Harvard Economics professor beats the sexual harassment rap

“Star Economist at Harvard Faces Sexual Harassment Complaints” (NYT, Dec 14, 2018):

Before he turned 40, Roland G. Fryer Jr. had earned tenure at Harvard, received a MacArthur “genius” grant and won the most prestigious award for young American economists. He stoked a national debate by concluding that police officers show no bias in the shootings of black men.

But his rapid ascent has taken a troubling turn as Harvard officials review a university investigator’s conclusion that Dr. Fryer fostered a work environment hostile to women, one filled with sexual talk and bullying.

The findings, reviewed by The New York Times, found that Dr. Fryer had engaged in “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” toward four women who worked in the Harvard-affiliated research lab he created. In one case, his “persistent and pervasive” conduct contributed to stress that resulted in the accuser’s taking disability leave, the investigator found.

I.e., things were so bad that someone had to be paid for not working.

Cash and sex go together in economics research…

Now 41, he is one of Harvard’s best-paid faculty members, earning more than $600,000, the university’s 2016 tax filing shows. He has brought at least $33.6 million in grants to the university, according to a résumé on his Harvard web page.

Dr. Fryer told a Harvard investigator that any sexual banter in his office was related to his research and “in the spirit of academic freedom.”

Seven months have gone by. Has the guy disappeared? The Harvard web site suggests he is still on the payroll. How is that possible? Nobel Prize winners have been disappeared for far less (e.g., Tim Hunt).

“Complainant Withdrew Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination Complaint Against Harvard Prof. Roland Fryer” (Harvard Crimson, April 23, 2019):

A Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination investigation into whether Economics Professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. sexually harassed and retaliated against a former female employee concluded in February by agreement of the parties, according to documents obtained by The Crimson. … The MCAD closed its investigation after the complainant’s lawyer, Monica R. Shah, signed the withdrawal form on Feb. 4. On the form, Shah indicated that the complainant had reached a “satisfactory settlement” with Harvard, Fryer, and Allan.

I.e., cash was the magic solution for the professor in a discipline that says most problems can be fixed with cash…


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New history of GPS; when $1 device works better than $100,000 receiver

Opening day for EAA AirVenture (“Oshkosh”). I hope to see readers during and/or after my Wednesday talk on helicopter aerodynamics (0830 on Forum Stage 6).

One big theme at Oshkosh is the innovation and excitement in the world of experimental aircraft world compared to the glacial pace of progress in the world of certified aircraft.

The month of June was not exactly a success story for regulation. A certified helicopter that lacked even 1% of the intelligence of a DJI drone was crashed into a building in New York City (NYT). Less dramatically, the FAA-certified GPS ($100,000?) in the Canadair Regional Jet that I used to fly failed due to a software problem (AOPA). Meanwhile, the GPS chips inside phones ($1?) continued to work nicely.

[On nearly the same day that these regional jets were back to using VORs, a Facebook friend linked to a post from The Female Lead:

Of course, I couldn’t resist commenting “She also invented the semiconductor transistor and the silicon integrated circuit.” This was greeted approvingly.]

The FAA became a lot more nimble starting a few years ago regarding the approval of avionics that could make small aircraft safer. So it will be interesting to see this week whether there is more innovation in the kit or certified world.


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Transactional sex around Lake Malawi

As someone who shares a home with African cichlids, I clicked on a headline from NPR: “The Dark Secret Of Lake Malawi”. The story, however, turned out not to be about future aquarium pets:

“Sex for fish.”

That unlikely phrase is used in some lakefront communities in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world where men catch the fish and women sell the catch to local customers.

Or if the supply of fish is low because of overfishing, several women may vie for a fisherman’s catch — and transactional sex may be used as a bargaining point.

The writer does not seem to have researched the question of whether commercial sex is more common around this lake compared to other parts of the same countries.


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Paternal leave increases income inequality?

Back in June, the NYT suggested that moms will be better off if taxpayers and childless workers suck it up to give more paid time off for “fathers”: “Sweden Finds a Simple Way to Improve New Mothers’ Health. It Involves Fathers.”

(Why the headline cisgender-normative assumption (during Pride Month!) that if the first parent of a child is a “mother” then the second parent will be a “father”?)

But which moms?

The study was done in Sweden (by the same author who found that court-ordered child support payments for the mother reduced fathers’ voluntary contributions to the child (monetary and time-invested) in roughly equal measures, thus leaving children no better off financially (and worse off from a personal contact point of view); the NYT did not consider this previous study to be newsworthy). Compared to any other country, the U.S. has a much higher percentage of children who grow up without a father, so maybe it is worth asking “For those children who actually do have a father, what is our best guess regarding the family income level?”

Asians have a low divorce rate and a higher-than-average income, so “Asian and high income household” would be one guess for characteristics of “kid with father”. On the other hand, Asians are not yet a large percentage of the U.S. population. So “White and higher-than-average income” is an even better guess.

Thus, the NYT proposed extra benefit targeted at women who happen to live with the father of their children turns out to be a benefit primarily for richer whiter women. Thus the newspaper that regularly decries income inequality ends up promoting a policy to increase inequality!

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Where does all of the soccer money go if not to the teams?

“Revenue Disparity Explains Pay Disparity Between Soccer World Cup’s Men And Women” (Forbes):

The men still pull the World Cup money wagon. The men’s World Cup in Russia generated over $6 billion in revenue, with the participating teams sharing $400 million, less than 7% of revenue. Meanwhile, the Women’s World Cup is expected to earn $131 million for the full four-year cycle 2019-22 and dole out $30 million to the participating teams.

The male/female/Iranian pay disparity isn’t as interesting to me as what happened to $5.6 billion ($6 billion minus the $400 million paid out to men’s teams). Someone other than the teams (management, owners, and players?) ended up with more than 93 percent of the revenue? Can this be true? Why wouldn’t the teams start their own league and bypass the folks who are skimming off 93%?

Maybe Forbes is being sloppy? And it is players who are getting 6.7 percent of the money while team owners and managers get most of the remainder?


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Why is the U.S. doing well in women’s soccer?

Some American women’s soccer players are in the news lately. They hate Donald Trump and are winning matches against Europeans.

The U.S. has never won a men’s World Cup (our dismal record).

Why is the women’s team able to prevail over other countries?

[Also, if the teams are drawn from citizens of the respective countries, shouldn’t the populous countries such as China, India, and the U.S. have a huge advantage? Why would the Netherlands or Sweden have a chance?]

Finally, what stops a country from sending in what had been their “men’s team” and saying “all of these players now identify as ‘women'”? How competitive would the 20th place men’s team be against the top women’s team? Has there ever been a soccer equivalent to the various tennis battles of the sexes? (a Chinese female star prevailed over Novak Djokovic in one of the last three matches)


  • a post quotingThe Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq: “He was starting to get pissed off about the world’s stupid obsession with Brazil. What was so great about Brazil? As far as he knew, Brazil was a shithole full of morons obsessed with soccer and Formula One.”
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LGBTQ+ as a hierarchy

Pride Month is over, but I am not quite ready to return my attention to Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes.

From a deeply closeted New York Deplorable (she runs a small business and therefore is unable to cheer for bigger government and higher taxes with appropriate enthusiasm):

I couldn’t help noticing that the purportedly Native American Two Spirit is at the bottom and therefore implicitly inferior to all of the white European ways of being LGBTQIA+ that are above. Also, Intersex is two notches better than Nonbinary. Who made that decision?

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Is it okay to take down our Pride flags?

June is nearly over and, with it, Pride Month.

On June 1, a church in nearby Concord, Massachusetts added a Pride flag of equal size to their permanent Black Lives Matter flag (parishioners are so interested in black lives that they elected to live in one of the whitest towns in the U.S.!).

Can they take the flag down this evening? If so, why? Is the LGBTQIA lifestyle something to be proud of only 1/12th of the time? If the point of Pride Month is to demand additional rights and privileges for Americans who identify as LGBTQIA, why is it okay to shelve those demands until June 2020? “The Struggle for Gay Rights Is Over” (Atlantic):

Identifying as gay, bisexual, trans, or “queer”—anything but straight—is, in some milieus, a new marker of cool. In one recent survey, less than 50 percent of 13-to-20-year-olds (all part of Generation Z) identified as “exclusively heterosexual.”

But if the goal is to drive this number down to 0 percent, why is it okay to put the campaign on hold for 11 months?

More importantly, is it okay to go to Chick-fil-A tomorrow? (Maybe they should have said that they were closing on Sundays during June in observation of Pride Month?)

[Finally, why is it okay to have equal size flags for Pride and Black Lives Matter? Have the legal wrongs suffered by LGBTQIA Americans been equal to the wrongs suffered by African Americans? If so, shouldn’t there be reparations for Americans who identify as LGBTQIA or descendants of deceased Americans who identified as LGBTQIA (NYT, below, says “maybe”)? If not, shouldn’t the Black Lives Matter flag be larger or flown in a higher position?]


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Does a Pride flag mean EVERYONE is welcome?

A Facebook friend shared the following post from a Conservative Rabbi:

(i.e., a prime spot for a Black Lives Matter sign (in a nearly-all-white town, of course, with restrictive zoning to keep it that way) was taken up with a different victim group’s banner)

He added “We stand for radical hospitality. EVERYONE is welcome!”

Of course, I had to ask “Would someone who advocated for strict adherence to Leviticus 18 and 20 be welcome?” (see Wikipedia for “Orthodox Judaism generally prohibits homosexual conduct”)

There was a bit of back and forth, leading me to suggest an update: “everyone who agrees with us is welcome”

A righteous congregation member replied “Do you mean to suggest that the hypothetical conservative people you reference would be unable to respect that others have different moral perspectives from them, and would make a scene harassing others, causing them to be asked to leave?”

I refined the question: Okay, so the hypothetical person comes to the “EVERYONE is welcome” temple wearing a T-shirt reading “Follow Leviticus 18/20” on the front. On the back is “Outlaw abortion after a heartbeat can be heard”. On the head of this person is a red MAGA hat. The person is carrying (not on Shabbat, I hope!) Tefillin in a Trump Hotel laundry bag in one hand and a Reelect Trump 2020 tote bag in the other hand. Will this person be just as welcome as a person wearing a rainbow T-shirt?

A sincere congregation member: I imagine such a shirt might prompt conversation, and as long as all parties engaged in conversation in good faith, I have trouble believing Mr. T-Shirt Man (as I’m now thinking of him/you) would be asked to leave.

I asked how this would be different from a Catholic Church putting out a “Stop abortions now” (an issue on which Americans disagree) and saying “EVERYONE is welcome,”

The righteous response: a key difference is that the Catholic Church promotes a moral code that is anti-abortion, and presumably could even excommunicate members who have abortions. Therefore, such signage would be hypocritical. It seems that perhaps you are perceiving there are “two sides” that are mirrors of one another, but there are crucial differences between a Catholic or Evangelical church that says “abortion is immoral” and are working to criminalize abortion—but still say “all are welcome” — and a Jewish Temple or, say, a UU church that sees abortion as a medical procedure between a women and her doctor (but not going around and foisting the procedure on others) and welcomes all comers. The former groups are trying to control / legislate others’ behavior, but the latter groups are not.

I pointed out that the LGBTQ banner was sometimes unfurled in order to control and coerce others, e.g., preventing Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants, forcing the Colorado baker to make a same-sex wedding cake, or boycotting Israel (maybe they’d rather visit one of the anti-Israel countries in which homosexual acts are punishable by death?).

Me: Circling back to the original post, would your temple be equally welcoming to the Colorado baker who was the subject of the Supreme Court case as you would be to someone wearing a Provincetown Pride T-shirt? If not, it is inaccurate to say that EVERYONE is welcome!

Congregation Member 1: exerting pressure on corporations to change their practices is not the same as legislating the elimination of human rights for certain groups of people. Apples and oranges.

Congregation Member 2: you seem to say above that a flag representing “[Jewish] gays are welcome,” is a point of view?

Readers: What do you think? Does hanging a pride flag signal adherence to a political point of view and therefore tend to exclude people who don’t agree with that point of view (e.g., Orthodox Jews, observant Muslims, Catholics, etc.)? Or is it legitimately characterized as an “EVERYONE is welcome” sign?

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