Sunday, August 24, 2014

For we but not for thee

Character assassination (evil and racist)

Character... enhancement (right and salutary)
In the words of Lionel Hutz, there's the truth, and then there's the truth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson so far

Initially, we hear that a white cop shot a black, unarmed, freshly minted high school graduate. The pretense was something like jaywalking, but of course the real impetus was irrational racial prejudice. The cop was white, the 'victim' was black. What more do you need to know?

In response, a feral gang of youths (or teens, or whatever--insert the euphemism of your choice here) violently began looting and destroying local businesses. And if not naturally, they did so at least understandably--that is, after all, what civilized people do when they feel aggrieved. They smash stuff!

Those who focused on the mob violence were accused of missing the real story, the lack of "social justice", preferring instead to allow their own lying eyes to maintain the vicious stereotypes they'd constructed and maintained in their own minds--the sorts of heuristics that tell them blacks are nearly eight times as likely to commit violent crimes as whites are. That these facts are, well, facts, isn't important. What is important is that they are Racist and therefore should be dismissed out of hand.

Still dusting off from the pounding they took from the truth in the Trayvon Martin case, the major media recklessly descended upon the inner St. Louis suburb no one in their ranks had ever heard of a month ago and got to work transmitting the official Narrative to the nation.

That narrative started to fall apart immediately. Against the wishes of the US Justice Department, local sources managed to get a hold of convenience store footage showing Michael Brown filching from and then bullying an ethnic store clerk. It's unfortunate the public was able to view the footage, but we should still be grateful that our government is doing all it can to protect our right not to know.

"Character assassination!" came the cries of professional race hustlers and shakedown artists, as though content of character is irrelevant in evaluating an event in which eyewitness accounts differ as to what exactly transpired. It clearly wasn't irrelevant to the mob of looters who errantly targeted an uninvolved QuikTrip under the faulty presumption that it was the store that had reported Brown's cigar theft.

"The cop didn't know Brown was suspected of stealing!" That may be utter bullshit on its face, as the cop, Darren Wilson, conceivably could have put two and two together after seeing Brown and his friend walking in the middle of the road with a box of cigars. But even if Wilson was unaware for the duration of the encounter, Brown knew what he had done and acted accordingly in his confrontation with Wilson.

A bloodied face and fractured eye socket exposed more mendacity in the official Narrative. Brown physically assaulted Wilson. During the assault, it looks as though Wilson's gun discharged.

As pillar after pillar of the Narrative crumbles, the Establishment is now taking refuge in the assertion that Brown was fleeing the scene when he was fatally shot. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a third autopsy performed after the first two didn't return the results he desired (this one putting little emphasis on the THC levels in Brown's body at the time he was killed; marijuana is, after all, benevolent and has no affect whatsoever on inhibition or the lack thereof!). This is the same sage who bullied Missouri state officials into calling off National Guard troops, resulting in a couple more days of unchecked violence and looting in Ferguson before St. Louis county took charge of the situation. A real class act, that Holder.

The Ferguson police department says it has over a dozen witnesses who claim Brown was charging Wilson when he was given the coup de grace.

Even if the Establishment finally gets some 'good news' (ie, Wilson acted out of line, justice wasn't served, and an abuse of police power occurred) on this last account, it makes for a pretty pathetic illustration of what Steve Sailer describes as putatively being "one of the Defining Events of Our Time, a Searing Indictment of the National Crisis of the White Racist Power Structure Murdering Black Babies." Rather, it's "just another local police blotter item of crazy ass behavior in the ‘hood? I don’t care what race you are, if you are in a dispute with a cop and thrust your head into his police car and then his gun goes off hurting and no do doubt scaring him, it’s highly likely additional bad things are going to happen."

In a country of 320 million people, this is the story the Establishment chooses to spotlight in its ongoing effort to spin a story diametrically at odds with the empirical realities on the ground? Again, Steve:

"[The Establishment] needs Incidents, ideally involving white men murdering innocent blacks. But, that just doesn’t happen much, our entire system is obsessed with punishing it when it does happen, and the Obamas and Holders and the press are dependent upon potential examples being brought forward to their attention by mobs exacting pogroms upon convenience stores for snitching. And mobs are notably bad at careful evaluation of the evidence."

The desperation to impugn middle class white America would almost be funny if it weren't so dangerous. Twenty years ago, Ferguson was predominantly white. Then Section 8 housing was imposed on the southeast side of the city. Predictably crime, poverty, illegitimacy, and uncivic behavior all increased. Whites began fleeing, and now the place is in the process of becoming unlivable by middle class American standards. This stuff is so drearily predictable, which is why everyone is so obsessed with 'location, location, location' when deciding upon where to live. The only way to avoid this stuff is to stay a step ahead of it. The Decline and Fall of the American Republic is being written as we speak.

Parenthetically, the complaint about the police being overly militarized is a non-starter. If you're in a battle, you need to be in it to win. The access to 'excessive' force is not a problem, it's a necessity. Arbitrarily trying to handicap the situation so that criminal elements have a fighting chance against the police is madness. That said, it need also be noted that this issue is separate from the one of police abuses of power, which is of course a problem to varying degrees in various locations and situations.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Flight from white (Credit: Steve Sailer)

More from the Michael Brown wellspring.


"Would you rather be born white or black?"

Gavin DeGraw's answer works for me, and I think that's the healthiest answer any person can give. For so putatively secular an age, our societal belief in original sin can really give a person pause, though.

I realize that's a somewhat parochial view on my part. I'm not aware of any contemporary movement in the US towards wanting to be white, but there is definitely a palpable "flight from white" phenomenon occurring, the more "core" the whiteness, the less attractive it is to be identified as such. For example, in the 1980 Census, over 18% of the population reported English ancestry. In 2012, it was less than half of that. The Hispanic and Asian population increases should've taken that figure down to around 16%. The bulk of it's mysterious removal is from people of European descent identifying as other less 'shameful' ethnicities, especially Irish (in truth, the vast majority of whites in the US who are fourth generation-plus are a mix of European ancestries--I happen to identify most with my English heritage since its paternal and therefore easier to trace and because one of my distant ancestors had a neat interaction with William Shakespeare, but that's as much for style as it is for substance).

Our current president is an obvious example of said aforementioned trend--he has benefited enormously from his black ancestry and has adeptly chosen to consistently emphasize it. Sometimes he's presented as black, sometimes as mixed race, but never as white. That impulse is writ large among blacks across the country. African-Americans in the US are, on average, about 80%-plus west African and 15% European by ancestry, yet they reliably consider themselves to be African-American/black rather than mixed race. White Americans, on the other hand, are, on average, about 99% European by ancestry with trace amounts of African ancestry or Native American ancestry rounding out the rest (despite lots of public pronouncements to the contrary about being part Native American, a la Elizabeth Warren, those stories are often apocryphal).

Rather timely, the venerable Pew recently ran a story on the push for Middle Easterners and North Africans (MENA) in the US to be able to identify as something other than white. Currently, the only ethnic (I know, this stuff gets semantically slippery) option for Census purposes is the dichotomous Hispanic/non-Hispanic. MENA groups want a MENA category added. This excerpt pithily gets to the heart of why they want as much:
What’s more, some argue, being classified as "white" prohibits the MENA community from taking advantage of the benefits that come with minority status—including local, state and federal programs that give a leg up to minority-owned businesses in awarding government contracts.
I do wish the General Social Survey would ask your question, though. I suspect the highest percentage of people responding that they would rather be member to a race other than their own would be whites. The World Values Survey shows a pretty striking inverse correlation between traditional measures of a nation's desirability (low crime rates, high per capita income, low infant mortality, low corruption, etc) and its residents pride in their nationality. That is, the 'crappier' places tend to be the proudest and the 'nicest' places the most ashamed.

"Poverty and a range of other issues impact the IQ gap you speak of to the success and failures of governments and municipalities. Associating the failures all with one race is harmful and exactly the kind of thing that makes these gaps grow bigger. Instead of saying 'all these things are associated with black people, they must be the problem' (which is one of the most blatantly racist things a person can say, I think), we need to take a closer look to figure out how all these interact and work together to solve these problems. Let's get out in our communities and try to make a difference."

White kids from families earning under $20,000 a year perform as well on the SAT as black kids from families earning over $200,000 a year do. And of course closing the gap has been a national obsession for over half a century now, yet it remains incorrigibly intractable. Exactly zero progress has been made. Because we're not trying earnestly enough, I suppose!

"I'm just trying to share something I personally find to be important. I think it's important for people to both think about and to attempt at being comfortable discussing race. I'm not looking for a debate."

I'm doing just that--comfortably discussing race. I'm not trying to badger anyone else into debating it. You're the one who posted the link, after all.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ferguson, Michael Brown, and White Privilege

My response on social media to a piece that would make Tim Wise blush.


This is a pretty sick illustration of ethnomasochism, but that is the ecumenical religion of the contemporary Western white leftist, so one shouldn't be particularly surprised. Still, it almost seems like a parody. I say that because the four examples she gives--the Rodney King beating, the OJ Simpson trial, the Jena Six, and Trayvon Martin--are suboptimal examples for the writer to use to make her putative point. They are all blatant examples of really bad black behavior on display. The Rodney King case is the only one that is legally ambiguous--OJ Simpson was obviously guilty, the Jena Six were violent, racially-motivated thugs who were protected because of their athletic prowess, and the actual narrative of events in the Trayvon Martin case made it clear that under no stretch of the imagination could the American legal system convict George Zimmerman of criminal wrongdoing. Ferguson might turn out to be a different (ie, legitimate) story, but I don't think that's where the smart money is.

Blacks commit violent crimes, including murder, against whites at rates 40 times greater than whites commit against blacks each year in the US. That ratio has more-or-less held in place for at least the last few decades according to both FBI UCR data and crime victimization survey data. Black ACT and SAT scores carry an applicant farther than Hispanic scores do, which carry farther than white scores do, which carry farther than Asian scores do.

Relatedly, the mean IQ gap between whites and blacks has stayed remarkably constant for at least a century, at just over one standard deviation. And apparently white privilege, as propitious a thing as it is, is inferior to Asian or especially Ashkenazi Jewish privilege. Curious thing.

And then there's post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa, which by virtually every measure is faring worse than it was when it was imperially managed by Europeans. Rhodesia used to be Africa's breadbasket. Zimbabwe, well, not so much. Maybe colonialism was just a lot harder on Africans than it was on Indians, Indonesians, Filipinos, Hongkongers, Americans, Canadians, Australians, and on and on and on. If someone is able to name a municipality that is both majority-African administered and majority-African populated without being plagued by the problems that are common to Detroit, Haiti, and the Congo, do share.

Keep choking the golden goose and eventually it will die. In 1950, people of European descent comprised 25% of the world's population. By the turn of the century, it had dropped to 16%, and by 2050 it'll be under 10%. I suppose then social justice can finally be realized, Rwandan-style.

Big 5 personality traits and fertility

Dennis Mangan links to a study finding positive relationships between greater reproductive success and higher extraversion, lower conscientiousness, and lower openness to experience, as well as a more attenuated positive correlation with higher agreeableness.

The GSS dipped its toe in big five waters back in 2006, asking survey participants ten questions, two per trait (which is suboptimal, but we work with what we have). The mean number of children among respondents aged 30 or older by each trait (bifurcated for simplicity):

Extraverted -- 2.15
Introverted -- 2.19
Agreeable -- 2.38
Disagreeable -- 2.22
Conscientious -- 2.27
Unconscientious -- 1.98*
Stable -- 2.28
Neurotic -- 2.34
Open to experience -- 2.19
Closed to experience -- 2.17

Some marginal suggestive support for agreeableness but not for extraversion, conscientiousness, or openness to experience.

GSS variables used: BIG51A(1-2)(4-5), BIG51B(1-2)(4-5), BIG51C(1-2)(4-5), BIG51D(1-2)(4-5), BIG51E(1-2)(4-5)

* Only 8 valid cases--the others were in the 3- or 4-digits range--unfortunately, the conscientiousness questions are worded in such a way that a respondent really has to make himself out to be a dirt bag to categorize as not being conscientious; that is, he has to describe himself as someone who is lazy and incapable of doing a thorough job on things.

Michael Brown's mob fiddled while QuikTrip burned

Social media exchanges, with the germane comments of others in quotes, on a series of incidents that strike pretty close to home follow.


The innocent angel who was gunned down by the oppressive blue line in Ferguson, MO, going about his daily business filching cigars from an ethnic brave (or foolish) enough to do business in the hood.

These stories of putative actionable racial animus towards blacks by non-blacks are so often mendacious--if not outright hoaxes--that one's default presumption should almost be that they're bullshit until proven otherwise. After all, innocent until proven guilty does have some sort of history in this country, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, the empirically indisputable fact that blacks commit violent crimes against whites at a rate 40x higher than whites commit violent crimes against blacks is passed on in silence, with those daring to point out as much doing so at their own risks to their careers, safety, and even lives. What do you mean the emperor is naked? Those clothes he has on are very fancy!

"What is your solution?"

To drop the political correctness and talk about these things empirically. When AG Eric Holder says he wants an honest discussion about race, we should be all in. The race hustlers and media sensationalizers do no one (other than themselves) any good by so reliably and consistently assuming the worst when (statistically exceedingly rare) serious white-on-black violence occurs. When the demographics aren't right, the public tends not to hear about similar incidents (search Zac Champommier, for instance).

There are two obvious negative consequences of the Michael Brown story thus far: 1) Chain retailers, restaurants, etc are going to move out of Ferguson because the PR from the mob violence is really bad. Yeah, they get some sympathy for being looted and, in QuikTrip's case, torched, but the companies' reputations suffer as well, since they want to be seen as safe places for employees to work and customers to shop, and 2) Police everywhere are going to have yet another story admonishing them to take a hands-off approach in areas of the country that need policing the most. The silent majority in areas like Ferguson who are generally law-abiding and non-violent will end up paying the price.

"This just proves that both sides need to calm down and wait for all the facts to come out before jumping to conclusions. Did Brown deserve to die? Probably not. Was he an innocent angel gunned down completely without cause? Probably not."

Of course, the premature hysteria, histrionics, and violence tend to emanate from one side a lot more than they do from the other.

"So he didn't know he was a suspect..OR how about this LA times, he made an identification of a suspect based upon deductive reasoning taught at the most basic training in the PA that led to the assumption that he was a suspect in a BOLO."

The fact that the officer was not responding to a known suspect of the recent robbery doesn't mean that coming upon Brown and his friend (who has admitted the two did in fact steal from the store) he didn't make the potential connection.

As for the clarion call that this isn't 19th century France and filching cigars shouldn't get someone sent to the gallows, that's not the point. "Content of character" is a relevant concept that will be in play when assessing witness accounts of what occurred. It, in concert with the officer's alleged facial wounds, certainly makes the idea that Brown assaulted the police before being shot plausible.

Friday, August 15, 2014

When the girl who first he kissed promised him she'd be his

Heartiste, turning his powers of perspicacity on what may be an emerging bifurcation in the sexual culture of these formerly united states, makes one factual error in so doing. Its impact on his broader argument is marginal, but it is worth considering:
Some sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, but teen sex is down (while teen pregnancy is up *head scratch*).
Fortunately, teen pregnancy has been steadily declining over at least the last couple of decades:

In a sort of propitious reworking of the observation that the white illegitimacy rate today is as high as the black illegitimacy rate was upon the publication of Moynihan's famous report on the dissolution of the negro family, the black teenage birth rate today is on par with the white teenage birthrate of a generation ago. Progress need not always take away what forever took to find.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

States ranked by SPM (supplemental poverty measure) rates

As a provincial in the hinterlands, the title of Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? has been stuck in my craw since I first started blogging nearly a decade ago. It's not due to a necessarily strong attachment to the state I call home, but to the presumption that being in a place like Manhattan--crowded, polluted concrete jungle surrounded by millions of status-striving lemmings who are renting spaces one-third the size of the house I own--is inherently a superior way to live. Some people thrive off being engrossed in the busy anonymity of an entirely artificial world, but not everyone does, nor is such an existence necessarily superior to a more settled, personable (and generally more materially comfortable) lifestyle.

That superciliousness is palpable in a book like Frank's, in which the author sardonically argues that red-staters in flyover country vote against their own economic interests with both persistence and ignorance. Those pathetic retrogrades, how pitiable they are being manipulated so! Such an argument rests on the assumption that said flyover states are poor. Looking merely at nominal income statistics, there is such a case to be made. The real value of a dollar, though, is what you can get in return for it, and in flyover country that dollar goes a lot farther than it does in the boroughs.

Several years ago, Steve Sailer attempted to get a handle on monetary standard-of-livings by state using ACCRA's cost-of-living index. That index isn't perfect (at least not the free version) since state values are calculated by an unjustifiable equal weighting of participating cities with those not participating left entirely unaccounted for.

Census data from 2012 offer another way to approach the question, with what the august institution deems the "Supplemental Poverty Measure" (SPM--my thanks to MG for the heads up). Here are a few of the major differences in the way the official poverty measure and the SPM are computed:

The SPM adjusts for things like effective household size, housing costs (for which there is enormous geographic variation), taxes, etc.

The following table inversely ranks the 50 states plus DC by their SPMs. A visual representation of the same is subsequently presented. This fares better on the smell test than the official poverty rate does in terms of comparing and contrasting relatively poor and affluent states:

1) Iowa8.6
2) North Dakota9.2
2) Wyoming9.2
4) Minnesota9.7
5) Nebraska9.8
6) Vermont10.1
7) New Hampshire10.2
8) South Dakota10.6
9) Wisconsin10.8
10) Maine 11.2
11) Kansas11.5
12) Idaho11.6
12) Utah11.6
14) Montana12.1
15) Washington12.2
16) Missouri12.4
17) Alaska12.5
17) Connecticut12.5
19) Pennsylvania12.6
20) West Virginia12.9
21) Ohio13.2
22) Virginia13.3
23) Maryland13.4
23) Oklahoma13.4
25) Alabama13.5
25) Michigan13.5
27) Kentucky13.6
27) Rhode Island13.6
29) Colorado13.7
30) Massachusetts13.8
31) Delaware13.9
31) Oregon13.9
33) Indiana14.2
33) North Carolina14.2
35) Illinois15.2
36) New Jersey15.5
36) Tennessee15.5
38) South Carolina15.8
39) Mississippi16.1
39) New Mexico16.1
41) Texas16.4
42) Arkansas16.5
43) Hawaii17.3
44) New York18.1
45) Georgia18.2
46) Louisiana18.5
47) Arizona18.8
48) Florida19.5
49) Nevada19.8
50) District of Columbia22.7
51) California23.8

The darker the state, the higher the proportion of its impoverished residents:

Jack Cashill's riposte, What's the Matter with California?, does a better job than Frank's book in identifying where the real economic--among others!--problems are. The Upper Midwest is the most materially comfortable part of the country, and as one moves in pretty much any direction away from it things more-or-less tend to get worse. Yes, the weather in that part of the US isn't what most people consider optimal, especially those of the Sun variety. But that might be seen as a feature rather than a bug. The inverse correlation between the percentage of the population that is (non-Hispanic) white and its SPM rate is a staggering .81 (p = .0000000000001). Diversity is Strength! It's also... poverty.

Additionally, SPM rates modestly inversely correlate (.37, p = .007) with Romney's share of the 2012 presidential vote. Republican states are more egalitarian than Democratic states are, and, as a consequence, it could be cynically be argued, Democrats have a vested political interest in perpetuating inequality since they tend to do better the more economic inequality there is. Then again, one might think the GOP would have a similar interest in promoting economic equality, but alas. Don't say the party doesn't earn its stupid party sobriquet!

Finally, SPM rates correlate with a couple other unflattering characteristics of New York (or California, or DC, where Frank lives, for that matter) vis-a-vis Kansas: IQ (inversely at .67, p = .000000006) and population density (.39, p = .004).

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The bored supremacy

Several years ago I took a look at the relationship between boredom and intelligence. Turns out the two things are inversely related. When Razib Khan says he is unable to recount a time he has been bored in his adult life, believe him.

Personally, I can't remember ever feeling bored (with leisure time, that is--there are moments in professional life or while waiting in a checkout line that are inevitably going to feel wasted, but that's not really what we're interested in here) since at least as far back as high school, and that perpetual feeling of what I'll phrase as existential engagement has only intensified as I've gotten older. Just getting to work on my backlog of books to read and podcasts to listen to guarantees I won't be twiddling my thumbs for months, and even if I did nothing else with my free time but these two things, I've reached a sort of singularity in which my to-do stack grows at a faster rate than my ability to shrink it down does. I doubt that strikes anyone reading this as particularly unique, either.

Data from the GSS suggests that I'm just entering the sweet spot and shouldn't have to worry about creeping boredom for at least another three decades or so, when senility and empty nesting presumably combine for a nasty one-two punch. The following graph shows the average existential engagement score by age of respondent. The higher the value, the more engaged (and less often bored) respondents report being. N = 2,060:

There is some year-to-year randomness, but an arch-shaped (or maybe Roman aqueduct-shaped, since it plateaus in the middle!) general life trajectory is identifiable. Boredom is relatively common in the late teens (and presumably even more so in the early and mid-teens, though the GSS doesn't interview minors) and doesn't level off until the mid-twenties. For the next 35 years or so, it's fairly steady before beginning to slowly but steadily creep back into the picture from the early sixties onward. Incidentally, 46 is the age that garners the least bored ratings of all. Dennis Mangan's recent speculations about a lack of work (ie retirement) and a corresponding reduction in the will to live might be relative here.

Parenthetically, existential engagement by race and then by sex follow. Again, the higher the score, the less bored members of the relevant group report being:

Asians -- 2.49
Whites -- 2.41
Blacks -- 2.24
Hispanics -- 2.14

Women -- 2.34
Men -- 2.27

Idle hands (and minds) are the Devil's workshop.

GSS variables used: BORED, AGE, RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), SEX

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Gelded Age

Thanks to Jokah for pointing out this sign of our times:

White men (non-Hispanic) are four times as likely as Hispanic men and eight times as likely as black men (non-Hispanic) to undergo male sterilization. I suspect that in very few cases they do so for the same reasons Origen allegedly did, however!

White women are less than twice as likely as white men are to become sterilized. In contrast, Hispanic women are an order of magnitude more likely to sterilize than Hispanic men are and black women are over twenty times more likely to tie their tubes than are black men.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Spoonfuls of sugar

Understanding that pill-based contraceptives increase estrogen levels as a means of essentially tricking a woman's body into thinking she's already pregnant and that studies have shown changes in female mate preferences when on the pill compared to when off of it (relatively more interested in betas when on and in alphas when off), I wonder if the increase in regular pill-based contraceptive use might be contributing to the decrease in promiscuity among contemporary American women*--especially younger women--compared to women a generation or two in the past.

I'm able to find research and commentary on the potentially disruptive affects switching on (or off) the pill during a relationship that began when off (or on) it can have, but not an attempt to systematically look at the influence increasing pill penetration into the US market has had on sexual behavior. Here are a couple of graphs from a CDC report that give some sense of how pill usage has increased over time--a trend that is unlikely to reverse with health insurance providers being mandated to include coverage for contraception:

This is speculative, of course, and the increases in the share of sexually active women using the pill at any given time has only increased from the low teens to the upper teens over the last thirty years (though NAMs are less likely to use the pill (p8) and the NAM percentage of the population has increased markedly in the last three decades) so any associated affects on mate choice probably only matter at the margins. Still, the thought that something putatively liberating like the pill could actually be gently shifting female preferences in the direction of mundane providers and away from bad boys is kind of funny.

* Based on self-reported behavioral surveys and sexually-transmitted disease rates. It is possible that women low-ball their partner counts more now than in the past. That doesn't seem particularly likely, however, since slut-shaming was presumably worse in the past than it is today, and consequently the expectation would be for women to be more honest than ever before because "omg don't judge!"

And your little dog, too

The ghastly murders and despicable evasion of the death penalty enjoyed by the Carr brothers in Wichita are things many people who live in Kansas--let alone the rest of the country--aren't even aware of (unless they listen to Radio Derb, something everyone should be doing), despite the fact that the demographics of the murderers and the murdered are far, far more representative of crime trends in the US than high profile cases like the Trayvon Martin killing are.

War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. The Carr victims were middle class white twenty-somethings, so they had it coming to them. If there was any social justice in this world we'd dig them all up and shoot them again!

For those to whom no amount of implicity can succeed in communicating a point, here are the totally unsurprising visages of the animals we've all been paying to keep alive for over a decade now:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gender bender

From Google's Ngram viewer, the percentage of books published in the US, by year, that contain the term "sexes" and that contain the term "genders". Both terms are plural to facilitate the making of an apples-to-apples comparison (the verb form of "sex" thus being excluded).

If sex/gender is more than just a social construction, perhaps it can still be reduced to little more than a surgical construction? Just don't look at brain scans, musculature, waist-to-hip ratio, height, vocal inflection...

Oh yeah, you're a woman trapped in a man's body, are you? Prove it!:

As the concerns of gays and especially lesbians get trounced by trannies, one wonders what even more marginal, less consequential group's hyperbolic concerns will displace those of the gender benders.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Everybody loves Jews, Jews most especially

Some findings from a recent Pew Research report entitled "How Americans Feel About Religious Groups" follow.

Allow a few technical considerations to be run through beforehand. The (ir)religious groups under consideration are not defined in the questions Pew posed to survey participants, so the somewhat nebulous terms "Jew" (is it an ethnicity, religious persuasion, either/or?) and "Evangelical" remain open to interpretation by survey participants. The groups Pew inquired about include Evangelical Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists. 

There is a glaring hole in the lack of a category for non-Evangelical Protestants who are often referred to in surveys like these as "mainline" Protestants. However, the questions don't imply that the groups are either mutually exclusive or exhaustive, so this is an issue of missing data points, not overall data corruption. The results that are gleaned come primarily from the data on page 14, which reports self-described feelings on a scale from 0-100 (higher = better) towards the various religious groups with the responses from those being asked about their own group backed out.

- Jews receive the most positive overall ratings among the eight groups. This holds for white and Hispanic men and women of all ages, though blacks put Jews in second behind Evangelicals. Thomas Sowell's Black Rednecks and White Liberals is validated once again. Nice to see Hispanics assimilating to some American norms, anyway!

- Whites put Muslims at the bottom of the pile. Blacks and Hispanics place atheists there.

- Despite being--or perhaps because they are--the living embodiment of the 1950s middle class America ideal, Mormons aren't rated very favorably by anyone. Among whites and Hispanics they come in ahead of only atheists and Muslims. And among blacks, in front of just atheists.

- Understanding that SWPLs like religions they weren't born into, it should come as no surprise that Democrats put Jews in the #1 spot with Buddhists trailing just behind in second place. Given the tepid response from blacks towards aspiring bodhisattvas, Buddhists might even beat out Jews among white liberals, though it's difficult to say for sure because the data aren't broken out by both race and partisan affiliation. 

- The differences between men and women are marginal. Women are slightly more amenable to the monotheistic Abrahamic faiths--Christianity, Judaism, and Islam--and a bit less friendly towards the polytheistic and irreligious stuff--Buddhism, Hinduism, and atheism--than men are.

- Atheists give as good as they get. While Evangelicals only give atheists a 25, atheists give Evangelicals a similar 28. In contrast, there's a lot of love (and overlap?) between Jews and atheists, with Jews giving atheists a 55 and atheists returning the favor with a 61 score for Jews.

- There's a clear trend for relatively greater affection to be expressed for Muslims and atheists among younger cohorts than among older cohorts. As America becomes more multicultural, non-American traditions are increasingly embraced. Notably, Mormons buck the trend--older cohorts are more accepting of Mormons than younger cohorts are. White America, won't you die already?! Relax, Tim, much of white America is slashing at its own wrists, though Mormon stock is going up, up, up. Ethnomasochism isn't an affliction Mormons suffer from.

- Because everyone loves a Jew sandwich, we'll finish by focusing on the chosen people again. Jews think Jews are the bee's knees. They give themselves an 89, the single highest rating recorded in the entire survey. They despise Evangelicals, however, reserving their lowest score of 34 for those atonement-obsessive gospel goons. Yep, Jews expressed slightly more positive feelings towards Muslims than they did towards Evangelicals, the same Evangelicals who salute the white, stripe, and baby blue. Evangelicals duly turn the other cheek, rating Jews more highly than any other group save for other Evangelicals. Parenthetically, the lowest score was the aforementioned 25 given to atheists by Evangelicals. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hey Andy, two-point conversions all season

Steve Sailer recently pondered over ways the NFL might make the point after touchdown (PAT, or "extra point" in the vernacular) attempt a little more exciting by making it's outcome less predictable. Over the last five regular seasons, PAT attempts were successful 99.20% of the time. For people other than Americans or Canadians being introduced to the game, it must seem like a bizarre waste of time. The long break in meaningful action following a touchdown can easily last six or seven minutes: Touchdown; PAT attempt; commercial break; kickoff (often resulting in a touchback); commercial break; action finally resumes from the 20. A feature if you're a spectator who needs a poop break but a bug for everyone else.

The league toyed with and ultimately rejected--at least for the time being--the idea of moving the PAT back significantly, all the way to 25-yard line. For the first two weeks of the preseason, however, PAT attempts will be spotted at the 20-yard line, instead of at the usual 2. The mean success rates for equivalent field goal attempts at the two increased yard line spots, 25 and 20, are about 78% and 83%, respectively. From the 20, that means nearly 1-in-5 PAT attempts will fail. Hypothetically, a game in which a PAT attempt is missed will presumably become rather commonplace, even expected, occurring at some point in two-thirds of games played assuming six touchdowns scored per game on average.

If real PAT success rates fell to around 80%, the productive approach for a team to take over the long term would simply be to nix the extra point try and make a habit of attempting two-point conversions instead. Over the last five regular seasons, the two-point conversion success rate has been a rather impressive 47.87% (135 conversions out of 282 tries).

That is higher than I would've guessed. The expected return on extra point kicks and two-point conversion attempts are almost identical as is .992 and .957, respectively*.

Many high-powered offensive teams could presumably see their own two-point conversion rate crest over the 50% mark if they employed it regularly throughout the course of a season. A team that made two-point conversions standard operating procedure would force the opposing defense to be on the field an average of an additional three or four plays during the course of a game--an additional, if marginal, benefit. Like the paucity of 4th down conversion attempts being made, it's probably a combination of convention and the desire to avoid the flak that inevitably comes from gambling unsuccessfully that keeps from NFL coaches from trying this approach.

Moving the kick back 18 or 23 yards, though, will render the expected return from extra point kicks lower than that of two-point conversion attempts. Well, of two-point conversion attempts from the 2-yard line, anyway. A CBS sportswriter insinuates that the preseason shakeup will increase the incentive to attempt a two-point conversion, but that only makes sense if the nature of the post-touchdown attempt has to be decided prior to the ball being spotted. Obviously a two-point conversion attempt from the 20 is unthinkable unless the team attempting it is down by 2 with very little time left in regulation. An write up says the same as the CBS guy, so maybe the nature of the post-touchdown attempt will have to be announced beforehand (ie, no lining up for a fake PAT attempt as can be done in the case of a field goal or punt).

Here's to hoping that the PAT kick attempt eventually gets spotted farther back than is currently the case (and/or that the goal posts are narrowed, an upper crossbar is added to make kicks more blockable as Steve suggests, etc) so that extra points become rarer and two-point conversion attempts correspondingly become more common. Having realistic 3-, 6-, 7-, 8- and the occasional 2-point scoring increments would be an improvement in the dynamism department over the current 3- and 7-, and in rare instances 2-, 6-, or 8-point sequences. As anyone familiar with the game will attest, two-point conversion attempts are exciting in and of themselves on top of the fact that they expand the number of potential scoring outcomes in a game.

The importance of special teams is regularly overblown by sports media mooks. This third facet of the game is not of equal importance to offense or defense. The latter and especially the former have greater influences on the outcomes of games than special teams typically do.

* To make expected average returns the same for two-point conversions (from the 2-yard line) and extra points, the ball would need to be spotted on the 10-yard line for PAT kick attempts.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Donovan and Carter don't know jack about Jace

In his third Start the World podcast, Jack Donovan and Paul Carter discuss a whole range of topics loosely tied to the concept(s) of masculinity in the contemporary Western world*. Summarizing very generally, the conclusions are mostly of the variety the manosphere is known for arriving at--the modern world, especially WEIRD societies, are not conducive to the mental (or physical) health of men. The more masculine the man, the worse the situation. Donovan's message resonates with me, though when I detect an eagerness for the shit to hit the fan, as the expression goes, I immediately hear Hobbes whispering in my other ear and begin thinking one should be careful what he wishes for.

Anyway, my point isn't to offer novel insight into the ongoing debate since I have none to offer. Instead, it is to lay a couple of critiques on Carter.

First, on the question of living an adventurous life, Carter points to Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) as a self-evident illustration of modern men wasting away, vicariously trying to do what they should be doing in first person. The intention is to call to mind something akin to this--nerds spending a Friday night giggling and snorting as they move little pieces around a board while imagining they're partaking in a life-or-death adventure. As a polemical device, that's fine. But then, apparently to make his argument more contemporarily relevant since D&D hearkens back a generation or two, Carter then swaps Magic: The Gathering (MTG) as a stand-in for D&D and proceeds to refer to it for the duration of the conversation (the two talk about it enough to merit the inclusion of "magic the gathering" as one of the six tags to a nearly 90-minute podcast).

It's clear that neither guy is anything more than superficially aware of at least MTG. The point is to allude to an archetype of an under-achieving, aspergery, high IQ waste-away. I get that. But Donovan is too serious a thinker to be so intellectually lazy (in fairness to him, Carter is the one who drives the discussion towards the games and their presumed connotations). D&D is low-tech fantasy role-playing. The reason it dates Carter and Donovan is because it has largely been supplanted by MMOs like World of Warcraft, which meet the same demands, albeit on a much larger, more aesthetically-engrossing scale.

MTG is a conducted exclusively through the use of playing cards^. It is a rigidly structured, competitive game, no more or less arbitrary than any iteration of poker. In fact, a useful analogy for understanding what MTG is: Chess is to checkers as MTG is to poker. Jon Finkel and David Williams aren't aberrations--a large contingent of top flight poker players are also professional MTG players. Playing both makes it obvious why this is the case. There is no dungeon master coming up with obstacles and interpreting how those are dealt with in MTG. The Tolkienesque themes (or, in the most recent set, Greco-Roman themes) in MTG are entirely flavorful; they have no bearing on actual game play.

That something like MTG attracts competitive people who are both good at and enjoy thinking statistically--like poker, at its most essential, MTG is about managing probabilities--means it is going to disproportionately bring in Ice men who tend to lack a similar comparative advantage in more physically-oriented activities (though there are plenty who enjoy both), but that's a process of identifying a demographic profile, not creating one.

What makes Carter's pummeling of MTG the more grating is that he launches into it right after talking about his time in the IT field. In summary: "IT guys are existential wastrels. They're the same guys who play MTG, and MTG players are wastrels." However, Carter was in IT but he isn't a wastrel today, nor was he a wastrel when he worked in IT. But if you play MTG, well, he doesn't need to hear anything from the likes of you, wastrel! Uh huh.

Parenthetically, players of the relatively new EDH-variant of MTG probably better approximate the D&D stereotype of thirty years ago.

The other critique of Carter (and Donovan) comes in their prescribing that men find something they enjoy doing and make a living out of doing it. They proffer this relatively conventional advice through the prism of masculinity, and as such, it's unobjectionable as an aspiration--getting paid to do something you'd gladly do for free is a heck of a gig. The problem comes in the insinuation that this is an experience that has somehow been lost over time, and that in modern society men are forced to spend all their time running on the consumerist treadmill unlike our ancestors did.

This might be conceivable if the putative golden age occurred prior to the onset of agriculture, but over the last 10,000 years or so, there is probably no time like the present--or at least no time like the last half-century, though it may have peaked a couple of decades ago--in which people are able to (and are doing) just that. For the vast majority of human history, most men barely had the capacity to travel to the next town over or ever do much of anything beyond attaining mere subsistence provisions and mundane household upkeep. Over the course of history, very few men have had the possibility of living the life of a Henry Bolingbroke. Today, if they so choose to do so, all people in the developed world who aren't stuck in underclass can craft such an existence for themselves. Most elect not to (although some do)--and that's really what Donovan and Carter are getting at.

* Donovan distills the definition down to four essential qualities: Strength, courage, honor, and competency (or skill, as in maintaining and developing one's own skill set). When I first heard him speak, I instantly became better able to articulate why Gladiator is my favorite movie. Strength and honor, strength and honor.

^ With the exception of the use of a random number generator to determine who goes first, and, very rarely, in certain game state conditions.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Exodus, er, Parenting 3:14

In another virtual context, Jayman posed the following question:
Is it possible to believe that parenting (beyond the primary functions of keeping your kids healthy and safe) has no long-term impact on children's intelligence, personalities, values, or life outcomes - which it in fact has none - and still engage in most parental activities for fact that they bring joy to all involved and no other reason (or, at least, for the reason that they give your children fond memories of childhood)?
The answer seems self-evidently to be an emphatic "yes". I say "self-evidently" because the same set of questions, only slightly altered, could be posed to one's self, and the answer for virtually everyone will be the same "yes". There are a countless number of ways I can spend my leisure time, none of which are going to have much impact on how I influence the social statistics on income or heart disease rates or how my data point figures into a certain population's average IQ or personality trait profile. Yet how I spend that leisure time is not meaningless from my own subjective perspective. To the contrary, it is the essence of my existentialism.

We live our lives quite subjectively, even those of us who make a concerted effort to look at the world around us as objectively as we are able to.

My response to a question like this dovetails well with my response to the question of free will because, if one takes a moment to dwell on them simultaneously, it becomes apparent that there is a lot of overlap. We may not believe that we have free will, but we all act as though we believe that we do. Subjectively we have it, even if objectively we do not. Existentially, it doesn't matter much one way or the other, especially when it comes to the day-to-day activities that, collectively, constitute life as each one of us experiences it.

We may not think what we do to our children or to ourselves has much--if any--long-term impact on the way their or our lives turn out, but we all act as though our behaviors and decisions do. Paradoxically, knowing that the parental approaches game is one with pretty low-stakes allows a person to engage the parental role with enjoyment--memory-making and the like--as the goal, rather than anxiously agonizing over every deceptively malleable moment of it.

The die is cast. Cross the Rubicon without regret!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Muddy snowflakes

In response to a study showing that phrases like "hive mind" quite aptly describe the political left generally and SWPLs in particular, Jokah commented:
The only problem is that "liberals" does not just refer to white liberals, right? Does this then undercut the hypothesis that the coalition of the diverse will eventually fracture due to, er, divergent interests?
First, the percentage breakdowns of self-described political orientation by race in the US. For contemporary relevance, all responses are from 2000 onward:

All non-White31.941.626.5

Even though among Democrats non-whites tend to be less liberal than whites, on net non-whites are more likely to describe themselves as liberal than whites are. When I last watched tv news a decade or so ago, I recall that it was common among mainstream right pundits (Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly) to describe the US as a "center-right" country. More accurately, white America is a center-right country. Non-white America, not so much.

Unlike the racial and ethnic confounds that render useless a Swedish study on the connection between fertility and incarceration, the opposite is the case here. The racial angle accentuates the broader pattern. For all the racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity the Left boasts, its members quite reliably tow the ideological line.

Those on the alternative right often point to the potential fissures in the leftist coalition that seem likely to occur along those same aforementioned racial, ethnic, and sexual fault lines, yet there is broad overall agreement on major political, cultural, and economic issues among the demographically diverse Left. That suggests that ideological conformity among Leftist sub-groups--white liberals, gay liberals, black liberals, etc--is even stronger still.

SWPLs = lockstep; Liberals as a whole = mostly lockstep; Conservatives = relatively ideologically diverse; Alternative right = herd of cats.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2012), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16)(2-16), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)