 54, is an expert marksman, ex-Marine, Elvis impersonator, seventh-generation Floridian and member of the National Rifle Association.

The Hudson man spent nearly a decade designing his Accelerator. He got a patent for his invention. Then he poured his life savings into marketing and producing it for distribution.

In the era of gun control laws, the device promised to revolutionize target shooting.

"They were selling like hotcakes," Akins said. "We were truly amazed by the response."

That was until the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives banned the Accelerator — two years after approving it.

To the ATF, the mechanism is an illegal converter kit that, if it fell into the wrong hands, could turn a run-of the-mill target rifle into a 700-round-per-minute killing machine.

Under the threat of imprisonment, officials ordered Akins to cease production, turn over the recoil springs from his existing stock and hand over his customer list.

And they didn't give him a dime in return.

More than five years later, Akins is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

His business partner has severed ties with his company. His investors have bailed. He has a warehouse in Oregon filled with more than $750,000 worth of useless stock. His reputation has been sullied by trade publications that once praised his invention. . . .


College makes students more liberal?

During their first three years of college, students tend to become more caring, more interested in spirituality, and more politically liberal, according to a new study.

The findings are part of the national "Spirituality in Higher Education" project conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles. Researchers surveyed 112,000 students from 236 colleges in the fall of 2004 and then followed up with nearly 15,000 from that same group last spring. . . .

Students also appear to become more liberal during their first three years of college. While 28.6 percent of freshmen identified themselves as "liberal/far left," that proportion rose to 34.3 percent among juniors.

Some survey results can be seen below. These results make the changes seem even worse than the small change in those who classify themselves as liberal or conservative.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2004 . . . . . .2007
Political orientation: Liberal/far left . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28.6% . . . . . 34.3%
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conservative/far right . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26.6% . . . . . 25.1%
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Middle-of-the-road . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44.7% .. . . . . 40.6%

Agree that:

Wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes
than they do now 57.3% 60.2%

Same-sex couples should have the right to legal marital status 53.8% 66.1%
Abortion should be legal 51.9% 59.7%
Casual sex is okay if people like each other 44.7% 51.5%
The death penalty should be abolished 32.5% 37.1%

Disagree that:

The activities of married women are best confined to the home
and family 81.4% 86.0%
Racial discrimination is no longer a major problem in America 76.1% 85.2%
It is important to have laws prohibiting homosexual
relationships 68.4% 78.6%
Federal military spending should be increased 65.8% 75.2%


‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Hunting’

A Q&A with Bill Steigerwald and Frank Miniter on this interesting topic can be seen here.


Why Hillary might be in real trouble


Making the question of gun free zones clear

VIN SUPRYNOWICZ at the Las Vegas Review-Journal makes the point very clear about the Colorado church attack that was stopped by Jeanne Assam:

Authorities and her minister say Assam saved untold lives -- lives that would have been lost, had Murray attacked in a disarmed-victim city like Los Angeles, New York or Washington.

In any of these other places there would have been no volunteers with permitted concealed handguns. In any of these places, it would have taken minutes, possibly a half hour, possibly more before someone with a gun was there to stop this attack. If so, how many people would have died? We still would be talking about this story.


10-year-old girl for eating a steak with a steak knife

10-year-old girl facing felony. She was arrested for using 4 inch steak knife during school lunch The little girl was using the steak knife on, unbelievably, a steak.

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Mitt Romney inaccurately claiming that he had the NRA endorsement when he ran for governor

John Fund at OpinionJournal's Political Diary writes:

"Last Sunday, Mr. Romney appeared on NBC's 'Meet the Press' and twice claimed he had won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in his 2002 race for governor of Massachusetts. Wrong. While Mr. Romney got a respectable 'B' rating from the NRA, it was his Democratic opponent, Shannon O'Brien, who actually got an 'A' grade from the gun-rights group, which ultimately made no endorsement in the race. Ouch."

My guess is that Shannon O'Brien didn't want the endorsement because it would have hurt more than helped in Massachusetts.

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An explanation too far

In a new television ad debuting Tuesday in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee does the unthinkable - he wishes early voters “Merry Christmas.”

Wearing a red sweater and standing before a glowing Christmas tree as “Silent Night” plays in the background, the former Arkansas governor asks viewers if they’re “about worn out of all the television commercials you’ve been seeing, mostly about politics.”

Behind Huckabee appears to be a white cross, which may be intersecting shelf lines or a window pane and slowly moves to the right on the screen until it’s behind his head.

But the ordained Baptist minister, who has been riding a wave of evangelical support with his open religious appeals, said Tuesday that it’s just a bookshelf and defended the ad.

Huckabee shouldn't have tried this explanation because it makes him look dishonest. True the cross in the ad is just a "bookshelf," but to imply that Huckabee and his people just saw it as a bookshelf and not as a cross isn't believable. If you haven't seen the ad, the cross image just dominates the picture. Does the image bother me? Hardly, but this explanation is just not credible. You can see the ad here.

For Jason Lewis' typically perceptive comments on this ad go here.

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Yale University Jury Opinion Study

For those interested, a friend of mine at Yale and a student of his are conducting this survey on juries. Please feel free to participate. This survey picks a case where someone shouldn't have used a gun defensively and sees how people react to the case.



Where are they now: Tracy Bridges and the Appalachian Law School Attack

Prediction: Hillary Clinton to come in third in Iowa

Edwards and Clinton are tied for second, but Edwards appears to be every Democrat's second choice. If a candidate doesn't have at least 15 percent of the voters at a Caucus site, those voters have to choose another candidate. I don't think that Hillary will pick up many votes there, but Edwards will.

So what will this do to her supposed invincibility? What will this do to her very narrow leads in NH and South Carolina? The polls showing her far ahead in Michigan are over a month old and I am not sure that they are worth very much right now.

Barack Obama is the top 2008 United States presidential contender for Democratic Party supporters in Iowa, according to a poll by Research 2000 released by the Quad City Times. 33 per cent of respondents in the Hawkeye State would vote for the Illinois senator in January’s caucus.

New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former North Carolina senator John Edwards are tied for second with 24 per cent, followed by New Mexico governor Bill Richardson with nine per cent, Delaware senator Joe Biden with three per cent, Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich with one per cent, and Connecticut senator Chris Dodd also with one per cent. . . .

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When a reporter gets in trouble with the law who does she call?: Ed Rendell

When Alycia Lane, an anchor for the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, was released from jail who was the first person whom she called? Ed Rendell. Philadelphia media types have told me about Rendell being well known for having affairs with all sorts of women so possibly that explains it, but what would a reporter hope that Rendell would do for her? Intercede with the TV station management? One quote in the piece by Dan Gross (12/17/2007) makes the problem clear: "Station sources questioned Lane's journalistic integrity in contacting or seeking any assistance from prominent politicians. Lane's attorney David Smith did not immediately return a call seeking comment on why his client was phoning lawmakers from Pennsylvania, two states away from where the incident occurred." If Rendell did help her out and even if there hadn't already been some type of improper relationship, how objective could she be in the future?



"Canada's Thought Police"

This will put a real damper on free discussion in Canada.

Celebrated author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian judicial panels on charges linked to his book "America Alone."

The book, a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, argues that Western nations are succumbing to an Islamist imperialist threat. The fact that charges based on it are proceeding apace proves his point.

Steyn, who won the 2006 Eric Breindel Journalism Award (co-sponsored by The Post and its parent, News Corp), writes for dozens of publications on several continents. After the Canadian general-interest magazine Maclean's reprinted a chapter from the book, five Muslim law-school students, acting through the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress, demanded that the magazine be punished for spreading "hatred and contempt" for Muslims.

The plaintiffs allege that Maclean's advocated, among other things, the notion that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada's liberalized, Western civilization. They insist such a notion is untrue and, in effect, want opinions like that banned from publication.

Two separate panels, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, have agreed to hear the case. These bodies are empowered to hear and rule on cases of purported "hate speech."


Long List of Scientists Question IPCC Global Warming Report

Here is a group of scientists who are claiming that the IPCC report was written by only a small group of people and not representative of the scientific community. I thought that I would emphasize one particular comment: "there has been no net global warming since 1998."

Contrary to the impression left by the IPCC Summary reports:

- Recent observations of phenomena such as glacial retreats, sea-level rise and the migration of temperature-sensitive species are not evidence for abnormal climate change, for none of these changes has been shown to lie outside the bounds of known natural variability.

- The average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0. 2 degrees Celsius per decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century falls within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the last 10,000 years.

- Leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledge that today's computer models cannot predict climate. Consistent with this, and despite computer projections of temperature rises, there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling.

In stark contrast to the often repeated assertion that the science of climate change is "settled," significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming. But because IPCC working groups were generally instructed (see http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/docs/wg1_timetable_2006-08-14.pdf) to consider work published only through May, 2005, these important findings are not included in their reports; i.e., the IPCC assessment reports are already materially outdated.

Here is the problem with the global warming debate. Before you want the government to do more to stop carbon dioxide emissions you must answer "yes" to all these questions:

1) Is there global warming?
Answer: "there has been no net global warming since 1998."
2) Is mankind responsible for a significant and noticeable portion of the increase in temperature?
Answer: Mankind is responsible for just a tiny fraction of greenhouse gases and there are other causes beyond that (e.g., the Sun). The letter notes: "significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming."
3) Would an increase in temperature be "bad"?
Answer: No. Higher temperatures will increase the amount of land that we can use to grow food, it will improve people's health, and increase biological diversity.
4) Are all the taxes that we already have too small to internalize whatever externalizes might exist? Note that we already have high gasoline and other taxes and it is possible that even if you answer yes to all the first three questions, we have too high a level of taxes and should actually cut them.

To me this is the bottom line: "It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables. We therefore need to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of these natural phenomena by promoting economic growth and wealth generation."

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Police hit rates on shootings as low as 17.4 percent

New York City police statistics show that simply hitting a target, let alone hitting it in a specific spot, is a difficult challenge. In 2006, in cases where police officers intentionally fired a gun at a person, they discharged 364 bullets and hit their target 103 times, for a hit rate of 28.3 percent, according to the department’s Firearms Discharge Report. The police shot and killed 13 people last year.
In 2005, officers fired 472 times in the same circumstances, hitting their mark 82 times, for a 17.4 percent hit rate. They shot and killed nine people that year.
In all shootings — including those against people, animals and in suicides and other situations — New York City officers achieved a 34 percent accuracy rate (182 out of 540), and a 43 percent accuracy rate when the target ranged from zero to six feet away. Nearly half the shots they fired last year were within that distance.
In Los Angeles, where there are far fewer shots discharged, the police fired 67 times in 2006 and had 27 hits, a 40 percent hit rate, which, while better than New York’s, still shows that they miss targets more often they hit them. . . .

The one important piece of information that is missing here is the number of people that the police shot at. If you take the estimate that I have that only about 5 percent of confrontations between armed victims and criminals result in the victim firing a gun, a 17.4 percent hit rate would imply that fewer than one percent of criminals would be shot. It would be interesting for someone to explain how this hit rate varies across cities.

Thanks very much to Rich for sending me this link.

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