Thursday, August 10, 2006

Active Procrastination

Active Procrastination: n. Procrastinating by inventing other things to do that are seemingly more urgent than the thing you have to do but don't feel like doing right now.

I feel that I have to link this (via Ace) just in case anyone hasn't already seen the video of "green helmet" playing movie director. It is the second video down and it is horribly fucked up.

On a lighter note I would also like to tell my tiny readership about You go here and type in the name of any band whose music you particularly enjoy, or a song that you like and tell it to create a station for you. Then it will play a song from that band, and from there it will go on to play songs with similar sounds to that band and help you discover new music you might like. You can give songs the thumbs up or thumbs down as you wish and guide the music choices on your personal radio station. I have one for Michael Buble, Mindless Self Indulgence, Snake River Conspiracy and A Perfect Circle. You can make up to 100 stations!!

Also awesome for inhabitants of a few select cities is which provides a place to review local businesses, from resturants to physicians. It is great for getting started in a new locale, and for praising places you particularly enjoy.

I guess I'll go do work now.

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's the Research Methods Stupid

My good friend is a newspaper graphics editor, and we occasionally get into it about the MSM and it's inherent stupidity. He'd just sent me this adorable math cheat sheet showing me that some journalists do indeed care about math, when I started reading a simply FABululous article on, entitled:
Well there goes my attempt to make peace with the media. I can tell by the title of this article that I will not be able to maintain my ceasefire.
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.

Whether it's hip-hop, rap, pop or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.

Songs depicting men as "sex-driven studs," women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
So finally there is proof, it is in the MUSIC, we have something we can BLAME! YAY! Parents of the world rejoice, researchers of the world sigh with resignation.
This study cannot conclusively prove that the music causes kids to behave a certain way. All it shows is that there is a significant link* between sexy music and kids who have sex early. (But that doesn't sound nearly as sexy.)

How do I know this? Well let us look at their methodology:
The study, based on telephone interviews with 1,461 participants aged 12 to 17, appears in the August issue of Pediatrics, being released Monday.

Most participants were virgins when they were first questioned in 2001. Follow-up interviews were done in 2002 and 2004 to see if music choice had influenced subsequent behavior.
So what we're saying is, teens who like sexy music had sex. I bet we could show the same relationship between a thousand different types of music. Teens who listen to music about drugs, do drugs, teens who listen to music about anarchy, like anarchy, teens who listen to music about racism, like racism, teens who listen to music about Jesus, like Jesus. Is it because of the music? Or is it because they like X and therefore listen to music that they can relate to?
It's a chicken and the egg problem. And this research cannot prove the link because it did not control for outside factors like views that were already formed. If they truly wanted to test this they would have to randomly assign kids to different groups and force these groups to listen to randomly determined types of music for an assigned period of time and see if their preferences changed.
All of us humans have choices about the music that we store on or iPods or we tolerate on our radio, and these choices could actually reflect our personal views more than change them. I am not saying that music can't affect our life choices, I am saying that this study in no way proves that because of the way it was conducted.
The problem I have with the MSM is that they don't understand research methods and they report irresponsibly on things they clearly don't understand. Sorry Pat.
*Significant Link- This is NOT NOT NOT the same thing as saying X causes Y. It just means that X is related to Y. People who prefer Y are more likely to prefer X, people who prefer X are more likely to prefer Y, it works both ways. But neither necessarily determines the other, it could even be caused by force Z that isn't even included in the analysis.
UPDATE: My journalist friend just sent me a PDF or the article from the front page of his paper, my e-mailed response used the f word a lot. I wish someone was actually going to read this post, then maybe I'd feel better having told at least one person that this study is completely full of shit. Alas, too bad my traffic is actually in negative numbers now.
UPDATE II: The guys from Freakonomics posted on this, so did Jeff Jarvis. And thanks to Flashman for the link! I'm very glad this story is getting some visibility!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Republican Nannystate

In the name of "safety from internet predators" a bill is being moved into the Senate to restrict student's use of Social networking sites within schools that are part of the public e-rate plan for internet access. (From yahoo news, thanks Roommate) The bill is unclear about which sites specifically and leaves that to the FCC to determine. Which raises some concern about future censorship of other websites beyond the scope of this law's intention.

At the end of the yahoo article I think they really get to the heart of the problem with this bill:
"The onus will always be on the parents and guardians, explaining to kids how the social network sites can be used in a safe manner," she said.

Banning the sites from schools (while understandable) will not keep students off of them, the law is ineffectual in that it will only protect students while they are in the schools themselves. It wont teach the kids about the dangers of internet predators, or how to protect themselves. It also wont help them learn that any information posted anywhere on the internet is instantly available to people worldwide.

A smarter way to spend our federal governments time would be to institute educational programs to educate youngsters about the dangers of publishing personal information on the internet. We already have programs like DARE and Abstinence education programs, why isn't there a program for this? If we don't trust parents to teach their kids about Drugs or Sex, we certainly shouldn't hope they remember to tell them not to put their full name and phone number on the internet. Especially since most parents have less experience with the net than their kids.

Rather than educate students on the dangers of such sites and enable them to make better decisions to protect themselves, we are just going to forbid them from going there while they are in a safe environment protected from predators.Instead, lets send them home, where they can give their phone numbers out to total strangers who can then mapquest their house and stalk them while there are no teachers to protect them.