Closing Time

Closing Time

Closing Time

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Aug. 25 2005 6:54 PM

Closing Time

Bloggers are pondering the repercussions of the ongoing military base closings. They're also debating whether men are smarter than women, and looking at gas-hogging SUVs and the soccer moms who love them.

Closing time: A federal panel voted Thursday to close the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, perhaps the most high-profile shuttering yet in the Pentagon's plan to restructure military bases and facilities nationwide.

If it wasn't already clear that the Pentagon means to make changes, it is now. "I'm actually pretty shocked by this announcement," says the right-leaning PunditGuy. "I guess it's just because the place has so much history, one assumes that it's a 'key' facility."

Walter Reed has served as a hospital to several U.S. presidents. It also has seen protesters during the current Iraq war—and unjustly so, says right-winger Donkey Stomp: "Some Dems have taken their protest of the war too far and have trampled over the feelings and recovery process of some severely injured soldiers."

As for the closing of this and other military installations, there is, naturally, a political angle. The decision to shut South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base—an embarrassment to Republican Sen. John Thune, who ousted Tom Daschle last November and pledged to save it—prompted a surprising rebuke of party policy by Robert Novak.

Lefties, of course, are pleased by the Ellsworth political fallout. "The people of South Dakota allowed themselves the illusion that a freshman senator, from either party, could wield as much power as the Senate Minority Leader," saysProud Liberal. "What did you expect?"

Read more about the Walter Reed closing.

My IQ is bigger than yours: A forthcoming report claims men may be more intelligent than women. In a study to be published later this year in the British Journal of Psychology, men average five points better on IQ tests than women, reports the Times of London.

The higher you go on the IQ scale, the more the gap widens: There were twice as many men as women scoring 125 and more than five times as many men scoring 155, the so-called genius level. Maybe Harvard President Lawrence Summers was onto something. 

"Excuse me if I don't take this very seriously," says Jessica on group blog Feministing. "Here I thought that systemic sexism and discrimination were to blame for the disparity. Turns out, women are just big dummies." Stainless Steel Rat's Mark, an English blogger living in Brazil, just wants us all to get along: "Trying to measure intelligence is such a pointless exercise. Perhaps it would be better to focus on our similarities rather than our differences, or at least strike a balance."

Just what good are IQ tests, anyway? "IQ tests tend to be weighted in favour of certain forms of thinking rather than others," says Alastair at the eclectic 40 Bicycles. "For this reason this research does not surprise me in the slightest. However, the claim that such research proves that men are 'more intelligent' or 'cleverer' than women is simply unwarranted."

PsyBlog, an aptly named psychology blog, picks up on a key caveat in the story: "that despite their disadvantage in IQ, there is evidence that women utilise their (lesser!) talents better than men," writes Jeremy Dean. "This simply begs the question of what use IQ tests are if they don't predict anything in the real world."

Read more about the men-vs.-women debate.

Blogger squabble: This column by Fareed Zakaria on U.S energy policy touched off a lively debate on SUVs, terror-funding, and government regulation.

Contrarian conservative Andrew Sullivan fueled the debate by saying SUV drivers were financing terrorism. "(W)hat I didn't realize is how the curse of the SUV is so damaging," he wrote. "Fareed writes that 54 percent of today's U.S. fleet of cars are made up by these ugly, behemoth tanks that guzzle gas, and make life miserable for everyone not in them."

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This prompted a pointed response from one reader, who said today's larger child seats require bigger cars: "I will continue to schlep my kids and my kids' friends around in my Honda Oddysey minivan, with the three huge car seats inside." To which Sullivan responded: "(W)e're financing Islamist terrorism and hurting the environment for the sake of ... the kids. Groan."

Other blogs have weighed in. InstaPundit blames the government: "[T]he SUV craze isn't solely the result of car-buyers being idiots. It's in no small part an artifact of government regulation." Tom Maguire, on JustOneMinute, says: "Ultimately, people will have to want slower, smaller, more fuel efficient cars before Detroit will be able to sell them."

Sullivan's last word: "I say: toughen fuel standards, double gas taxes, remove all tax breaks for SUVs and drill in ANWR. It's a start."

Read more about the debate here.

Darren Everson is a sportswriter in New York City.