Aug 22, 2006

Study Links Music With Sex

Quoted from The Week [volume 6, issue 273, page 21]:

"Researchers for the Rand Corporation conducted interviews with 1,461 adolescent volunteers over a period of three years, asking questions about music choices and how they affected kids' sex lives. They found that the teens who were bombarded with sexy lyrics and degrading portrayals of women in raunchy songs had allowed those messages to sink in. Of those who often listened to hip-hop and other explicit music, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who listened to less provocative music. Researcher Steve Martino said..."We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions, and makes them less thoughtful" about their sexual decision, Martino tells the Associated Press...17-year-old Natasha Ramsay [says] " is the music" [even though teens will try to deny it]."

Now wait just one moment here. Teens who listen to music that emphasizes sex tend to have sex sooner and more often. All right, that can be factually established. But let's look at a few more facts here. The study was conducted on teen volunteers, ages 12 to 17, via phone. The first problem arises when you ask, which ones volunteered? That can skew results. The second, and most major problem, arises when you put this into a chicken-and-egg light. Isn't it possible that the teens who are already likely to engage in sexual activity earlier listen to that type of music? From my experience among my friends, that certainly seems likely.
In other reports on this study, I've seen a few admissions of this omission, but not nearly enough - it should be mentioned in every article this report is mentioned in. A basic caution in analyzing statistics is not to mistake a cause for an effect, however much you'd like to be able to publish those results.
One article expressed disgust that teenagers would get their sex ed from explicit rap and hip-hop songs, and that only 19 percent had "good communication with a trusted adult about sex." Since when has a large percentage of kids talked freely and openly with adults about sex? It's a taboo subject in our society.
Like most things, the truth is probably a balance between cause and effect on both sides. I welcome discussion on this in the comments below, but acknowledge the other side, like so many of these articles have failed to do.

Aug 19, 2006

Dear Nirav

In my daily perusal of the newspaper, I usually read "Dear Abby" in passing (because it's right underneath the comics). What I've found is shocking: Abby does indeed promote intolerance. For example:
One day, I saw a column about a woman who, while having happily married parents and a six-year long relationship with the perfect man for her, wanted to run every time marriage was talked about. Abby's response? It's perfectly natural! Having such happily married parents sets the bar quite high for your own marriage.
All right, that's fine. But take a look at another day.
The column was about a letter sent in again by a woman, but this time, her boyfriend was the one who "couldn't commit". I read further, expecting a reasoned response from Abby showing the woman how her boyfriend might have had parental issues to work through. But no! Instead, this was cause for the woman to "keep her options open". Keep her options open? That brings to mind a Desperate Housewives-esque (the version of the show that non-viewers assume, not the version it actually is) fling with all the pool boys and milkmen in sight.
So, this double-standard can be two things. It can either be Abby always siding with the letter-writer (which does often happen), or it can be Abby always taking the woman's side. I'd like to know which one it is.

Now that that's over, I'd like to note that this is just an examination of a couple letters to Abby. In truth, I can't even find the first one anymore - it may have been in some other article. Also in truth, Abby's viewpoints are generally socially liberal and pretty dead-on. In searching for that first article online, I ran across all sorts of critiques of Abby's columns, ranging from taking offense on her view that homosexuality is genetic to everything else. Her advice is typically sound and open-minded. But this blog post was fun to write nonetheless.

Aug 16, 2006


Right. So I'm attempting to make my USB drive work. My USB mouse works in that same USB port. My small JumpDrive plugs into it. When I go to Device Manager, it shows up as JumpDrive. The only problem is, it doesn't show up under My Computer, which is, of course, where it needs to be.
After making my computer jump through flaming hoops and flip backwards over hungry lions to try and access my USB drive, I finally swallow my pride and click on "Troubleshoot...". This helps, in the sense that it doesn't help at all. The troubleshooter asks me inane questions like, "Is your USB device connected?"
Finally, I go to Windows Update, as a last resort. The website then scanned my system for the ActiveX controls that would allow it to check whether or not I have the latest version of the Windows Update software updater. Then it intstalled those ActiveX controls, and then found that that I didn't have that latest updater software. So it installed the updater software, and then updated my version of Windows Update. Then, after all of this, I could finally see which updates were available for my computer.
I gave up.