Whiny conservatives

Slate's William Saletan recently ran a column on the 10 best stories from his Human Nature column in 2006.  Despite being a big fan of Saletan's writing, I apparently had missed out on this story:  Whiny kids are more likely to grow up to be conservative

The research, in the latest Journal of Research into Personality,
does not exactly say that Dick Cheney, the Vice President, must
therefore have been the most tiresome wimp in school. Or that Al Gore
won the school popularity contest. But it comes close. “The whiny kids
tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who
hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with
ambiguity,” the professor found after selecting 90 children for his
experiment and following their development over two decades to

“The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose,
turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The
girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn
introspective.” Conservatives point out that the pool of children
around Berkeley in San Francisco may not be scientifically
representative of America.Jeff Greenberg, a social psychologist at the
University of Arizona, said: “I found [the study] to be biased, shoddy
work, poor science at best.”

The columnist Jonah Goldberg said: “If one or two of the whinier
kids turn out to be conservative, it might have more to do with the
fact that their parents are whiny conservatives. Heck, if I lived in
Berkeley, I might be whiny, too.”

Not having actually read the study, I really don't know how valid it is.  Of course the liberal in me would like to believe it.  On the downside, if it is true, my son David is basically doomed to grow up conservative.


What kind of shampoo was that?

A rather odd story in yesterday's Science Times that seemed more like something out of News of the Weird.  The woman was admitted to the hospital for treatment of poisoning with insecticides.  But, every time she would improve from the treatment, she would get worse again.  Turned out, the primary contamination was in her hair and it was not until they shaved her head that she made a nice recovery.  So, what happened?

Now her doctors wondered, How did her hair become impregnated with
insecticide in quantities to bring her to the brink of death? This was
no casual exposure. She denied a suicide
attempt ? swallowing would have been more direct. Nor could it have
been attempted murder ? there are easier ways to administer poisons
more covertly.

The answer came from the patient when she fully
awakened. She remembered exactly what she had done before becoming ill:
her usual activities, except that she had gotten her hair shampooed by
a neighbor.

The neighbor, when contacted, was willing to bring
in the shampoo. Chagrined, she showed up shortly, bringing two
containers. One held shampoo. The other, a similar jug, contained an
organophosphate insecticide. Both receptacles were the same size, the
labels old and blurred.

I must have used the wrong one, she said, when told that her friend was just recovering from insecticide poisoning.

I've not used a lot of pesticide in my day, but the stuff I have did not exactly smell like shampoo.  I wonder what brand that woman normally uses.

You can go home again

I've probably been to at least half a dozen Duke basketball games in Cameron with my dad since moving back to the area in 2002.  Tonight's game was different, though.  In all the previous games, we have sat in the upper-level section– a very different environment from the bleachers surround the court where I proudly spent four years as a Cameron Crazy.  Since the Duke students were out on break, our tickets were general admission for what is usually the student section (a good number of Duke students did seem to be still around in the section, too).  At first I felt weird and out-of-place, being a thirty-something guy down in the student section, and wishing I could sit down and see instead of standing and peeking around people to see the action.  As the game wore on, and turned out to be a close and exciting contest (though, one would hope for an easier victory against Kent State's Golden Flashes), I felt like the clock had been turned back 13 years or so.  There I was yelling the cheers, and even jumping up and down with the students.  Nice to know that I have not completely become an old fogey.