Political Animal

FROOGLE….Here’s an intriguing new item

FROOGLE….Here’s an intriguing new item that I just noticed (although it’s been around for a few weeks): Google is beta testing a new comparison shopping service called Froogle. So I tried it.

The test subject was a Nikon Coolpix 4500 digital camera. Enter the search terms and you get the screen on the right, which returned 5,847 results. Yikes!

There doesn’t appear to be a “sort by price” option, but by entering a price range and lowering it step by step I eventually found one place that sold the camera for $404 and two others that sold it for $450. Not bad. But how does it compare to other product comparison sites? Pretty well, it turns out.

I tried the same search on NexTag, which doesn’t sort by price either, but since it returned only 39 results it was easy to scan them and see that the lowest price on offer was $472.

AskJeeves returned 67 results and it even sorted them by price. However, the lowest price it found was $500.

So, based on one quick test, it seems like it has potential. The comparison information wasn’t as good as its more established competitors, but on the plus side it returned a lot more hits and found a much lower price. It’s worth a look, especially since it will undoubtedly get better when it goes live after the beta testing is finished.

UPDATE: Alex Salkever tried it out too and wasn’t as impressed. His report is here.


SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT BERKELEY….Remember the case of John Dwyer, the Berkeley Law School dean who resigned after he was accused of sexual misconduct? No? Well, I don’t blame you. But Erin O’Connor has been studiously following the case and says this today:

Though Reisch was 25 at the time of her encounter with Dwyer, though she was, by her own lawyer’s characterization, falling-down drunk the night it happened, though she invited him up into her apartment and chose to wait drowsy and prone on her bed while he used her bathroom….[her actions] reveal not only an unwillingness to take responsibility for her own role in the ambiguous groping encounter that has since been labelled “harassment” but also a truly draconian determination to make her own lack of accountability into the basis for sweeping institutional change.

Huh? She was drunk and “chose” to wait drowsy and prone on her bed? And this means what? That she was just asking for a good groping?

What the hell is wrong with these people? Reisch and her lawyer want Berkeley to ban student-teacher dating and conduct sensitivity training regarding sexual harassment. Maybe that’s good, maybe it’s not, but trying to portray Reisch as somehow more responsible than Dwyer is contemptible. His conduct was wildly inappropriate ? to put it kindly ? and he knew it. Dwyer’s apologists ought to know it too.


DOESN’T THIS BAR SEEM LIKE IT’S SET KINDA LOW?….Atrios points to an article that says that when George Bush applied to the Texas National Guard in 1968 he scored only 25% on the pilot aptitude test, “the lowest acceptable grade.”

You only have to score 25% on an aptitude test to get trained as a jet pilot? That’s about the equivalent of a combined 700 on the SAT, barely enough to get a football player admitted to a local JC. This is kinda scary considering that ? theoretically anyway ? these guys might be flying planes in actual combat.

I wonder what real Air Force pilots think about this?


AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN THE WHITE HOUSE….Condoleezza Rice says affirmative action is OK:

I believe that while race-neutral means are preferable, it is appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse student body.

This, of course, is exactly what the University of Michigan does: it considers race as one factor out of many. Here’s the whole dreary list:

  • 80 points ? GPA

  • 12 points ? SAT scores

  • 10 points ? Academic strength of high school

  • 8 points ? Strength of high school curriculum

  • 10 points ? Michigan resident

  • 6 points ? Underrepresented Michigan county

  • 2 points ? Underrepresented state

  • 4 points ? Legacy admission

  • 3 points ? Essay

  • 5 points ? Personal achievement

  • 5 points ? Leadership and service

  • 20 points ? Socio-economic disadvantage

  • 20 points ? Underrepresented racial-ethnic minority

  • 5 points ? Men in nursing

  • 20 points ? Scholarship athlete

  • 20 points ? Provost’s discretion

As the University of Michigan puts it:

While students with very low grades and test scores typically are denied admission, and students with very high grades and test scores typically are admitted, most applicants do not fall into either of these categories. For that large pool of qualified applicants in the middle range, many other factors — including, but not limited to, race and ethnicity — can make a difference in admissions decisions.

So: it’s not a quota. It doesn’t allow unqualified kids to enter. And race is not a “deciding factor” ? at least no more so than any of the other 15 factors on the list.

Too bad Condi Rice is only National Security Advisor. Karl Rove probably doesn’t have much use for her.