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April 2012


So you may have heard that the new HBO show, "Girls," is the new hotness, the new voice of the Zeitgeist, the new celebration of feminism, and the new profound diagnosis of the problems of 20-somethings. Etc. For example:

People can’t stop talking about “Girls.”

The HBO series about 20-somethings living in New York is an instant social-media phenomenon, says the company that tracks Internet chatter.

More than 200,000 people took to social media to talk about the show on Sunday, the day of its debut on HBO.

The first episode, if you care to watch, is available here

But I can save you a little time. 

The show is a direct descendent of the show "Sex and the City". That show, which was for a rather long time also the new hotness, the voice of the Zeitgeist, yada yada, showed good-looking people talking about and having (mostly) good sex.

"Girls" shows (mostly) unattractive people talking--endlessly and stupidly--about and having awkward, humiliating, bad sex. 

This is important

"The Big Easy’s school revolution":

Neerav Kingsland lives and breathes numbers. But when you ask the chief strategy officer of New Schools for New Orleans about this city’s remarkable efforts to rebuild its schools in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he starts not with statistics but with the story of Bridget Green.

A young woman whose grades earned her the distinction of valedictorian of her 2003 high school class, Green never gave the commencement speech or walked across the stage with her classmates. Despite five tries, she was unable to pass the math-competency exit exam required for graduation. . . . 

So sure are New Orleans officials of the work being done to turn around schools that they think they can become a model for urban education reform, proof that students of any color, income level or social background can achieve if schools do their job. Indeed, Kingsland — who came here as an undergraduate at Tulane and entered education reform through a (failed, he admits) stint mentoring impoverished students — argues that the transformation in this city may turn out to be the most significant national development in education since desegregation. . . .

To those who argue that the overarching effects of poverty prevent children from learning, Principal Mary H.L. Laurie has a terse answer: “Then don’t come to work here.”

"May I Show You My Collection of p-Values?"

Excellent. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

 Which of the following statements about p-values is correct?

1. p-value of 5% implies that the probability of the null hypothesis being true is (no more than) 5%.
2. p-value of 0.005 implies much more "statistically significant" results than does a p-value of 0.05.
3. The p-value is the likelihood that the findings are due to chance.
4. A p-value of 1% means that there is a 99% chance that the data were sampled from a population that's consistent with the null hypothesis.
5. None of the above.

"America's Crisis of Character"

I'll help Peggy Noonan:

Now I'd go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.

Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing. . . . 

Something seems to be going terribly wrong.

Maybe we have to stop and think about this.

She cites six examples. Five of the six indict not our character but our . . . government. (And the sixth is indirectly related to government failure.)

Less government will promote better character.

Some support: "Fix the Economy and Conservative Values Will Follow".

Enact the fiscally sound policies that by their nature promote accountability, personal responsibility, and self-reliance; and the country will be more open to the rest of the argument.