Monday, July 31, 2006

Men choosing unemployment over lower wage jobs


July 31, 2006
Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job

ROCK FALLS, Ill. — Alan Beggerow has stopped looking for work. Laid off as a steelworker at 48, he taught math for a while at a community college. But when that ended, he could not find a job that, in his view, was neither demeaning nor underpaid.

So instead of heading to work, Mr. Beggerow, now 53, fills his days with diversions: playing the piano, reading histories and biographies, writing unpublished Western potboilers in the Louis L’Amour style — all activities once relegated to spare time. He often stays up late and sleeps until 11 a.m.

“I have come to realize that my free time is worth a lot to me,” he said. To make ends meet, he has tapped the equity in his home through a $30,000 second mortgage, and he is drawing down the family’s savings, at the rate of $7,500 a year. About $60,000 is left. His wife’s income helps them scrape by. “If things really get tight,” Mr. Beggerow said, “I might have to take a low-wage job, but I don’t want to do that.”

Millions of men like Mr. Beggerow — men in the prime of their lives, between 30 and 55 — have dropped out of regular work. They are turning down jobs they think beneath them or are unable to find work for which they are qualified, even as an expanding economy offers opportunities to work.

About 13 percent of American men in this age group are not working, up from 5 percent in the late 1960’s. The difference represents 4 million men who would be working today if the employment rate had remained where it was in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Most of these missing men are, like Mr. Beggerow, former blue-collar workers with no more than a high school education. But their ranks are growing at all education and income levels. Refugees of failed Internet businesses have spent years out of work during their 30’s, while former managers in their late 40’s are trying to stretch severance packages and savings all the way to retirement.

Accumulated savings can make dropping out more affordable at the upper end than it is for Mr. Beggerow, but the dynamic is often the same — the loss of a career and of a sense that one’s work is valued.

“These are men forced to compete to get back into the work force, and even then they cannot easily reconstruct what many lost in a former job,” said Thomas A. Kochan, a labor and management expert at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “So they stop trying.”

Many of these men could find work if they had to, but with lower pay and fewer benefits than they once earned, and they have decided they prefer the alternative. It is a significant cultural shift from three decades ago, when men almost invariably went back into the work force after losing a job and were more often able to find a new one that met their needs.

“To be honest, I’m kind of looking for the home run,” said Christopher Priga, who is 54 and has not had steady work since he lost a job with a six-figure income as an electrical engineer at Xerox in 2002. “There’s no point in hitting for base hits,” he explained. “I’ve been down the road where I did all the things I was supposed to do, and the end result of that is nil.”

Instead, Mr. Priga supports himself by borrowing against the rising value of his Los Angeles home. Other men fall back on wives or family members.

But the fastest growing source of help is a patchwork system of government support, the main one being federal disability insurance, which is financed by Social Security payroll taxes. The disability stipends range up to $1,000 a month and, after the first two years, Medicare kicks in, giving access to health insurance that for many missing men no longer comes with the low-wage jobs available to them.

No federal entitlement program is growing as quickly, with more than 6.5 million men and women now receiving monthly disability payments, up from 3 million in 1990. About 25 percent of the missing men are collecting this insurance.

The ailments that qualify them are usually real, like back pain, heart trouble or mental illness. But in some cases, the illnesses are not so serious that they would prevent people from working if a well-paying job with benefits were an option.

The disability program, in turn, is an obstacle to working again. Taking a job holds the risk of demonstrating that one can earn a living and is thus no longer entitled to the monthly payments. But staying out of work has consequences. Skills deteriorate, along with the desire for a paying job and the habits that it requires.

“The longer you stay on disability benefits,” said Martin H. Gerry, deputy commissioner for disability and income security at the Social Security Administration, “the longer you’re out of the work force, the less likely you are to go back to work.”

As a rule, out-of-work men are less educated than the population as a whole. Their numbers have grown sharply among black men and men who live in hard-hit industrial areas like Michigan, West Virginia and upstate New York, as well as those who live in rural states like Mississippi and Oklahoma.

The missing men are also more likely to live alone. Nearly 60 percent are divorced, separated, widowed or never married, up from 50 percent a decade earlier, the Census Bureau reports. Sometimes women who are working throw out men who are not, says Kathryn Edin, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. In any case, without a household to support, there is less pressure to work, and for men who fall behind on support payments, an incentive exists to work off the books — hiding employment — so that wages cannot be garnisheed.

“What happens to a lot of guys who become unmoored from family life, they become unmoored from everything,” Ms. Edin said. “They are just living without attachments and by the time they are 40 or 50 years old, the things that kept these men from falling away — family and community life — are gone.”

Even as more men are dropping out of the work force, more women are entering it. This change has occurred partly because employment has shrunk in industries where men predominated, like manufacturing, while fields where women are far more common, like teaching, health care and retailing, have grown. Today, about 73 percent of women between 30 and 54 have a job, compared with 45 percent in the mid-1960’s, according to an analysis of Census data by researchers at Queens College. Many women without jobs are raising children at home, while men who are out of a job tend to be doing neither family work nor paid work.

Women are also making inroads in fields where they were once excluded — as lawyers and doctors, for example, and on Wall Street. Men still make significantly more money than women, but as women become more educated than men, even more men may end up out of the work force.

At the low end of the spectrum, men emerging from prison with felony records are not easily absorbed into steady employment. Hundreds of thousands of young men were jailed in the 1980’s and 1990’s, in a surge of convictions for drug-related crimes. As prisoners, they were not counted in the employment data; as ex-prisoners they are. They are now being freed in their 30’s and 40’s and are struggling to be hired. Roughly two million men in this group have prison records, according to a calculation by Richard Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, labor economists at Harvard and the Urban Institute, respectively.Many of these men do not find work because of their records.

Despite their great numbers, many of the men not working are missing from the nation’s best-known statistic on unemployment. The jobless rate is now a low 4.6 percent, yet that number excludes most of the missing men, because they have stopped looking for work and are therefore not considered officially unemployed. That makes the unemployment rate a far less useful measure of the country’s well-being than it once was.

Indeed, a larger share of working-age men are not working today than at almost any point in the last half-century, which raises the question of how they will get by as they age. They may be forced back to work after years of absence, they may fall into poverty, or they may be rescued by the government. This same trend is evident in other industrialized countries. In the European Union, 14 percent of men between 25 and 54 were not working last year, up from 7 percent in 1975, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Over the same period in Japan, the proportion of such men rose to 8 percent from 4 percent.

In these countries, too, decently paying blue-collar jobs are disappearing, and as they do men who held them fall back on government benefits for income. But the growth of subsidies through federal and state programs like disability insurance has happened largely without notice in this country while it is a major topic of political debate in Europe.

“We have a de facto welfare system as Europe does,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the University of Notre Dame. “But we are not proud of it, as they are.”

Reading, Sleeping, Scraping By

Alan Beggerow has not worked regularly in the five years since the steel mill that employed him for three decades closed. He and his wife, Cathleen, 47, cannot really afford to live without his paycheck. Yet with her sometimes reluctant blessing, Mr. Beggerow persists in constructing a way of life that he finds as satisfying as the work he did only in the last three years of his 30-year career at the mill. The trappings of this new life surround Mr. Beggerow in the cluttered living room of his one-story bungalow-style home in this half-rural, half-industrial prairie town west of Chicago. A bookcase covers an entire wall, and the books that Mr. Beggerow is reading are stacked on a glass coffee table in front of a comfortable sofa where he reads late into the night — consuming two or three books a week — many more than in his working years.

He also gets more sleep, regularly more than nine hours, a characteristic of men without work. As the months pass, they average almost nine-and-a-half hours a night, about 80 minutes more than working men, according to an analysis of time-use surveys by Harley Frazis and Jay Stewart, economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Very few of the books Mr. Beggerow reads are novels, and certainly not the escapist Westerns that he himself writes (two in the last five years), his hope being that someday he will interest a publisher and earn some money. His own catholic tastes range over history — currently the Bolshevik revolution and a biography of Charlemagne — as well as music and the origins of Christianity.

He often has strong views about what he has just read, which he expresses in reviews that he posts on 124 so far, he said.

Always on the coffee table is a thick reference work, “Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire” by Maurice Hinson. Mr. Beggerow is a serious pianist now that he has the time to practice, sometimes two or three hours at a stretch. He does so on an old upright in a corner of the living room, a piano he purchased as a young steelworker, when he first took lessons.

His new life began in the spring of 2001 with the closing of Northwestern Wire and Steel in Sterling, Ill., where he had worked since 1971. During the last three of those 30 years, Mr. Beggerow found himself assigned to work he really liked: as a union representative on union-management teams that assessed every aspect of the plant’s operations.

What made him valuable was his dexterity as a writer. No one could put together committee reports as articulately as he did, and he found himself on nearly every team. His salary rose to $50,000. During those years, he taught himself more math, too, to help in the analyses of the issues that the teams tackled: productivity, safety, plant layout and the like.

“I actually loved that job,” he said. “I even looked forward to going to work. The more teams they had, the more they found out what I could do and the more I found out what I could do.”

Mr. Beggerow would take another job in a heartbeat, he says, if it were like the work he did in those last three years at Northwestern. The closest he has gotten has been as an instructor at a community college, teaching plant maintenance and other useful factory skills. His students were from nearby manufacturing companies, which subsidized the courses, including his pay of $45 an hour. But factory operations in the area are shrinking, and Mr. Beggerow has not had a teaching stint since November.

Like Mr. Beggerow, the great majority of the missing men are out of the work force for months or years at a time rather than drifting in and out of jobs. There appears to have been no rise since the 1960’s in the percentage of men out of work for short periods, according to research by Chinhui Juhn, a University of Houston professor, and other economists.

Mr. Beggerow will not take a lesser job, he says, because of his bitter memories of earlier years at Northwestern Wire, particularly the 1980’s, when the industry was in turmoil. A powerful man, over 6 feet and 200 pounds, he worked then as a warehouseman.

What got to him was not the work. It was the frequent furloughs, the uncertainty whether he would be recalled, the mandatory overtime and 50-hour weeks often imposed when he did return, the schedules that forced him to work every holiday except Christmas, and then, as rising seniority finally gave him some protection, a six-month strike in 1983 followed by a wage cut. His pay shrank to $13 an hour from $17, a loss he did not fully recover until those last three years.

“I was always thinking if there was some way I could get out of this, do something else,” Mr. Beggerow said. “What made me so upset was the insecurity of it all and the humiliation. I don’t want to take a job that would put me through that again.”

Shortly after Northwestern closed, Mr. Beggerow married. It was his third marriage, and also Cathleen’s third. He has one adult child by the first wife; Cathleen has no children. For six months they lived on his $12,000 from a shrunken pension and her $28,000 as a factory worker — until severe injuries in an auto accident five months after their wedding forced her out of that job. She eventually qualified for $12,000 a year in disability insurance.

Their two incomes are not enough to cover expenses, which bothers Mrs. Beggerow, although not enough to badger her husband to take a job, any job. She respects him too much for that, she says.

Instead, she finds ways to make money herself, in activities she enjoys. She is taking in work as a seamstress, baking pastries for parties and selling merchandise for others on eBay, collecting a fee. Still, she says, she hopes to land a part-time clerical job. “The comfort of a paycheck every week would take a load off my mind,” she said.

While she is tolerant of her husband’s reluctance to work, respecting his current pursuits, she is not above looking for a job he would consider suitable. “I look at the employment ads every day,’’ she said, “and every so often I find one that I think might be right up his alley.”

Less Concern About the Future

Recently there was an opening for an editor-writer at a small travel magazine published in a nearby town. “I applied,” Mr. Beggerow said, “but the publisher did not seem to want someone my age.”

Meanwhile the Beggerows’ savings are shrinking. This year, for the first time, they have drawn down so much from their 401(k)’s they have been forced to pay early-withdrawal penalties. But Mr. Beggerow resists being stampeded.

“The future is always a concern, but I no longer allow myself to dwell on it,” he said, waving aside, in his new and precarious life, the preparations for retirement and old age that were a feature of his 30 years as a steelworker.

“When you are in the mode of having money coming in,” he explained, “naturally you think about planning and saving. And then when you don’t have the money coming in, you think less about the future, at least money-wise. It is still a concern, but not a concern that keeps me up at night, not in this life that I am now leading.”

Men like Mr. Beggerow, neither working nor looking for a job, also have become more common in the popular culture, making the phenomenon more acceptable. On the television show “Seinfeld,” Cosmo Kramer, who did not work, and George Costanza, who regularly lost jobs, were beloved figures. Personal-finance magazines whose circulations have grown rapidly over the last 25 years also encourage not working — by telling readers how to afford retirement at 50 and by painting not working as the good life, which it apparently is for a small number of wealthy men. About 8 percent of non-working men between 30 and 54 lived in households that had more than $100,000 of income in 2004.

“Men don’t feel a need to be in a career, not as much as they once did,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist at the University of California at Los Angeles. “Nor do men have the incentive they once had to pursue a career, not when employers are no longer committed to them.”

Mr. Priga, the former Xerox engineer who lives in Los Angeles, has been wandering in this latter Diaspora. He is a tall, thin man with a perpetually dour expression. His dress — old jeans and a faded khaki shirt — seemed out of place in the upscale Beverly Hills restaurant where he was interviewed for this article. But his education and skill were not out of place.

Mr. Priga is an electrical engineer skilled in computer technology, and much involved, as he tells the story, in writing early versions of Internet and e-mail software for banks and other companies. A divorce in 1996 left him with custody of his three children. One of them had behavioral problems and to care for the boy he dropped out of steady work for a while, mortgaging his house to raise money and designing Web sites as a freelancer.

He re-entered the work force in 2000, joining Xerox at just over $100,000 a year as a systems designer for a new project, which did not last. In the aftermath of the dot-com bust, Xerox downsized and Mr. Priga was let go in January 2003.

From Prison to Joblessness

“I’ve been through a lot of layoffs over the years, and there is a certain procedure you follow,” he said. “You contact the headhunters. You go looking for other work. You do all of that, and this time around it didn’t work.”

So he went back to designing Web sites as a freelancer, postponing the purchase of health insurance. No work has come his way since March, and even if people had hired him to design Web sites for them, Mr. Priga would not consider that real employment.

His father is his standard. At Mr. Priga’s age, 54, “my father was with Rockwell International designing the fiber optic backbone for U.S. Navy ships,” he said. “He got a regular paycheck. He had retirement benefits, medical benefits, all of that. I’m at that age and I don’t see that as even possible. I’ve kind of written off the idea completely. I’m more like a casual laborer.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics determines who is working through a monthly survey of 65,000 representative households. People are asked if they did any work for pay in the week before the survey, including self-employment. For Mr. Beggerow and Mr. Priga, the answer has been no.

The same goes for Rodney Bly, a 41-year-old Philadelphia man struggling with a prison record, although he has had income — from off-the-books work that he refuses to think of as employment.

Mr. Bly, a lanky, neatly dressed six-footer, was in and out of jail, mostly on drug convictions, from 1996 until 2003, but has been clean since then, he said in an interview last month. He has even been a leader of an Alcoholics Anonymous-style group of former addicts who meet regularly and do their best to stay off drugs and out of jail.

Mr. Bly has been living in a recovery shelter for addicts and shows up occasionally for meals at St. Francis Inn, a soup kitchen and health clinic in a poor North Philadelphia neighborhood that tries to help ex-convicts get work and keep it.

He has worked pretty regularly, distributing flyers. But that brings him only $270 a week, most of which goes to the shelter for rent, utilities and food. More to the point, the work is off the books, which makes Mr. Bly invisible in the national statistics as a member of the work force.

Still, he has a girlfriend, reports Karen Pushaw, a staff member at St. Francis, “and that grounds him, keeps him looking for legitimate work.”

Ms. Pushaw tries to help. At her encouragement, he applied for 25 jobs this spring but received no offers, not even an interview. The obstacle is two felony convictions, one for car theft, the other for three instances of drug possession.

“Because of the two felonies, I can’t get a job as a security guard or a sales person or a short-order cook,” Mr. Bly said. “I can be a pot washer or a dish washer, but I can’t get a job that pays more than $8 an hour, not a legitimate one. I’m excluded.”

Multitasking hurts learning


WASHINGTON - Your parents were right, don't study with the TV on.

Multitasking may be a necessity in today's fast-paced world, but new research shows distractions affect the way people learn, making the knowledge they gain harder to use later on.

The study, in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also provides a clue as to why it happens.

"What's new is that even if you can learn while distracted, it changes how you learn to make it less efficient and useful," said Russell A. Poldrack, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

That could affect a lot of young people. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year found third-graders through 12th-graders devoted, on average, nearly 6 1/2 hours per day to TV and videos, music, video games and computers.

As Poldrack explains it, the brain learns in two different ways. One, called declarative learning, involves the medial temporal lobe and deals with learning active facts that can be recalled and used with great flexibility. The second, involving the striatum, is called habit learning.

For instance, in learning a phone number you can simply memorize it, using declarative learning, and can then recall it whenever needed, Poldrack explained.

A second way to learn it is by habit, "punch it in 1,000 times, then even if you don't remember it consciously, you can go to the phone and punch it in," he said.

Memorizing is a lot more useful, he pointed out. "If you use the habit system, you have to be at a phone to recreate the movements."

The problem, Poldrack said, is that the two types of learning seem to be competing with each other, and when someone is distracted, habit learning seems to take over from declarative learning.

"We have to multitask in today's world, but you have to be aware of this," he said. "When a kid is trying to learn new concepts, new information, distraction is going to be bad, it's going to impair their ability to learn."

That doesn't mean he thinks a silent environment is essential — music can help in learning because it can make the individual happier, he said.

But in general, "distraction is almost always a bad thing."

What Poldrack and his colleagues did was to use brain imaging to study the parts of the brain in use when 14 people were learning.

Participants were asked to predict the weather after receiving a repeated set of cues. During part of the learning, researchers added a second task where participants had to keep a running mental count of high tones that they heard, thus adding an element of distraction.

The results showed that when doing single-task learning, the brain used the region associated with declarative memory, while the habit memory region was associated with dual-task learning.

The dual-task learning did not affect the participants' ability to predict weather at the time, but it reduced their knowledge about the task during a follow-up session later.

"In my opinion, this article represents a significant step forward in understanding the interaction between the various memory systems possessed by healthy human adults and task demands," commented Dr. Chris Mayhorn, who teaches psychology at North Carolina State University.

The results suggest that at least a bit of the information is being learned even when we are distracted by a secondary task, said Mayhorn, who was not part of Poldrack's research team.

By relying on the habit memory system, he said, "We may find ourselves in situations where we have picked up information about performing some task but we are unsure where that information came from."

In some situations this could be dangerous, he added: "For instance, we may find ourselves making decisions based on 'gut feelings' that utilize this implicit information and not realize that our decisions may be biased by where we learned that information."

Mayhorn noted that the experiment was small, looking at 14 people from a limited age range.

"It is difficult to determine how far we can generalize these results," he said. "But I still believe that the results are interesting because they extend previous results and provide direction for future research in the area."

Poldrack's research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Whitehall Foundation.

Friday, July 28, 2006

NY salary guide

New York Metro

Salary Guide
Who Makes How Much
An impertinent look at other people's paychecks.

Salary envy and its more loathsome twin, salary smugness, are the yin and yang of New York life, the engine that drives the city. But face it: Unless you’re actually steaming open the mail, most of what you think you know about what your neighbor makes is little more than fantasy. That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a voluminous and eccentric list of hundreds of New Yorkers’ salaries, from the hedge-funder who pulled down more than a billion last year to the Chinese-food deliveryman making four figures (plus tips). There’s Calvin Klein and a guy who sells knockoffs on the street, a cantor and an imam, a first-year assistant district attorney and Sam Waterston, an honorary veteran of the D.A.’s office.

The first such list published in this magazine, in 1972, offers a glimpse into the city’s misty, pre-Morgenthau past; Bob makes his first appearance on the 1975 list, and he is the only person who holds the same title now as he did then. Another landmark who has stood the test of time even longer than Morgie: Hugh Hefner, the sole listee from 1972 to recur in this issue. Back then, Hef banked $303,847 wearing the hats of chairman, president, editor, and—whew!—publisher of Playboy Enterprises. These days, he takes in $983,000 merely for his editor-in-chief duties. No one in 1972 even approached seven figures; the highest figure on the list was the $425,160 taken home by Meshulan Riklis, chairman and president of Rapid-American Corp. and ex-husband of Pia Zadora.

Even in 2005, it’s still considered bad manners in most circles to volunteer one’s salary. So putting the list together was a challenge. One local-TV weatherman summed up many opinions when he said, “Oy vey, oy vey, oy vey, oy vey! You know what four oy veys means? It means we don’t talk about that kind of thing, and I’m not going to tell you. It’s personal.” And he was right, of course, though that didn’t stop us. Corporate proxy statements, printed news reports (we are most heavily indebted to Forbes and to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine), city payrolls, nonprofits’ tax-return filings—those were easy. And sometimes asking people straight-up worked. Donald Trump Jr., for one, was happy to declare his income (like father, like son), and after some discussion, we decided to take his word for it. One squeamish real-estate broker gave her name and then panicked, demanding in a series of phone calls of escalating hysteria that we remove her last name. See Jennifer’s shame (minus, alas, her surname).

Some of the numbers, inevitably, are guesses. But they’re educated guesses, at least, based on multiple industry sources. Many artists and entertainers, for instance, were unenthusiastic about commenting on their earnings (as were their agents). In such cases, we relied on the informed speculation of insiders—though Andy Warhol’s earnings, to cite just one example, are controlled by the nonprofit Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and are correct to the dollar. Some sources took our questions as an opportunity for sniping; explaining Maggie Gyllenhaal’s per-movie price, one studio executive kindly offered, “She’s a no-one.”

None of the figures includes perks—not a banker’s private jet, a university president’s housing, or an editor’s Town Car. This is about cash. Note that some of the CEO salaries may seem strange: They reflect salaries, bonuses, and exercised stock options only—so Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons is listed as earning $23.5 million, of which about $9 million represent options that he cashed out. All figures are the most recent available, and there’s a chance, of course, that some numbers have moved up or down since they were reported. We won’t pretend that this list will make you sleep any better—but at least you’ll know what to request next time you’re due for a raise.

Edward Lampert
$1.02 billion
Manager, ESL Investments hedge fund

James Simons
$670 million
Manager, Renaissance Technologies Corp. hedge fund

Bruce Kovner
$550 million
Manager, Caxton Associates hedge fund

Richard Fuld
Chairman and CEO, Lehman Brothers

E. Stanley O’Neal
Chairman, CEO, and president, Merrill Lynch

Wire Image)

Henry Paulson Jr.
Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

Sanford Weill
Chairman, Citigroup

William Harrison Jr.
Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase

James Dimon
President and COO, JPMorgan Chase

Kenneth Chenault
Chairman and CEO, American Express

Henry McKinnell
Chairman and CEO, Pfizer

H. Edward Hanway
$13.3 million
Chairman, CEO, and president, Cigna

John D. Wren
CEO and president, Omnicom Group advertising

James Dolan
$9.5 million
Chairman, CEO, and president, Cablevision

Edgar Bronfman Jr.
$6.3 million
CEO, Warner Music Group

David Neeleman
Chairman and CEO, JetBlue Airways

John Thain
$4 million
CEO, New York Stock Exchange

Chelsea Clinton
Consultant, McKinsey & Co.

Travis Harris
Shoe-shiner, Wall Street ($20 a day, three days a week)

Chris (last name withheld)
Panhandler, Bleecker and Broadway

Juanita Garcia
$3 million
2005 New York State lottery winner

Robert Morgenthau
District attorney, Manhattan

Jeannine Pirro
District attorney, Westchester

Eric Rosen
First-year assistant district attorney, Manhattan

Shannon Stallings
First-year public defender, Legal Aid Society

Laura Held
Parking-violation judge

Judy Sheindlin
$30 million
Television judge

H. Rodgin Cohen
$4 million
Chairman, Sullivan & Cromwell

Josh Dubin
Jury consultant and trial strategist

William Joshua Brant
First-year associate, Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Dick Wolf
$200 million
Executive producer, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent (includes syndication)

Sam Waterston
$2.5 million
Actor, Law & Order

David Chase
$20 million
Creator, The Sopranos

James Gandolfini
$10 million
Actor, The Sopranos

David Letterman
$31 million
Host, The Late Show With David Letterman

Jon Stewart
$1.5 million
Host, The Daily Show

Dave Chappelle
Absent Comedian, Chappelle’s Show
($50 million contract for two years, but no episodes yet delivered)

Tina Fey
$1.5 million
Performer and head writer, Saturday Night Live

Regis Philbin
$20 million
Host, Live With Regis and Kelly

Kelly Ripa
$7 million
Host, Live With Regis and Kelly

Charlie Gibson,
$7 million
Co-anchor, Good Morning America

Brian Williams,
$4 million
Anchor, NBC Nightly News

Anderson Cooper
$2 million
Host, Anderson Cooper 360

Chuck Scarborough
$3 million
Anchor, WNBC news

Sue Simmons
$2.5 million
Anchor, WNBC news

Sam Champion
$1.5 million
Weatherman, WABC

Pat Kiernan
Anchor, NY1

Roger Ailes,
$7.1 million
Chairman, Fox News Channel

Andrew Heyward
$1.5 million
President, CBS News

Harvey and Bob Weinstein
$50 million each
Co-chairmen, Miramax Films
(2004–5 bonuses and buyout from Disney split)

Robert De Niro
$20 million
Actor, Meet the Fockers

Leonardo DiCaprio
$20 million
Actor, The Aviator

Nicole Kidman
$15 million
Actress, The Interpreter

Kirsten Dunst
$8 million
Actress, Elizabethtown

Meryl Streep
$5 million
Actress, The Devil Wears Prada

Lindsay Lohan
$3.5 million
Actress, Herbie: Fully Loaded
($7.5 million for the upcoming Just My Luck)

Wire Image; Tim Whitby
Wire Image)

Uma Thurman
$3 million
Actress, Be Cool

Ethan Hawke
$3 million
Actor, Assault on Precinct 13

Jake Gyllenhaal
$3 million
Actor, Jarhead

Maggie Gyllenhaal
Actress, upcoming untitled Oliver Stone 9/11 film

Rosario Dawson
$1 million
Actress, Rent

Peter Sarsgaard
Actor, Flight Plan

Sarah Jessica Parker
$38 million
Gap spokeswoman
(plus $1 million for the upcoming Failure to Launch)

Karen Cooper
Director and president, Film Forum

Johan Roldan
Ticket collector, City Cinemas Village East

David Schmidt
Kim’s Video clerk
(28 hours per week at $6 per hour)

Billy Crystal
$10 million
Monologuist, 700 Sundays

Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane
$5.2 million each
Actors, The Odd Couple
($100,000 per week)

Julia Roberts
Actress, Three Days of Rain
($35,000 per week)

Rosie O’Donnell
Actress, Fiddler on the Roof
($10,000 per week)

John Patrick Shanley
$2.6 million
Playwright, Doubt
(10 percent of weekly gross of $500,000)

Sydney Davolos
General manager, Roundabout Theatre

Glenn Lowry
Director, the Museum of Modern Art

Philippe de Montebello
Director and CEO, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Aristotle Stathatos
Security guard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

William Ruprecht
$2 million
Director, Sotheby’s

Steven Kasher
Chelsea gallery owner

Larry Gagosian
$30 million
Owner, Gagosian Gallery

Jasper Johns
$20 million

Jeff Koons
$15 million
Conceptual artist

John Currin
$3 million

Cindy Sherman
$1 million

Andy Warhol
Deceased artist

50 Cent
$50 million
Rapper, hyphenate

$36 million
Rapper, superhyphenate

The Strokes
Rockers, Room on Fire (570,000 copies sold at roughly
$1.50 per album)

Wynton Marsalis
Artistic director, Jazz at Lincoln Center

John Lennon
$21 million
Deceased singer-songwriter

Frank Sinatra
$5 million
Deceased singer-songwriter

Wire Image)

Mark Ronson

Tom Stewart
Tower Records clerk

Lorin Maazel
Conductor, New York Philharmonic

Joseph Volpe
General manager, Metropolitan Opera

Renée Fleming
Mezzo-soprano, Metropolitan Opera
($15,000 per performance)

George M.
Street musician, Astor Place subway station

Malcolm Gladwell
$1.5 million
Author, Blink
(advance, plus $250,000 New Yorker salary and $30,000 per speaking engagement)

Jonathan Safran Foer
$1 million
Author, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
(advance, plus $12,500 per speaking engagement)

Judith Regan
$1 million
President and publisher, Regan Books

Sonny Mehta
Chairman and editor-in-chief, Alfred A. Knopf Publishing Group

Ann Godoff
President and publisher, the Penguin Press

Sam Tanenhaus
Editor, The New York Times Book Review

Stephen Riggio
CEO and vice-chairman, Barnes & Noble

Lisa Jong
Clerk, Barnes & Noble
(32 hours a week at $7.75 per hour)

Barry Diller
Chairman and CEO, IAC/InterActiveCorp

Richard Parsons
Chairman and CEO, Time Warner, Inc.

Robert Iger
$12 million
CEO, Walt Disney Corporation

Sumner Redstone
$56 million
Chairman and CEO, Viacom

Les Moonves
$52 million
Co-president and co-COO, Viacom

Tom Freston
$52 million
Co-president and co-COO, Viacom

Bob Wright
$19.7 million
Vice-chairman of GE, chairman and CEO of NBC Universal

Martha Stewart
Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

Martha Stewart
$9.6 million
TV Star
($1.6 million for The Apprentice, $8 million for Martha)

Susan Lyne
CEO and president, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
$1.92 million
Chairman and publisher, the New York Times Co.

Peter Kann
$2.3 million
Chairman and CEO, Dow Jones

Karen Elliott House
Publisher, the Wall Street Journal

Bill Keller
Executive editor, the New York Times

Col Allan
Editor, New York Post

Richard Johnson
“Page Six” gossip columnist

Thomas Friedman
Columnist, the New York Times
(plus $40,000 per speaking engagement)

Maria Schneider
Associate Editor, The Onion

Will Shortz
Crossword editor, the New York Times

Jim Romenesko
Blogger, the Poynter Institute

Jessica Coen

Parakash Patel
Newsstand operator, 50th Street and Third Avenue

Hugh Hefner
Founder and editor-in-chief, Playboy Enterprises

Christie Hefner
$1.44 million
Chairman and CEO, Playboy Enterprises

David Pecker
$3.15 million
CEO and president, American Media

Norm Pearlstine
$2 million
Editor-in-chief, Time Inc.

Anna Wintour
$2 million
Editor, Vogue

Sylvana Soto-Ward
Assistant to Anna Wintour

Bonnie Fuller
Editorial director, American Media

Janice Min
$1.2 million
Editor, Us Weekly

James Kelly
$1.1 million
Managing editor, Time

Tom Wallace
$1 million
Editorial director, Condé Nast

David Remnick
$1 million
Editor, The New Yorker

Peter Martins
Artistic director, New York City Ballet

AP; Beatriz Schiller
Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Angel Corella and Julie Kent
$171,000 each
Principal dancers, American Ballet Theatre

Magdalena Piekarz
Teacher, Arthur Murray Dance Studios

Paul Tagliabue
$8 million
Commissioner, National Football League

Don Garber
$1.25 Million
Commissioner, Major League Soccer

Wire Image)

Larry Brown
$10 million
Head coach, New York Knicks

Isiah Thomas
$6.7 million
General manager, New York Knicks

Brian Cashman
$1 million
General manager, New York Yankees

Omar Minaya
General manager, New York Mets

Joe Torre
$6.4 million
Manager, Yankees

Willie Randolph
Manager, Mets

Tom Coughlin
$2.75 million
Head coach, New York Giants

Herman Edwards
$2 million
Head coach, New York Jets

Eli Manning
$7.5 million
Quarterback, Giants

Chad Pennington
$9.1 million
Quarterback, Jets

Adrian Awasom
Rookie defensive end, Giants

Alex Rodriguez
$25.2 million
Third baseman, Yankees

Pedro Martinez
$13.25 million
Pitcher, Mets

Steve Crampton
Pitcher, Newark Bears
($450 per week for 22 weeks, plus $18 per diem on road trips)

Stephon Marbury
$17.5 million
Point guard, Knicks

Jason Kidd
$17.3 million
Point guard, New Jersey Nets

Trevor Ariza
Final 2004 draft pick, Knicks

Becky Hammon
All-Star guard, New York Liberty

Norm Roberts
Head basketball coach, St. John’s

Patrick Magnan
Head basketball coach, defending Manhattan champions Frederick Douglass Academy (in addition to his teacher’s salary)

Marv Albert
TV play-by-play announcer, Nets

Mike and the Mad Dog
$2.7 million
Talk-radio hosts, WFAN
($1.4 million for Mike, $1.3 million for the Mad Dog)

Gregory Burke
Private first class, United States Army, stationed in Iraq
(includes $130 monthly hazardous-duty fee)

John Wright
National Guardsman, Penn Station

Wire Image)

Kofi Annan
Secretary-general, United Nations

Hillary Clinton
United States senator

Charles Rangel
United States congressman

George Pataki

Eliot Spitzer
State attorney general

Sheldon Silver
State Assembly speaker

Joseph Bruno
State Senate majority leader

Michael Bloomberg
(official mayor’s salary: $195,000)

Peter Madonia
Mayor’s chief of staff

Kevin Sheekey
Bloomberg reelection campaign manager

Cristyne Nicholas
CEO and president, NYC & Company tourism bureau

John Doherty
Commissioner, Sanitation Department

Lori Lyons

Police and Fire
Thomas E. Nobles Jr.
Postal carrier

Ray Kelly
Police commissioner

Nicholas Scoppetta
Fire commissioner

Charles Hirsch
City chief medical examiner

Edwin Young
NYPD anti-graffiti coordinator

Anthony Napolitano
Rookie police officer

Mark Mershon
Assistant director in charge of New York field office, FBI

John Coghlan
Private detective

Free walks, food, housing
Fire dog, Ladder Co. 20

Glen O’Sullivan
Subway conductor

Annette Sutton-Epps
Subway station agent

Nzue Kohen
Yellow-cab driver

Volkan Demir
Pedicab driver

Gerard Deliotte

Santiago Segovia
Parking-garage attendant

Personal Services
Keuyoung Lee
Owner, 181 Corner Cleaners

Jason Onserud
Personal trainer

Guy Ballirano
Technician, Con Ed

Maria Capales

Elvin Urena

Irene Nahon

Natasha Sealy
Nanny (plus lunch)

Christine Lanotte
Dog walker, Petaholics

Tony Ristick
Psychic, Celine Astrology

Cocaine dealer, Lower East Side (
$275 per one-eighth ounce)

Getty Images)

John Sexton
President, New York University

Lee Bollinger
President, Columbia University

Joseph Polisi
President, the Juilliard School

Bob Kerrey
President, the New School

Jeffrey Sachs
Economics professor, Columbia University

Adam H. Becker
Assistant professor, classics and religion, NYU

Wol-san Liem
Teaching assistant, NYU

Joel Klein
Chancellor, New York City Schools

Randi Weingarten
President, United Federation of Teachers

Ellen Stein
Head of school, Dalton

Stanley Teitel
Principal, Stuyvesant High School

Karina Costantino
Principal, P.S. 22 in Staten Island

Barbara Lancaster
First-grade teacher, Ethical Culture Fieldston School

Christina Annunziata
First-grade teacher, Bronx public school

Stephen Williams
Custodian engineer, Park East High School

Jonathan Arak
SAT tutor, Princeton Review

Herbert Pardes
CEO and president, New York Presbyterian Hospital

Harold Varmus
CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Memorial Hospital

David Campbell
CEO and president, St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers

Kenneth Davis
CEO, Mount Sinai Hospital

Steven J. Corwin
Cardiologist/chief medical officer, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital

Howard Beaton
Chief of surgery, NYU Downtown Hospital

Frank Manning
Chief of OB/GYN, NYU Downtown Hospital

Scott Newman
Plastic surgeon

Raymond Wong
Assistant attending physician, NYU Downtown Hospital

Leena Lakhkar

Udomporn Ratanaphaledee
Flower-shop cashier, Cornell Hospital

Edward Egan
Cardinal, Archdiocese of New York

Rev. Kevin Madigan
Catholic priest

Sister Marie of the Precious Blood
Cloistered nun

Rabbi Joseph H. Gelberman
Rabbi, All Faith Seminary (includes income from books, lectures, and weddings)

Judith Steel
Cantor, the New Synagogue
($1,500 salary, $12,500 for weddings)

Imam Omar Abu-Namous
Head of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York

Sol Adler
President, 92nd Street Y

Richard Haass
President, Council on Foreign Relations

Richard Lattis
General director, Wildlife Conservation Society (oversees city zoos)

Joan Malin
CEO and president, Planned Parenthood of New York City

Ana Oliveira
Executive director, Gay Men’s Health Crisis

Mary Brosnahan Sullivan
Executive director, Coalition for the Homeless

Lt. Col. Nestor Nuesch
Divisional commander, Salvation Army of Greater New York

Wire Image)

Real Estate
Donald Trump
Chairman and CEO, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc.

Donald Trump
$1.6 million
TV star, The Apprentice

Donald Trump Jr.
Vice-president of acquisitions and development, Trump Organization

Mort Zuckerman
Chairman, Boston Properties, Inc.

Dolly Lenz
$6.95 million
Super-broker, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Jennifer R.
(last name withheld) First-year broker

Hector Norat
Superintendent, 209 W. 97th St.

Jose Felipe Gonzalez
Doorman, 455 Central Park W.

Mohammed Hamid

David J. Douglas

Ramon Torres
Window washer

Herman Jiminez

Tommy Hilfiger
$22.4 million
Honorary chairman, Tommy Hilfiger, Inc.

Calvin Klein
$22.2 million
Consulting creative director, Phillips Van Heusen Corp.

Russell Simmons
$119 million
Founder, Phat Farm (from the sale of Phat Farm alone)

Kimora Lee Simmons
$17 million
Creative director, Baby Phat

Kenneth Cole
$2.25 million
Chairman and CEO, Kenneth Cole Productions

Steve Madden
Creative and design chief, Steve Madden Ltd.

Gisele Bündchen
$15.2 million

Dylan Erickson
Male model (started modeling four months ago)

R. Brad Martin
$2.12 million
Chairman and CEO, Saks, Inc.

Howard Socol
$2.06 million
Chairman, CEO, and president, Barneys New York, Inc.

Michael J. Kowalski
Chairman and CEO, Tiffany & Co.

Robert Cole
Assistant manager, Banana Republic

Eric Miranda
Sales clerk, Gap

Ricardo Fondeur
Fragrance sales associate and sprayer, Macy’s

Masae Sasaki
Sales associate, Tutu boutique, Nolita

Nivia Nogues
Sales assistant, Payless Shoe Source

Nate P.
Knockoff-handbag street vendor

Jean-Georges Vongerichten
$6 million
Chef, restaurateur, author

Daniel Boulud
$4 million
Chef, restaurateur, author

Mario Batali
$2 million
Chef, restaurateur, author, Food Network star

Joey Repice
Sommelier, Pure Food and Wine

Agim Seferi
Wait captain, Café Gray

Bucho Suarez
Short-order cook, Joe Jr. diner

Eva Ferka
Reservationist, Alto

Travis Toy
Line coordinator, Whole Foods Union Square

Jay Yaun
Deli clerk, Apple Tree Market

Alex Aguinaga
Deliveryman, FreshDirect

Eddie Santi
Pizza server, Famous Famiglia Pizzeria

Jamal Khandaker
Hot-dog and pretzel vendor, Broadway and Warren Street

Amirul Islam
Fruit vendor, Broadway and Warren Street

Mike Kim
Chinese deliveryman, Wang’s Restaurant (not including tips)

Edited by Kate Pickert.
Reported by Jessica Bennett, Mary Burke, Katie Charles, Renee DeFranco, Will Doig, Daniel Grushkin, Nathanael Johnson, Stirling Kelso, Yael Kohen, Ben Mathis-Lilley, Rebecca Milzoff, Suzanne Mozes, Janelle Nanos, Denise Penny, Emma Rosenblum, Rebecca Ruiz, Bree Sposato, Stacia Thiel, and Eric Wolff.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Vegetable oil fuel diesel cars


July 23, 2006
Green Tech
Grease Is the Word: Fill It Up With Fry Oil

ON a recent return trip from Massachusetts to my home in New Jersey, a distance of 160 miles, I burned a total of two cups of diesel fuel in my 2001 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

Since that would indicate fuel economy of more than 600 miles per gallon, something didn’t quite compute.

The missing part of the equation was this: I was returning from Easthampton, Mass., where Daryl Beck, a mechanic well versed in such matters, had just installed a secondary fuel system in my car. The main fuel I used on the drive home was not diesel, which the Jetta was designed to burn, but straight vegetable oil.

I used diesel fuel for only the first 10 miles of the trip. After that, the diesel gauge stayed right where it was while the VW sped happily along on soybean oil — the same stuff that restaurants use for deep frying and salad dressing. I used less than three gallons of oil for the final 150 miles of my trip home, which calculates out to more than 50 miles per gallon. Not bad.

The conversion kit that Mr. Beck installed was produced by Greasecar, a manufacturer of vegetable fuel units for diesel cars; gasoline engines cannot be converted to burn vegetable oil. The kit cost about $900, including an optional temperature gauge and audible warning signal, and another $1,000 for the installation, which takes an experienced mechanic about seven hours.

Now, after more than 2,000 miles on veggie oil, there seem to be few disadvantages to the transformation. My car seems to get slightly better mileage, it seems to run a little more quietly and it has just as much zip as it does on diesel. According to test results I’ve seen, vegetable oil burns somewhat cleaner in most categories than diesel fuel, and emits absolutely no sulfur. What a veggie car does emit is a smell faintly redolent of the kind of oil being burned — or, in the case of used oil, the scent of whatever it might have cooked previously.

Vegetable oil, of course, is a renewable resource that emits no more carbon dioxide than next year’s crop will absorb and requires no drilling for soybeans in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or anywhere else. The environmentally aware will give you even more points in the game of green for using oil previously used for cooking.

You’ll get no points, though, from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which recently issued a statement stating flatly that using vegetable oil as fuel is a violation of the Clean Air Act and that modifying a car for vegetable oil subjects the owner to a $2,750 fine. [Page 2.]

Justin Carven, the founder and owner of Greasecar, says his company has started the process of qualifying his conversion kit for E.P.A. certification.

Going veggie is not the gas-and-go type of driving Americans are accustomed to. At discount stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, soybean oil costs about $13 for a 35-pound “cubie,” a squarish jug that holds about 4½ gallons. That makes it a few cents less per gallon than the current price of diesel fuel.

It’s possible to pay less — or nothing at all. I have also collected 20 cubies of waste oil, just for the asking, from various restaurants and from a generous fellow greaser with an excess of oil. Now that I have my filtration station up and running in a corner of my garage, even visits to the local big-box store will be few and far between.

There are a few things I must be attentive to: I have to remember to purge my fuel lines of vegetable oil and switch back to diesel a few minutes before ending a trip. If I forget this on a cold night, the oil could congeal and make starting the next morning impossible without the aid of a hair dryer.

I have to remember to use the purge function on my dash-mounted fuel selection switch for no more than 20 seconds or so. If I leave it in purge position, it can allow diesel fuel to flow back into the vegetable oil tank and overfill it until it flows through the air vent, a mess I would rather not experience.

Add a few factors to the category of minor inconvenience that accompanies my energy-independence euphoria: I have to carry a spare vegetable oil filter for that inevitable moment when the original says it has had enough. I also have a filter wrench and a pair of oven gloves to let me change filters while the engine is still hot. And I mustn’t forget the turkey baster: that’s to fill the new filter with vegetable oil from the tank, so I don’t introduce an air bubble into the system, causing the engine to stall.

My trunk is a little — no, a lot — less spacious than it used to be, because of the spare cubie of oil I carry, along with a big funnel that lets me fill the tank without spills. The spare tire also takes up space inside the trunk now; the veggie oil tank occupies the well that used to contain the spare.

Notwithstanding the inconveniences, my wife, Ginger, is as enamored of this experiment as I am. She has claimed the Jetta as her own, but has volunteered to help with the mechanical work to convert another car for me. She calls the experience the “Noah project,” named after our 11-month-old grandson, who she hopes will benefit from a better world if others do the same thing.

Despite the obvious benefits of using a fuel that contributes to the nation’s energy independence, that is relatively cheap and that can be burned after having already served its original purpose — cooking food — it is worth noting that vegetable oil is unlikely to replace petroleum anytime soon.

As the number of conversions rises, users will eventually soak up the supply of used cooking oil. As with ethanol and other agriculture-based fuels, it remains to be seen whether growing soybeans is an efficient way to produce nonpetroleum fuels, since the farming process consumes large amounts of fuel and chemical-rich fertilizers. Also, growing crops for use as fuels could have unforeseen effects on the prices and supplies of food.

The territory is uncharted in other ways, as well, as seen in the comments posted in an online forum sponsored by Take the case of “Chase,” a Massachusetts resident who was perhaps not as careful as he might have been in the storage of his cache of oil. “No BooBoo to be seen,” Chase wrote, “but this AM there was a really big black bear with its snout in an opened and overturned 5 gal. Luckily the grease spilled onto my gravel driveway, so it should soak in soon enough. Also lucky she did not get into the 12 other buckets! Some arm waving and yelling sent it packing.”

A frequent question about vegetable oil is whether cars run more sluggishly on it. Consider “TDIGuy,” who sought advice on whether a blown head gasket could have resulted from “running a VW too fast for too long” and “hitting the gas pretty hard.” After receiving some helpful comments, TDIGuy came clean: “When I said speeding a little, and a little hard on the gas, I was actually trying to hit 140 in the car. Managed to get 130, but I think I put too much stress on the engine.”

A common concern about converting a car for vegetable oil is that it could harm the engine. But some people who have done conversions say they’ve seen no damage, even after many miles. Phil Gibbs, a New York City firefighter who makes a 75-mile commute twice a week from his Putnam County home, said he had driven his 2002 Jetta 75,000 miles on vegetable oil with no trouble.

The car had 70,000 miles on it before it was converted. “It runs like it did when it was new,” Mr. Gibbs said. The key, he added, is not switching to vegetable oil until it has reached the proper temperature.

The typical conversion involves installing a parallel fuel system with an independent tank (mine is aluminum, shaped like a hockey puck and holds 13 gallons), a heating system that diverts hot engine coolant through copper coils placed within the tank and wrapped around a specially installed vegetable oil filter in the engine compartment, and a set of solenoid-activated valves controlled by a dash-mounted switch that diverts the flow between diesel fuel and vegetable oil.

There is also a fuel temperature gauge that tells the driver when to switch from diesel fuel to vegetable oil after starting out, and a somewhat representational fuel gauge that gives a rough approximation of how much vegetable oil is in the tank.

Greasecar, the company that built my conversion kit, was started in 2000 by Mr. Carven, a Hampshire College mechanical design graduate who had experimented as a school project on a $300 junk car. He went on to celebrate his graduation with a cross-country trip in an old VW van that he equipped with a vegetable oil system.

Now, Greasecar has 14 employees and ships about 300 kits a month from its shop in a 19th-century brick factory complex.

Many buyers follow the instruction manuals that come with the kits and do the installations themselves. Others, like me, seek experienced mechanics who know exactly what they are doing and keep up with the latest developments in the art of greasing. Several manufacturers of similar kits have loose networks of recommended installers.

In addition to the commercially available kits, many home-built systems are being installed by backyard tinkerers all over the country. You can get in touch with them on Internet forums like the ones at the Web sites for; for another kit manufacturer,; and at

To convert a car to run on vegetable oil, you have to start with a diesel car; it cannot be done with a gasoline engine. Not all states allow the sale of new diesel-powered passenger cars, and there are different state rules governing the sale of used ones. (I bought mine from B & B Auto Sales in North Providence, R.I., sight unseen, via an eBay auction.) I was a lucky buyer; even though the car had 147,000 miles on the odometer, it was in fine condition, exactly as described by the seller.

I was surprised to learn that Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the combustion cycle bearing his name, originally intended his engine to run on vegetable oil. In 1912, seven years after he introduced his engine at a Paris exposition, he said: “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in the course of time as important as the petroleum and coal tar products of the present time.”

For me and my Volksvegan, that course of time is now.

Jim Norman is a staff editor for the Business Day section of The New York Times.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Face blindness -- prosopagnosia


July 18, 2006
Just Another Face in the Crowd, Indistinguishable Even if It’s Your Own

Some people never forget a face. Heather Sellers never remembers one.

She finds it almost impossible to recognize people simply by looking at them. She remembers the books she reads as well as anyone else, but movies and TV shows are impossible to follow because all of the actors’ faces seem so similar. She can recall a name or a telephone number with ease, but she is unable to remember her own face well enough to pick it out in a group photograph.

Dr. Sellers, a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Mich., has a disorder called prosopagnosia, or face blindness, and she has had it since birth. “I see faces that are human,” she said, “but they all look more or less the same. It’s like looking at a bunch of golden retrievers: some may seem a little older or smaller or bigger, but essentially they all look alike.”

Face blindness can be a rare result of a stroke or a brain injury, but a study published in the July issue of The American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A is the first report of the prevalence of a congenital or developmental form of the disorder.

The researchers say the phenomenon is much more common than previously believed: they found that 2.47 percent of 689 randomly selected students in Münster, Germany, had the disorder.

Dr. Thomas Grüter, a co-author of the paper, said there were reasons to believe that the condition was equally common in other populations. “First,” he said, “our population was not selected in terms of cognition deficits. And second, a study done by Harvard University with a different diagnostic approach yielded very similar figures.”

Dr. Grüter is himself prosopagnosic. His wife and co-author, Dr. Martina Grüter of the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of Münster, did not realize he was face blind until she had known him more than 20 years. The reason, she says, is he was so good at compensating for his deficits.

“How do you recognize a face?” she asked. “For most people, this is a silly question. You just do. But people who have prosopagnosia can tell you exactly why they recognize a person. Thomas consciously looks for the details that others notice unconsciously.”

Dr. Thomas Grüter’s experience in this respect is typical of people with face blindness. They develop alternate strategies for identifying people — they remember their clothes, mannerisms, gait, hairstyle or voice, and by using such techniques, many can compensate quite well.

This may be one reason why cases of prosopagnosia have so rarely been reported — people simply do not know they have it. For face-blind people, adaptations like these are the only choice; there is no known cure.

“Until very recently, not remembering faces was not considered to be a medical condition,” Dr. Thomas Grüter said. “It was not even known to most physicians as such. The term ‘prosopagnosia’ was not taught to students of medicine or psychology.” Most people “would consider it a bad habit,” he said, “much like forgetting the names of people you are introduced to, or being unable to find your way around town.”

Dr. Martina Grüter said many considered her husband and his father, who is also face blind, to be simply “absent-minded professors” who occasionally may not recognize someone because they are preoccupied with higher thoughts.

People with face blindness can typically understand facially expressed emotions — they know whether a face is happy or sad, angry or puzzled. They can detect subtle facial cues, determine gender and even agree with everyone else about which faces are attractive and which are not. In other words, they see the face clearly, they just do not know whose face they are looking at, and cannot remember it once they stop looking.

Even familiar faces can be unrecognizable. Dr. Sellers, for example, said she could summon no picture in her mind of her own mother’s face.

Dr. Sellers discovered her own problem only a year ago, at the age of 40. She was doing research for a novel involving a character with schizophrenia. “I kept coming across the term ‘face recognition,’ ” she said. “It kept ringing a bell, although the phenomenon is quite different for people with schizophrenia. But once I had the term, I searched for it on the Internet. The minute I knew the concept of face blindness existed, I knew I had it.”

The phenomenon has been investigated with functional MRI brain scans, a form of imaging that shows in real time which parts of the brain are active, and it is known that a part of the brain called the fusiform gyrus responds much more strongly to faces than to other objects.

Researchers have detected differing responses in this part of the brain among people with face blindness compared with normal subjects.

“If you show a normal person two different faces in a row,” said Bradley Duchaine, a lecturer in psychology at University College London, “their brain response is different with each one. With some prosopagnosics, you don’t see this different response. It looks like something is not working in those areas of the brain involved with faces.”

Dr. Duchaine and Ken Nakayama, a psychology professor at Harvard, published a review of developmental prosopagnosia in the April issue of Current Opinion in Neurobiology. They run a Web site devoted to the disorder (

Face blindness differs from pervasive cognitive disorders like autism because it usually involves only one specific symptom. Still, face blindness is sometimes accompanied by other problems, especially difficulty in finding one’s way around or, for example, distinguishing one car or dog from another.

Although the specific gene for the disorder has not been found, evidence is mounting that the trait is inherited. “All pedigrees that we’ve been able to establish so far were compatible with autosomal dominant inheritance,” Dr. Thomas Grüter said.

If this turns out to be true, it means that everyone with the disorder will have at least one affected parent, that men and women will be equally likely to inherit the trait, and that the risk for each child of an affected parent will be one in two.

“But we haven’t found the gene, yet,” Dr. Grüter said, “so we can’t be 100 percent sure.”

Sunday, July 16, 2006

dotorg picks up a hooker


I decided I was going out to dinner tonight. I went to Logans where they have a wonderful salad topped with a reasonable portion of steak. I then went to Barnes & Noble. Everyone I know is in there studying for the bar exam; every one of them is stressed out and I didn't want to hang around long.

So, I just went driving through town, loosely making my way back home. Along te way, I saw a huge convoy of cops heading out to bust something or put up a roadblock, and I decided to follow them. After all, I had nothing better to do.

I lost them when they made a quick loop around a mall and then drive the wrong way down a one-way street. So, I headed back toward the house.

Along the way, on a stretch of through-town highway (not interstate highway, but the type that is also a major road in the city) that is usually pretty abandoned at night, I saw a u-haul. It had its flashers on. There was young looking woman, perhaps in her early twenties, just past the truck. She was alone. This isn't a neighborhood that a twenty-something white girl needs to be alone in.

I pulled over and asked if she needed a ride. She said sure and then got in. I told her I'd take her down to the petro station (a big 24-hour truck stop where the all-night tow truck drivers usually park) a few blocks over. She said nothing.

We got to the petro station and I pulled up to the front door so she could get out. She looked at me and said "Sweetie, we've got to go around to the back parking lot if we're going to do anything." I said, "I thought you needed someone to tow your truck."

Suddenly I realized that she wasn't broken down in a u-haul. The u-haul (or at least I think it was the same u-haul) was pulling into the parking lot.

As that thought was going through my mind, she said, "That wasn't my truck. I'm looking for a little company."

At that point it hit me that she was a hooker. I told her that I had misunderstood, and apologized for the confusion. I told her to have a good night and she got out.

I then left and came home. It dawned on me on the way home that she probably was a cop, and that the u-haul was filled with more cops ready to bust someone. She was certainly more attractive than our average streetwalkers (which tend to look like they are strung out on crack) and she didn't have that characteristic "I sleep under a bridge" smell. She wasn't dressed in a trashy manner; she was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.

She seemed like a normal person. It seems quite weird.

But, that's how I picked up a hooker.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meth addiction conducive to ID theft


July 11, 2006
Stolen Lives
Meth Users, Attuned to Detail, Add ID Theft Habit

Joe Morales, a prosecutor in Denver, can remember when crack came to his city in the 1980’s. Gangs set up on Colfax Avenue and in the Five Points neighborhood, and street crime — murders and holdups — grew.

When methamphetamine proliferated more recently, the police and prosecutors at first did not associate it with a rise in other crimes. There were break-ins at mailboxes and people stealing documents from garbage, Mr. Morales said, but those were handled by different parts of the Police Department.

But finally they connected the two. Meth users — awake for days at a time and able to fixate on small details — were looking for checks or credit card numbers, then converting the stolen identities to money, drugs or ingredients to make more methamphetamine. For these drug users, Mr. Morales said, identity theft was the perfect support system.

While public concern about identity theft has largely focused on elaborate computer schemes, for law enforcement officials in Denver and other Western areas, meth users have become the everyday face of identity theft. Like crack cocaine in the 1980’s, officials say, the rise of methamphetamine has been accompanied by a specific set of crimes and skills that are shared among users and dealers.

“The knowledge of how to violate the law comes contemporaneously with the meth epidemic,” said Sheriff Paul A. Pastor of Pierce County, Wash., who said the majority of identity theft cases his officers investigated involved methamphetamine.

Tammie Carroll, a mother of four in Denver who was indicted in 2003 in an identity theft ring, described her social circle succinctly.

“Anybody I knew that did meth was also doing fraud, identity theft or stealing mail,” Ms. Carroll said. “We helped each other out, whatever we needed to do that day. They all had their own little role.“

Mr. Morales, director of the Denver district attorney’s economic crime unit, said 60 percent to 70 percent of his office’s identity theft cases involved methamphetamine users or dealers, often in rings of 10 or more.

“Look at the states that have the highest rates of identity theft — Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas and Colorado,’’ Mr. Morales said. “The two things they all have in common are illegal immigration and meth.”

But identity thieves are difficult to generalize about because most crimes are never solved. The prevalence of meth use among identity theft suspects may say more about the state of law enforcement than about the habits of lawbreakers. In other words, meth users may simply be the easiest to catch.

In Denver, Mr. Morales said his office and the local police lacked the resources to pursue more sophisticated identity thieves who crossed jurisdictions or bought and sold identities over the Internet. On the other hand, he said, “it’s easy to get a meth addict to flip’’ and testify against others.

Nonetheless, prosecutors, police officers, drug treatment professionals, former identity thieves and recovering addicts describe a connection between meth use and identity theft that is fluid and complementary, involving the hours that addicts keep, the nature of a methamphetamine high and the social patterns of meth production and use, which differ from those of other illegal drugs.

For example, crack cocaine or heroin dealers usually set up in well-defined urban strips run by armed gangs, which stimulates gun traffic and crimes that are suited to densely populated neighborhoods, including mugging, prostitution, carjacking and robbery. Because cocaine creates a rapid craving for more, addicts commit crimes that pay off instantly, even at high risk.

Methamphetamine, by contrast, can be manufactured in small laboratories that move about suburban or rural areas, where addicts are more likely to steal mail from unlocked boxes. Small manufacturers, in turn, use stolen identities to buy ingredients or pay rent without arousing suspicion. And because the drug has a long high, addicts have patience and energy for crimes that take several steps to pay off.

In a survey of 500 county sheriffs, 27 percent said methamphetamine had contributed to a rise in identity theft in their areas. Even more — 62 percent and 68 percent, respectively — noted that it contributed to increases in domestic abuse or robberies and burglaries.

“I think identity theft is a big deal; there’s a lot of it going on,’’ said Terree Schmidt-Whelan, executive director of the Pierce County Alliance in Washington, which provides court-mandated drug treatment to addicts. “But I don’t think it’s going on to the extent we read about because we’re not seeing it to that extent here.’’

The circumstances of methamphetamine arrests, Dr. Schmidt-Whelan said, can exaggerate the connection with identity theft. “If a sheriff does a bust and there are 10 people in a room, are they all doing it?’’ she asked.

After law enforcement officers in Washington reported that high percentages of their identity theft cases involved methamphetamine, including 100 percent in Spokane County, Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, proposed a bill to study the connection.

Richard Rawson, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has been studying methamphetamine since the 1980’s, agrees that meth use is compatible with the kind of concentration needed to be an identity thief.

“Crack users and heroin users are so disorganized and get in these frantic binges, they’re not going to sit still and do anything in an organized way for very long,” Dr. Rawson said. “Meth users, on the other hand, that’s all they have, is time. The drug stimulates the part of the brain that perseverates on things. So you get people perseverating on things, and if you sit down at a computer terminal you can go for hours and hours.”

But Dr. Rawson said he had not seen a connection with identity theft in his research, and had not heard of one until law enforcement officials started bringing it up in conferences in the last year.

“If it is a major event, it’s a relatively new one,” he said. “How widespread it is, I don’t know.”

In Phoenix, which has the nation’s highest rate of identity theft complaints, officials first became aware of the connection when laboratory raids uncovered stolen mail and checks that had been washed with acetone, a chemical used to make methamphetamine.

“We thought for a while that that was the connection,” said Todd C. Lawson, a state prosecutor who specializes in identity theft. “But we learned there was much more to it.”

Often identity theft rings organize like meth labs, where one person has the technical skills and others gather the raw materials. In an identity theft ring, one person might work the computer and the others steal identities or use the fraudulent checks or credit cards to get cash.

In Minnesota, meth laboratories and users developed a barter economy of washed checks, stolen checkbooks, drugs, ingredients and equipment, said Carol Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Hazelden, a drug treatment center in Center City.

In rural parts of Salt Lake County, Utah, meth addicts take their stolen identities onto the Internet because it has more targets than the local area, said Pat Fleming, director of county substance abuse services. “Meth is one of the major things driving identity theft in Utah,” Mr. Fleming said.

Cocaine and heroin bypassed these areas because importers took the drugs directly to Salt Lake City, where addicts commit different crimes to pay for them.

For D., a 22-year-old woman in Missoula, Mont., meth and identity theft just came together.

“It’s always suggested if you’re around people that are high,” she said, agreeing to be identified only by her first initial because she said she was afraid of a past associate. “They know that this is an easy way to get money. That’s the only way we ever found out about it, here anyway.”

With advice from a fellow user, D. and her husband at the time stole a checkbook and wrote $5,600 worth of checks, using the money to buy drugs, gamble at Montana casinos and pay for hotel rooms, where she stayed up all night doing crossword puzzles. She never considered more traditional forms of crime, she said.

“Going and stealing money from people is too risky,” D. said. “With this, I was sitting in my car at a bank, I could drive away if I wanted to. That’s the only way I would have ever considered because I felt it was more safe. Now I think it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”

She was caught, finally, when she misspelled the signature of one of her victims.

For Ms. Carroll, the end came when one of her accomplices took an identity out of Ms. Carroll’s trash and tried to use it. Ms. Carroll discarded identities every few days to avoid detection. When the police arrested her, the accomplice pointed them to Ms. Carroll.

Ms. Carroll said she had not used methamphetamine since Jan. 7, 2003. She has also regained custody of her three children, who were placed in foster care after her arrest; a fourth, an infant at the time, was adopted.

Ms. Carroll said she planned to start college in August.

“I still see people put the little red flags up on their mailboxes when they’re mailing their bills,” she said. “It amazes me. They still put their checks in their own mailboxes, and that was one of the biggest things we did was watch for red flags on mailboxes. You’re sending your electricity bill, you have a check in there, that’s all the information we needed.”

People underestimate the resourcefulness of thieves, she said.

“Five days a week we did it,” Ms. Carroll said. “It was like a job.”

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Women outperforming men academically


July 9, 2006
The New Gender Divide
At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust

Nearing graduation, Rick Kohn is not putting much energy into his final courses.

"I take the path of least resistance," said Mr. Kohn, who works 25 hours a week to put himself through the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. "This summer, I looked for the four easiest courses I could take that would let me graduate in August."

It is not that Mr. Kohn, 24, is indifferent to education. He is excited about economics and hopes to get his master's in the field. But the other classes, he said, just do not seem worth the effort.

"What's the difference between an A and a B?" he asks. "Either way, you go on to the next class."

He does not see his female classmates sharing that attitude. Women work harder in school, Mr. Kohn believes. "The girls care more about their G.P.A. and the way they look on paper," he said.

A quarter-century after women became the majority on college campuses, men are trailing them in more than just enrollment.

Department of Education statistics show that men, whatever their race or socioeconomic group, are less likely than women to get bachelor's degrees — and among those who do, fewer complete their degrees in four or five years. Men also get worse grades than women.

And in two national studies, college men reported that they studied less and socialized more than their female classmates.

Small wonder, then, that at elite institutions like Harvard, small liberal arts colleges like Dickinson, huge public universities like the University of Wisconsin and U.C.L.A. and smaller ones like Florida Atlantic University, women are walking off with a disproportionate share of the honors degrees.

It is not that men are in a downward spiral: they are going to college in greater numbers and are more likely to graduate than two decades ago.

Still, men now make up only 42 percent of the nation's college students. And with sex discrimination fading and their job opportunities widening, women are coming on much stronger, often leapfrogging the men to the academic finish.

"The boys are about where they were 30 years ago, but the girls are just on a tear, doing much, much better," said Tom Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington.

Take Jen Smyers, who has been a powerhouse in her three years at American University in Washington.

She has a dean's scholarship, has held four internships and three jobs in her time at American, made the dean's list almost every term and also led the campus women's initiative. And when the rest of her class graduates with bachelor's degrees next year, Ms. Smyers will be finishing her master's.

She says her intense motivation is not so unusual. "The women here are on fire," she said.

The gender differences are not uniform. In the highest-income families, men 24 and under attend college as much as, or slightly more than, their sisters, according to the American Council on Education, whose report on these issues is scheduled for release this week.

Young men from low-income families, which are disproportionately black and Hispanic, are the most underrepresented on campus, though in middle-income families too, more daughters than sons attend college. In recent years the gender gap has been widening, especially among low-income whites and Hispanics.

When it comes to earning bachelor's degrees, the gender gap is smaller than the gap between whites and blacks or Hispanics, federal data shows.

All of this has helped set off intense debate over whether these trends show a worrisome achievement gap between men and women or whether the concern should instead be directed toward the educational difficulties of poor boys, black, white or Hispanic.

"Over all, the differences between blacks and whites, rich and poor, dwarf the differences between men and women within any particular group," says Jacqueline King, a researcher for the American Council on Education's Center for Policy Analysis and the author of the forthcoming report.

Differences Seen Early

Still, across all race and class lines, there are significant performance differences between young men and women that start before college.

High school boys score higher than girls on the SAT, particularly on the math section. Experts say that is both because the timed multiple-choice questions play to boys' strengths and because more middling female students take the test. Boys also score slightly better on the math and science sections of national assessment tests. On the same assessments, 12th-grade boys, even those with college-educated parents, do far worse than girls on reading and writing.

Faced with applications and enrollment numbers that tilt toward women, some selective private colleges are giving men a slight boost in admissions. On other campuses the female predominance is becoming noticeable in the female authors added to the reading lists and the diminished dating scene.

And when it gets to graduation, differences are evident too.

At Harvard, 55 percent of the women graduated with honors this spring, compared with barely half the men. And at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, a public university, women made up 64 percent of this year's graduates, and they got 75 percent of the honors degrees and 79 percent of the highest honors, summa cum laude.

Of course, nationwide, there are young men at the top of the class and fields like computer science, engineering and physics that are male dominated.

Professors interviewed on several campuses say that in their experience men seem to cluster in a disproportionate share at both ends of the spectrum — students who are the most brilliantly creative, and students who cannot keep up.

"My best male students are every bit as good as my best female students," said Wendy Moffat, a longtime English professor at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. "But the range among the guys is wider."

From the time they are young, boys are far more likely than girls to be suspended or expelled, or have a learning disability or emotional problem diagnosed. As teenagers, they are more likely to drop out of high school, commit suicide or be incarcerated. Such difficulties can have echoes even in college men.

"They have a sense of lassitude, a lack of focus," said William Pollack, director of the Centers for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

At a time when jobs that require little education are disappearing, Mr. Mortenson predicts trouble for boys whose "educational attainment is not keeping up with the demands of the economy."

In the 1990's, even as women poured into college at a higher rate than men, attention focused largely on their troubles, especially after the 1992 report "How Schools Shortchange Girls" from the American Association of University Women.

But some scholars say the new emphasis on young men's problems — recent magazine covers and talk shows describing a "boy crisis" — is misguided in a world where men still dominate the math-science axis, earn more money and wield more power than women.

"People keep asking me why this is such a hot topic, and I think it does go back to the ideas people carry in their heads," said Sara Mead, the author of a report for Education Sector, a Washington policy center, that concluded that boys, especially young ones, were making progress on many measures. It suggested that the heightened concern might in part reflect some people's nervousness about women's achievement.

"The idea that girls could be ahead is so shocking that they think it must be a crisis for boys," Ms. Mead said. "I'm troubled by this tone of crisis. Even if you control for the field they're in, boys right out of college make more money than girls, so at the end of the day, is it grades and honors that matter, or something else the boys may be doing?"

Women in the Majority

What is beyond dispute is that the college landscape is changing. Women now make up 58 percent of those enrolled in two- and four-year colleges and are, over all, the majority in graduate schools and professional schools too.

Most institutions of higher learning, except engineering schools, now have a female edge, with many small liberal arts colleges and huge public universities alike hovering near the 60-40 ratio. Even Harvard, long a male bastion, has begun to tilt toward women.

"The class we just admitted will be 52 percent female," said William Fitzsimmons, Harvard's dean of admissions.

While Harvard accepts men and women in proportions roughly equal to their presence in the applicant pool, other elite universities do not. At Brown University, men made up not quite 40 percent of this year's applicants, but 47 percent of those admitted.

Women now outnumber men two to one at places like the State University of New York at New Paltz, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Baltimore City Community College. And they make up particularly large majorities among older students.

The lower the family income, the greater the disparity between men and women attending college, said Ms. King of the American Council on Education's Center for Policy Analysis.

Thomas diPrete, a Columbia University sociology professor, has found that while boys whose parents had only a high school education used to be more likely to get a college education than their sisters, that has flipped.

Still, the gender gap has moved to the front burner in part because of interest from educated mothers worrying that their sons are adrift or disturbed that their girls are being passed over by admissions officers eager for boys, said Judith Kleinfeld, a University of Alaska professor who has created the Boys Project (, a coalition of researchers, educators and parents to address boys' troubles.

"I hate to be cynical, but when it was a problem of black or poor kids, nobody cared, but now that it's a problem of white sons of college-educated parents, it's moving very rapidly to the forefront," Dr. Kleinfeld said. "At most colleges, there is a sense that a lot of boys are missing in action."

Beyond the data points — graduation rates, enrollment rates, grades — there are subtle differences in the nature of men's and women's college experiences.

In dozens of interviews on three campuses — Dickinson College; American University; and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro — male and female students alike agreed that the slackers in their midst were mostly male, and that the fireballs were mostly female.

Almost all speculated that it had something to do with the women's movement.

"The roles have changed a lot," said Travis Rothway, a 23-year-old junior at American University, a private school where only 36 percent of last year's freshmen were male. "Men have always been the dominant figure, providing for the household, but now women have broken out of their domestic roles in society. I don't think guys' willingness to work and succeed has changed, it's more that the women have stepped up."

Ben Turner, who graduated from American this spring, said he did not believe that work habits were determined by gender — but acknowledged that he and his girlfriend fit the stereotypes.

"She does all her readings for classes, and I don't always," Mr. Turner said. "She's more organized than me, so if there's a paper due a week from Monday, she's already started, and I know I'll be doing it the weekend before. She studies more than I do because she doesn't like cramming and being stressed. She just has a better work ethic than I do."

Ms. Smyers, also at American, said she recently ended a relationship with another student, in part out of frustration over his playing video games four hours a day.

"He said he was thinking of trying to cut back to 15 hours a week," she said. "I said, 'Fifteen hours is what I spend on my internship, and I get paid $1,300 a month.' That's my litmus test now: I won't date anyone who plays video games. It means they're choosing to do something that wastes their time and sucks the life out of them."

Many male students say with something resembling pride that they get by without much studying.

"If I take a class and never study, I can still get a B," said Scott Daniels, a 22-year-old at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. "I know that if I'd applied myself more, I would have had better grades."

On each campus, many young men concluded that the easy B was good enough. But on each campus, some had seen that attitude backfire.

Michael Comes arrived at Dickinson two years ago from a private school in New Jersey where he had done well, but floundered his freshman year.

"I came here with the attitudes I'd had in high school, that the big thing, for guys, is to give the appearance of not doing much work, trying to excel at sports and shine socially," Mr. Comes said. "It's like some cultural A.D.D. for boys, I think — like Bart Simpson. For men, it's just not cool to study."

So when he no longer had parents and teachers keeping after him, or a 10:30 p.m. lights-out rule, he did not do much work.

"I stayed in my room a lot, I slept a lot, and I messed up so much that I had to go to summer school," Mr. Comes said. "But I'm back on track now."

'A Male Entitlement Thing'

On each campus, the young women interviewed talked mostly about their drive to do well.

"Most college women want a high-powered career that they are passionate about," Ms. Smyers said. "But they also want a family, and that probably means taking time off, and making dinner. I'm rushing through here, taking the most credits you can take without paying extra, because I want to do some amazing things, and establish myself as a career woman, before I settle down."

Her male classmates, she said, feel less pressure.

"The men don't seem to hustle as much," Ms. Smyers said. "I think it's a male entitlement thing. They think they can sit back and relax and when they graduate, they'll still get a good job. They seem to think that if they have a firm handshake and speak properly, they'll be fine."

Such differences were apparent in the 2005 National Survey of Student Engagement. While the survey of 90,000 students at 530 institutions relies on self-reporting, it is used by many colleges to measure themselves against other institutions.

Men were significantly more likely than women to say they spent at least 11 hours a week relaxing or socializing, while women were more likely to say they spent at least that much time preparing for class. More men also said they frequently came to class unprepared.

Linda Sax, an associate professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, has found similar gender differences in her study of 17,000 men and women at 204 co-ed colleges and universities.

Using data from U.C.L.A.'s Higher Education Research Institute annual studies, she found that men were more likely than women to skip classes, not complete their homework and not turn it in on time.

"Women do spend more time studying and their grades are better," Professor Sax said, "but their grades are better even more than the extra studying time would account for."

Researchers say such differences make sense, given boys' experience in their earlier school years. And some experts argue that what is being seen as a boy problem is actually maleness itself, with the noisy, energetic antsiness and high jinks of young boys now redefined as a behavior problem by teachers who do not know how to handle them.

There is also an economic rationale for men to take education less seriously. In the early years of a career, Laura Perna of the University of Pennsylvania has found, college increases women's earnings far more than men's.

"That's the trap," Dr. Kleinfeld said. "In the early years, young men don't see the wage benefit. They can sell their strength and make money."

Lingering Money Worries

At Greensboro, where more than two-thirds of the students are female, and about one in five is black, many young men say they are torn between wanting quick money and seeking the long-term rewards of education.

"A lot of my friends made good money working in high school, in construction or as electricians, and they didn't go to college, but they're doing very well now," said Mr. Daniels, the Greensboro student, who works 25 to 30 hours a week. "One of my best friends, he's making $70,000, he's got his own truck and health benefits. The honest truth is, I feel weird being a college student and having no money."

Mr. Kohn said it was, literally, an accident that he landed at Greensboro.

"In high school, I had a G.P.A. of 1.9 and I never took the SAT's because I knew I wasn't going to college," he said. "If you don't have goals, you don't set yourself up to be disappointed."

But soon after high school, Mr. Kohn was in a serious car crash, and discovered in rehabilitation that the state would pay for community college. To his surprise he did well enough to transfer to Greensboro, where he now plans to pursue a master's degree. But when Mr. Kohn overheard a freshman woman describing her plans, including four summer school courses to help her get a master's in education a bit earlier, he was bemused.

"For a freshman to be in such a hurry, it seems a little obsessive," he said.

Many of the young women studying at Greensboro have older brothers without college degrees, or younger brothers with little interest in college.

The seven children of the Thompson family of Oxford, N.C., embody the gender differences regarding education.

There are three men and four women in the family, ranging in age from 36 to 23. Christina and Lynette, the two youngest, are both at Greensboro. The two oldest daughters went to college, too. But none of the sons got college degrees: one is a truck driver, one is autistic and living at home and one is a floor manager at a Research Triangle company.

"I think women feel more pressure to achieve," said Christina Thompson, a political science major who plans to go to law school.

Right, said her youngest sister.

"In the past, black women in the South couldn't do much except clean, pick cotton or take care of someone's children," Lynette Thompson said. "I think from our mother we got the feeling we should try to use the opportunities that are available to us now."

They and many other women at Greensboro say it is not bad to be on a campus with twice as many women as men because it encourages them to stick to their studies without the distraction of dating.

Maybe, said Ashleigh Pelick, a freshman who is dating a marine she met before college — but she teased a friend, Madison Barringer: "You know you'll go crazy if you never have another boyfriend before you graduate."

Ms. Barringer, a 19-year-old whose parents did not go to college, laughed. But she did acknowledge the gender imbalance as a possible problem.

"I know it sounds picky, but I don't think I'd marry someone without a college degree," she said. "I want to be able to have that intellectual conversation."

Creating a balance of men and women is now an issue for all but the most elite colleges, whose huge applicant pools let them fill their classes with any desired mix of highly-qualified men and women But for others, it is a delicate issue. Colleges want balance, both for social reasons and to ensure that they can attract a broad mix of applicants. But they do not want an atmosphere in which talented, hard-working women share classes with less qualified, less engaged men.

The calculus is different at different institutions. By administrators' accounts, American University has been relatively unconcerned to see its student body tipping female, faster than most others.

The admissions office said that its decisions were gender blind, and that it accepted a larger share of female applicants. In an interview, Ivy Broder, the interim provost, seemed surprised, but not bothered, that American had a higher proportion of women than Vassar College, which formerly admitted only women.

American has no engineering school and no football team; it is a campus where the Democrats' organization is Democratic Women and Friends; "The Vagina Monologues" sells out at annual performances; and almost 1,000 people turned out for the Breastival, a women's health fair.

The faculty is attracting more and more women: a majority of the professors now on the tenure track are female.

Women on campus say there is great female solidarity. What there is not much of, said Gail Short Hanson, the director of campus life, is a dating scene.

Said Ms. Hanson: "If there's a dance, like the Founder's Day dance in February, do the women get their hair done? Yes. Do they get their nails done? Yes. But do they have a date? Probably not. So who do they dance with? Whoever wants to dance."

If American University is comfortable being largely female, that is not the case on Dickinson College's charming but isolated campus in central Pennsylvania. At a time when most colleges are becoming increasingly female, Dickinson has raised its proportion of men. Even rarer is that Dickinson has publicly discussed its quest for gender balance.

The Goal: More Male Students

Robert Massa, vice president for enrollment, began campaigning for more male students shortly after he arrived at Dickinson in 1999 and discovered that only 36 percent of the incoming freshmen were male and that the college had accepted 73 percent of the women who applied, but only 53 percent of the men.

Dickinson adapted to the growing female majority by starting a women's center, adding a women's studies major and offering courses on Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf.

In his effort to attract men, Mr. Massa made sure that the admissions materials included plenty of pictures of young men and athletics. Dickinson began highlighting its new physics, computer science and math building, and started a program in international business. Most fundamental, Dickinson began accepting a larger proportion of its male applicants.

"The secret of getting some gender balance is that once men apply, you've got to admit them," Mr. Massa said. "So did we bend a little bit? Yeah, at the margin, we did, but not to the point that we would admit guys who couldn't do the work."

Longtime Dickinson administrators say that at isolated campuses with their own social worlds, gender balance is especially important.

"When there were fewer men, the environment was not as safe for women," said Joyce Bylander, associate provost. "When men were so highly prized that they could get away with things, some of them become sexual predators. It was an unhealthy atmosphere for women."

In education circles, Mr. Massa is sometimes accused of practicing unfair affirmative action for boys. He has a presentation called "What's Wrong With You Guys?" in which he says that Dickinson does not accept a greater proportion of male than female applicants, and that women still get more financial aid.

"Is this affirmative action?" Mr. Massa said. "Not in the legal sense." He says that admissions to a liberal arts college is more art than science, a matter of crafting a class with diverse strengths.

Mr. Massa reshaped Dickinson in one year. Of the freshmen admitted in 2000, 43 percent were male, and in recent years Dickinson's student body has been about 44 percent male. This year, Dickinson admitted an equal share of the male and the female applicants.

In the Dickinson cafeteria on a spring afternoon, the byplay between two men and two women could provide a text on gender differences. The men, Dennis Nelson and Victor Johnson, African-American football players nearing the end of their junior year, teased each other about never wanting to be seen in the library. They talked about playing "Madden," a football video game, six hours a day, about how they did not spend much time on homework.

"A lot of women want a 4.0 average, and they'll work for it," Mr. Nelson said. "I never wanted it because it's too much work to be worth it. And a lot of women, they have everything planned out for the next three years."

Mr. Johnson jumped in: "Yeah, and it boggles my mind because I don't have my life planned for the next 10 minutes. Women see the long-term benefits, they take their classes seriously, and they're actively learning. We learn for tests. With us, if someone calls the night before and says there's going to be a test, we study enough for a C."

His female friends offered their assessment. "They're really, really smart, and they think they don't have to work," Glenda Cabral said.

But they do. After two years of good grades, Mr. Johnson this year failed Spanish and Arab-Israeli relations.

"He called me the night before the test and asked who Nasser was," Julie Younes said, rolling her eyes.

At Dickinson, as elsewhere, men are overrepresented among the problem students. Of 33 students on probation this year, all but six were male. They account for most disciplinary actions, too.

"If it's outside-the-line behavior, boys are pretty much the ones doing it," Ms. Bylander said. "This generation, and especially the boys, is technology-savvy but interpersonally challenged. They've been highly structured, highly programmed, with organized play groups and organized sports, and they don't know much about how to run their own lives."

Disengagement Is Noticed

Men are underrepresented when it comes to graduation and honors. Eighty-three percent of women who were Dickinson freshmen in 2001 graduated four years later, compared with 75 percent of the men. Dickinson women, who made up just over half of last year's graduates, got slightly more than two-thirds of the cum laude, magna and summa degrees.

Since the process of human development crosses all borders, it makes sense that Europe, too, now has more women than men heading to college. The disengagement of young men, though, takes different forms in different cultures. Japan, over the last decade, has seen the emergence of "hikikomori" — young men withdrawing to their rooms, eschewing social life for months or years on end.

At Dickinson, some professors and administrators have begun to notice a similar withdrawal among men who arrive on campus with deficient social skills. Each year, there are several who mostly stay in their rooms, talk to no one, play video games into the wee hours and miss classes until they withdraw or flunk out.

This spring, Rebecca Hammell, dean of freshman and sophomores, counseled one such young man to withdraw.

"He was in academic trouble from the start," Ms. Hammell said. "He was playing games till 3, 4, 5 in the morning, in an almost compulsive way. From early in the year, his teachers reported that he was either not coming to class or falling asleep once he was there. I checked with the Residential Life office, and they said he was in his room all the time."

Of course, female behavior has its own extremes. In freshman women, educators worry about eating disorders and perfectionism.

But among the freshman men, the problems stem mostly from immaturity.

"There was so much freedom when I got here, compared to my very structured high school life, that I kept putting things off," said Greg Williams, who just finished his freshman year. "I wouldn't do much work and I played a lot of Halo. I didn't know how to wake up on time without a mom. I had laundry problems. I shrank all my clothes and had to buy new ones."

Still, men in the work force have always done better in pay and promotions, in part because they tend to work longer hours, and have fewer career interruptions than women, who bear the children and most of the responsibility for raising them.

Whether the male advantage will persist even as women's academic achievement soars is an open question. But many young men believe that, once in the work world, they will prevail.

"I think men do better out in the world because they care more about the power, the status, the C.E.O. job," Mr. Kohn said. "And maybe society holds men a little higher."