Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sharia Law applied in Britain

Muslims in Europe aren't integrating. They're not assimilating. They're creating parallel societies hostile to the broader host culture and hostile to its laws and values:
Sharia, derived from several sources including the Koran, is applied to varying degrees in predominantly Muslim countries but it has no binding status in Britain.

However, the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action produced evidence yesterday that it was being used by some Muslims as an alternative to English criminal law. Aydarus Yusuf, 29, a youth worker from Somalia, recalled a stabbing case that was decided by an unofficial Somali "court" sitting in Woolwich, south-east London.

Mr Yusuf said a group of Somali youths were arrested on suspicion of stabbing another Somali teenager. The victim's family told the police it would be settled out of court and the suspects were released on bail.
Where's Enoch Powell? English common law has developed over 800 years and underlies much of the legal system in former British colonies like Australia, Canada, and the US. Yet immigrants in Britain herself are ignoring it with the blessings of the police and governmental officials. Currently Sharia law is being used in place of English law when both the alleged perpetrators and victims agree to it. But it won't be long before the accused argue that they are not subject to the law of the land but instead to the law of their home countries.

As if multicultural social mores and customs don't undermine societal cohesiveness and lead to enough mistrust between various people in a society, some in Britain's legal community see this as progress:
Some lawyers welcomed the advance of what has become known as "legal pluralism".
I recall a mentor who has said, only half-jokingly, that in school half the kids want to grow up to be doctors and the other half aspire to be lawyers. The former want to build society up, the latter to tear it down.

A Somali-born Briton candidly explains why he and others do not adhere to British law:
Mr Yusuf told the programme he felt more bound by the traditional law of his birth than by the laws of his adopted country. "Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law," he said. "It's not sharia, it's not religious — it's just a cultural thing."
No wonder other countries in Europe, like the Netherlands and France, are screening immigrants by asking potential newcomers their thoughts on various aspects of their host country's national culture. A more potent way of stopping European law and society from being rejected by those living in Europe would be to stop immigration from parts of the world that are prone to disagree with Western societal models, especially the Islamic world.

Addiction strikes online gamers

People use the word "addicted" loosely. But when someone tells you he's addicted to a video game, he may not be exaggerating:

Thousands of people who log on to online computer games are displaying the same signs of addiction as gamblers and drug users.

The world of online gaming is a growing phenomenon with millions of young men and women around the globe logging on to join in role-play games which allow them to interact with other players.

A study of 7,000 online computer gamers has revealed that one in nine were displaying at least three signs of addiction. ...

They included craving, withdrawal symptoms, loss of control and neglect of other activities.
I used to be among those one-in-nine before starting this blog back in May of '05. My poison was Warcraft II, the revolutionary online strategy game that built the brandname World of Warcraft has so successfully been able to exploit. I displayed many of the signs that substance addicts do: I was consumed with withdrawal when not playing (especially near the end of ladder season), broke up with a girlfriend of a year in part because of a loyalty to it instead of her after school and work, was oblivious to anything else while playing (being late to class and unresponsive to the phone or door), and was extremely irritable, flush, and had an elevated heart rate during and for hours after stopping play. It wasn't infrequent for me to start playing at nine or ten on Friday evening and not turn in until four in the morning on Saturday.

I've gone cold-turkey in avoiding new online games to avoid falling into the same addictive pattern. My saving grace was that newer games like Warcraft III and WoW caused continued attrition among W2 players, to the point that it is unusual for more than 1,000 players to be using at any given time, so competitive games are only sporadically available. Occasionally I still play, but only when I've some obligation scheduled in the next couple of hours that'll force me off. The same symptoms remain. Like other addictions, 'moderation' isn't really an option.

I have friends that are into the WoW scene, and they devote countless hours to play. Blizzard Entertainment has adapted to milk the gamers in ways that didn't exist when Warcraft II was all the rage. While W2 is a real-time strategy game, games last for fifteen or twenty minutes (think chess with a lot more complexity and without pauses between turns). WoW and Second Life, however, feature characters that are role-played for multiple sittings and whose attributes and features save. So not playing means you're falling behind. There is a monthly $15 fee, and expansions are continually released allowing players to level up and gain abilities that had been unattainable prior to the new release. So people have an 'incentive' to come back and spend more to stay on top. Still, the French-owned company hasn't yet found a way to milk the market perfectly--characters sell for upwards of $1,000 at online auction sites like Ebay.

According to the study, most players aren't addicted. I have a predisposition toward addictive behaviors through family history, and the same processes are at work when addicts game as when they drink or shoot up or whatever. As far as addictions go, it's quite benign (although the Daily Mail article points out some tragic results, including a man who shot himself at his computer desk). The online world allows for people to develop relationships with people the world over who share similar interests. In addition to serving as a social outlet, it also serves as an entertainment medium free of political correctness, providing mostly young men (about 20% of gamers are estimated to be female) a way to engage in epic campgaigns to destroy the evil ones in a violent and glorious manner. Nothing about understanding the institutionalized bias against the undead that have caused them to eat your flesh. It's genetic, damnit, and they've gotta die (again)!

We haven't evolved to handle many of the technological innovations that fill so much of the space in our lives well. As online games continue to progressively represent reality more and more, it'll be even tougher. I'm keeping a safe distance for now, playing old emulator single-player games in my leisure instead.

Western birthrates headed for an upswing?

Randall Parker isn't concerned about fertility rates below replenishment in all of the developed world save the US (which is right on the cusp) and Israel:

We are going to witness an increase in fertility as both genes and beliefs that favor fertility get selected for. It is not reasonable to expect the human race will escape selective pressures for higher fertility.
My problem with that is fecundity should have been progressively selected for throughout human history. Even without widespread contraceptive availability that has characterized most of the developed world since the seventies, a method known as coitus interruptus has been used for thousands of years with a failure rate in the upper teens, and this is from a lack of self-control--done properly, the failure rate is basically nil. Comparatively, the failure rate for the pill is about 10%, and for condoms it's around 15%. Historically, those who've not wanted children have had ways to avoid having them to an extent that alleles favoring lots of procreation should have risen to the fore.

Randall points to a slight edging up in the total number of births in the US from 2004 to 2005 (from 4,115,052 to 4,140,419, an increase of 28,367--see page 4). But Hispanic births jumped 36,513. In other words, non-Hispanic total births decreased from the prior year. All of this drop occured among whites, who lost 12,178 births as a group, a decrease of .5% from the year before.

I worry that culture may be more important than genes in this case. Spain, for example, had one of the highest total fertility rates in Europe only a few decades ago (nearly 3 children per woman). Franco's Spain was characterized by pro-natalist policies including the banning of contracpetives and the encouragement of large families. Thirty years later, with the Socialist Worker's party in charge, Spain has plummeted to the bottom of the birthing barrel, even by European standards (with a total fertility rate of 1.28).

Even if the desire to birth children (rather than just to have sex) is influenced primarily by genetics, Occidental fecundity will take several generations to turn around. But the effects of increased birthing on the size of the total population suffers from lag a few generations in duration.

Consider a hypothetical community in which 50 men and 50 women drop out of the sky as infants (total 100). Each live to 95 and give birth to one child (the women does) at age 30. Thus, after 30 years we have 150 people. Of those 50 newborns, 25 are men and 25 are women who will follow the same pattern. Thirty years later, we have 175 people total: 100 at age sixty, 50 at thirty, and 25 infants (population still growing).

Another 30 years, with the same birth cycles for our third generation (say 13 are women, 12 are men) and we now have 188 people total. But the age distribution is economically disastrous: 100 people are ninety, 50 are sixty, 25 are thirty, and 13 are infants. Supporting the people on top is smothering the younger generations, especially the 25 who are currnetly thirty years old.

The economic burden of supporting the senescent people makes it likely that they will have even fewer children than they did (relative to their parents). It's a vicious circle. This is where the West is today. Thirty years later the proportions are the same, but the population has finally started shrinking (because the largest first generation finally kicked the bucket): 50 people at ninety, 25 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and six infants (94 total people).

Now we are in free-fall. Thirty years later at the same births per woman, and we have only 47 people (25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 3 infants). If we do finally get our act (er, bodies) together, it takes generations for the momentum to actually shift. Let's say instead of plummeting, that last generation actually became thrice as fertile and had three kids per woman: 25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 9 infants (total 53). The next generation similarly has three children per woman: 13 at ninety, 6 at sixty, 9 at thirty, and 13 infants (total 41). Three generations into three-children women: 6 at ninety, 9 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and 20 infants (total 48). Four generations of birthing well above the replenishment rate, and we still have fewer people than we did at the height of the single-child generation.

Thankfully, the momentous global demographic changes are beginning to be brought up in the mainstream media. As people become cognizant of the fact that in 1960, people of Western European ancestry comprised 25% of the world's population. At the century mark, they made up 17%. By 2050, they'll make up only 10%.

Unfortunately, the quickest political fix will be to import people with higher fertility rates, increasing the total population and upping the population growth rate at the same time. France has one of the highest birthrates in Europe. It also has the largest Muslim population on the Old Continent. The southwestern states have some of the highest birth rates in the US. The northeast is below replenishment. This is a strategy to replace people, not replenish them.

I'm not mollified. The numbers game continues to worry me and others.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Interesting bits on state IQ estimates

A few thought-provoking bits from the state IQ estimates using 8th grade NAEP math and science testing results that correlated almost perfectly with those published by VCU's Professor McDaniel:

Estimated IQs by demographic group when only math or only science scores are considered:

Whites -- 99.8, 101.5
Blacks -- 93.3, 88.6
Hispanics -- 94.9, 91.4
Asians -- 101.0, 99.8

Why do whites perform better in the arena of science while the others excel (relatively) in math? Asians and Hispanics aren't terribly surprising considering that visuospatial attributes of intelligence are stronger than verbal/analytical in Mongoloid groups.

Correlations between estimated average state IQ and...

% smokers -- .22 (not significant at more than 88% confidence)
State's racial composition -- .85
State's gini coefficient -- (.30) (showing a modest relationship between economic equality and higher IQ)
% of people with bachelor's or higher -- .28
Violent crime rate -- (.73) (violent crime and decreasing IQ are vigorously related)
Unemployment rate -- (.27) (as unemployment rate drops, IQ increases)
Life expectancy -- .40
Poverty rate -- (.32) (More destitution means lower IQ)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

DC to get Congressional vote?

The DC Voting Rights Amendment has been revived. Or at least Pelosi planning to cast vivify on it:
U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the incoming speaker of the House of Representatives, supports District voting rights and is a co-sponsor of legislation that would give Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) a full vote in the House, a spokeswoman said yesterday.
A couple of major obstacles might confound her effort. For one, DC doesn't have enough people to merit being its own congressional district unless it is henceforth considered a state (it requires around 650,000 bodies per vote--the latest Census estimate puts DC's total population at 550,000 and shrinking). That the capital gets Eleanor Norton to debate on the floor is a privilege (although you might argue that Wyoming's right to a house member is suspect, since that state has just a hair over a half a million people--150,000 fewer than each state is required to have to obtain extra representatives).

Secondly, the second and third sections of Article I dictate that only states are entitled to Senators and House members. Amendment twenty-three also limits DC's electoral power. Presumably a revamped DC Voting Rights bill would be struck down as unconstitutional, and the District would only get a Congressional vote with the passage of a new amendment repealing the twenty-third.

Consequently, Pelosi is pledging in her first 100 hours to give Norton a sort-of vote:
On Thursday, Pelosi said she would change House rules on the first day of the new Democratic-controlled session in January so that Norton could vote on proposed changes but not final approval of legislation on the House floor. That would be a temporary measure, Norton said.
At first glance, it seems like a cheap ploy to solidify Democratic power in Congress. But the bill also grants Utah (the state on the cusp of earning another representative anyway) its fourth House member who'd be, oddly, chosen in a statewide election to accomodate Democrats fearing a redistricting might breakup the lonely blue stronghold of Salt Lake City. What side of the aisle he'd land on is up in the air. Even if the move helped the Democratic Party legislatively, it would aid the GOP executaviely, as Utah would be given an additonal electoral vote, increasing its total to six.

The deprived DC mantra is that the District's residents suffer from taxation without representation, although it's hard to elicit a lot of sympathy when the city has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation. Fat Knowledge made a similar point regarding unequal Senatorial representation:
I figured that the Democrats would have a hard time regaining control of the Senate because of the gerrymandering that redrew congressional house districts to give Republicans a better chance of winning. Turns out I was looking at the wrong chamber of [Congress]. ...

The Democrats represent 4.5 million more people but have 11 fewer seats.

He was commenting on a NYT' piece that highlighted how Republican Senators come from more sparsely populated states than do Democrats (there are only 254,647 people for each Republican Senator from Wyoming while there are 18,066,074 people for each Democratic Senator from California--over seventy times as many people per Senator in Cali than in Wyoming!) Of course, the 38% of the Golden State's population that voted against Boxer in the 2004 election got hosed. I'm sure much of the state's interior wishes it could comprise it's own state for purposes of political representation, as do the millions of Republicans in other large blue states like New York. Republican Senators, although representing smaller populations, also more accurately reflect the views of those they represent than do Democratic Senators.

I say leave all as is. The last thing we need is a new movement sweeping across the political landscape calling for new states to be created out of existing ones in an effort to garner more Congressional and Electoral representation. Let's not attempt to vivify a reincarnation of Missouri compromise haggling.

Friday, November 24, 2006

More WSJ disingenuity on immigration

During the World Cup, the WSJ op/ed board had a piece snubbing the rabble for wanting sovereign borders in everyday life but was happy to have great immigrant athletes on various sports teams that they supported. A child is able to realize that accepting unfettered immigrant inundation and having control of who is allowed residency and who is not are not the same things, but the puerile piece pretended that they were. Irritated, I wrote:
With even more insouiciance than usual, the WSJ op/ed board treats immigration as an ecunemical good. Employing the standard non sequitur, the board uses the benefits of (extreme) merited immigration as an argument for universal open borders: ...

Many people do not like the free market in sports--the MLB's lack of a salary cap is part of the reason it is perpetually overshadowed by the always-competitive NFL. An international market for soccer players does not bode well for the prospects of teams from the third- and developing world. Although soccer is among the most simple and least cost-prohibitive sports in
the world, making it ubiquitous in poor nations, the World Cup has been dominated and will continue to be dominated by a Brazilian powerhouse (pulling the best from Latin America) and developed Europe (at least until the US gets serious about the game). Athletic brain-drain is bad news for aspiring developing and underdeveloped countries.

But for the nations doing the draining, the (short-term at least) benefit is obvious. Yet that is only an argument for a specific, exacting merited immigration, not immigration in general. Obviously French fans will benefit less from receiving ten thousand Islamic youths with marginal soccer skills than they will in receiving a single Zidane, although in the end even the latter situation may prove deleterious if French natives forego soccer altogether.
The same logic applies in the rest of industry. In the run-up to the midterm elections, candidates from both parties came out in favor of tougher immigration policies, more security, greater enforcement, and with sharp criticism for the Bush administration's failure to end the third-world immigration that is bankrupting cities across the Southwest, bringing back diseases thought to have been vanquished from the developed world, increasing criminality, depressing wages, and pulling scholastic performance downward. They did not call for an end to all immigration. Nonetheless, the op/ed board now produces this:
Titled "American Made: The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Professionals on U.S. Competitiveness," the report found that "Over the past 15 years, immigrants have started 25 percent of U.S. public companies that were venture-backed." These businesses employ some 220,000 people in the U.S. and have a current market capitalization that "exceeds $500 billion, adding significant value to the American economy."

The authors surveyed smaller, private venture-backed companies as well and discovered that nearly half of the founders also were immigrants. Protectionists insist that immigrants "steal" jobs from native workers, but this survey found evidence that these newcomers are more likely to expand the job pool. "[A]lmost two-thirds (66 percent) of the immigrant founders of privately held venture-backed companies have started or intend to start more companies in the United States," according to the report.

And how many of these publicly-traded US companies were started by impoverished menial laborers crossing illegally through the southern border? I support the construction of a wall, harsher punitions for employers who have their cheap labor subsidized by the American taxpayer, and the ending of all entitlement benefits (including citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born on US soil) for illegal residents. Further, I support a merit immigration system similar to those used in Canada, Australia, and increasingly in Europe, that grants residency based on a host of attributes including age, occupation, physical health, English language fluency, educational attainment, means, IQ, social beliefs, and the like.

The concern for what effect high performing immigrants have on natives is of legitimate concern. I'd like to see mandatory deposits being required that are returned after a certain number of years of residence in the US to entice those who benefit from US educational institutions to stay stateside after graduation. I'm also open to the idea of preference for natives given equal SAT and GRE scores (which already happens to some extent with schools that favor the children of alumni). But the issue of skilled immigration that creates wealth and raises the standard of living for natives is entirely separate from ending underclass immigration that creates an economic liability and depresses the standard of living for natives. If the WSJ op/ed board had any intellectual honesty, it would distinguish between the two. Of course, this is the same board that is blaming the GOP's defeat on those who supported an overwhelmingly popular position on immigration instead of blaming itself for supporting two incredibly unpopular ones--opposition to a minimum wage increase and support the Iraq war.

With a merit immigration system, the US would be able to leverage its high standard of living and enormous market to attract the global cream of the crop. With open borders, the US is letting market forces determine population movement. As the US is an elite entity as far as nations go, this is disastrous. The US will continue to be attractive until it no longer becomes advantageous for people to come here--in short, when the US is on par with the rest of the world (an average IQ of 90, purchasing power parity of just under $10,000, a life expectancy of 64 years, a literacy rate of 82%, etc). As an entity, the US should want to attract those who will make it healthier, wealthier, and more intelligent. The piece mentions Google as an example of a company having benefited from immigrants in the US. The US, like Google, can benefit as well, but only if it hires like Google--taking the best of the applications it receives, not if it gives a job to everyone who wants one.

Palestinian harpy blows herself up

It's tough to teach old dogs new tricks. One old sow tried to pick up the art of suicide bombing, a Palestinian industry that has recently been opening up to women, but her debut wasn't particularly successful:
Israeli forces were moving through the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza on the second day of an operation to stem rocket fire from the strip into southern Israel. They spotted a woman acting suspiciously, the military said. Soldiers threw a stun grenade, a weapon that makes a loud nose [sic] but causes no damage. The woman then set off explosives she was carrying, killing herself and slightly wounding two soldiers.
The Israelis should isolate their nation from the wretched Palestinians by extending the security fence across the entire land perimeter of Israel, and putting a hiatus on Palestinian immigration into the country. That still won't stop attacks coming from outside of Israeli territory, but if the Kadima coalition refuses to turn over any more land to be run into the ground by the Palestinians, at least things might not get worse.

US to shore up support for Sunnis

The idea of a struggle between good and evil has become an even more inappropriate way to look at the Middle East:

The visits highlight the administration's longer-term strategy to build a broad alliance of Sunni Muslim states to offset Tehran's growing regional ambitions. Since the spring, the U.S. has sought to increase cooperation between traditional Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, including developing joint maritime patrols and a regional missile-defense shield for these countries.
The man most antithetical to the regional ambitions of Iran is to be hanged in the Spring (unless he can keep the appeal process alive past his seventieth birthday on April 28, as septuagenarians cannot be hanged under Iraqi law). The US now wants to protect the Baathist remnants from Shia militias that have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces and are likely being aided by Iran. They were once the bad guys, who'd oppressed the Shia majority in the south and the Kurds in the north. They also oversaw the deaths of over half a million Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War. Now the Sunnis are valuable in that they must serve as a counterweight to Iranian influence in the region. Of course, they'd been serving that function prior to the US-led invasion in 2003. Now, the threat of a regional Shia 'alliance' extending from the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea has the Bush administration trying shore up support from the rest of the Sunni-dominated Islamic world to the south and west to counter that alliance (although the Assad's Alawite regime in Syria isn't a natural ally of a Shia dominated Iraq and Iran).

Excepting Saddam, Israel is the big loser in the Shia ascension and civil warring occurring in Iraq:

Arab diplomats from ally countries are pushing Washington to be much more assertive in promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The promotion of peace that these Arab governments are angling for is not one in which Israel forces out its own Palestinian population, takes Jerusalem, and extends the tremendously effective security fence around Israel's entire land perimeter. They want the peace that is turning over the Gaza Strip and West Bank to a Hamas-led government that is complicit in the continual rocket fire into Israel that comes from these new acquisitions and a free flow of Palestinians into Israel.

Sunni leaders plan to try and condition any agreement with the US toward Iran and Iraq with a pledge by the US to stop actively promoting democracy in the region:

They are also expected to advise the White House to scale back efforts to promote democracy in the region, arguing that they could lead to more extremism.
Self-determination in the Islamic world is exactly what we don't want. Islam isn't compatible with democracy or the Occident. The continuation of such quixoticism might land us with an Egypt under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood, an overthrow of the House of Sa'ad and uprisings in the kingdom's resource rich east where Shiites are in the majority, increased control of Lebanon by Hezbollah politicians, and the general empowerement of the Arab street, which is more hostile toward the US and Israel than its current governments are. By dropping such a dangerous agenda, we might also be able to get more cooperation from Syria, which is majority Sunni but ruled by the Assad family, which is quasi-Shia.

These Sunni leaders also oppose the neoconservative approach toward peace in the region which argues that peace can only "be achieved through the removal of dictatorial regimes such as Saddam Hussein's..." If we'd rolled into Baghdad in a matter of weeks, demolished the Baathists and most of Baghdad, captured and killed Saddam and his sons, and then exited Iraq and left it in a state of chaos, we might have at least been able to sufficiently scare other Middle Eastern governments into cracking down brutally on Al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations with the promise that if they refused, they'd be next. Seeing the US stuck in the miasma that is Iraq, unable to quell the increasing ethnic violence taking place there and despised internationally for having gotten itself involved, the threat that scared Qaddafi in Libya has dissipated.

Alan Jackson must really be confused now. I'm at a loss as to what should be done next, and hate trying to speculate because I realize how complicated the situation is and how uninformed I am, but do so anyway.

Facilitating partition seems much better than carrying on about some sort of unified Iraq, but why al Maliki would want to share any of the oil wealth with the the Sunnis or why the Mahdi militias would let him is beyond me. Cutting our losses and drawing down while pouring the money saved into a Manhattan Project-like effort to obselesce oil strikes me as the best way to go. Let Israel do what it needs to do to secure itself and stop clammoring for 'peace' with the Palestinians. Let the Israelis take care of Iranian ambitions if they want. If we got out of the Middle East and became independent of Middle Eastern oil, then Israeli nuclear threats against Iran would be something we could afford to acquiesce to.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Trying to make charities more effective

This Thanksgiving many well-intentioned Americans will spend part of Turkey Day working in soup kitchens and bringing items to charity food drives. But the latter is especially riddled with inefficiencies. Consequently, an inordinate amount of money given ends up in the hands of the fundraisers rather than those to be served (the NCIB and AIP set 60% to the actual charitable cause as a minimum threshold but many charities don't do that well).

Think about a can of green beans ultimately destined for a Catholic Charities food pantry. You go to the store and buy the can for a couple of bucks. A member of the nearby high school pep club puts a flier on your door advertising an upcoming food drive at the school. You take it their a few days later and give it to the volunteer manning the cardboard box filling up with other cans of green beans. He takes the donations to CC's distribution center where employees hand the food out to needy patrons.

What was the cost of actually getting those green beans to the distribution office? You bought them for a couple of bucks, with travel expenses. The pep club member also incurred time and travel expenses, as did the volunteer. Additionally, the center incurs utility/storage expenses and the costs of employees or volunteers distributing the food. A family member who works in the charity business estimates it costs around five dollars for a half-pound can to fulfill it's teleological purpose, and considerably more if the opportunity costs of those involved is taken into account.

Why not cut out all of this and simply use food vouchers? If you instead sent the charity a couple of bucks, all of the middleman time and energy would be cut out, and your donation would be hemorraged only by the charity's cost to distribute the vouchers.

Get retailers to compete to drive costs down further to approach a perfect transfer. Most retailers wisely don't allow cashback on gift cards. These might be used if they were designated as only applicable toward the purchase of food and basic necessity items (to avoid tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets, and other items disproportionately purchased by low-income shoppers). Pitch the idea, and ask retailers for a price discount in return for good PR ("Price Chopper has teamed up with Catholic Charities to bring you Shopper Sustenance cards..."). In addition to cutting fat out of the process, such a plan would inject the beneficiary's local community economically and allow him a wider range of goods to choose from. Bloated charities and givers desiring a more conspicuous transfer would resist such an arrangement, but others skeptical of charitable profligacy would appreciate it, as it would comparatively 'take' from the retailer and charity and give to the beneficiaries.

As far as alleviating poverty goes, I'd still prefer more resources be devoted to worthy causes like Project Prevention and the instituting of a merit immigration system coupled with an end to immigration of a large Hispanic underclass to decrease the number of children born into hopeless situations and to raise menial wages/decrease competition for unskilled jobs, respectively, than to the above. But the formula most charities currently use is riddled with waste.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why potheads are empty-headed

Cannabis isn't benign. A person who is stoned come across as slow-witted and incoherent because THC is scrambling his brain's ability to process thoughts effectively:
Smoking marijuana often causes temporary problems with memory and learning. Now researchers think they know why.

The active ingredient in the drug, tetrahydrocannabinoid (THC), disrupts the way nerves fire in the brain’s memory centre, a new study shows. ...

Normally, cells in hippocampus fire in sync, creating a current with a total voltage of around 1 millivolt. But THC reduced the synchrony of the firing. The drug did not change the total number of firings produced, just their tendency to occur at the same time – and this reduced the combined output voltage of the nerve signals by about 50%.
When you're high, your mind can walk the same number of steps as it can when you're sober. But instead of taking several steps forward, it takes a couple forward, a couple backward, and a few to the side. The subsequent illogical irrationality might support some of the putative 'creativity' that is said to flourish when users are high, in so far as said creativity is a deviation from rationality. It certainly points to why people appear dumber when doped up.

The deleterious effects of hash on cognition and memory aren't surprising. Previous studies have revealed a relationship between long-term use and an inhibited ability to form memories. The argument in favor of marijuana use that is premised on the relative success of the user ("I've smoked throughout high school and still have a 3.8 GPA!") is a non sequitur. And Michael Vick could eat Snickers bars all day and still be a better quarterback than I am. That doesn't mean the Snickers are improving his quarterbacking skills. This same fallacious egalitarian assumption inaccurately underlies opinions on other things like religion and democratic self-determination.

Advocates claiming that marijuana is harmless are making unfounded assertions. The effects of cannabis use, especially those long-term in nature, are not well known. The same arguments used to be made on behalf of cigarettes. Now municipalities across the country are banning them due to the damage they cause others in the form of second-hand smoke. Might potheads similarly be damaging the memories of those in close proximity when they smoke up? The mere possibility is enough to keep me tenaciously opposed to legalization. Memories make us who we are. There's scarcely anything more distasteful than cognitive impairment in my mind.

++Addition++But THC might be an antidote to fight memory failure as well:
In lab experiments, the scientists found THC was significantly better at disrupting the abnormal clumping of malformed proteins. THC could completely prevent AChE from forming amyloid plaques, while two drugs approved for use against Alzheimer's, donepezil and tacrine, reduced clumping by only 22 and 7 percent, respectively, at twice the concentration of THC used in the tests.
By binding to nerve receptors, THC disrupts the synchrony of neural firing in the brain, messing up thought processes and recall. Similarly, it appears to block abnormal protein clumping in older age. Maybe in the future targeted THC injections will be a way of combatting Alzheimer's and other diseases that attack the memory, but ingesting it by smoking joints doesn't appear to be the way to harness its potential benefits.

Friday, November 17, 2006

State NAEP performance with race considered

Comparing scholastic achievement across states is inherently flawed if the demographic composition of the student body isn't taken into account. That flaw isn't limited to the educational realm, of course--it holds for criminality, income, and a host of other social measures. It also skews international comparisons.

Considering racial characteristics isn't enough to make perfect comparisons between states, but it goes a long way in predicting crime rates (the correlation between violent crime and race as defined by the five categories of non-Hispanic white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American is .85). For estimated average IQ by state, race correlates at .85 as well. In other words, the racial composition of a state 'explains' 72% of its performance.

The correlation is vigorous but not perfect. So how do the various states fare given their respective compositions? I built a regression equation taking into account only said demographic data by state to come up with estimated state scores, then compared those to the actual results. Following is that comparison--a positive number indicates that the state scored X IQ points higher than would be expected by racial composition alone, a negative number indicates a score X points lower than would be expected:

1) Virginia -- 2.57
2) Massachusetts -- 2.51
3) Delaware -- 2.25
4) New Jersey -- 2.20
5) Maryland -- 1.60
6) South Carolina -- 1.55
7) Minnesota -- 1.48
8) Texas -- 1.38
9) Colorado -- 1.17
10) New York -- 1.15
11) Wisconsin -- .90
12) North Dakota -- .84
13) North Carolina -- .78
14) South Dakota -- .77
15) Montana -- .77
16) Georgia -- .73
17) Illinois -- .69
18) Conneticut -- .65
19) Ohio -- .57
20) Michigan -- .57
21) Washington -- .55
22) Alaska -- .50
23) Kansas -- .40
24) Nebraska -- .29
25) Vermont -- .10
26) New Hampshire -- .07
27) Pennsylvania -- .02
28) Florida -- (.13)
29) Idaho -- (.16)
30) Missouri -- (.23)
31) Wyoming -- (.25)
32) Louisiana -- (.25)
33) Oregon -- (.27)
34) Iowa -- (.27)
35) California -- (.63)
36) Hawaii -- (.71)
37) Arizona -- (.94)
38) Indiana -- (.95)
39) Oklahoma -- (1.08)
40) Maine -- (1.13)
41) Utah -- (1.21)
42) New Mexico -- (1.21)
43) Tennessee -- (1.26)
44) Arkansas -- (1.45)
45) Kentucky -- (1.47)
46) Mississippi -- (1.58)
47) Rhode Island -- (1.75)
48) DC -- (1.93)
49) Alabama -- (2.09)
50) Nevada -- (2.25)
51) West Virginia -- (4.09)

Erudite Massachusetts performs well even when its propitious demographic composition is weighed against it. Virginia and Colorado, states that Steve notes tend to be the pride of the red states, both do well. What about the Bush Texas miracle? Does the threat of accountability have a modestly positive effect on average test scores? The Northeast generally does pretty well, with the exception of Rhode Island. The destitute Appalachian state of West Virginia rounds out the bottom.

The military's test battery not only helps create the racial harmony and solid performance that it is renowned for, it also leads to army brats a notch above their civilian peers. The DoDEA (the school system for the children of military personnel overseas), if counted as an individual state, is 3.35 points higher than predicted, besting the rest of the country.

IQ estimates

To facilitate easier access, here are links to state IQ estimates based on NAEP eighth grade scores in math and science and the relationship between international scholastic testing scores and national IQ estimates ascertained by Richard Lynn:

By state
By state, with non-public school adjustments
DoDEA (military)

Asian IQ estimates by state

Using the same methodology used to come up with average IQ estimates by state that correlate at over .96 with those of VCU's Professor McDaniel, Asian IQ by state follows (for states with a large enough Asian population to merit NAEP average scoring):

1) New Jersey -- 105.2
2) Massachusetts -- 104.6
3) Maryland -- 103.6
4) Texas -- 103.1
5) Illinois -- 102.8
6) Georgia -- 102.7
7) Virginia -- 102.3
8) Conneticut -- 101.9
9) North Carolina -- 101.8
10) Colorado -- 101.7
11) Pennsylvania -- 101.2
12) Oregon -- 100.9
13) Florida -- 100.0
14) California -- 100.0
15) Washington -- 99.5
16) Wisconsin -- 99.5
17) Nevada -- 98.4
18) Rhode Island -- 96.5
19) Minnesota -- 96.4
20) Alaska -- 95.9
21) Utah -- 95.6
22) Hawaii -- 93.6

"Asian", like "Hispanic", is a broad categorization with lots of diversity contained within it. While the white and black spreads between the sharpest and dullest states are about six points, for Hispanics and Asians it's about twelve.

The NAEP Asian category includes Pacific Islanders. So it has aggregated East Asians (average IQ scores around 105) with native islanders (average IQ scores around 85) as well as Indians and Southeast Asians (81 and 87, respectively, although those living in the US are likely above those averages). Hawaii and Alaska both have relatively significant Pacific Islander populations, although the non-Islander Asian population is considerably larger in both states.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sizing up an income

I've noticed more than a few times in conversation one person asking another about a pay rate for this or that position. After getting an hourly rate, the person will indicate he wants to know about annual pay.

Save some breath. Take the hourly pay, double it, and add "thousand" at the end. That approximates the annual pay (assuming a forty hour workweek).

NYT's Nick Wade excerpt on race

Re-reading NYT's science reporter Nicholas Wade's Before the Dawn, the following excerpt (p194) struck me as both profound and obvious:
But the existence of considerable variation between races should not be any surprise either, given that the human family has long been split into separate branches, each of which has evolved independently for up to 50,000 years or more, buffeted in different directions by the random forces of genetic drift and the selective pressures of different climates, diseases, and societies.
Humans, of course, are not exempt from evolutionary forces. Drift, mutation, and selection continue to apply to us. Ignoring this has disastrous consequences, from hampering efforts to get medicines to people who stand to benefit from them (BiDil, for example) to immigration policies, from affirmative action quotas to interventionist wars like Iraq. We reject human biodiversity at our own peril.

(Human biodiversity2)

Roy Beck's NumbersUSA on election

Leave it to the indefatigable activists at NumbersUSA to cut through the smoke the open borders media has been creating over the Midterm elections. The GOP lost because of ethical lapses and the disastrous Iraq debacle, not immigration. The House's Immigration Reform Caucus, led by Colorado's Tom Tancredo, shrunk by 6.7%, while the GOP actually lost 11.5% of its seats in the House. Pro-sovereignty Republicans were tarnished by the Iraq war (in the hysteria about Hayworth's defeat, his adamant support for the Iraq invasion has mostly been glossed over), but they didn't take it in the chin like the party as a whole did.

More good news (via email from Roy Beck--sign up for free here):
Loss of Election by Republicans Based on Their Immigration-Reduction Grade of This Congress:
9.6% with an A grade lost
9.2% with a B grade lost
6.4% with a C grade lost
9.5% with a D grade lost
25.0% with an F grade lost

And as a look at the verbiage on immigration revealed, not a single candidate--Republican or Democrat--advocated amnesty or railed against "xenophobia". Instead, they decried the failure of the Bush Administration to do anything about porous borders and promised to make securing the border a top priority. Consequently, legislators in both the Republican and Democratic parties have become less friendly to the open border agenda than they were prior to the elections, although the leadership for both remains commited to realizing them. Pelosi has already been shot down early with Hoyer's ascension to Majority Leader. Hopefully her failures will continue.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Congressional winners on immigration

We know that Republicans tried to distance themselves from the Bush administration and that Democrats tried to pin them to it. But the WSJ offers 'case studies' of immigration reformists who lost last Tuesday. We can offer open border losers tit-for-tat, but why not look at what the challenging Democratic victors and Republicans who faced tough challenges but retained their seats had to say on the immigration issue (I excerpted what the candidates had in bold or in quotes, and failing those, the first paragraph or first couple of sentences in the case of single-sentence paragraphs under "Immigration" or something similar to that)?

Senate Democratic Victors

Claire McCaskill, Missouri: "The President, while giving lip service to the immigration issue, has looked the other way while our border has become Swiss cheese and employers hiring illegal immigrants have gotten a free pass. We need a Senator who will hold the Bush Administration accountable for its failure to prioritize border security and for giving amnesty to employers who violate the current law with no fear of the consequences."

Jon Tester, Montana: "Our first priority must be to secure ports and borders to keep out terror threats, illegal drugs and illegal immigrants. Jon Tester opposes amnesty for those who are here illegally. People who want to come to America should follow the rules — and we should enforce them. There should be no cuts in line. Moreover, hiring illegal aliens is no joking matter. Tester believes we need to enforce the law on employers who hire illegal immigrants no matter who they are. It’s not just a matter of fairness — it’s a question of national security."

Bob Casey, Virginia: "The immigration debate is divided into three separate issues. How can we secure our border? What should we do about the 11 million undocumented workers? And, lastly there is the guest worker question. It is necessary to separate out the 3 issues. The primary concern must be securing the border. Immediate action is needed to stem the flow of illegal border crossings. Approaching the issue using an omnibus bill that attempts to solve all three issues simultaneously creates a political stalemate that delays the border security solution. There is a consensus that our border security must be improved and we should act on that consensus as soon as possible. Once the border is secure we can develop a fair solution to other immigration issues."

Senate Republican Victors

John Kyl, Arizona: "The security of the United States and its citizens should be the first and foremost consideration in formulating border and immigration policies. Before the September 11 attacks, some people believed that it was not necessary to either effectively control our borders or collect important information about foreign visitors and other immigrants welcomed into our country. September 11 demonstrated the flaw in that thinking: Knowing whether terrorists are trying to enter the country, and whether visitors abide by their visas and respect our laws, are legitimate issues to be addressed in counterterrorism and immigration policies."

Bob Corker, Tennessee: "We must effectively secure our border as the first step in dealing with illegal immigration. That will require additional border patrols and more surveillance equipment and physical barriers in those places with high traffic. It is essential to our national security to maintain control of our borders. I do not support amnesty. Illegal immigrants must return home before they can be considered for re-entry as legal workers."


Harry Mitchell, (D) Arizona: "Every sovereign nation has a responsibility to secure its border. In Congress, I'll make it a top priority to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and stop illegal immigration. I'll deliver results, not rhetoric, and will work with both Republicans and Democrats to get the job done. This includes both securing our border and offering realistic solutions for the immigration problem our country faces."

Gabrielle Giffords, (D) Arizona: "Arizona has paid a heavy price for Washington’s failures in immigration policy. For too long, the federal government has failed to secure our borders. Congress has refused to act in the face of this growing crisis. Our current Border Security policies are not working despite the fact that we have quadrupled the number troops on our border over the last 15 years. And Arizona is bearing the brunt of it, shouldering enormous costs for human services and law enforcement."

John Doolittle, (R) California: "The problem of illegal immigration continues to grow in California, and we must make reforms to curb future illegal immigration into the state. Irrespective of ancestry, an immigrant illegally entering the United States has broken the law. Congress must enact provisions to heighten enforcement of our borders and eliminate the social welfare benefits that attract illegal immigrants to our country. As a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, I am working with my colleagues to formulate legislation to improve our nation's immigration policies."

Jerry McNerney, (D) California: "The problem with our immigration policy is that the Federal government doesn't have one. For too long our government has failed to secure our borders, allowing easy access for illegal immigration, and having little to no enforcement at the workplace. No wonder people are frustrated and demanding action."

Brian Bilbray, (R) California: "For the last 3 years as a Co-Chairman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, America's preeminent illegal immigration reform advocate, I have lobbied for many essential reforms in our immigration laws to carry on the work that I began when the voters of San Diego County sent me to Congress in 1995."

Marilyn Musgrave, (R) Colorado: "Congresswoman Musgrave knows illegal immigration is a major issue facing Colorado. Immigration reform is a top priority for her. She is working hard to improve border security and stop the waves of illegal immigrants who pose a danger to our national security, health care systems, and economy."

Ed Perlmutter, (D) Colorado: "After the 9/11 attacks it has become clear to all of us that we have to do more to increase our border and ports-of-entry security. The Bush Administration and a Rubber-stamp Republican Congress largely ignored this issue for years and only recently became interested in doing something. Until this year the Bush Administration cut back on enforcement efforts and the Republican Congress has even failed to fund programs necessary to screen cargo containers and other entry points into our country."

Christopher Shays, (D) Conneticut: "I support increasing legal immigration, while vigorously reducing illegal immigration. The first responsibility of a nation is to protect its borders. As a nation of laws, we must defend our borders and also enforce all our immigration, employment and tax laws."

Vern Buchanan, (R) Florida: "Experts say terrorists are operating in America's backyard. With 850,000 immigrants crossing our borders illegally every year , we don't know how many pose a threat to our country. We do know that many of them join dangerous gangs, such as the notorious MS-13 gang, which is responsible for violence across our country. And we know that some are terrorists."

John Barrow, (D) Georgia: "In the past 20 years, more than 11 million illegal immigrants have crossed into the United States – more people than the entire population of the State of Georgia. And the number keeps rising. With more than half a million illegal immigrants coming into this country each year, Congressman Barrow believes America can’t afford to ignore the illegal immigration crisis that’s overwhelming many of our communities."

Bill Sali, (R) Idaho: "President Ronald Reagan was right when he said, The simple truth is that we ve lost control of our borders and no nation can do that and survive. Securing our borders is a matter of national security, personal security and financial security. We cannot claim to be serious about the war on terror or say that we support our troops when terrorists, in many areas, can simply walk across our borders. While employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be prosecuted, the fact remains that terrorists are not coming here looking for jobs. While illegal immigrants are clearly causing serious financial pressure on our schools, courts and health care systems, the terrorists are not coming here for education or health care. Something is terribly wrong when we send our military to secure Iraq s border with Syria while at the same time refusing to secure the borders of this country. Congress must take immediate action to secure our borders."

Peter Roskam, (R) Illinois: "We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. We must secure our borders and oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. I believe that efforts to secure our border are a vital first step to dealing with today's immigration problem."

Joe Donnelly, (D) Indiana: "I do not support amnesty. Border security is crucial to solving the immigration problem and is a serious national security concern. I support more border agents, increased funding for surveillance and fencing that will prevent immigrants from illegally entering our country. I also support enforcing employment law which this administration has failed to do. For too long, this Congress has talked about immigration and failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. That’s why we need change in Washington."

Brad Ellsworth, (D) Indiana: "We face a national crisis when it comes to illegal immigration. The honest truth is that part of it is our own making. When we capture illegals here in Vanderburgh County, my deputies call INS and INS tells them there’s no place to put them. That’s not right. It’s also not right when an Indiana employer passes over an American for a job only because an illegal worker is cheaper. We need to tighten our borders, enforce the laws we have, and punish employers who break them. This is about economic security as much as it is national security."

Nancy Boyda, (D) Kansas: "For years, illegal immigration has gone virtually unchecked. Congress must take steps to regain control of America's borders. First, we must immediately increase funding for border enforcement. Then, we should confront the root cause of most illegal border crossings: the promise of jobs for undocumented immigrants."

John Yarmuth, (D) Kentucky: "I believe we are a nation of laws and we need to enforce our current immigration laws. We must strictly enforce laws against the employment of illegal immigrants by prosecuting companies that knowingly hire non-citizens without work visas. We must also do all we can to secure our borders to stop the influx of more illegal immigrants and protect our country from terrorists."

Tim Walberg, (R) Michigan: "Tim Walberg believes the government has a duty to secure our borders. For our national security and sovereignty, we must demand people sign the guest book and enter our nation legally. America welcomes people from around the world to come here to work, speak English, realize their dreams, and become American."

Joe Knollenberg, (R) Michigan: "As you may know, there are currently between 8 and 12 million illegal, undocumented workers in our country. This situation is not acceptable and must be addressed. On January 7, 2004, President Bush outlined an approach to addressing this problem, including the establishment of a new temporary worker immigration program. This speech included broad outlines of how such a program could be administered."

Tim Walz, (D) Minnesota: "Tim Walz believes immigration reform is a serious issue that deserves an ethical, economically sound solution. Walz supports enforcing employer labor laws to the fullest extent, using advanced technology to monitor the border, and increasing the number of professional border patrol agents. He also supports a path to citizenship for undocumented workers that requires them to return to their country of origin in order to begin the citizenship process. It is difficult but not impossible to reconcile a humanitarian response with one that ensures the security of American citizens."

Dean Heller, (R) Nevada: "Dean Heller opposes amnesty for those that enter America illegally. Immigrants that wish to become citizens must follow our laws. In Congress, Heller will support increased efforts to defend America’s borders and protect us from anyone that wants to do harm to Americans. Heller will defend our freedom, and our way of life in Nevada."

Paul Hodes, (D) New Hampshire: "Our immigration policy must be tough, fair and practical. The United States must put to work the reforms of the 9/11 Commission immediately, particularly port and border security. We need to beef up the border patrol, work to secure our borders and enforce existing laws, particularly with respect to employers who hire illegal immigrants. We must raise our minimum wage so that Americans will be readier to take the jobs now being done by undocumented workers. The United States should press Mexico diplomatically to help solve illegal immigration and assist Mexico in reform so that Mexican workers can earn a living wage in their own country. Ultimately, the issue of illegal immigration is a jobs and fairness issue. It is impractical to criminalize and seek to deport 12 million illegal immigrants but they must not be made scapegoats for this Administration's failure to enforce our laws."

Mike Ferguson, (R) New Jersey: "Defending America also means improving border security. Congressman Ferguson voted to increase manpower, upgrade technology and improve physical barriers along the U.S. borders. He voted to secure operational control of our borders, both north and south, by adding 1,000 new border inspectors with 700 miles of fencing, ending the "catch and release" policy, stopping employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and cracking down on alien smuggling."

Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) New York: "I support protecting our borders, but our solution must include more measures to ensure employer enforcement with regards to illegal immigration, building a wall or a fence alone is simply not enough. In conjunction with solutions taken on the ground at our borders, we must enforce the employment laws that are currently being ignored by companies who profit from hiring illegal immigrants. The urgency of dealing with our borders should not be held hostage by election year legislation and this summer's field hearings; securing our borders must be a national security priority."

Randy Kuhl, (R) New York: "One of the first jobs we must do is secure our northern and southern borders. There is tremendous risk in allowing undocumented people to enter our country and roam without fear of prosecution."

Heath Shuler, (D) North Carolina: "The United States is a nation built of immigrants, seeking opportunity and freedom. Throughout our history, immigrants have contributed to the greatness of our nation by enriching our culture, traditions and diversity. Hard-working immigrants help our economy grow by starting businesses, creating jobs and providing an essential workforce. The United States benefits from legal immigration, and we should continue to welcome newcomers to our great nation. However, our current system of immigration is broken. Illegal and undocumented immigrants are flooding into our country in massive numbers. The lure of a better life in the United States has always been strong, in spite of the risks associated with illegal immigration. The economic boom of the 1990’s exacerbated this problem, resulting in increased levels of illegal immigration. Current estimates suggest that there are approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States."

Steve Chabot, (R) Ohio: "Steve Chabot believes that ending illegal immigration should be a top priority for our nation and he has strongly supported efforts to toughen our border security. Our porous borders cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year and pose a real security threat."

Jean Schmidt, (R) Ohio: "Rep. Jean Schmidt’s voting record supported the interests of the Americans For Better Immigration 100% of the time in 2003-2006 earning her an A- Grade (updated as of Aug. 6, 2006 grade) Americans for Better Immigration (ABI) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, which lobbies Congress for reductions in immigration numbers. Rep. Schmidt is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4313 “True Enforcement and Border Security Act of 2005”. H.R. 4313 is the most comprehensive immigration law enforcement bill ever introduced."

Jason Altmire, (D) Pennsylvania: "America must do a better job of securing its borders. In Congress, Jason Altmire will work to tighten border security and crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. He will fight any attempt to provide taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants and vote against any plan that rewards lawbreakers by moving illegal immigrants to the head of the line of those seeking American citizenship. Jason Altmire also endorses English as the official language of the United States."

Patrick Murphy, (D) Pennsylvania: "Patrick Murphy does not believe in amnesty. He does not believe that illegal immigrants should be offered benefits that are awarded to hardworking American citizens such as health insurance or Social Security. Patrick Murphy believes that we should be cracking down on employers who have been flaunting the law to make a quick buck. We need to build a fence to monitor who is coming into and leaving our country. Most importantly, we need new leaders who will protect American jobs for American citizens. At a time when our country is at war, we need to know who is coming in to and leaving our country."

Chris Carney, (D) Pennsylvania: "We need to secure our borders. In the war on terror, border security is national security, and Congress has been ignoring the problem for years. In the last year, we all saw the 2400-foot tunnel under our border with Mexico. Congress has abdicated its duty to protect our borders."

Henry Bonilla, (R) Texas: "'The Texas/Mexico border is a hot-bed for illegal immigration. Ignoring the problem is ignoring the war against terrorism,' said Congressman Henry Bonilla. Border Patrol - Henry has a long record of supporting legislation that recognizes the importance of the Border Patrol as the nation's first line of defense in homeland security. Using his senior role on the Appropriations Committee, Bonilla has secured millions of dollars for Border Patrol staff, equipment and check-point improvements. Bonilla is co-chair of the Congressional Border Caucus and Vice Chair of the U.S. / Mexico Congressional Caucus. He represents more than 700 miles of the Texas/Mexico border."

Thelma Drake, (R) Virginia: "I am proud to report that the House of Representatives has already passed border security legislation. Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, which was passed in the House by a vote of 239-182 on December 16, 2005. H.R. 4437 provides for strict immigration regulations and strengthens our borders. I was proud to support this legislation because I believe it provides a solid foundation for comprehensive border security and immigration reform."

Dave Reichart, (R) Washington: "Congressman Reichert believes we need to strengthen our borders and protect this nation. There must be penalties for violating American immigration laws and for those who employ illegal immigrants. We must encourage undocumented individuals to “get right” with our government and register. This will allow us to focus valuable resources on those we know to be a threat and in this country with the intent to harm, rather than individuals who are here to better their lives and that of their families."

Barbara Cubin, (R) Wisconsin: "On September 11th the terrorists used our own flawed immigration laws against us to help them murder thousands of American citizens. The American people will never be truly safe until we get serious about border security."

If you just skimmed the verbiage, it should have been enough to get a flavor for how candidates from both parties approached the immigration issue. A few didn't highlight it, but most did. Not a word about xenophobia, nativism, or any of the other typical ad hominem habitually substituted by the open borders crowd in place of the empirical logic that is so saliently lacking. Nothing about needing to fill "jobs Americans won't do"--only Paul Hodes, (D) New Hampshire, came close, and he advocated the raising of the minimum wage to protect Americans from having their wages undercut by immigrants.

Instead, lots of tough talk about security and tough employer punitions. Many made no mention of a guest worker program, and those that did overwhelmingly purported to be putting off discussion on it until after security questions were settled. No one running in the House was attacked for his or her support for the Sensenbrenner bill, but more than a couple of incumbents proudly broadcast that they'd voted for it.

The disconnect between elites and the population on the issue is enormous. Thankfully, most of the Democratic victories were of moderates in center-right districts. All of these new House members will go through all of this in a couple of years. If they're actions match their election rhetoric, things won't be as dismal as they'd seemed last week.

(Politics and Religion)

WSJ blames Dobbs, O'Reilly for GOP loss

It only took two days for the nation's premier open borders organ to blame the Republican disaster on the sovereignty crowd:

Republicans on Tuesday managed both to lose their majority in Congress and alienate a fast-growing bloc of Latino swing voters. Other than that, the House GOP strategy of trying to save itself by bucking President Bush and using immigration as a wedge issue worked pretty well.
Of course they had to try and buck Bush. Fifty-seven percent of voters disapproved of him, while only 43% approved.

That "fast-growing bloc" represented just 8% of the total electorate on Tuesday. Six years ago, it represented 7% of the vote. Six years ago, the GOP lost the Hispanic vote 62%-35%, this time they lost it 69%-30%. Twelve percent of eight percent comes to a swing of less than one percent of the total vote in a six year period. The GOP was obliterated by a margin of 7.5 points.

The WSJ and other neocon publications zealously try to blame the loss on anything other than the elephant that caused it--the Iraq disaster. The WSJ has the blood of thousands of Americans and the GOP majority on its hands. Better to blame the sinking ship on those in the conservative movement who vociferously called for the ship to change direction. Stay the course! Lose public support, American blood and treasure, and your readership (having dropped 1.9% in the last six months, teetering just above 2 million total subscribers). Good plan, Gigot. Paul wants remaining Republicans to tow the Bush line:
We hope his party lets him, having learned the hard way not to follow Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly and the editors of National Review magazine down the garden path to defeat.
Smearing Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly (and NR?) doesn't strengthen your unpopular, irrational position. Virtually every major decision Bush has made is both damaging and unpopular.

From the exit polling, it's clear that ethical lapses and Iraq hammered the GOP. Voters considering ethical issues and those involving corruption "extremely important" or "very important" (74% of the electorate) favored the Dems by 55.4% to 45.6%. Voters disapproving of the war in Iraq overwhelmingly threw in with the Democrats. Those who say they "somewhat disapprove" or "strongly disapprove" of the war (55% of all voters) favor the Dems by a staggering 79.7%-20.3%.

Unfortunately, the exit polling data doesn't contain a gem that was present in the 2000 data: A question about what issue mattered most, and how respondents selecting each of the various issues voted. Exegesis would've been even more greatly facilitated by a question along the lines of "Immigration: Should it be increased, decreased, or remain the same?"

Still, voters attaching lots of importance to the immigration issue went for the GOP. Those considering illegal immigration either "extremely important" or "very important" (62% of all voters) favored Republicans 54.4% to 47.6%. Among the 37% of the electorate that felt the illegal immigration issue was either "somewhat important" or "not at all important" went Democratic 68%-32%. The most plausible way to read this is that for those who were passionate about immigration as an issue, Republicans (despite sending mixed signals about commitment to enforcement) were the better choice. For other voters who didn't care one way or another about the question of what to do about illegal immigration, the GOP's atrocious performance on issues concerning foreign policy, budget management, and corruption put them in the Democratic camp.

It is interesting that the WSJ would accuse restrictionists of toppling the Republican majority by supporting a populist position that is opposing a minimum wage increase (an increase is favored by an overwhelming 83% of Americans, while only 14% oppose a hike). Referendums for minimum wage increases were on the ballot in six states and won in all of them. Think this might have hurt the GOP a bit?

While focusing on the losses of Hostettler and Hayworth (the former having excellent on immigration, the latter who has historically been okay but recently having stepped up his rhetoric), the WSJ glossed over the defeats of open-borders Mike Dewine and Lincoln Chafee, as well as the solid Bilbray victory.

The neocons have driven the Republican ship into the shoals. Even after hitting several icebergs, they're still recycling the same failed talking points as the ship sinks. It's time to throw them overboard.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dems are--er, were--downers!

This time around, anyway. Looking over the exit polling data, I've been struck by just how pessimistic Americans favoring Democrats are about the economy, the future, and their own personal situations.

Of those listing describing the national economy as "not good" or "poor" (half of the electorate), 77% voted Democratic. The same proportion of those describing their family's financial situation as "worse" (25% of the total) went Democratic, while only 28% of those describing it as "better" (30% of the total) went for the irrendentist party. By a three-to-one margin, the 17% of the voting population that believes their families are "falling behind" went Democratic (74%-23%). For those believing life for the next generation will be worse than it is for those in their prime today (40% of the electorate), Dems were favored by more than 2-to-1, at 66%-32%. Among those who were "not very confident" or "not at all confident" that votes would be counted accurately, 73% went with the Democrats (will they push for vigorous investigations into purported voter irregularities?!) Are things really that dismal?

Democrats are, on average, less happy than Republicans (not surprisingly, given that they are less likely to be pious, married, wealthy, or have healthy sex lives, all of which correlate with self-identified measures of personal satisfaction). But surely not at the magnitude one might assume by looking at the exit polls, right?

Right. The 2000 exit polls reveal similar pessimism about the economy, the future, and life for the next generation. Except Republican voters were the melancholy citizens that time around. Of those describing their family's financial situation as "worse", 63% went for Bush. Among those saying the national economy was "worse", 52% went for Bush while 70% of those rating the national economy as "better" went for Gore. Regarding their progeny, of those believing life for the next generation would be worse than it had been for the current one, 58% went for Bush while only 37% went for Gore.

How heavily influenced are the assessments of the lives of ordinary Americans by the political ebb and flow of Capitol Hill? "Conservative" voters overwhelmingly went for the Republicans in both 2000 and 2006, at 81% and 78%, respectively. And "liberal" voters backed the Democrats in both 2000 and 2006, at 80% and 87%, respectively. So the gloominess isn't ideological in nature--it's clearly partisan. Most Democratic voters who thought Lake Woebegon had been discovered in 2000 thought the sky was falling in 2006. And viceversa for Republican voters.

Lots of people see what transpires around them through a partisan lens that distorts their ability to evalutate things empirically. Democratic rah rahs have apparently been miserable for the last six years, while Republicans bots are about to become so. After punching the ballot and having gone through the emotional voting process, and then being approached by a pollster wanting your take on what you just did and why, you're more inclined to be magnify the intensity of your opinions than you would be when chattering around the water cooler weeks before the election. To what extent is exit poll sentiment exaggeration, and to what extent do exit polls capture the actual feelings of the respondents?

Studies show that the partisans and drug addicts derive pleasure through a similar process in the brain when they get their respective fixes, while the dorsolateral prefontal cortex (which is the part of the brain most strongly associated with reasoning) shows no increase in activation. The exit polls lend credence to those findings.

(Politics and Religion)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Iraq, corruption, not immigration, thrash GOP

A few things to keep in mind when the WSJ and its open border cohorts begin excoriating the GOP for losing the midterm elections due to its immigration stance that may have cost the party 4% of the Hispanic vote (somewhere between .25% and .32% of the total vote):

- Democrats won with a margin of around 7.5%, at 52.5%-45%. It wasn't a razor thin nailbiter, it was a blowout.

- Voters attaching lots of importance to the immigration issue went for the GOP. Those considering illegal immigration either "extremely important" or "very important" (62% of all voters) favored Republicans 53.4% to 46.6%. Chafee and DeWine, two of the Republicans' most hostile opponents of US sovereignty, went down in flames. Bilbray, the California Congressman the WSJ pummeled and John McCain abandoned as he battled for the Republican nod and then against Democrat Francine Busby in the special election to replace the disgraced Duke Cunningham, won handily this time around, 53.3%-43.4%.

- Voters attaching lots of importance to Iraq went for the Democrats. Those considering the Iraq war either "extremely important" or "very important" (67% of all voters) favored the Dems 53.3% to 46.7%.

- Ethical lapses were an act of self-immolation for the GOP. Voters considering ethical issues and those involving corruption "extremely important" or "very important" (74% of the electorate) favored the Dems by 55.4% to 45.6%.

- Most revealing of all, voters disapproving of the war in Iraq overwhelmingly threw in with the Democrats. Those who say they "somewhat disapprove" or "strongly disapprove" of the war (55% of all voters) favor the Dems by a staggering 79.7%-20.3%.

Most of the open borders crowd vociferously supported the Iraq debacle, the WSJ not at all an exception. It was this incredible folly, based upon quixotic liberal notions about humanity so out of sync with reality that destroyed the Republican majority. Yet just as these bellicose leftists ignored the insurmountable obstacles to liberal democracy in Iraq (half the population married to a second cousin or closer, tribalism, Islam, an average IQ of around 87, a purchasing power parity of a couple thousand dollars, etc), they also ignore it stateside.

Nevermind that the open borders they desire come with an enormous price tag (the CBO, the gold standard in ascertaining the costs of governmental programs, estimated that the Senate bill would've cost the US upwards of $200 billion), will force the nation's average IQ downward, accentuate the wealth gap, make housing less affordable, decrease the percentage of Americans pursuing higher education, increase cultural tensions via balkanization, increase welfare payments and other wealth transfers, increase anti-Semitism in the US, inhibit technological innovation, increase criminal activity and further bloat our already over-crowded prisons, bring back atavistic diseases the developed world thought it had banished forever decades ago, ad infinitum.

Hell, looking at that litany, an almost identical list of woes can be applied to Iraq post-invasion as corrupt government officials take billions through graft, Shia and Sunni alike hanker for death to America and Israel, a civil war piles up hundreds and hundreds of bodies a week, and the professional classes head for places like Lebanon and Jordan. They ruined it there, they'll ruin it here.

And they'll have the gall to blame it on Tom Tancredo (who won his reelection bid by a wide margin of 59%-40%). In the meantime, with Pelosi as speaker and the once-tough but now open-bordered Harry Reid as probably majority leader, look forward to hearing fawning media blather about compromise and moderation, as the Congressional compromise accompanies the immigration 'compromise' of fixing the broken immigration system (and other such platitudes) via a 'comprehensive solution' and on and on.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Why Civilization and Iraq are antipodes

Reason #41, from a WSJ op-ed about the civil war in Iraq, specifically the plan of vengeance for Baathist sympathizers and Sunni thugs to exact upon their Shia foes for having carried out similar actions against the same sypmathizers and thugs a few days ago:
Execution punishment regarding criminals, agents, apostates, names below, in addition to their first, second, and third degree relatives.
If I were an apostate targeted here, my sins would also mark at least thirty other people for death as well. And my family doesn't do the inbreeding thing nor can we boast Iraq's fecundity rate of 4.18 kids per woman. What a mess.

Tuesday's election

In response to a request that I tell a friend not especially interested in politics how to cast the votes, here's how I'll be fulfilling my civil duty.

A protest vote for Ranzau in the gubernatorial race. Sebelius has been a driving force behind the inane state policy of granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who've been in-state a few years, but Barnett has no chance. As the Reform candidate, Ranzau has been the most vociferous critic of continued third-world immigration.

Ahner has been a disappointment. Kobach was too 'hardline', and so damn articulate and forceful that he fell into the demonization trap and was portrayed as a KKK sympathizer, etc. So Ahner's attempted a different tract, speaking almost exclusively in generalities. Dennis Moore is a blue dog who has been decent on the immigration front, especially with regards to the risible Visa Lottery system. However, Ahner's courageous support for the FairTax gets my vote. Instituting a national sales tax in place of a federal income tax would go along way in cutting into the unfair advantage Hispanic helots have on our native menials.

Youth soccer park: Twenty-four fields, $75 million to fund it. Are you insane? I'm at a loss as to how grassy fields with a few strips of chalk running across them can possibly run over $3 million a piece. I've had enough of soccer's encroaching anyway, do not want to subsidize a magnet for laddists, and am aware of the fact that Honolulu built 18 fields with $11 million. No, we're not a destitute county, but Honolulu isn't exactly Magadon.

(Politics and religion)

Hispanic IQ estimates by state

Same methodology used for previous estimates to estimate average Hispanic IQ by state:

1. Missouri -- 100.0
2. Wyoming -- 95.9
3. Virginia -- 95.7
4. Alaska -- 95.1
5. Ohio -- 94.8
6. Nebraska -- 94.8
7. Delaware -- 94.6
8. Arkansas -- 94.4
9. Pennsylvania -- 94.2
10. Kansas -- 94.0
11. Texas -- 94.0
12. Wisconsin -- 93.7
12. Massachusetts -- 93.7
14. New Jersey -- 93.6
15. Iowa -- 93.6
16. South Carolina -- 93.6
17. North Carolina -- 93.6
17. Michigan -- 93.6
19. Minnesota -- 93.5
20. Colorado -- 93.4
21. Florida -- 93.4
22. Maryland -- 93.3
23. New York -- 93.2
24. Illinois -- 93.2
25. Indiana -- 93.0
25. Idaho -- 93.0
27. Oklahoma -- 92.8
28. Hawaii -- 92.6
29. Washington -- 92.5
30. Oregon -- 92.2
31. Utah -- 92.2
32. New Mexico -- 92.0
33. Geogria -- 92.0
34. Arizona -- 91.4
35. DC -- 91.3
36. Nevada -- 90.8
37. Conneticut -- 90.8
38. California -- 90.7
39. Rhode Island -- 88.4

Yes, according to the NAEP's published results, that Missouri score is correct. It may be a statistical fluke or the result of a relatively high number of less endowed Hispanics being exempt from testing for whatever reason--made plausible as explanations by the fact that less than 3% of the state's student body is Hispanic.

I colored the states to correspond with the 2004 Presidential election to illustrate a curiosity--red state Hispanics do noticeably better than Hispanics from blue states. Indeed, Hispanic scores in Bush states are a little more than 1.1 IQ points higher than Hispanic scores in Kerry states. For whites, blacks, and Asians, the average Kerry state score bests the average Bush state score by 1.1, .4, and .2 IQ points, respectively.

It may also be that the Show Me state's diminutive Hispanic population is relatively talented. The size of a state's test-taking Hispanic population inversely correlates, at a statistically significant .41, pretty well with its estimated average IQ. A good thing for our Hispanics is for them to be removed from lots of other Hispanics. This further evinces the Latin world's low intellectual curiosity even relative to its IQ, and reinforces the need for at least a hiatus in immigration to assimilate those already here, as well as suggesting that the children of Hispanic parents in the US stand to suffer from continued underclass immigration from Latin America.

I suspect to some extent the least skilled Hispanics are more likely to flock to high cost-of-living centers where there are plenty of menial servant jobs to be performed and lots of other Hispanics to work, live, and collect benefits with, while more industrious Hispanics go it alone (or have lived for some time) in the belly of the white middle class beast.

Too bad Hispanics aren't broken up into sub-categories. The Hispanic state spread is nearly 12 points (almost a full standard deviation) compared to just over a six point spread between the highest and lowest scoring states for blacks and whites (excluding the DC 'anomaly' for whites). So the average Hispanic from Missouri is at the 55th percentile nationally, while the average Rhode Island Hispanic is at only the 18th percentile (a 37 point spread). Comparatively, the white spread ranges from the 64th percentile in Massachusetts to the 47th percentile in West Virginia (17 point spread), and the black spread ranges from the 41st percentile in Washington to the 25th percentile in Alabama (16 percentile spread) (see and improve upon my speculating as to why black scores are higher relative to white scores than has historically been the case).

(Human biodiversity2)