Saturday, March 31, 2012

HBD Day

Blode ambitiously suggests designating a specific day to draw attention to the realities of human biodiversity:
I propose that race realists launch an international Human Biodiversity Day. The idea would be to discuss HBD issues in new and different venues, preferably running the gamut from African IQ deficits and criminality to the ability that Asians can healthily carry more body fat than other groups (as mentioned in Mr. Sailer's "Is Love Colorblind?" article).
In the comments, he discusses the idea and the optimal date with other familiar bloggers and readers of the Steveosphere.

It sounds gimmicky, but, as much as SWPLs are loathe to admit it, that's what raising awareness is about. It's a crowded field. Searching Wikipedia, you'll find that just about every calendar date is something-or-other day. Today, for example, is Cesar Chavez Day. Consequently, the vast majority of these special day designations are obscure, known only to niches taking a particular interest in them.

The likely fate of HBD Day, at least in its seminal years, is just as well. It'll provide cover for those bringing it up to others previously unaware of its existence, allowing them to present it tactfully and in accordance with the sensibilities of their targets. This requires some finesse, of course, and mileage will vary. In most situations, I'd suggest being less bold than Blode does. Rather than starting with group differences in average IQ and criminality, test the waters by explaining your fascination with biological diversity, and then move into the least explosive hatefacts like racial differences in BiDil utility (and the related discussion of race as both social and biological concepts) and anatomical expressions of human sexual dimorphism, then into west African athleticism, etc, progressively introducing more and more 'controversial' subjects as the situation merits.

There are lots of variations on the SWPLish celebrate diversity theme, and HBD Day could easily employ yet another one: Celebrate (human bio)Diversity!

As for the specific date, I'm on board with whatever Blode and company decide. We might also consider birthdays, say Francis Galton's on February 16th, during a slow time of the year and also in the middle of Black History month, or a few days earlier, on the day Darwin was born.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I never win. I just know I will this time, though. I'm due!

Tonight, a multi-state lottery game with a jackpot payout of $640 million took in $1.5 billion, most of it flowing into state coffers (retail cuts are generally 5% on the sale and nothing on the payout, except the big winner). I'm being genuine when I say I'm surprised by how much I've heard people talking about it in public over the last week, rationalizing their ticket purchases with obnoxious cliches like "can't win if you don't play". But their taxes are too high, of course!

The libertarian in me says it's a voluntary tax, and a regressive one at that, so let it be. Allow people to impoverish themselves if they want to do. People do irrational things all the time--we're hardly a rational species. In a partially socialized society like we have in the US, however, there are externalities that others who have no part in the explicit cost end up having to pay.

For God's sake, AE, it's just a lottery! People drop $10 to in exchange for the ability to fantasize about being rich for a few hours before probability hits them upside the head. That's a reasonable amount of utility for the cost. What's the big deal? Is it any worse than going to see a movie or ordering a couple of beers?

No, it's not that big of a deal. But I see the mentality surrounding it, emblematic of the contemporary West though it may be, as poisonous--being rewarded for doing nothing worthy of reward, idly dreaming about abundant material wealth while squandering a bit of the meager pile one has managed to scrape together, the errant belief that one's odds are better than everyone else's are, etc. What a lazy, flabby, impulsive people we are!

Anyway, two of my favorite lottery aphorisms:

- Lottery is the ignorance tax--the dumber you are, the more you pay. (First heard from my high school AP English teacher, though I've seen it attributed to Adam Smith among others)

- Lottery: The process of taking money from a bunch of poor people and giving it to one formerly poor person. (John Stewart and co.)

Parenthetically, if lottery ticket purchases are part of your routine and that helps you get through your days, more power to you. Yeah, the unexamined life isn't worth living, but if I'm not careful, I might find that finger pointing right back at me!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Churchist

Following a link from a reader named Chris, I saw this:
I think this is starting to change in the younger generation. I don't think I have a single friend who actually believes in God but almost all of them are conservatives.
The secular right has a lot of growing to do before it becomes a force in society. I wondered, though, how the association between active religiosity and political orientation might have changed over time in the US. Today, conservative politics and churchgoing are clearly correlated, as the proceeding table illustrates:


My impression is that the association is a relatively new one. Jimmy Carter, who has come to epitomize risible liberalism, was (and is) a devout Baptist who carried the bible belt on his way to the presidency in 1976. The following graph shows the percentages of conservative GSS respondents who regularly go to church (defined as attending services at least twice a month) compared to the percentages of the self-identified conservative general population over the same period of time. To avoid racial confounding, only whites are considered:


Extending back to Carter's election, regular churchgoers have tended to be more conservative than the general population has been, but the distinction remained pretty trivial through the eighties. It has grown considerably over the last couple of decades, alongside the perception that churchgoing is a red state thing.

GSS variables used: YEAR, RACE(1), ATTEND(5-8), POLVIEWS(1-2)(5-6)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Justice for Trayvon? Looks like it's already been served

Because life is about trade-offs, I generally don't read the comments to news articles. OneSTDV has been changing my mind on the value of doing so, and after my brother pointed out the unanimous hostility among the commentariat to a recent story on Yahoo about reverends and churchgoers wearing hoodies in "solidarity" with Trayvon Martin, I need to rethink that. As the Derb explained last week, often times news is noteworthy not on account of what actually happened, but because of the way it is reported as having happened and the way others react to that reporting.

The cynical, hostile responses are, again, not just overwhelming, but nearly unanimous. A sampling:
Trayvon Martin was killed because he was beating the crap out of a guy who had a gun.

Hoodies in church??? calls for justice???? sharpton shows up and starts another race war... where's the FACTS????? before the "call for justice"????

Your liberal news media is serving the cool aid again. And liberals always take the side of blacks against whites. You are the dumbed down masses and you believe every bit of how the media spins this story. Ask yourself, why does the media never sensationalize black on white crime?

Remember Tawana Brawley, Big Al?? Never about facts and justice, always about playing the race card and getting face time. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are the worst kind of role models for Black Americans. They have gone too far now, as has Obama, to even consider what really happened.

Blacks Set Thirteen-Year-Old Kansas Boy Set on Fire For Being White. Notice how this is being censored and most of America will not hear this news or they will read that the black assailants only said “This is what you get.” instead of the full truth which is reported they said "“This is what you get for being white.”

"Blah-blah-blah-blah-racism. Blah-blah-guilt projection. Blah-blah-blah-let's keep pretending that whites are racist and we aren't so I can have a job. Blah-blah-blah-yes, we know that blacks kill blacks every day in every city, but let's continue whining about this because it was a non-black that pulled the trigger". WHERE IS THEIR OUTRAGE WHEN THEY KILL? Trayvon Martin is but one of many young black males killed on the same day, but his death is the only one they are outraged by? FYI, According to The USDOJ/FBI/NCIC Statistics on Crime and Race, "Black males between the ages of 14 and 35, while comprising only 3% of the US Populace, commit annually 48% of ALL US MURDERS and 56% of ALL US SEX ASSAULTS".

Maybe the media might want to put ALL the facts out there; including a CURRENT picture of the kid, NOT one of when he was 13(?) years old; one which shows him as a strapping 6' 2" football player, which at that size would demonstrate him to be a much more formidable foe; AND how about printing some additional FACTS of the police report, such as the fact that Zimmerman had a broken nose; bleeding o n the back of his head, and the back of his shirt being wet. The latter obviously suggesting the man was DOWN on his back, and the BROKEN NOSE and BLEEDING head that jest maybe, I’m saying maybe, it might be that Zimmerman WAS attacked.....by a SIX FOOT 2 INCH tall, and obviously HEAVY young man, and not some freak’n li’l teenie kid as all the media pics. show??!! Of course it’s possible Zimmerman broke his own nose, bashed in the back of his own head, and then rolled on the grass
It's encouraging to see this vehement pushback against the media narrative of "white man guns down black kid eating skittles". One commenter was just a baby step away from pointing out that blacks are 39 times more likely to commit violent crime against whites than whites are to commit violent crime against blacks.

Initially, it was reported that Trayvon Martin was a model student. Then it was revealed he was on a five day suspension (which was subsequently revised upwards to a ten day suspension, one of multiple he had received), a drug user (and possible dealer), and a petty criminal. It was also initially reported that Zimmerman was white, when in actuality he is as Latino as Obama is black.

While Martin was unarmed, as a 6'2'' football player, he was hardly defenseless--Zimmerman is half a foot shorter and overweight. Zimmerman had a broken and bloody nose, a contusion on the back of his head, and grass stains on his clothes, presumably from being pounded by Martin, who Zimmerman managed to shoot while he was being pummeled. The blather about Florida's stand your ground law doesn't even appear to be applicable, since it doesn't look like Zimmerman was able to stand at the time, let alone escape the situation.

The 911 call that Martin's family and their sympathizers claim records Martin screaming for help actually reveals that it was Zimmerman who was calling for help according to witnesses and the police. As the desperate crying out for aid from a person physically struggling stops right after the gunshot rings out
, it's difficult to imagine how it could've been Martin screaming, as there's no conceivable way Zimmerman would have had Martin in a submissive position before shooting him. If the screaming commenced after the shot was fired, it might have plausibly been Martin wailing in agony from having been shot, but that's not what happened.

Of course I don't know all the facts of the case, but neither do the knee-jerk blowhards who are clamoring for Zimmerman to arrested when there is no clear evidence indicating that he should be. Indeed, as Half Sigma points out, the state attorney's office elected not to press chargers due to a lack of evidence that Zimmerman did anything illegal.

Since we're on the topic of media news creation, consider how frequently the narrative errantly asserts that rhetoric from the right influenced the perpetrator of some heinous crime (in Toulouse last week, or in Tucson last year). Well, this time, in twisting the story so much that it no longer even appears to resemble what actually transpired, the race agitators and their media sympathizers really are whipping up a violent frenzy:
It was announced by Mikhail Muhammad, leader of a small militant organisation called the New Black Panther Party, who said he was seeking up to 10,000 black men willing to form a militia to find Mr Zimmerman and administer what they regard as justice.

Asked if he was inciting violence, Mr Muhammad said: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." To the sound of cheers from followers, who wore black uniforms, he promised: "If the government won't do the job, we'll do it."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Roissy, Randall, and Charles

Reacting to Roissy's chastising of Charles Murray, Randall Parker makes an assertion I've seen repeated in various forms and in various places:
Females basically playing out of their league have brought upon us the decline of marriage for the lower class and many social pathologies that have come as a result.
I wonder where the actual evidence for this is. Women who end up as single mothers tend to congregate at the bottom of society, as do the men who impregnate them and then don't stick around. It's not like Ryan Gosling is going around the trailer park knocking up prole women left and right.

Seems to me that erasing the social stigmas that used to be attached to the debased behaviors of the lower classes, men and women alike, as well as the dire financial problems that used to almost inevitability arise as a consequence of such debased behaviors, is the biggest reason we find America's lower classes in the state that they're in today.

Roissy accuses Murray of dereliction in his failure to assign more blame for the decline in marriage rates on women who go cock carouseling with alpha they can't convince to stick around. But the putative alphas who are tagging these women are low status men from the bottom of society, just as are said women being tagged.

That, indeed, is exactly Murray's point--the shaming strategies Roissy suggests employing apply mostly to low status women. SWPL women pretty much behave exactly as they did two generations ago. Parenthetically, Roissy highlights the abstract of one study by two University of Michigan feminists that appears to contradict the data marshaled by Murray in Coming Apart. Roissy proceeds to imprudently claim that "in one fell swoop, a cherished feminist and beta male shibboleth gets crushed into dust and blown away", not least because far from crushing a foundation of modern feminism, it endorses it. The opening vignette might as well include this feminist favorite.

Roissy's female shaming complements Murray's male shaming. Ideally, Murray would've included some variation of them in the WSJ article Roissy points to, in outlining his desire for a broader cultural shift among those in the upper-middle- and middle-upper classes away from haughty non-judgmentalism and towards censuring the degenerate behaviors of the working- and underclasses.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

30% of atheists, agnostics are pro-life

The following comment comes from Skadhi the Raverner (Scandanavia's answer to John the Revelator?) on a thread to one of Steve Sailer's posts:
In my experience more young people don't 'get' what's wrong with homosexual marriage or marijuana, but are more likely to be pro-life atheists and to oppose multiculturalism.
Reading this, I instinctively googled "percentage of atheists pro-life" and was somewhat surprised to find scant quantitative treatment of the question, just links to topical forum threads and organizations for those maintaining the position.

Defining the politically charged phrases "pro-life" and "pro-choice" is difficult to do, with questions about pregnancy complications, rape, and the like clouding things up. The line has to be drawn somewhere, though, so for the sake of this post, that defining line will be whether or not a woman should be able to receive an abortion if she wants one, the specific reasons for her desiring one being irrelevant.

The following table shows the percentages of atheists, agnostics, those who believe but with reservations, and firm believers who are thus pro-life. For contemporary relevance, all responses are from 2000 onward:

GodProlife
Atheists29.6%
Agnostics32.5%
Uncertain believers42.0%
Firm believers71.8%

Just fewer than one-in-three atheists and agnostics are pro-life (keeping in mind that the definition of pro-life being employed here is pretty encompassing). So pro-life secularists constitute about 2.37% of the population, a considerably larger share than the secular right community, at 0.67%, can boast!

GSS variables used: GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), YEAR(2000-2010), ABANY

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

' is not a valid character

Steve Sailer writes:
This would make a pretty good sketch comedy running joke -- L'qisjha Jones, Affirmative Action Arbiter -- as various people try to bluff their way past L'qisjha, each rejected with the same punchline.
That doesn't actually appear to be a given black name (at least not yet), but it reminds me of a funny thing that happened a couple of years ago. At the company I work for, we were using a new in-house program that had been working fine, without incident, for a couple of months, but then ended up having to send it back to our programmers for a rework when we discovered, thanks to a new client named L'Tisha, that it wouldn't recognize an apostrophe in the Name: field. Even though we're a privately held company, we of course did the prudent thing and incurred the expense of making the program change rather than running the risk of someone--perhaps L'Tisha!--accusing us of being racists.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nostalgia

... if you're a guy between the ages of 25 and 35, anyway:



If you weren't a Double Dragon junkie like I was (and I still have the occasional binge), but at least had some casual contact, this should do the trick.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tea party support by candidate

Not satisfied (nor fully convinced) by looking at a few select exit polls, I calculated the total number of self-described tea partiers, defined as those who either "support" or "strongly support" the movement, who have voted for the four Republican Presidential candidates up through the Alabama and Mississippi primaries that took place earlier this week, for all the states where entrance or exit polling was conducted (excluding Virginia, where Romney and Paul were the only two on the ballot):

CandidateTP votes
Mitt Romney1,753,310
Newt Gingrich1,494,949
Rick Santorum1,404,652
Ron Paul367,020

Romney has received the most votes among self-described tea partiers! Of course, he's received the most total votes thus far. In fact, his advantage in absolute votes is a lot larger than his tea party edge is. The following table shows the percentage of each candidate's electoral support that has come from primary voters who support the tea party, as well as the total number of votes, tea party or not, in the states considered that each has received:

CandidateTea partyTotal votes
Newt Gingrich72.3%2,067,783
Rick Santorum64.6%2,173,147
Mitt Romney54.9%3,195,949
Ron Paul47.0%780,292

The presumption that the foundation of the tea party movement is Jack Hunter-style libertarianism is incorrect. Tea partiers are merely more conservative (in the popular, political conception of the term) versions of the GOP's general electorate.

If the tea party was primarily driven by libertarian concerns, I'd expect relative support among members to flow as follows, from most to least: Paul, Romney, and then either Santorum or Gingrich. In fact, it flows in the opposite direction, with the most socially conservative and big government candidates getting the greatest amount of tea party support relative to the support they're receiving from the rest of the Republican electorate, while at the same time, the candidate who is by far the most serious about taking an axe to federal budget is received more coldly by tea partiers than he is by non-tea party Republican primary voters.

It's too bad tea partiers apparently don't realize that the modern bureaucratic state, whether it has a Republican or a Democrat as its titular head, inexorably increases the anarcho-tyranny that political correctness necessitates, inhibits the process of creative destruction, and squelches personal freedoms. The beast cannot be tamed. Our only chance is to starve it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Derb's the word

When I found out last week that John Derbyshire was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, I wanted to write something to express how fervently I wanted to will the cancer into remission, but the only thing I could think of articulating were well wishes for a speedy recovery. Randall Parker improves mightily on that, with a sober spirit the Derb surely appreciates:
I would wish the Derb well. But he and I both know wishes won't work against cancer. We need far more advanced biomedical science and biotechnology to defeat that killer.
John reminds me so much of my dad that I almost feel like I'm hearing a family member speak when I listen to Radio Derb. They are close in age, come from the same vicinity of the same ancestral homeland (albeit over three centuries apart), resemble one another in appearance, and share an utter disregard for the intellectual barriers and roadblocks political correctness throws up in the thinking man's path. My dad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer five years ago. Don't worry, I'm not trying to tug at heartstrings here--he underwent a successful surgery and hasn't had any recurring issues since. He's still with us and remains my closest confidant on the planet.

I really hope John gets through this. There's only one way out of this world, but it's not his time. Not yet, not yet.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Changes in youths' patriotism by country over time

In addition to gauging how the shift in perceptions among American youth over the last few decades, Steve Sailer's post concerning an increase in nationalism among young Israelis prodded me to look at the WVS to see how the attitudes of young people in other countries have changed over time.

In both the second (1990-1991) and fifth (2005-2008) waves, participants were asked if they'd be willing to fight for their countries if war were to come to them. Drilling down, responses are available by age ranges that happen to correspond with the original article that Steve featured. The following table shows the percentages of respondents aged 15-29 who said they would be willing to go to war for their respective countries in 1990-1991 and in 2005-2008. The fourth column shows the changes in percentages of the youth cohort willing to fight over the intervening 15 years:

Country90-9105-08Change
Argentina56.5%59.2%+2.7
Brazil40.4%63.1%+22.7
Bulgaria93.5%68.8%(24.7)
Canada68.7%54.1%(14.6)
Chile84.5%58.4%(26.1)
China97.3%90.8%(6.5)
Finland80.9%75.7%(5.2)
France59.3%57.4%(1.9)
Great Britain75.0%60.4%(14.6)
India93.5%85.9%(7.6)
Italy29.7%39.0%+9.3
Japan8.0%11.6%+3.6
Mexico77.7%75.9%(1.8)
Netherlands77.3%53.1%(24.2)
Norway91.4%88.0%(3.4)
Poland94.7%82.8%(11.9)
Romania91.2%64.6%(26.6)
Russia84.6%85.9%+1.3
South Africa75.4%69.5%(5.9)
South Korea86.9%65.2%(21.7)
Spain52.8%43.2%(9.6)
Sweden82.4%72.9%(9.5)
Switzerland67.3%44.3%(23.0)
Turkey91.1%96.9%+5.8
United States82.5%40.9%(41.6)

The precipitous drop detected in the US here appears in stark contrast to what the GSS (which I put greater confidence in than I do the WVS) reveals. Conceivably, I guess it could be that while confidence and respect for the US military as an organization has increased, the desire to fight goatherds in the Hindu Kush does not inspire the same enthusiasm and dreams of valor being member to the leader of the free world in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse and the obliteration of Iraq in the Gulf War does.

In the rest of the West, the story has been a declining national fervor. While changes in demographic composition surely factor into shifts in public sentiment on a host of things, Muslims representation is marginal even in the fifth (2005-2008) wave. In France, it constituted 10.2% of the respondent pool. In Great Britain, 8.7%; in the Netherlands, 2.7%. And in France, Muslims' professed willingness to take up arms for France (67.5%) was indistinguishable from the country as a whole (66.5%). The same is true for Great Britain, with 67.5% of Muslims saying they'd go to war for the country compared to 65.8% of the entire British respondent pool. While the sentiment of these Muslims might be spurious, the fact remains that this suggests that the nationalism of these nations' native sons really has been falling.

The same pattern characterizes Eastern Europe, though this might be the result of the novelty of being newly Democratic as communism receded having worn off in places like Romania and Bulgaria.

While the West has been becoming less nationalistic, the young members of the putatively rising powers--Brazil, India, China, and Turkey--have been treading water or even showing increased jingoism. Israel wasn't included in the survey's earlier waves, but it looks to be diverging from Europe and North America in this regard.

WVS variables used: E012, V75 (age - respondent)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why it's okay to screech at the Manosphere

Writes OneSTDV:
The $PLC did recently profile the so-called "Manosphere" as a community rife with "guttural hatred" ...

The race realist blogosphere, loosely defined as the sites on my blogroll, does not have a similar profile on $PLC. $PLC only has one article about Steve Sailer on their site, so one presumes the rest of the HBD-osphere has not caught their attention yet (or maybe this week we'll be in for a surprise!). One wonders though why exactly the HBD-osphere doesn't have its own section on the site as does the Manosphere.
One excerpts the $PLC's condemnation, from which at least part of the answer is contained within:
Some of the sites make an attempt ... to back their arguments with facts.
That's actually quite a generous concession for the $PLC to make, and I suspect it's lacking in sincerity. That the manosphere and game blogs are virtually fact-free zones is a big reason why the $PLC and associates don't fear them as much as they do HBDers, who they putatively ignore, though I know Steve Sailer in particular is monitored very heavily by a lot of different people and organizations. One observes:
It is indeed very perplexing that there is exactly one article on SPLC about Sailer and it's just excoriating CNN for citing him awhile back.
Similarly, Media Matters has gone after him, too, but in a similarly indirect way, for example, hammering MSNBC for providing him a forum on cable television and censuring the Washington Times for excerpting him. Not only do they not want HBD ideas entertained, they don't even want anyone to be aware that they exist.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Increasing confidence in military's ability to meet, kill exotic people?

++Addition++Steve Sailer comments.

---

Steve Sailer comments on an article in YNet News about how "Israeli youth" (defined as those under the age of 30) are shifting politically to the right, specifically in their desire to join IDF combat units:
Although much of this is driven by the huge, subsidized fertility of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel, I suspect it reflects global trends, which in other countries tend to be masked by growing demographic diversity.
The GSS allows us to check the racial composition issue, but not mate it. Until the year 2000, the survey only broke racial classifications into three categories (white, black, other), so "white" includes Hispanics who considered themselves white rather than choosing the flattering "other" category. The following table shows the average conservatism score (on a 7 point scale, with 1 being "extremely liberal" and 7 being "extremely conservative") of whites aged 18-29 by half decade:

PeriodConScore
Late 70s3.63
Early 80s3.93
Late 80s4.01
Early 90s4.03
Late 90s3.93
Early 00s3.94
Late 00s3.98

From the eighties onward, it's pretty much been steady as she goes for the youth cohort, with the median settling almost exactly at the moderate (4) position.

However, there are a lot of things tied up in the labels "liberal" and "conservative" in the US that don't necessarily fit neatly into the question of whether or not an increase in authoritarianism has occurred among young people. The following table shows the percentages of whites (as previously defined) aged 18-29 who expressed "a great deal of confidence" in the US military, again by half decade:

PeriodConfident
Late 70s35.3%
Early 80s29.1%
Late 80s37.6%
Early 90s50.8%
Late 90s42.9%
Early 00s54.6%
Late 00s57.0%

Over the last decade, despite the dragged out wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, high levels of confidence in the US military among teenagers and young adults has been the norm, a noticeable departure from decades past.

While it's necessary to point out that confidence in the military has risen among all respondents over the same period of time, the rise among the young has been steeper. In the seventies and into the eighties, confidence in the military was lower among young whites than it was among the population as a whole, but by the nineties this had clearly reversed, with young whites expressing greater confidence in the military than the rest of the population does, and it has remained that way ever since.

Steve's insight isn't just domestic, though. The WVS potentially offers some insight into the question at the international level as well. I'll tap it next in an attempt to keep up with his ambitious mind.

GSS variables used: CONARMY(1)(2-3), AGE(18-29), RACE(1), POLVIEWS, YEAR(1974-1979)(1980-1984)(1985-1989)(1990-1994)(1995-1999)(2000-2004)(2005-2010)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

That good fight isn't ours

When I'm in discussions that find their way to the issues surrounding Israel and her relationships with her neighbors generally, and the Palestinians in particular, I find I often bemuse those I'm talking to because they're unsure of whether I'm "pro-Israel" or "pro-Palestinian". In imitation of Half Sigma (and correspondingly in a nod to my pseudonym), my position is as follows.

Israel's survival instincts are admirable. As an American, I can only dream of having a federal government as committed to the well-being of the nation as Israel's is. In terms of human capital and the existence of a functioning liberal, market-based society, Israel is bar none in the region. If I was randomly jettisoned somewhere in MENA, by God's good graces I'd land in Haifa or Tel Aviv. When self-righteous media types pay homage to the "international community's" alleged Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians, it makes me root a little harder for the Jewish state. The Palestinians are apparently world's perpetual basket cases, a real life illustration of what the rest of the non-Israeli middle eastern and north African populations would look like without oil and, to a lesser extent, tourism.

But Israel's concerns are not our own. The Great Iranian War Machine is hardly a menance to the US. Iran's population is 25% of ours, and its purchasing power parity per capita is also 25% of ours. Thus, its PPP is one-sixteenth of our own. While they were, as of 2006, devoting 2.5% of their economic output on military spending, we were expending 4.06% of our much larger output on the same. If Israel deems Iran an existential threat, well, it has an estimated 200 nuclear weapons at its disposal. And I, like so many others on the alternative right, are perpetually irritated by the influence of groups like AIPAC and the ADL on US policy decisions.

In short, if I were an Israeli, I'd be supporting exactly what Israel is doing. But I'm not, so I oppose what is being done against my own national interests on behalf of Israel's even while my sympathies are with her.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Those days I remember seem so far away

Agnostic inadvertently tells a cautionary tale about self-reported survey response data in an interesting post about experiences with deja vu. The GSS question, posed three times in the eighties, asks each respondent how often in the course of his entire life he thought he was somewhere he'd been before, even though he knew it was impossible for that to have been the case. The responses, ranging from "never in my life" (red) to "often" (yellow), are shown below, by respondents' age range:


Well over half of those at retirement age reported to have never experienced deja vu, while only one-fifth of those in their late teens and early twenties said they never had. Subconsciously, these elderly denizens are probing the experiences they've had in the recent past and projecting them back across their hazier memories of earlier times. There is a sort of familiarity bias of shorter-term memory present in the responses of these older folks, who had not recently experienced nearly as much deja vu as they had when they were younger (as deja vu is apparently a side effect of a better functioning memory system).

While it's something worth being aware of, I'm not trying to be critical of unintentional inaccuracies of those whose lives are past noon. It's part of the human condition. A lot of great art is devoted to trying to rekindle in us a neotenous frame of mind that is probably impossible for most of us to ever return to once we've left it. While we might get close in our most pensive moments, it's only passively so, as though we're watching video footage of earlier times in our lives play out. And most of the time it's out of mind, out of sight altogether. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

One in three, you see

A post by Andrew Stuttaford at Secular Right about the seemingly bizarre idea of agape restaurants (about two-thirds of the way down at that link) put forth by Alain de Botton made me wonder what percentage of self-described atheists and agnostics attend religious services at least once a year. The relevant excerpt, which is actually an excerpt within an excerpt, follows:
De Botton, in his attractive comments about Yom Kippur, regrets the fact that secularists do not have a time of year when they can all acknowledge the faults of the past year and try to patch up quarrels — but surely they do: It is the post-Dickensian observance of Christmas. Many who realise the extreme historical unlikelihood of Jesus having been to Bethlehem, let alone having been born there to the accompaniment of angel choirs, see the point of Scrooge’s conversion.
Of course, not all those who are both irreligious and who celebrate Christmas and the season leading up to it actually attend a service devoted to the holiday's celebration, but those who attend church once during the year are presumably doing so mostly on Christmas or Christmas eve (it would be optimal for one of the cutoff response to be "once or twice per year" to catch Easter as well, but we work with what we have).

As it turns out, just under one-third (31.9%) of secularists (I use this term not in a functional sense but as it relates to ideas about the existence of the supernatural or lack thereof) can be found in a sanctuary in late December. Looks like the remaining two-thirds, who constitute about 5% of the US population, are de Botton's target market. It's a niche audience, but hey, in the restaurant industry, that's doable.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2010), GOD(1-2)(3-6), ATTEND(0-1)(2-8)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Va jay jay

Upon seeing pictures (requires being logged into a facebook account) of a recent protest in Virginia against the big government conservative-style ultrasound bill passed by the state legislature and soon to be signed into law by the governor, I have a reaction and proposed solution.

Reaction: God those women are ugly.

Solution: Male sobriety. It's all the birth control those harpies need. Problem solved!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Men have more friends than women do

A commenter is hesitant to accept Agnostic's assertion that men tend to have more friends but shallower friendships than women do (for simplicity's sake--Agnostic actually takes issue with this characterization in the relevant post, but the male quantitative advantage stands either way):
My own anecdotal experience is that women tend to have far more friends than men do, and that that many of these are close friendships. Agnostic does not offer any data to contradict that perception.
Skimming through facebook profiles, I get the sense that there is greater variation in the number of friends men have than there is in the number of friends women have. Variation tends to be more of a male characteristic, so this comes as little surprise. There are guys I play sports with who are high-energy, dominant alpha-types who have 2,000 facebook friends. That's way beyond the number of people they have actual personal relationships with, but they're approaching something like local fame in the number of people who are glad to be associated with them, and I'd wager that they tend to accept friendship requests more often than they request them. On the flip side, there are several guys I know from work who have fewer than 100 friends. Women seem more likely to fall in between.

The GSS doesn't offer much for us to play with here, but in 1986 it did query respondents on the number of close friends (excluding spouses and family members) they have. The mean is nine for men and six for women, while the median is five for men and four for women. In line with the unscientific facebook survey described above, the standard deviation for men is 12.7 for men and 9.1 for women. That is, men are more likely to have both no close friends and over ten close friends than women are.

GSS variables used: SEX, FRINUM

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Right to privacy, Facebook variety

A Pew survey on the online social networking habits of adults reveals unsurprising gender differences in personal privacy settings. By a ratio of nearly 5 to 1 (67% to 14%), women make their profiles private and thus only accessible to their friends rather than making them publicly available for viewing by whoever looks them up. While men also tend towards restricting profile access, the ratio, at less than 2 to 1 (48% to 26%), is far less lopsided.

Biology is informative here. Women are the more restrictive gender not only in regards to sex, but when it comes to personal relationships of lesser intensity as well. The survey didn't probe it, but I'd wager girls are also more apt to reject friendship requests from people they barely know or don't know at all than guys are. Being Facebook stalked is understandably a worrisome issue for women, while for men it's flattering and invitational (there are a few easy tricks to get a good sense of who is regularly checking your Facebook profile out).

Parenthetically, 93% of those who use online social networking sites have a Facebook account (as of Spring 2011). MySpace is still used by 23% of them. By contrast, only 11% use Twitter. It's my impression that the latter receives undue media attention given its relatively niche presence. I don't use Twitter so excuse my ignorance about the site, but doesn't Facebook, via status updates, do everything Twitter does plus a whole lot more?