Friday, July 25, 2008

Turns Out, Math Class Isn't Hard

A new study out of high school students shows no gender gap in math scores. Take that, Barbie. You know, the one who said "Math class is tough." Yah, not so much anymore.

According to the story in the New York Times,

Although boys in high school performed better than girls in math 20 years ago, the researchers found, that is no longer the case. The reason, they said, is simple: Girls used to take fewer advanced math courses than boys, but now they are taking just as many.

“Now that enrollment in advanced math courses is equalized, we don’t see gender differences in test performance,” said Marcia C. Linn of the University of California, Berkeley, a co-author of the study. “But people are surprised by these findings, which suggests to me that the stereotypes are still there.”

Maybe a new Math Genius Barbie would do the trick.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finally, a Remote Control You'll Want Your Man to Have

If you're like me, you either have too many remotes in your house, or find yourself at battle over who gets to control them. Here's a twist on the topic I never expected: scientists in Australia are hard at work developing a remote control over men's sperm count. According to the article,

"Since it is flexible, the polymer either contracts or expands as a result, and this movement allows the valve to be opened or closed as needed," explains team leader Said Al-Sarawi.

"It will be like turning a TV on and off with a remote control," added team founder Derek Abbott, "except that the remote will probably be locked away in your local doctor's office to safeguard against accidental pregnancy or potential misuse of the device."

Aw, no fair!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nineties Nostalgia
Maybe it was the idea of Hillary Clinton bringing sexy back to the White House for a rehash of '90s policy, peace and prosperity. Or maybe it was the sudden outcropping of frozen yogurt shops again. Or possibly, the acerbic T-shirts, new fondness for grunge rock and way-back hip-hop I've noticed in movies like Definitely,  Maybe (much of which takes place during the Clinton run for the White House in '92) or The Wackness, set very seriously in 1994. But it seems like we've hardly crested the 00s when we're trying to re-live the 90s. 

Now, I'm not digging up my favorite pair or vintage men's Levis, the ones with holes carefully cut out of them and rolled up just so. My hair is down to a reasonable size for once -- this decade has been good for curly hair. So I'm not advocating diving back in. But the 90s, and maybe this is because of  9/11 and the ugliness of the Bush administration, they just keep looking better and better. Hey, maybe rollerblading will come back, too. Now that was fun.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Not Fertile? Not a Problem

First I saw them when traveling on BART. Then I got home and tuned to the classical station and heard them. I'm beginning to feel tracked. They're fertility treatment ads for a for-profit fertility treatment center in San Francisco. That's right; for profit. But I'm sure they have everyone's best interests at heart. It's not that I begrudge women this option; what gets me worked into a hot lather is the marketing campaign around a procedure that is neither easy nor fail-safe, nor covered by insurance. 

Or maybe it's that the ad in BART wasn't to get a fertility treatment: it was after my eggs (well, not mine, but someone 20 years younger with better SAT scores). They're also all over the classifieds (someone must still be reading those). As the popularity and well, simply the stigma attached to IVF goes away as older women seek to reproduce, the demand for those young, healthy eggs will only increase. And it strikes me as a little too much like trafficking in flesh. I imagine two vastly different types of women, one providing -- shouldered with higher education loans and a low-paying first job, willing to give up what she has for a nice, fat check. On the other end are the highly successful women who never had time to think about their eggs until it was too late, now lining up to thumb through the books of descriptions and photos of the eggs for sale. What she can't offer on her own is now yet another problem solved with stacks of cash. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cavalier and Clay
He brought us New York. He brought us Ms. (but thought it odd for a man to be publisher of a feminist pub, so handed it off to Gloria Steinem). He brought us Urban Cowboy and Saturday Night Fever. But what I know from Clay Felker was a semester in journalism school where he tried to re-create the new journalism for the new journalists. As a student of his, I loved the stories, but struggled to sound like Tom Wolfe. He sent us to bars to find a story (I wrote about one in the Mission that gave manicures with the drinks.) He sent us to profile journalists, which we later found out was an exercise in networking, possibly not far off from actual journalism. He could be gruff and dismissive. He could also be inspiring and poetic. But mainly gruff and dismissive. He told me I was lucky I was a woman, since people would trust me who shouldn't. We had no allusions about what we'd learn from him in that magazine writing class. We wanted to learn about the old school new journalism, and that's what he delivered.