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04-07-05, 10:43 AM
Summers' Complaint

April 6, 2005

by Carey Roberts

In the Nature vs. Nurture debate, feminists rabidly insist that all psychological and social differences between the sexes are caused by the social environment. That ideologically-loaded belief is captured in that innocent-sounding word, “gender.”

There’s a strategic reason for that dogmatic assertion. As long as people believe that men and women are biological clones, the rad-fems can claim that the under-representation of female CEOs and politicians can be blamed on the Glass Ceiling, not on the informed lifestyle choices that women make.

And that in turn justifies the gender quotas, government set-asides, and all the other appurtenances of a feminist society.

The feminist thought police do not take kindly to persons who challenge widely-held beliefs. So when Harvard president Lawrence Summers suggested innate sex differences, not gender socialization patterns, might account for the shortage of female scientists, the Lefties were aghast.

But scientists insist Summers has a point, that the brains of men and women are anatomically and functionally different. Referring to the spatial abilities of the sexes, Judith Kleinfeld of the University of Alaska notes, “The average difference between males and females on psychological tests of these abilities is huge.”

The Summers’ dust-up has broadened into a broad-based examination of sex and gender. That argument is now being waged on two other fronts.

First is the Great Op-Ed Debate, that non-stop catfight that has been trying to answer the vexing question, Why do women represent only a small fraction of newspaper opinion writers?

Of course, there were the pundits like Amy Sullivan who predictably played the victim card. Sullivan blamed the problem on women who “have been raised to feel ill-at-ease in the rough-and-tumble, male-dominated world of political expression.” Sorry, Ms. Sullivan, that argument may have played in Peoria 50 years ago, but not in 2005.

Others searched for more plausible explanations.

Gail Collins, the woman who runs the editorial page of the New York Times, admitted in a round-about way, “There are probably fewer women, in the great cosmic scheme of things, who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff.”

And Maureen Dowd, whose writing style is perpetually stuck in full-attack mode, sounded more like a purring kitten when she admitted, “I wanted to be liked, not attacked...This job has not come easily to me.”

But it was Catherine Seipp who finally came out and stated the obvious: “The uncomfortable fact is that women just seem less interested in politics than men.” Why? Because “that typically female emotional-reaction-as-argument is one big reason why the op-ed pages are still mostly male.”

By remarkable coincidence, the Great Op-Ed Debate was being waged just as the journal Nature was about to release the startling results of a study that would profoundly challenge the basic feminist assumptions of gender.

That research, published late last month, found the inborn differences between men and women are far greater than previously suspected. Men and women differ by two percent in their genetic make-up.

And here’s the jaw-dropper: That two percent sex difference is greater than the biological gap between humans and chimpanzees. In other words, the built-in differences between men and women are akin to the dissimilarities between man and ape.

Now we know why millions were so engrossed by that long-running TV series about Tarzan, Jane, and Chita.

First Larry Summers. Then the Great Op-Ed Debate. And now breakthrough research on the genetic differences between the sexes.

It’s high time that we accept the obvious: Men and women are not the same. Vivre la difference!

Carey Roberts


04-08-05, 12:30 AM
Why I Hate Spring

April 7, 2005

by Tom Purcell


I hate spring.

I hate the sunny weather and the birds chirping and people outside smiling and humming, while they spread mulch in their planters.

I hate the buds on the trees and the sweet smell in the air. I hate the way the sun falls gently over the hills at dusk.

I hate everything about spring, because I’m self-employed.

This time, every year, I’m a nervous wreck about my taxes. I worry that I’ll owe more than I think I will, and I will. I worry that I’ll not get everything organized and tallied up for my accountant in time, and it’s always close.

This is because our income tax system is complex. It is complex because drunk people (Congress) designed it so that bureaucrats (the IRS) will convert the incomprehensible into the unfathomable (the tax code) in order to punish productive Americans (the self-employed) in the name of good fun.

To comply with these onerous tax rules, I have developed a highly effective accounting technique: the Big Box Methodology. From the beginning of January through the end of December, I toss every bill, receipt, expense, etc. into a big cardboard box.

Every spring, I am forced to organize and tally every one of these items, so that I can document my business expenses. I must document my business expenses to accomplish what every self-employed person hopes to: to have made as little money as possible the prior year.

I have been in a mighty struggle with big box all winter. He’s been calling out to me. “Tom, come on, let’s get things in order.” But I ignore big box. I ignore his unreasonable demands week after week, and the more I ignore him, the more I worry.

As April 15 nears, I begin taking big box with me. When I go away for the weekend, he is in my back seat. I have high hopes of using my weekend break to organize every slip of paper into a brilliant rendition of how much I earned and spent in 2004, but I never do.

I never do until the LAST week before taxes are due. And without fail, the last week before taxes are due is one of the most beautiful and magical weeks of the year.

As the weather breaks and the world comes to life, I get calls from beautiful women who want to spend time with me. I am offered box seat tickets to baseball games, invitations to cookouts, requests to partake in fun and frivolity of every kind.

But I must turn them all down.

I must turn them down because of Congress. See, when Congress passed the 16th Amendment into law in 1913, they made the income tax deadline March 1st. But in 1955 Congress pushed the deadline to April 15th.

They did this so helpless American taxpayers would have more time to organize and file their taxes, right? Ha, ha. No, they did it to give the IRS more time. But I think there was an additional reason.

Dissatisfied that the cost and complexity of the income tax was not painful enough -- this year Americans will waste nearly 6 billion hours and $200 billion dollars preparing their taxes -- Congress saw an opportunity to ruin spring, too.

That’s why, for the last week, I have been shut off from the world and the gorgeous weather. I’ve been hunkered down with an intensity and focus that would make the Unabomber wince.

I have been doing battle with big box, trying to make sense of all the receipts, bills, etc. he contains. I’ve been in English major hell adding, subtracting, documenting, palpitating.

And yet the worst is yet to come. When I finally get everything organized, I will forward it to my accountant. He will use it to make complex tax-code calculations. Then he will tell me I owe way more than I thought I did.

That is why I hate spring.

Tom Purcell