Thursday, August 30, 2012

Republican men are the most politically informed

Despite not trusting the media they get their news from, Republicans are more informed about current events than Democrats are. The latest evidence comes from the most recent installment of Pew's News IQ series of quizzes given to a random sample of adults in the US. Of the 12 questions posed, Republicans fared better on 11 of them, the lone exception having to do with allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the US. That's just as well, since the future of the Republican party is in no way tied to the nation's immigration policies!

In similarly ho hum news, women are more ignorant of current events than men are. Men fared better on 11 of the 12 questions, while the sexes were dead even on the question about abortion. The 'war on women' rhetoric aside, gals are as pro-life as guys are, if not more so. Whatever their opinions, women tend to care more about the abortion issue than men do, though. According to the GSS, 36.6% of women describe themselves as "very concerned" about the abortion question while 26.1% of men do. They would be more visceral about it--their bodies and all that.

GSS variables used: ABCARE, SEX

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fewer cribs beneath brick and cold steel piping

As a small supplement to Jayman's neat post on population density and fertility in the developed world, here's what the GSS shows us regarding the mean number of children among whites aged 40-65 when the question was asked in the mid-nineties and again in 2000 by the type of community they live in. The descriptions are pretty self-explanatory, but to avoid unnecessary confusion are listed from the most densely populated to the least so:

CommunityKids
Big city2.07
Suburbs, outskirts2.20
Small town2.32
Country village2.45
Farm, country home2.33

Cities have historically been population sinks and that trend continues in the present (actual TFR numbers are a little lower across the board than what is shown here, as the question on children includes step- and adopted kids as well as biological ones).

GSS variables used: COMTYPE, RACE(1), AGE(40-65), CHILDS

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Partisan perceptions of media bias

Of the 13 major media outlets queried about by Pew, the only one Republicans trust more than Democrats do is Fox News. "Question everything" is a tired phrase leftists often employ as a means of obtaining morally posturing cheap grace, but the late George Carlin's proscription of it characterizes those on the right better than it does those on the left, at least when it comes to the real time filters through which they view the larger world around themselves:
Children should be taught to question everything--to question everything they read, everything they hear.
Even the WSJ enjoys more credulity among Democrats than it does among Republicans. As a reader of the journal, I don't find this particularly surprising. While the op/ed section is run by neocons, the hard news pages betray the same typical leftism-primarily-by-omission that the NYT and the Washington Post do. Small wonder those on the left so viscerally loath Fox News (which, having recently acquired XM radio, I've begun listening to along with other cable stations in the car, and they strike me as even more sensationalist, unrigorous, and partisan than I remember them being when I watched with regularity in the early 2000s).

I'm not overly eager to wade into the polluted waterways of media bias, but one potentially interesting way to gauge which direction it is 'objectively' perceived to tilt presents itself in the Pew report we're considering here. Respondents were asked to rate the "believability" of 13 news organizations on a 4-point scale, with 3s and 4s indicating believability and 1s and 2s a lack thereof. Correlating the percentages of independents giving each news organization a 3 or 4 with the percentages of Republicans and of Democrats who did the same yields r-values of .26 and .62, respectively.

Wow, so independents' assessments of believability are much more in line with those of Democrats than they are with those of Republicans. Remove Fox News from the comparison, however, and the correlations shift dramatically, to .63 (up from .29) between Republicans and independents and to .49 (down from .62) between Democrats and independents. The independent perception is a little closer to that of Republicans when it comes to most of the media, but is almost as jaded towards Fox News as Democrats are. I interpret this as showing that the soft middle sees a relatively gentle leftward lean across the media landscape with the glaring exception of Fox News, which is perceived as an organ of the GOP.

Parenthetically, local news stations get high marks for believability across the political spectrum and are most trusted overall among those surveyed. Geographic proximity creates familiarity and fosters trust. People don't care much for Congress but they love their own congress critters. Localism is inherently a lot more natural to and comforting for people than all the various strains of globalism are.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Todd Akin really meant!

Estimating liberally to include not only "legitimate" rapes but also unsuccessful perceived attempts compiled by advocacy groups with the stated purpose of stamping out sexual assault, 1 in 6 women will be victimized at some point during their lives. Not all of these will occur during the period of a woman's life when she's fertile, but with the aim of overshooting if anything, for the sake of argument assume they do.

There are a few days every four weeks when a healthy woman aged ~14-45 is capable of becoming impregnated. About 75% of these fertilizations something will go awry--sperm will lose its way, the egg will shut sperm out, or the body will reject the fertilized egg before or after implantation, etc. One-quarter of the time, a baby will be on the way.

From the CDC, about 4 in 5 sexually active women (according to the GSS, about 1 in 10 women in this age range are not sexually active at any time during the year) of reproductive age use pill-based contraception. Again for sake of argument, disregard other less widely used methods like depo-provera and the today sponge.

So, starting from the top: 1/6 = .1667, 3/28 = .1071. Multiply these to get .0179, and then multiply this by .25 (the successful one-fourth of fertilizations). We get .0045. Finally, multiply this by .28 (the one-fifth of women not using the pill from the 90% of at least marginally sexually active women plus the one-tenth who, not being sexually active, are presumably not on birth control, ignoring that it has other non-procreative uses) to get .0013, or 0.13% of women--1 in 750, with liberal estimation parameters--for whom the question of "legitimate" rape will be a pregnancy-inducing concern.

Getting that out there is worth forfeiting the opportunity to retake the Senate, isn't it?

GSS variables used: AGE(18-45), YEAR(2000-2010), SEX(2), SEXFREQ

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Profiling immigrants

Using the latest Census Bureau data from 2010 and 2011, the Center for Immigration Studies recently released a comprehensive report profiling the country's foreign-born population and comparing it with her native children. Parse and peruse as much as you're inclined to. Some points of interest I gleaned:

- Immigrants are more willing to work and work harder when they do so than natives do, right? Among those aged 18-65, yes, technically, by a statistical rounding error, with 67.7% of immigrants holding a job and 67.6% of natives doing the same.

The native numbers, of course, are dragged down by the poor performance of native blacks, only 56.6% of whom are employed. The native white figure, at 70.5%, is a few points better than the immigrant number is.

- While we're on the topic of favored demographic groups, where are the egalitarians on the prodigious gender gap in employment rates among immigrants in the US? The following table shows gender gap employment scores for immigrants and natives (non-Hispanic unless otherwise indicated) by race, calculated by taking the percentage of men aged 18-65 who are employed and subtracting from it the percentage of women of the same age range who are employed. The higher the figure, the wider the gender gap in employment:

GroupSex Gap
Immigrants21.1
Native whites6.9
Native Hispanics5.5
Native blacks(4.7)

By pushing for open borders, the contemporary left is indirectly celebrating traditional gender roles. Only in America!

- Of the 24 major occupational categories listed, the legal profession boasts the smallest share of immigrants (7.1%) among its ranks, with community and social services (9.2%) a few spots up. Small surprise that occupations where practitioners face almost no competition from immigrants (and virtually none at all from those of the illegal variety) in their professional lives tend also to be the most fervent boosters of massive unrestricted immigration. While open borders do not increase the competitive pressures practitioners in these occupations face, they do increase the client base needing their services.

There are occupations all for open borders, like agriculture (47.4%), domestic and commercial cleaning (34.0%), and construction (24.4%) that are significantly staffed by immigrants as well, to be sure. But unlike the legal profession, there are distinct hierarchies and not much in the way of upward mobility in these immigrant-intensive fields. They're characterized by white natives running the operations and menial immigrants doing the dirty work for as little money and as compliantly as possible in the name of fattening the bottom line (at least in the short-run).

- Five years ago, using similarly commendable data from the CIS, I came up with what I deemed a "merit index score" for countries constituted by evaluating how well their emigrants fared in the US. Using four measures included in the report, here's an update. The scores are calculated by adding to 93.3 (set to norm native whites at a score of 100) the percentage of each nation's emigrants to the US aged 25-65 who have attained a bachelor's degree or higher and then subtracting from that the percentages from each that are in poverty, use at least one welfare program, and are without medical insurance:

RankCountryMerit index
1.India137.6
2.Great Britain129.6
3.Germany120.5
4.Philippines115.7
5.Canada113.3
6.Japan103.4
xNative white100.0
x.Native Asian98.3
7.China91.1
8.Korea88.0
9.Russia79.6
10.Iran79.3
11.Pakistan71.0
12.Poland67.7
13.Colombia58.6
14.Jamaica49.2
15.Laos48.3
16.Peru35.7
17.Vietnam35.5
xNative black32.1
18.Cuba25.4
x.Native Hispanic21.0
19.Ecuador12.8
20.Haiti8.2
21.Dominican Republic4.5
22.El Salvador(22.2)
23.Honduras(38.9)
24.Guatemala(40.4)
25.Mexico(42.5)

Half a decade ago, Indians were the cream of the crop. They remain so today. The brahmins most Americans come into contact with here are not representative of the country of over 1 billion from whence they come, a country for which the task of obtaining a "representative sample" seems almost insurmountably difficult to complete. They about perform the Chinese in the states, but I'd guess the smart money is on China outperforming India in the 21st century.

Europeans and East Asians fill out the rest of the top spots, with native whites in the middle of that mix. As we move down into the third world, we see that the people poor, backwards countries send end up being poor and backwards in the country they ultimately settle in, as do their descendants. Mexicans, constituting by far the largest immigrant nationality in the US, come in at rock bottom. With one-fifth of Mexico already here, it's a small wonder that the US is increasingly coming to resemble her southern neighbor.

- It's regularly remarked upon by those in the Steveosphere that political opinion makers in the nation's capital have a skewed perspective of contemporary immigration into the US. Besides being steeped in antiquated images of Ellis Island, immigrants living in states surrounding DC fare better than immigrants in the rest of the country do.

The following table ranks the 16 states with the largest foreign-born populations in the country by how impoverished its immigrants are relative to its natives. The index is calculated by taking the share of a state's impoverished population that is foreign-born and dividing it by the percentage of the state's total population that is foreign-born. A score of 100% indicates that immigrants are as likely to be in poverty as natives; a score under 100% indicates immigrants are less impoverished than natives are; and a score over 100% indicates immigrants are more likely to be in poverty than natives are:

StatePoverty
Virginia104.5%
Maryland131.1%
New Jersey132.4%
Georgia132.5%
New York136.3%
Nevada136.7%
Florida138.2%
California139.1%
National151.2%
Massachusetts153.7%
Texas158.8%
Illinois160.6%
North Carolina164.9%
Washington168.2%
Arizona187.4%
Colorado197.5%
Minnesota263.7%

Even in Virginia, immigrants are poorer than natives are. In the US today, importing people is more-or-less synonymous with importing poverty no matter where one travels (with a few notable exceptions like Silicon Valley). That said, distinctions between natives and immigrants are considerably less pronounced in states like Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey than they are in Texas and Arizona.

- There's a certain dignity in a life devoid of material abundance though, isn't there? Perhaps, but that's often an irrelevant question in a country as affluent as the US, where the officially poor have multiple flat screen TVs and iPhones, let alone more food than anyone should eat.

To what extent are we assisting immigrants in obtaining this material abundance? The following table shows the percentages of immigrants, by state, using at least one major welfare program:

StateWelfare
Massachusetts19%
Virginia25%
Nevada31%
Arizona34%
Georgia37%
Florida39%
North Carolina39%
Maryland41%
Washington42%
New York43%
New Jersey44%
Colorado45%
Minnesota45%
National47%
California55%
Illinois55%
Texas58%

Again, Virginia looks great and Maryland's foreign-born do better than those in the country as a whole do.

- Open borders apologists like Russ Roberts and Tyler Cowen don't cross paths with a large swath the socioeconomic spectrum, though. They don't experience poverty firsthand in any capacity, so discerning difference in poverty rates is an exclusively academic exercise for them. They do spend more time with those in the upper echelons than the average layperson does, however. And in these circles, immigrants are overrepresented.

The following table shows an immigrant "eduscore" calculated by taking the percentage of a state's immigrant population that has attained a bachelor's degree or higher and dividing it by the percentage of a state's native population that has done the same. A score of 100% indicates a state's immigrants are exactly as likely to have at least four year degrees as natives are; a score under 100% indicates they are less likely to have done so; and a score of over 100% indicates they are more likely to have done so:

StateEduscore
Virginia111.5%
Maryland102.0%
Minnesota101.1%
Washington98.3%
Florida94.1%
Georgia90.8%
National90.4%
Massachusetts86.2%
Illinois85.5%
New York84.8%
New Jersey82.5%
Nevada78.4%
North Carolina70.5%
California70.2%
Texas69.4%
Arizona63.2%
Colorado57.0%

The predominately Mexican incursion into the Southwest has little in common with immigration into Fairfax County. In Virginia and Maryland, and more saliently still in the district they engulf, foreign-born educational attainment surpasses that of natives. It also does so in Minnesota, though I wonder how much of that is due to degrees in Islamic studies among vibrant newcomers to cities such as Minneapolis. In most of the country, however, immigrants tend to be less educated than natives are.

White privilege overtakes institutional racism

In the standard MG mold, a comprehensive (and bar none for reference purposes) post mocking the spurious explanations for disparities in outcomes among members of different racial and ethnic groups references the phrase "institutional racism", noting that it seems to have been replaced by the (even more) amorphous "white privilege". Perspicacious writer, that MG. The percentage of English language books published in the US containing the phrases in question from 1950 through 2008 (the latest year for which data are available):



Dragon Quest VIII quotes and quotations

For most who don't come upon this via search engine, this post should be skipped.

One of the more enjoyable entertainment experiences I've had over the last decade or so was a playing through of the PlayStation II SquareEnix game, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, as my reflections on the game clearly attest. A lot of nostalgia there, and as longtime readers will have noticed, I have a neotenous streak. At some point after doing so it came to my attention that, inexplicably, there was no cache of quotes from the title to be found anywhere on the internet.

Sounds like as good an excuse as any for playing through again, and over the last several months, I did just that. Below are the fruits of this true labor of love. The inclusions are of course arbitrary and non-exhaustive. They're presented in roughly the order they are uttered throughout the narrative's progression. A heavy dose comes from intra-party chatting. And yes, Angelo is my favorite character, so consequently, to Yangus' insatiable chagrin, the game's resident Adonis gets the largest helping.

Yangus

"Findin' people is my 'piece de resistance', as they say!"

"Awright, so there might be a few more monsters, but a real man don't need to worry about that!"

"I can't stand bein' all wet like this. Feels like I've 'ad an accident or somefin'!" (in the Waterfall Cave)

"I'm no good when it comes to sob stories like that. I'll need a good ol' bawl to get it out of me system when I get a bit o' time on me own later." (upon hearing of Allistair's fate)

"COR BLIMEY!"

"[Jessica's] a bit wild, that one. More trouble than she's worth, if you ask me."

"The story of 'ow me an' the guv fell in together is an epic tale, full o' laughter, thrills, and tears..."

"I shoulda known a bird wouldn't get a story like ours, guv."

"Do we really 'ave to let that Jessica along? You know what birds are like. Always moanin' about bein' tired and their feet achin'. They're a right pain! To be 'onest, I'd much rather it just be us three blokes, but there you go."

"Churches are good for 'avin a snooze, an' pubs are good for 'avin some booze!"

"If I don't stop off at a water' 'ole after I've been climbin', me legs seize up. Nah! I'm only a giraffe! Y'know, a laugh! I just fancied goin' to the pub is all."

"It 'ardly needs sayin', but I'd want you there too, guv! Standin' next to the stove, maybe!" (on living in a quaint house)

"I can't think no more! It does me 'ead in!"

"The bloke's a serious nutter! But 'is days are numbered! He's got me narked now!" (about Dhoulmagus)

"I can smell blood in the air. You an' Jessica ain't got much experience o' this kinda thing, guv. Leave it to me if things get ugly, awright?"

"Awright! Sweet! Nice! Diamond! ... I'm right fired up now, guv! Ready for action!"

"It's all part of a man's sense of adventure, eh? Believin' in stupid fairy tales and tryin' to prove they're true!"

"Just stick behind me if any ugly-lookin' monsters show their faces. They won't get past ol' Yangus!"

"We forgot to bring any grub wiv us! No point sittin' down if we ain't got nuffin' to eat!"

"The outside o' me might 'ave got a bit bulkier, but the old grey stuff's still as small as ever. So... I ain't got a clue about nuffin'." (on how to go about charging the Mirror of Ra, if memory serves)

"I ain't exactly a looker meself. I know what it's like to be discriminated against."

"People round 'ere don't care where ya come FROM, they care about wot ya come WIV!" (on Medea being horsenapped in Pickham)

"Travellin' round wiv you certainly broadens me, mind, guv. It's diamond!"

"Love a duck! Stone the crows! Blimey O'Riley! What the 'ell happened back there!?" (on the legendary ship rising to the sea)

"It's action we need, not speeches!"

"There's somefin' about bein' in a church that makes me feel all uncomfy, like. I can't help but feel the Goddess is judgin' me."

"We ain't gonna let [grandad an' the 'orse princess] down. We're men, awright, not mice! Er, no offence, Munchie."

"Hang on, grandad! You still look like a freak!" (upon slaying Dhoulmagus)

"I ain't ever seen snow before. I'm pretty excited, actually. Woo-hooooo!"

"Diamond! First Ascantha an' now this! We're on a banquet roll!" (when Cash and Carrie hold a banquet in Baccarat)

"Casino tokens! For nuffin'! Time to 'it the tables!"

"Why does she 'ave to make me feel like a loser even though I won?" (about Red being a sore loser)

"All I wanna know is where the 'strong curry-luncheon' is!" (upon not comprehending the word "correlation")

"Grandad always looks sour. Ya never know wot 'e's thinkin'."

"Them big icy-colds wot keep droppin' outta nowhere really give me the willies! Wot if one of 'em fell on me 'ead!? I'd get skewered, that's wot! An' then all me brains'd go to waste!"

"That's wot I call a proper doctor, always puttin' 'is patients first. Even when they're no good drunks!"

"I've always loved bein' in 'igh places ever since I was a kid. I feel like I was made for 'em! Normally, when I tell people that, they give me this funny look... and mutter somefin' about it not being very likely that I'll ever be a man in a 'igh place. Beats me, why, though."

"Them Templars look like a nasty bunch awright, but that prob'ly makes 'em good guards."

"I ain't keen on Marcello, but I can't say I go for them bigwigs preachin' at me, neither!" (on High Priest Rolo demeaning Marcello's humble origins)

"I reckon you should live in a big posh mansion like this one day, guv. You deserve to 'ave somewhere nice."

"You're a good bloke, Rolo!" (on the High Priest sacrificing himself to help the party get out of the Purgatory Island dungeon)

"No one puts the guv'ner behind bars! NO ONE! That Marcello's 'istory!"

"Against you 'n' me guv, 'ell be a pushover! Just like all the rest."

"That's the Chancellor of Argonia they've got there! Think o' the reward we'd get if we saved 'im! ... Or am I jumpin' the gun?"

"This is the first time I've ever wished I was carryin' a bit less excess baggage! If we get out of 'ere, I'm goin' on a diet!"

"Mind you, I reckon I could give [Morrie] a run for 'is money when it comes to a monstrous pit! Hah hah!"

"Wherever I travel, Pickham's still me 'ome!"

"I wouldn't mind praying everyday if that's 'ow me prayers was answered."

"Looks like there are some pretty fierce monsters in 'ere. Tends to be the way wiv places that're 'ard to find."

"Maybe the person buried 'ere is a bit unpopular, eh? Maybe 'e weren't too good at the ol' personal 'ygiene." (on seeing the Hero's father's grave on the way to the home of the Dragovians)

"Not that I'm complainin', mind. That was good grub! I'm just feeling a bit cozy round the old midriff."

Jessica

"We have to hurry! I can't let anyone else die at [Dhoulmagus'] hands!"

"I've never met a king before... Except king Trode, of course. But for some reason, it just isn't the same. I suppose it's his looks!"

"Does this dress suit me? ... You don't think it's too... revealing, do you? Mother called this kind of outfit vulgar!"

"They're nothing alike... Apart from the way they annoy me every time they open their mouths. In that respect they're identical twins." (on Angelo and Marcello)

"Bring your services anywhere near my front and I'll cut them off, you floppy-haired choirboy!" (to Angelo's initial approach)

"[Mother's] obsessed with smuggling me into polite society whether I like it or not."

"Nice try, Angelo."

"I wonder what Dhoulmagus is like. I mean, I know he's a bad guy, but what's he LIKE?"

"Strong but sensitive... gorgeous but modest... riding about on a white horse? But him? HIM?! Don't even get me started!" (on Charmles as a prince)

"I can't stand monsters with lots of eyes. Or slimy, gooey ones. I can't even stand looking at them."

"It isn't an easy thing, coming face-to-face with the man who killed your brother."

"I suspect my intense hatred of Dhoulmagus made it easier for Rhapthorne to take control of me. Negativity is his bread and butter. I think he uses it as a conduit to possess anyone who touches the scepter."

"It's hard to motivate yourself to go into the freezing cold. I should have put on more layers!"

"[Munchie's] cute, smart AND he saves us when we'er in trouble! He's my hero!"

"Love and hate are opposite sides of the same coin."

"I know these tokens are our reward, but I just can't get excited over them. By the time we use them up, we're probably going to be hopelessly addicted to gambling. Before you know it, we'll be shelling out for our own tokens! They'll be the ones turning a profit from us."

"Nice, Angelo. Really nice. How cool and detached you are... just like your brother!"

"The actual owner of the treasure appeared right before our eyes! Does this mean we'll be guilty of robbery if we fight him and take it?" (on Cap'n Crow)

(When an enemy attempts to use Puff puff on Jessica: "But Jessica laughs triumphantly, having won the battle of the bulges!")

"Talk about having friends in high places. He's the son of a Godbird."

"What DOES happen to people who don't behave properly in front of the Lord High Priest? The death penalty? Squashed by the Goddess' giant thumb?"

"Now that they know their sacred Goddess statue was really the Lord of Darkness' tomb all this time, what are people going to believe in?"

"It's a little weird that we haven't seen a single maid in this huge mansion." (in the Chancellor of Argonia's mansion after its inhabitants are captured by trolls)

"This isn't about me anymore... We have to win. Not just for Allistair, but for all of Rhapthorne's victims. And for every living thing in the world of light."

"I want to live as happy a life as I can. I think of it as a way to honor those people whose lives were cut short."

"I only made it this far because I followed my heart."

"Princess Medea is being a bit obstinate, isn't she? I mean, who cares about some dusty old promise? She should just refuse if she doesn't want to get married."

"There's no way [Munchie's] a normal mouse! I can't believe it didn't strike me as odd before!" 

"Can we really do it? Actually, that's not even a question. We HAVE to do it!"
Angelo

"If I were to throw you in there, your whole body would be skewered. I could make you holier-than-thou without so much as getting my hands dirty." (regarding the iron maiden at Maella Abbey)

"It's as if all the demons of hell had gathered to feast on ... ABBOT FRANCISCO!"

"So, Jessica. From now on, I'll protect you. I won't leave your side. Consider me your personal bodyguard."

"I was so young and innocent then. The whole thing hurt more than you can imagine. Still, c'est la vie..."

"Mourning dress does have some redeeming features. I spy some strikingly pretty faces amidst the drab tones. Perhaps I might be able to cheer one or two of them up."

"A queen so fair, the king hasn't been able to forget her in more than two years? Hmm... I'd like a chance to meet this Ascanthan rose, dead or not."

"You'll understand one day, when you've experienced true love for yourself... Perhaps I could offer my services on that front?"

"I bet they were head over heels in love when they got married. And then she died before they had time to get sick of each other. It's the perfect love story."

"All this death and killing is getting rather tedious."

"My tongue may be smooth and silver, but so is the moon, and it, I concede, is better to look at."

"So that sissy of a king has finally pulled himself together and started to behave like a real man again!"

"[Pickham] is filthy. Let's find this information dealer, Brains, or whatever he's called, and bid farewell to this stench as quickly as we can."

"Jessica, you might have won a good pair in the past, but you'll need more than that to beat my casino hand!"

"I just had this image of Yangus dressed up as a woman! Merciful Goddess! Purge this frightful vision from my tortured mind!"

"I enjoy a conquest as much as the next man, but breaking down the doors of that particular citadel would require more than an attractive horse!" (about Red, innuendo anyone?)

"How about a bit of company during the night, then, if you're so scared? I'll look after you. Keep you nice and warm." (to Jessica)

"The ceiling nearly did irreparable damage to my immaculate features."

"Yangus' testimony!? And which court of law does THAT stand up in?"

"We'll be in trouble too if we don't silence that talentless mole and his truly awful cacophony, pronto!"

"Now we've got ourselves about, why don't we take a bit of a detour? We've only seen half of the world. There's still so much left to enjoy."

"Any grown man who needs to be watched over by an older woman is obviously still tied to his mother's apron strings."

"You can't get any more tight-fisted than a royal."

"Look at me now, babysitting a prince who can't even wipe his own backside." (regarding Charmles)

"What is it with old kingdoms like this? Why do they insist on hanging onto ridiculous traditions like this initiation? Still, at least it isn't anything barbaric, like human sacrifice or something. That said, putting the prince in the ring with anything more dangerous than the common cold seems akin to sacrifice."

"It's [Marcello] who hates me. I don't have any feelings for him at all... None whatsoever."

"By the Goddess! Look behind you! Oh, no! WATCH OUT! Ha ha! Made you look! Anyway, didn't the shock loosen you up a bit? Help you relax?"

"As a knight, I am honor bound not to strike down an opponent who will not defend himself."

"OLD?! Speak for yourself! You're looking at the Goddess's gift to woman kind! Her YOUNG gift to YOUNG woman kind!"

"The perfect excuse for a bit of debauchery, ruined thanks to Jessica. And I was hoping to enjoy it with her!"

"Jewels are like women. The harder they are to get, the more satisfactiion they bring in the end. Half the fun is in the chase, my friend."

"Are you really the reformed crook you'd have us all believe you are, Yangus!? You seem far too good-natured to me. Or did you steal that heart of gold!?"

"As soon as people start getting too big for their boots, any sense of decency they might once have had starts to fester and decay."

"I guess you could say that King Trode's carelessness led to Jessica being possessed by Rhapthorne."

"What a dog! He's a lot more use than a certain king don't you think? And he smells better, too!" (regarding Marta's St. Bernard, Boris)

"All the women here wear far too many layers. Still, I suppose taking them off one by one has its charms, too."

"We have such tragically bad fortune ourselves that I'm sure his mildly unlucky contribution wouldn't make much difference."

"She's hardly a damsel in distress. More like a wrinkled damson in a frumpy dress!"

"A dog controlling a pack of wolves!? Trust Rhapthorne to have ideas above his station."

"As brothers go, Cash is a hundred times better than Marcello."

"Now we can finally wash our hands of this affair. Just as soon as we've collected our compensation, of course!"

"I'll double those tokens. No, I'll even triple them. You know about my poker prowess, don't you?"

"Now we can bet the shirt off Jessica's back on some thrillingly high risk fun!" (at the Baccarat casino)

"We're looking for a dog. Red's more of a fox in my opinion. So why are we here?"

"That woman's intuition is formidable. She'd find out about my other lady-friends before I even learned their names!"

"It all sounds a bit far-fetched to me. Superstitious, at best. But superfluous gibberish would probably be closer to the truth."

"So we climb all this way and finally reach the top, only to be greeted by a monster ugly enough to turn milk sour. I fail to see the appeal of mountaineering."

"All the time back at the abbey, people said [the Lord High Priest] lived above the clouds... now I realize they meant up here, not 'up there'!"

"I really thought Empyrea would lose it when she found out her egg had been crushed. But she was so calm. She just rose above it all. That's exactly the kind of level-headedness you need for poker."

"I don't know if you're a devout believer or just a coward! Either way, praying will get you nowhere, I can assure you."

"There are pheromones in the air. It's unmistakable."

"It's like some kind of sick joke. He's been taken over by the Lord Darkness and now he's going to become head of the Church!"

"Two-to-one. Those are the odds. We got Jessica back, but I'm not going to hold back... but what if he dies?"

"You will go on living, knowing that the brother you despised your whole life took pity on you." (upon saving Marcello in the desert)

"We're on the threshold of a truly epic battle. One or more of us may not be coming back."

"It sounds like our favorite criminal romance remains at the frustrating status of 'just good friends'."

"The chancellor's about to become intimately acquainted with the inner workings of a troll's digestive system!"

"Dear Goddess! I'm being preached at by YANGUS!"

"There's no point in puzzling over which way to go. As long as there's a path in front of you, take it!"

"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to say a little prayer, just for a laugh."

"Maybe I should start the ball rolling and get acquainted with a nice Dragovian girl... Angelo, the Ambassador or Love, at your service! This is how we humans do things down below..."

"There's not enough room for TWO dashing cavaliers around here! Me and this Lord of the Dragovians have got a score to settle now!"

"If there's one thing I hate in life, it's a trial. What kind of masochistic lunatic would come all the way up here to endure a grueling, not to mention tedious, challenge!? ... Oh no! You would, wouldn't you!?"

"You still have the ring, the ring that belonged to your father. Go and show it to King Clavius!"

"Now we've defeated the Lord of the Dragovians, he and I can get down to the important business of determining which of us is the most debonair."

"If you were as enthusiastic about defeating Rhapthorne as you are about the land of the Dragovians, the world would be saved in a flash!"

"This is a bit extreme even for one of your detours, Hero. It almost makes me feel respect for you, rather than my usual irritation. Almost."

"I had hoped these Dragovians would be quite special. It was something about their name. But they're a sorry bunch, really."

"I'm not Hero! Notice my dashing good looks? The glint in my eye? My tendency to smolder captivatingly? I think your eyesight must be going, old girl."

"Are you really going to let this happen? If you ask me, it's your duty as chief of the palace guard to protect the Princess's happiness."

"Sounds like Chen Mui was quite an important chap here, doesn't it? He and King Trode really go to show how you can't judge a book by its cover."

"I'm normally not this agreeable. Maybe I've been around you too long, Hero!?"

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

Said the Meat Head Angelo swindled in Simpleton's bar, "I'm gonna introduce that stuck-up little squirt to the business end o' my knife. Then he'll know what it's like to be a real holey man!"

Trode

"A low life like you wouldn't recognize nobility if it came up and bit you on the... arrrgh!" (to Yangus)

"A strange creature!? Are you referring to me?"

"You ignorant imbecile! Don't you realize when my subjects,suffer, I suffer!?"

"Dhoulmagus, you spineless clown! To attack one's own master is an unforgivable offence!"

"You loathsome lowlife! You of all people have no right to call me 'weird'!" (to Yangus)

"That diabolical Dhoulmagus! He's a cold-blooded killer! A soulless savage! A vile villain of the highest order!"

"Premission!? PERMISSION!? YOUR bridge lies within my kingdom, you oaf!"

"I see your mouth is as vulgar as your face!" (to Yangus)

"Just leave him! It's poetic justice! Nay, divine justice!"

"Guv? What is this nonsense!? Are you a complete imbecile? This boy is my retainer!"

"It wouldn't do to stir up the natives again with my extraordinary appearance." (at Peregin Quay)

"If only I didn't look like this, I wouldn't have to rely on you. No doubt I'd get some answers if people knew I was king! Still, it can't be helped that my retainers find the simplest tasks impossible."

"Unhand me at once, you insolent ruffian!" (to Marcello at Maella Abbey)

"What imprudence! You're even more uncouth than that oaf Yangus! Being in your sorry company makes me look all the more dignified!" (to Angelo)

"What!? You sold my daughter!? That's it! Hero! Slay this worthless wastrel!" (to Pickham thief)

"I don't care if it's the Venus' tear or the contents of the Trodain royal vault! My precious Medea is worth a million of either, and more besides!"

"Pay Her off! From your own pocket!"

"We're deeply indebted to Marta. But with my overwhelming charm, it's not surprising she wanted to help us!"

"YOU BLINKERED IDIOT! You'd swap my Princess for those bedraggled mares!?"

"Do not worry, Empyrea. These people serve me, and I order them to rescue your egg!"

"You can scour the world, but you won't find another king who has the Godbird Empyrea as one of his retainers!"

"Through the sagacious and prudent guidance of your wise king, you have acquired the ability to fly."

"You could see off a whole division of cavalry! With your might, invading Ascantha would be simplicity itself! ... Ahem! Merely an example, of course..."

"Receiving help, by which I mean commanding others to provide necessary assistance, forms the basis of my entire philosophy on life."

"I saw you all in action! My wonderful men! You were magnificent!"

"My country's honor matters not one jot compared to [Medea's] happiness."

"[Ishmari] lives in my castle, so he's my subject. It's as simple as that."

"Quite frankly, it would be no bad thing if this entire area were razed to the ground. Including Pickham. It can go to the dogs for all I came. The dogs would be a step up from the rats who run the place now."

Medea

"If it's a choice between marrying that twit and being a horse, you can make mine a grass sandwich!"

High Priest Rolo

"You may be Captain of the Templars, but a man of such humble origins as yourself has no place here!" (to Marcello at Savella Cathedral)

"So that confounded Marcello thinks he's too good to pay his bribes now that he's master of the guard to the Lord High Priest!"

"I'm innocent! You should arrest that miscreant!"

"Curse Marcello! That traitor will rot in hell!"

"For the first time in my life, I pray to you from my heart! I beg for your mercy!"

Marcello

"My guard is watertight. I make sure of that. There's no way for an outsider to get into the abbey."

"Come dawn tomorrow, I will have you tortured. Perhaps then you will realize the gravity of the sins you have committed."

"The luxury of a carefree existence such as yours is not something I can afford." (to Angelo)

"Exile High Priest Rolo to Purgatory Island along with these thugs! They will learn that succession comes at a high price!"

"I'm notoriously bad at taking orders." (after squelching Rhapthorne's attempt to control him with the scepter)

"A king is but a man born into the right family!"

"The Lord High Priest, our kings, our Goddess! All of them reign over us from their exalted thrones! Each one as useless as the next!"

Abbet Francisco

"I have given myself to the Goddess! If it is Her wish, I am prepared to die."

Red

"Stop gov'llin' about on the floor! Be a man!" (in response to Yangus' pleading for Medea to be returned)

Don Mole

"T-take it to the bridge...! Things done... got too far... gone..."

Charmles

"Y-you brazen plebeian! How dare you mock ROYALTY!? Apologize this instant!" (to Angelo)

"Normally I wouldn't let such base sarcasm go unpunished!"

"One look at your is enough to make me forget all the other beautiful girls I've ever met! I'm the luckiest man in the world to have you as my wife."

"I can't possibly have commoners like you at such a grand royal affair. It's not as if you're aristocracy or wealthy, or, well, anything. Hahaha!"

"How could you be so remiss to let a ragged rabble like them to rout you!? You rotten rascals!" (to downed Templar guards)

Blazeghost (in Dark Ruins)

"The infidels have broken through the dark aura! They must be preparing to attack us..."

Empyrea

"You humans never fail to surprise me."

"In another world I was known as... Ramia."

Dhoulmagus

"What faith you have! Let's put it to the test, shall we?"

"Why if it isn't King 'Troll' and Princess 'Mare-dea'."

"The mare I can see, but you look more like a toad than a troll to me." (upon cursing Trode and Medea)

Rhapthorne

"You shall taste the terror eternal. Even death shall offer you no respite."

Dominico

"Get off of me, you disgusting piece of filth! This isn't a chance for you to steal your way into my good books!" (to David)

"I don't know why, but just looking at David's face makes my blood boil."

Dragovian Elder

"You taught us the folly of isolating ourselves simply for the purpose of avoiding sadness and pain."

Lord of the Dragovians

"Had you not confronted me, it would've meant the end of the Dragovian race."

Chen Mui

"Every one of the Dragovians objected, but [Hero's mother] decided to keep the baby." (between this and the death of Empyrea's 'unborn child' at the hands of the demon Gemon who crushed her egg, one might detect a pro-life message in the game's narrative)

Morrie

"You bring a breath of fresh air to my monstrous pit!"

"You give my monstrous pit a good licking, ay!"

"The tension is really mounting in the pit, ay!"

Ragnar

"When someone comes along who can beat my Healie's Heelies, I know the times have changed. But there's no satisfaction if the fight's too easy, is there? Yes, I remember what it was like in the old days..."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

That'll Costa

The skill set required for successfully conducting broadcast public interviews is not a relevant one for most people to have. But for those who are in the business, I wonder if there are any protocols, spoken or unspoken, against giving distracting verbal cues to show that, I guess, as the interviewer, you are indeed listening to the person you're interviewing.

Rebecca Costa demonstrates what I mean only too well. Scroll down to the interview with John Ross (12/17/10) and listen to the 40 seconds from 40:40-41:20. Notice (which will be an easy thing to do--the challenge would be to not notice) the five "uh huhs" Costa utters. I happened to check the media player during that time period, but it's something she does with great frequency. Richard Spencer also does it to the point of distraction.

I understand that non-words are a difficult thing for people to cut out of their speech patterns and I don't mean to be acerbic in drawing attention to it. But in these cases, it simply requires one person to be quiet while the other person is speaking. With minimal effort, it would presumably be an easy and beneficial thing to do.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Buy you a new life

Moved by data rather than doctrine, Inductivist listed the percentages of respondents in the World Values Survey who said "wanting to get rich" sounded either "very much like me" or "like me" by country. Despite the putative obsession Americans have with money, the US ranks 41st out of 52 countries when it comes to (admitting to) really wanting the benjamins.

A cursory glance at the list is enough to see that the poorer, less desirable the place, the stronger the predilection of its population for wanting money is. If you have little to lose, might as well get rich or die trying! Quantifying it, the correlation between a country's purchasing power parity and the percentage of its population wanting to get rich is .68 (p = 0).

I hear Art Alexakis singing "I hate those people who love to tell you that money is the root of all that kills/They have never been poor, they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas".

WVS variables used: V81(1-2)(3-6)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Amassing mass

Prior to last week, excepting routine dental cleanings I hadn't been a medical patient in any capacity for nearly a decade. I have full employer-provided health coverage I've never used and I'm pushing thirty now, though, so it seemed as good a time as any to schedule a physical.

Oh no! With a body mass index of over 27 (the commonly used statistic for assessing overweight and obesity rates in the US), I find out I'm overweight. Obesity isn't that far over the horizon. When I ran cross country in high school, my BMI was around 23. My body fat then was 13%. Today it's 9%. 

A healthy AE
AE on the way to the morgue
I realize it's hardly novel to criticize the BMI, and as someone who relies heavily on the GSS' wordsum vocabulary test as a proxy for IQ, I'm the last person who should criticize imperfect metrics. Still, it's worth keeping in mind that the trends over time in the US towards conspicuously building muscle mass and increases in obesity rates are correlated to some extent. Half Sigma has pointed out that Burt Reynolds used to cut it as an onscreen strongman. He obviously wouldn't today.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

IQ estimates from wordsum scores by ethnicity and community type

++Addition++Great comments. Using the GSS, Jason Malloy replicates what other studies have found regarding the urban/rural IQ gap in the US--that it has shrunk appreciably over the last three generations, but not due to rural areas catching up with urban ones. Instead, urban areas appear to have regressed while rural areas have treaded water:
I looked at urban/rural differences by birth cohort.

white's born 1900-1940
93 rural
100 suburb
102 city

white's born 1941-1969
95 rural
100 suburb
100 urban

white's born 1970-*
93 rural
96 suburb
96 city

The rural/urban difference has converged from 9 points to 5 points to 3 points across the three cohorts.
---

Continuing with the rural vs. urban IQ theme, let's consider the gaps among those of (relatively) shared ethnicity by the broadly based type of communities they were raised in. Ron Unz speculates that because urban dwellers outperform their bucolic counterparts on IQ tests and their proxies, groups that are skewed more heavily towards urban living and away from rural living are consequently more intelligent for it. The HBD chickadee poked some holes in Unz' initial assertions, but on net, the conclusion could plausibly follow from the contemporary data.

I wondered, though, if German and Dutch wordsum averages were lower because of a more rural skew than those of Italian and Irish descent, or if the differences were apparent among those of different ethnicities living in similar communities. The following table lists mean IQ values as estimated from wordsum scores by self-identified ethnicity among whites (with the exception of those of African descent) by community type. The last column shows the urban/rural gap. Due to concerns with sample sizes, the selection is somewhat limited. Unfortunately, Dutch numbers aren't high enough on the urban component for useful comparisons to be made:

AncestryRural IQSuburban IQUrban IQUrban advantage
Russian93.9103.1107.313.4
English/Welsh96.9103.3104.47.5
Scottish96.4102.1102.86.4
French96.699.2102.25.7
Polish94.599.7101.87.2
Irish93.7100.3100.97.2
Italian95.199.1100.65.5
German94.599.199.44.8
Native American89.293.696.67.5
African83.290.190.87.6
Mexican85.787.283.2(2.5)

With the exception of Mexicans, the trend is remarkably consistent. Rural rustics fare poorly, suburbanites are somewhere in the middle, and urban dwellers come out on top. That those of Mexican descent don't exhibit the same pattern that everyone else does, including blacks, makes Unz' argument that Hispanics will eventually get up to snuff with other Americans appear more than a little tenuous.

While the rural/urban gap is real, the presumption that the relative proportions of ethnics living in different community types accounts for the overall differences in intelligence isn't clear. Excluding Russians, about half of whom are Jewish with a heavy urban skew for Russian Jews and a non-urban skew for non-Jewish Russians, the overall differences between ethnic groups remain at each community level as well.

That is, the English and the Scottish outscore the Germans and the Irish in rural, suburban, and urban settings. It's not just that the Scottish are more urban than the Germans are, rural Scots outperform rural Germans and urban Scots outperform urban Germans. Since we're looking at the environments people grew up in as kids, it shouldn't take multiple generations for the urban premium to confer an advantage over rural living.

If Unz' theory was perfect, there would be no differences among varying ethnicity in rural environments, with the overall ethnic differences instead being accounted for by the fact that higher scoring ethnicities were skewed more heavily towards urban dwelling and less intelligent ethnicities skewed towards rural life. To the contrary, among white European ethnic groups, the correlation between rural mean wordsum scores and urban mean wordsum scores is a statistically significant, vigorous .78. Going from rural to urban helps everyone (except Mexicans!), but underlying differences remain irrespective of what community type is being considered.

Admittedly, this is stretching the suggestive value of wordsum scores as a predictor of intelligence to the maximum, and I'm not attempting to speak with authority about Unz' theory or the refutations of it here. I'm just offering up so more food for thought for those who've been following and thinking about it over the last week.

GSS variables used: ETHNIC, RACE(1)(2), RES16(1-2)(3-5)(6), BORN(1), WORDSUM