Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blacks like socialism and other sundries from Pew's word association survey

About a month ago, Pew Research released the results of a word association survey it conducted in late April. Word association is by some distance removed from anything actionable, but the survey is nonetheless useful in calibrating common perception with the actual feelings of various groups of people. A few instances of this follow.

- Awhile back, I had some fun creating hypothetical electoral maps portraying what the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election would've been if only select demographic groups were allowed to vote. As has been the case for Democrats for decades, Obama performs better if suffrage is extended to women and denied to men.

I was not making a novel observation in pointing out that the female voting behavior is steadily pushing the country in a leftward direction. I first encountered it in John Lott's book Freedonomics. The Pew survey reinforces that argument. "Socialism" is favorably perceived by 33% of women to 25% of men. It is viewed unfavorably by a slim majority of women (54%) compared to two-thirds of men (65%). "Capitalism", in contrast, is viewed favorably by 59% of men but only 47% of women. It invokes negative feelings in 34% of men and 40% of women.

- While the socialist indoctrination that putatively takes place at colleges throughout the country may be a rallying cry for cultural conservatives, it is among those who've never set foot on a university campus that socialism's base of support is the widest. Among those with a high school education or less, 35% view the word "socialism" favorably, compared to only 23% of college graduates.

- Blacks, who stand to benefit from socialist economic policies at the expense of white Americans, are understandably much more favorably inclined toward socialism than whites are. While 53% of blacks view the term "socialism" favorably, just 24% of whites do.

- Despite the attempts by some leftwing activists to portray "states' rights" as code words for racial resegregation, the reinstatement of Jim Crow laws, and even a desire to resurrect the institution of slavery in the US, the vast majority of the population (77% positive, 15% negative) feels an affinity for the phrase. The sentiments are overwhelming across the political spectrum. Among Democrats, 71% view it positively to 21% negatively.

- Militancy is a guy's game. Nearly all the wars in human history have been started by men, etc, and despite the recent strides forward women have made in Afghanistan, terrorism is a masculine line of work. Predictably, men are twice as likely as women (28% to 14%) to have a positive view of the word "militia".

- Surprisingly, Democrats warm to the word "libertarian" more than Republicans do (31% to 39%). TGGP half-heartedly suggested it might be due to some political conservatives being unfamiliar with the term but reacting negatively to it anyway because it sounds similar to the word "liberal". That seems plausible enough to me. Independents like "libertarian" more than anyone else does (44%), of course--it's not liberal or conservative, and neither are they!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Half Sigma asserts that church-attending atheists have high IQs

Half Sigma recently reiterated the claim that atheists tend to be more intelligent than believers do, noting the findings from a recent study by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa. The GSS reveals the same (at least when atheists are compared to firm believers*). HS then takes this a step further with the following:
It should also be noted that smart people are more likely to behave the way they are supposed to behave, so there’s the phenomenon that smart people are more likely to attend church even though they are less likely to believe in the religion, if attending church is deemed to be the proper behavior in their social group.
The GSS offers a way to empirically test that assertion. The table below shows the average IQ** of four categories of people based on their perceptions of the divine; atheists, agnostics, uncertain believers, and firm believers. To get at the issue HS considers, only those who attend church at least "several times a year" are included:

On GodIQn
Atheists 90.645
Uncertain believers 100.4905
Firm believers97.33400

The GSS suggests HS is incorrect. Instead, it looks like those who know they don't know but buy into Pascal's Wager are the smart cookies.

The sample sizes are sub-optimal for atheists or for agnostics--when you're in a combined group that only comprises 7% or so of the population, that's often the case--and only one-quarter of all atheists report attending religious services at least several times a year, so we're considering a minority among a minority, constituting one-half of one percent of the entire US population.

These caveats addressed, like politically contradictory liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, church-attending atheists appear to be dullards. Those who go to church and pretend to worship a fictional deity are not principled types who are willing to stand up for what they (dis)believe in. The ability and willingness to back up one's conclusions with actions is likely in itself indicative of a high level of intelligence most of these people lack.

GSS variables used: ATTEND(3-8), GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), WORDSUM

Parenthetically, the answer(s) that lead to inclusion in each of the four groupings shown in the preceding table:

Atheist--"I don't believe in God"

Agnostic--"I don't know whether there is a God and I don't believe there is any way to find out"

Uncertain believer--"I don't believe in a personal God, but I do believe in a Higher Power of some kind", "I find myself believing in God some of the time, but not at others", and "While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God"

Firm believer--"I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it"

* It should be noted the GSS shows that it is not only among churchgoers but also the population at large that agnostics (average IQ of 105.2) and uncertain believers (100.0) are more intelligent than atheists (98.2) and firm believers (96.5) are. This doesn't strike me as surprising--cliched though it may sound, like theism, atheism requires one to hold beliefs about the supernatural that cannot be positively confirmed or disproved. Is it at least remotely possible that God exists but has intentionally ensured that no human will ever be able to prove as much? That is, might even the most advanced natural methods be incapable of detecting the supernatural? I'm unsure of how one argues that it is, with absolutely certainty, impossible.

** Converted from wordsum scores under the assumptions that the average IQ in the US is 98 and that one standard deviation on the vocabularly test is equivalent to 15 IQ points.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No click of the trigger when she's in the crosshairs; is this love?

An excerpt from the life of AE follows. No empirical work is to be found, and it's a bit graphic, so if you're understandably uninterested, disregard this post.


Five-hundred miles over two days in my cloud chariot with my best friend and two nineteen year-old girls to see my favorite band play. This is living. The encore is a letdown, yet we get bartender, nancies, and especially #41. Going in, it would be disingenuous to even call the girls casual fans, but dmb's live performance is legendary for a reason, and we don't stop dancing for nearly three hours.

After the show, we head back to our two-room suite. The pool is right in front of the lobby, so there's no way we're getting in. Wearing the perspiration that hasn't fully evaporated off of our clothes, we let my friend's media player rotate and get lost in a sublime conversation that, usually so elusive, is in such a propitious situation abundant. At 2am, my friend announces he has to get an assignment finished up for tomorrow evening's class (weekly homework in graduate school?). I guess a couple glasses of white zinfandel aids in that process. One of the girls goes to sleep shortly thereafter.

I met Kirsten three years ago, when she was a junior in high school. If she were an adjective, it would be precocity, and at that point she had been sewing wild oats for years. She binged on the weekends, smoked up almost daily and was experimenting with both coke and ecstasy, and had more notches in her belt than I did. She's at the same time stunningly sexy and, strictly by physical perception, adorably innocent. She also has a head on her shoulders, today trilingual and having scored in the 30s on the ACT. I ripped the approving narrative for her lifestyle apart; she taught me about Italian opera. I knew her deepest secrets and darkest fears, and had reduced her to tears on more than one occasion; she probably thought she knew a couple of mine. We were tight as a drum by the time she left for France for the entirety of her senior year. She'd send me facebook messages from her friends revealing their anger over how I knew more about her experiences in France than they did.

Lest you presume I was vainly cultivating some silly platonic intimacy, I knew both from mutual friends and also from not being completely oblivious that Kirsten was crazy for me. Tonight I'd hear about old diary entries that would reconfirm it. If sixteen is not too young biologically (it emphatically is not) or psychologically (it depends on the person), socially it is. A relationship with someone in high school when you're out of college just isn't realistic, and the pump-and-dump is not only an invitation to jail, it would be a vicious thing to do to someone who trusts you so thoroughly.

No, in addition to genuinely caring about Kirsten (by the time she left the country, she'd dropped the hard stuff entirely, smoked rarely, and respected her limits with alcohol), I don't close doors if I'm enjoying the draft. Though we were in regular contact for the year she was gone, when she returned stateside I saw her almost immediately, but then we dried up. Work, sports, and Magic consumed me, I'd say. Truthfully though, the avenue where we'd first met was no longer shared, and firing off facebook messages is less formidable than making and maintaining specific plans for specific times is. Anyway, freshman year of college was upon her. In the last six months, I've only seen her three times. But when she heard about the road trip, she was in full board.

The other two retired behind closed doors, she cuddles up to me on the couch as we talk. She has a "boyfriend" picked up during her time in France who is flying over in a few weeks to stay for a month. Instead of simply ignoring him, I state she surely hasn't been chaste since she last saw him. She has been. Laughing incredulously, I remark that I'm impressed that she's imbibed of Western European morality so deeply. Her face now just inches from mine, she says she's fought with everything she has not to even be a tease since she left Europe.

"Speaking of tease--" I'm interrupted by her lips. Deftly I roll over on my back. We release for a moment. She's sitting erect on my pelvis, hands pressed into my pecks.

"So hard."

"Yeah, no milk from these mammories. I know you're not used to that."

"Hey, I'm a heterosexual." I scoff. "I've just been good to some of my closest friends in the past."

I grab her hips and start grinding with a confidence earned (hard, firm, and rhythmic, that's really what it's about). After a minute or so, she stops to claim I'm trying to seduce her. In feigned disbelief I point out that she has me pinned down and I'm just trying to shake free, grinding hard as I finish the sentence. She yelps and closes her eyes, mouth agape.

Only the citadel remains. For the next three hours, we kiss and sweat, floor creaking, as I get up to the precipice time and time again, pulling back at the last possible instant each time. Hickies on breasts with a suppleness only Nature in her bounty can provide. On top now, I start scooting her into position with the thrust of my torso. The final praetorian emerges. "No. We can't. I can't do this... but I've waited so long. You're so... you're more experienced than I thought [wtf is that supposed to mean?!]."

" 'We'? What's this royal 'we'? That you'd deny yourself what you know you want has nothing to do with me [heh, logic should go out the window when she's making her final stand--let nature's passions carry you through]."

"I've had one-night stands I'll regret forever. [I don't think there's anything histrionic here, but my cynical mind keeps thinking she's spouting lines from Sex and the City or something]."

"You won't regret anything. I don't do regrettable," as I start thrusting again. A loud cross between a yelp and a hiccup. I swear I hear the classical music my friend left on as he went to sleep get louder through the closed door (he'd tell me that morning he turned it up multiple times to drown us out!)

"You're so forceful. I've never had a boy act like this. I've always been in control." God help the West if our boys are really all such castrates.

"I'm happy to introduce you to manhood."

"I'm... worried. This will all be gone. We've only seen each other three times [in the last several months]. Three very short times."

Promise a commitment now, forget tomorrow that you ever made it. That's all it takes at this point.

This is emotional vulnerability at its apex. Staring down into her gorgeous green eyes, I think I might love this girl. I'd scarcely ever given it a second thought, but ideas of our potential relationship dart through my head. Suddenly determined to stop the raging ravine, I sit up and pull her up with me.

"The short-term question means little to me. I care about the long-term."

Eyes brightening under a slightly furrowed brow she asks, "How long is the long-term?"

Awkward. I'm shooting from the hip now. Better just make light of it. "Not old-and-gray long-term," I say in mock irritation. "But more than, uh, a moon. Many, many moons, actually. Obviously!" Giggles. Whew. I continue, "So you have plenty to think about [the French boyfriend and whether or not he gets the virtual boot and that I'm almost eight years older than her, I guess]. Time to go to bed. The birds are chirping outside."

I start to stand up but she clasps me and pulls me back down. I oblige, and we play around for another five minutes or so. "Okay," I say, "that was a brief refresher just in case you weren't clear on something. Go to bed."

"Can I have a cigarette first?" This time I lift her up with me.

On the balcony, she asks if I could deal with her cigarette smoking. "You'll quit."

"You know how many people have tried to make me quit? I will when I'm ready to, but when people try to force anything on me, I get really intransigent."

"Did I say anything about making you quit? You just will. You're better than smoking. You'll see that soon."

After a brief pause, she's looking me over. "You're wet. That wasn't me." Oh shit. There are a few damp spots on my crotch. This could potentially be interpreted as revealing two bad things; 1) My ferocious self-restraint looks like a charade, and 2) I suffer from oligospermia (neither of which are true, I swear!).

"God must've topped me off this morning. There's still a full tank of fuel in this rocket." More giggles. Whew, I think.

"I don't know if you're tender enough."

"What the hell? Are you grading beef now?"

Giggles. "Tender is the wrong word. I don't know if you're gentle enough."

"I'm a gentleman if you've ever met one."

"That's not what I mean."

"You're getting delirious. Smoke's up. Go to bed. I'm going to work out."

In genuine surprise, "Hehe, that wasn't enough of a workout?"

"I'll take it easier, er, tenderer than normal." Yes dear, this guy's a machine. On the drive home later this morning, I'll make sure you stay awake if you need me to.

So, the indellible mark of a beta in alpha's clothing, or a story to recount to my son about his mother (poor kid) when we have the sex talk?


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Young Jews as conservative immigration restrictionists?

Referencing Stephen Steinlight in a column on the perceived loneliness of immigration restrictionism, the Derb noted that younger Jews are more politically conservative and inclined towards restrictionism than their elders are. The Derb reports that at a function organized by the Center for Immigration Studies, Steinlight "quoted a wealth of surveys and studies to support his case".

In Steinlight's originating article, though, he doesn't present anything relating to a generational divide among American Jews, emphasizing instead the gap between the mainstream Jewish majority and the self-styled Jewish leaders who putatively misrepresent them. Steinlight's article, however, was written nearly a year ago, and he could have presented new material in the talk the Derb attended.

Whatever the case, it would be interesting to see evidence confirming or contradicting the claim that younger Jews are more restrictionist (and thus more in line with broader public opinion) than older Jews are.

Unfortunately, the GSS does not provide a large enough sample to be directly informative on the immigration issue. Questions on immigration were posed in 2000, of which responses from a whopping 34 Jews (of all ages) were recorded. The GSS does, however, consistently query respondents on their political orientations. Those who self-describe as politically conservative tend to be more restrictionist than those who call themselves liberals, so if younger Jews are more conservative than older Jews are, it's reasonable to assume they are similarly more restrictionist.

The following table divides Jewish respondents (n = 262) into three age categories and compares them politically. For broader comparative purposes, it also includes the same for all white respondents (n = 11,034). To strike a balance between adequate sample size and contemporary relevance, the last ten years of GSS surveys are consulted:


Not much evincing Steinlight's contention. Younger Jews are slightly less conservative and correspondingly more moderate than their parents and grandparents are, but the differences are marginal.

It is noteworthy, though, that in contrast to the pattern observed among all whites, younger Jews are no more liberal than middle-aged and older Jews. If young Jews are not, as Steinlight puts it, "decidedly more conservative than their elders", they are not more liberal than those elders, either. If Jews tend to experience the same rightward shift throughout the course of their lives that whites do, the GSS provides reason to suspect that today's young Jews are more conservative than older Jews were at the same age. That said, Jews of all ages are, on average, considerably more liberal than the rest of white America is.

To the potential objection that Steinlight is describing Jews based on religious affiliation, not ethnicity, the GSS item used to determine the political orientations of Jews is worded as follows: "What is your religous preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?" Only 1.9% of respondents indicated Judaism, compared to 14.7% of respondents who choose no religion. The latter figure is undoubtedly comprised in part of those who are ancestrally Jewish but who are themselves irreligious. There is not an apples-to-oranges problem here.

As to the potential objection that the GSS too generalist and wide-ranging to definitively contradict Steinlight's assertion, that is correct. It is merely suggestive. As is so often the case, though, the GSS is an enormous mine of information about the US population, and consequently is surely worth taking a look at.

GSS variables used: RELIG(3), RACE(1), YEAR(1998-2008), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), AGE(18-34)(35-59)(60-89)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blue is back

A couple of months ago, just ahead of the Rise of the Eldrazi pre-release, I expressed frustration with how blue was clearly the standard environment's bottom feeder. Pointing out that color share is cyclical, blogger Alleged Wisdom predicted that blue would be back in vogue soon enough.

It didn't take long. With RoE came Wall of Omens, a huge asset for UW control in the Jund matchup, which went from being slightly favorable to comfortable. Gideon Jura's utility against creature-heavy decks of any type simultaneously added a solid kill condition to the UW arsenal. Bant was propelled into top-tier status with the addition of Eldrazi Conscription, which, in combination with Sovereigns of Lost Alara, has been populating top eights for several weeks. The absurdity of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn means that if Polymorph resolves, the clock only has to tick twice. See Beyond is a great aid in finding that game-breaking Polymorph quickly as well as putting a stray Emrakul that finds its way into a player's hand back into his library. Consequently, the deck type of the signature card's name is no longer the rare sighting it once was but has instead become a tournament regular.

Where the colors stand post-RoE:


Lands are categorized based on the mana they produce (or in the case of fetch lands, the mana sources they are able to indirectly produce). Gold cards are assigned fractionally by their colors (Putrid Leech is .5 black, .5 green; Rhox War Monk is .33 white, .33. green, .33 blue, etc). Eight of the top 100 are colorless; consequently the percentages do not add up to 100.

These additions have put blue back in contention for the top spot, even though most of what RoE added to make blue viable once again isn't even blue. Despite comprising more than a fifth of the metagame, blue remains the only color that simply cannot function without a heavy dose of something else (usually white).

Blue's resurrection has come at black's expense. Vampires has dropped off the competitive circuit, as it has little ability to deal with combo decks like mythic conscription and time sieve and is impotent against planeswalker-heavy builds like American gladiators and UW control with Jace, Elspeth, and Gideon (Vampire Hexmage can only be stretched so far). Further, the mortal blow Kor Firewalker delivered to red deck wins has eased some of the pressure on jund, and jund continues to absolutely wreck vampires.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Motley mix

- I'm not aware of any reason to suspect Armando Galarraga is not a naturally gracious and understanding athlete, but what I do suspect is that on the long road of sports history, umpire Jim Joyce's blown call will accentuate Galarraga's profile, not diminish it. Twenty pitchers have thrown perfect games, and over the last two decades, it has occured, on average, about every other year (and twice this season alone!). Among the general public, Galarraga's name would have otherwise probably been flushed down the memory hole in a few years' time, but now his name will be invoked every time reference to the roster of perfect pitchers is made as the guy who was cheated out of inclusion on it.

- McDonald's new gay ad beautifully illustrates (unintentionally, of course) the West's apparent moribundity. An old lady-killing father thinks he is sharing a moment with his son that his son will someday share with the father's grandson. But alas, the son has no use for his father's mores and will never himself become a father:

It works on so many levels.

- The activists on the Turkish ships attempted to run a clearly demarcated blockade. They're fortunate the IDF didn't send the entire flotilla to the bottom of ocean, which would've been a legitimate response against those aiding a declared national enemy. Israel is not a signatory of the Law of the Sea Treaty, so the country is not legally bound to treat putative "international waters" as vast neutral spaces where their perceived interests cannot be fully acted upon.

- There should be a brand of casual business clothing that sells itself on the durability of the string that attaches the waist button to its pants. I'd pay a premium several times the total cost of using fishing line in place of regular yarn for a pair of slacks I could be confident that I'd never pop the button off of. Sewing it back on is so much of a hassle I usually just (lazily) use it as an excuse to buy a replacement pair.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Madonna more restrictionist than WSJ op/ed board?

A couple of months ago, OneSTDV compared Madonna's opening of a school for girls in Malawi in a putative attempt to stop African brain drain into the West to immigration restrictionism in the US--the difference in perception not being due to logical differences in outcome, but who is portrayed as the ultimate beneficiary*. To a large extent, such a distinction works well in defining contemporary cultural and political discourse in the US--conservatives celebrate rhetoric focused on benefits provided to "the individual" or more nakedly to tax-paying Americans, while SWPLs have a predilection for that which promises to lift up the struggling NAM or EBT-using single mother.

But Madonna's implicit desire for the reduced immigration to the US of Africa's most promising and Steven Camarota's efforts to show the externalities unfettered immigration from Mexico entails are not two sides of the same coin. Madonna might oppose the EB-5 visa program, but she surely supports massive third-world immigration into the US by those who are said to do the jobs Americans won't do. Camarota, by contrast, may well like EB-5 visas. I suspect, though, he likes Arizona's SB 1070 at least as much.

Madonna is just fine with massive unskilled immigration into the US--her concern is not for the needs of Euro-descended Americans, but for those who could potentially derive benefits from Euro-built America. While the medical student from Zaire could do well enough for himself in the US, by returning to Africa (or attending her school and thus never leaving the continent) he will likely provide more benefit to non-Europeans than he would working in a hospital somewhere in the US.

Camarota favors a reduction in illegal immigration into the US because it is bad for natives. To the extent that he is opposed to skilled legal immigration, it is due to the enervating effect it has on natives whose incentives for investing time and effort in rigorous technical college courses are reduced alongside the wages of those natives who are already working in fields where would-be immigrants potentially provide downward pressure on compensation levels.

There is a third position to contend with as well, espoused by the op/ed board of the WSJ. Immigrants are largely interchangeable economic units and as such should be as free to move from place to place in response to economic forces as goods and services are. To make their position as palpable as possible to a broad audience, high-profile tories of extraordinarily successful immigrants are emphasized. From this, it is insinuated that uneducated Amerindian peasants skittering over tumbleweed in the Arizona desert are equally beneficial for the country's well-being. The op/ed board might butt heads with Madonna on the African medical student, but they are of one mind on massive third-world immigration into the US.

OneSTDV's post does illustrate how the SWPL-left Madonna epitomizes does harbor reservations on at least one form of immigration into the US, and in that sense are slightly less distant from restrictionists like Camarota (and the majority of Americans) than the WSJ op/ed board members are, whose only seeming use for immigration law is the snagging of Muslim terrorists until enough evidence can be marshaled against them to nail them to the wall for their true crimes. Immigration is an issue where the two-dimensional left-right political spectrum creates more obfuscation than it does clarification.

* The pop singer's quixotic goals are undermined by a flawed conception of why emigrants leave Africa:
"Once instilled with pride in their homeland, young women will understand the importance of remaining in Malawi and investing in their own communities."
As Inductivist has shown, pride in one's ethnicity and national origins is inversely related to that ethnicity's or nation's actual, real world accomplishments.