January 28th, 2005


The shit state of my finances

For various reasons I have debts stacked in a few places.  As of Christmas I had a mortgage, a student loan, an actual loan. an overdraft and a credit card bill.  This is obviously not good.

However, the christmas bonus and the overtime have successfuly cleared the overdraft.  The student loan is finished as of March.  The mortgage is safely under control and the loan is on track to be paid off at the end of next year (and is at an affordable fixed rate).  The only thing that was bothering me severely was the credit card debt.  When I took it out they offered me 'protection', which meant that if I was made redundant I wouldn't have to pay any of it back until I found a new job.  I hadn't done my sums (idiot!) and therefore hadn't realised that the protection premiums were nearly as high as the actual interest rates.  This meant that on my £5000 debt (yes, I know) I was paying £60 a month in interest and £40 in protection.  Yes, £100 a month just to stand still.

So I've applied for a new credit card that's offering me no interest at all for the next 9 months.  Which means that, continuing to pay £150 a month as I have been, I'll clear the debt amount by £1350 rather than by £450.  Which will, in turn, reduce the amount that interest costs me.  Oh, and I haven't taken out the insurance this time round, on the grounds that if I _am_ made redundant, (a) I'll have a payoff and (b) I'll just renegotiate until I can get a new job.  Oh, and I'll probably just take out a loan in 9 months time, at a lower rate of interest, and put the remaining debt into that, thus sorting myself out for the long term.

I actually hope to be debt free in 18-months.  Which would be nice, as I'd then have a fair bit more money to play around with.

Gendered Brains

Our research group has recently analysed the proportion of each sex with each of these profiles, and the results are striking. For every 10 men, six will have a male brain, two will have a balanced brain, and two will have a female brain. In contrast, for every 10 women, four will have the female brain, four will have the balanced brain, and two will have a male brain. We can conclude that you cannot tell what kind of brain a person has from their sex. This is a satisfying result because it works against stereotyping the sexes.

Women's brains interestingly have a thicker corpus callosum (the connective tissue between the two hemispheres, which allows for better communication between them), and women tend to use both hemispheres for some language tasks. Girls also talk earlier than boys. When given a photo of a person's eyes to judge how the person in the photo is feeling, women on average do better than men. And when asked to find a target shape hidden in a complex pattern, women are on average slower than men.

It turns out that presented with a face or a mechanical mobile to look at, more newborn boys look for longer at the mobile, and more newborn girls at the face. And the amount of testosterone produced by the foetus and measured in the amniotic fluid during pregnancy predicts how much eye contact the baby will make, or how quickly their language will develop. So Summers may be right that biological factors are producing sex differences in the mind, which are further acted upon by the social environment. Evidence that genes are shaping sex differences in the mind has come from the study of women with Turner's Syndrome, who have only one X chromosome instead of the usual two. In these females, if they got their X from their father they appear to have better social skills than if they got their X from their mother, a finding that David Skuse in London's Institute of Child Health interprets as evidence for genes related to social skills residing on the X chromosome but needing two to produce the typical female advantage in empathy. At the moment, there is no equivalent evidence for genes related to systemising or scientific ability. If Summers meant to imply that it's all down to the genes, this is unlikely to be correct and is certainly going beyond any available evidence.

From here.

I'd be happier with 'systemising brain' and 'emotive brain' than 'male brain' and 'female brain' - when only 40% of women have a "female brain" the naming makes little sense to me.  The rest is interesting however.

One Last Thing

I'm willing to bet there's a lot of fuss over this piece on two 10-year-olds being arrested because they drew violent stick figures.

That's probably because it's easy to miss the fact that they were drawing them in order to bully a classmate.

Personally, I'd have killed to have a couple of my classmates arrested for making my life hell from 1983-1989.

And now I'm off to Devon until Monday.  There may be internet access.  There may not.  We'll just have to see...