Monday, October 28, 2013

Liberty and equality, stoics and epicureans

Just as there is an enormous amount of tension between the consular ideals of liberty and equality, so too is there in aspiring to provide the best health care available while simultaneously striving to make health care ubiquitous and universally accessible. Anti-Gnostic does a great job succinctly articulating as much, with the following excerpt of demonstrating particular perspicacity:
The whole point is that *old people are going to die* with probability 1. So let's take those evil capitalists out of the question, and assume for now that no innovative entrepreneur could figure out something win/win for his own grandpa. ... 
We are in the realm of social justice. Sounds so nice, until we answer the question: how much of your children's money do you want to spend on futile care for 83 year old Emma in Ohio? For 74 year old Bill in Texas? For countless, endless, unnamed others? 
Because you can spend ALL of your money on futile care [or, by extension, the government can spend it for you]. Literally every last penny.
Worth reading in full.

Abstractly, the strong appeal of liberty--potentially even stronger than that of equality in the much of the public's mind--is why, despite actual policy disagreements on crucial issues like immigration, I'm still excited by the rise of guys like Rand Paul.

Anyway, Heartiste first brought the above to my attention. Speaking of the galactic overlord, he gently censured his occasionally inimical dux for insinuating that the Game approach to classifying males has it backwards due to the tendency of betas to outbreed alphas (which should mean even more cleaning up by the remaining alphas!). At the risk of getting lost in semantic weeds, I'm fine granting the Manosphere its preferred terms and consequent definitions and then making empirical observations free of normative judgments from within this framework. Hopefully it's illuminating or at least interesting. All the better if it keeps our hero's skills at their sharpest.

To the extent that I'm grated at all by Heartiste, it's in his seeming celebration of what amounts to an ennui-inducing mix of realized hedonism and nihilism. His meaning is often as nuanced as his tongue is silver, and I suspect that beneath all the veils lies a volition more inclined towards using sexual conquest as a means to an end rather than an end to indulge in for it's own sake, despite protestations to the contrary. Oh yes he doth protest, but I don't buy it, which is why I'm compelled to play the role of affectionate gadfly rather than whiny hater.

This isn't all merely a philosophical rehashing of Stoic vs. Epicurean, either. You might not care about propagation, but propagation cares about you. It's plausible to imagine that in the not-so-distant future pleasure surpassing that coming to a "Super Alpha" on an A-game night will be made available to all on demand without any real life human interaction being required at all. Just as the reproductive edge has shifted away from alphas and towards betas over at least the last half century, so another seismic shifting in fecundity may be just around the bend. I want kindred souls to be ready for it.

Finally, a post like this wouldn't be complete without an added wrinkle or two. The data are a couple of decades old, but the GSS queried respondents in 1994 on whether or not they'd watched any pornography in the preceding year. Cross-referencing this with reported sex frequency, we find that men who had sex less than once a month over the same period of time were considerably less likely to have viewed pornographic material than men who had sex more frequently than that were to have viewed any (18.2% and 38.1%, respectively, N = 183). For more contemporary, if proxied, relevance, using male respondent data from 2000 onward, we find that men who report not having sex at all in the last year are more than twice as likely as men who enjoy it 4+ times per week to support an outright ban on pornographic material (36.9% and 16.5%, respectively, with a sizeable chunk of that 16.5% of 4+ times per week group presumably being comprised of social and religious conservatives). Pornography, at least from this angle, appears to be more of a supplement to real life carnality than a substitute for it.

Undoubtedly there are a lot of frustrated betas out there who would love to possess an alpha prowess with women, but there are also a lot of them who just aren't that interested in recreational sex (and I suspect the latter has been and continues to increase as a proportion of the total male population). This probably goes some way in explaining why the unending comment threads Heartiste generates are mostly populated by alphas echoing the taunts and diminutions of the beta no shows, who, while constituting a majority of the population, are far less likely to be found than sheer numbers would suggest. How much attention is this Silent Majority paying?

GSS variables used: XMOVIE1, SEXFREQ(0-2)(3-6)(0)(6), YEAR(2000-2012), SEX(1), PORNLAW(1)(2-3)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Boudica

Professional podcaster Jamie Jeffers, in a review of the History Channel's Vikings (which I've never seen), comments approvingly on the show's depiction of Lagertha*:
I really like the fact that they have a tough-as-nails warrior woman and they don't treat it like it's strange... they did an excellent job demonstrating that there were warrior women and warrior women were very effective. It does a good job dispelling a lot of the innate sexism that you run into.
Unsurprisingly, I don't like it.

Jeffers regularly juxtaposes the rigid gender distinctions certain ancient civilizations, like the Romans, made with the relatively more overlapping gender roles that existed among others such as the Norse or Celts, even employing the term "progressive" to describe the latter. In so doing, Jeffers projects a contemporary (and liberal, and western!) worldview to a past that was in many ways quite alien to anything existing within the prevailing mores and ethos of said contemporary worldview.

"Regressive" may be a synonym of "progressive"; "repressive", however, not necessarily so. I'd argue, in fact, that--and I'm generalizing as someone with a spotty amateur's knowledge of history--from the onset of the agricultural age through the Enlightenment, or maybe even the Industrial Revolution, the contextually more progressive (in the Hegelian sense of the word) societies tended to be the ones in which gender distinctions were relatively more, not less, pronounced. It was a natural outgrowth of specialization. Rather than being Jacks and Jills of all trades by necessity, people in more 'progressive' societies were able to become especially good at certain things and leverage these more specialized skills to obtain the products and services produced by others similarly become extraordinarily skilled in other things. It's not all John Locke and Adam Smith, though--similar forces were at work at other layers of society, not just the occupational ones.

Specifically, the relatively more sexually egalitarian tribes in Gaul and Brittania for which the employment of female warriors was not exceptionally remarkable were not 'ahead' of the Romans but instead were 'behind' them (history backs me up here). They used their women to join battle with their opponents and block the retreats of their own men because they had to. For a society to use women in hand-in-hand combat isn't very efficient--women are weaker, smaller, slower, and less physically aggressive than men are. Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, but just like arming the old, sickly, infirm, and untrained, what you gain in numbers you tend to lose in per capita fighting ability. Perhaps he used "disproportionate force", but Severus' actions become a little easier to comprehend, don't they?

Additionally, women are a more precious reproductive resource than men are. If, today, tribe Azure is comprised of 100 males and 50 females of reproductive age while tribe Fuchsia is comprised of 50 males and 100 females of the same condition, assuming no annihilation from hostile neighbors, which tribe is going to have more people--both male and female--of reproductive age a generation down the road? The male reproductive role takes fifteen minutes, the female role nine months (and a couple of decades of residual effort on top of that). At the high end, rates of reproduction are far more restricted by the number of fertile women in a society than they are by the number of fertile men.

Today, the rules of the game have changed, and it is indeed the case that in more progressive societies gender distinctions are less pronounced than they are in more regressive ones. Having shaken free of the Malthusian Trap centuries ago, the question of women assuming military roles in the contemporary West is no longer one of necessity but rather one of luxury--progressive societies are able to more easily afford putting women in harm's way. In the US, for example, the fighting capabilities of soldiers operating small arms and artillery just isn't a crucial or even important determinant of the nation's well being. We're not threatened militarily in any serious way and most of the casualties we do suffer are primarily the consequence of the ideologically-driven strategic decisions we make and tactics we forsake (ie sending marines into firefights in the mountains of Tora Bora and the streets of Baghdad rather than raining hell on these places from 30,000 feet above).

Indulging in the same sort of contemporary bias critically examined above, one might say that, in a historical context, Jeffers' take is an example of the bottom (those forced to equip everyone to fight) and the top (by those able to afford inefficiencies) uniting against the middle (those who are neither compelled by penury nor able to insouciantly engage in profligacy)!

* Anachronistic, yes, but it's historical fiction, not a documentary.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If everyone is a part of everything, nothing means much of anything

Listening to a story on NPR's The World about the US citizenship exam got me wondering on what things involving human membership is the left more discriminating (in the older sense of the word) than the right is:
One of the more obscure questions, she said, includes questions like “Who wrote the Federalist Papers?” 
“Most Americans could not answer the question, so I'm not sure why it's on the test,” she says.  
 Winke has found that US citizens only outperform immigrants on local governance questions, such as, “Who is your House Representative?”  
 “From a test development standpoint, then you start wondering what is this test testing?” Winke says.
There is little inherent value placed on citizenship in this line of reasoning. Citizenship is thought of as a right rather than as a privilege, and certainly not something that should be leveraged for the well being of those who are already citizens.

The citizenist (or political conservative, more generally), in contrast, reasons that given that the value of US citizenship is estimated to be 'worth'* nearly $15,000 per year , a one-time expenditure of $600 for a test of rote memorization (and only 100 potential questions to commit to memory--even with no prior knowledge of American civics or history, it's easy to comprehend the test's 92% pass rate) seems like the deal of the millennium. There are considerations beyond the economic that come into play as well, of course, such as cultural compatibility, language fluency, social harmony, etc.

Anyway, whether it be same-sex marriage, the Augusta country club, women in combat, felons (and felonious!) voting, illegal immigrants being granted citizenship, fat acceptance, dumbing down testing standards, or employing racial quotas, the contemporary left can almost always be defined by a lack of any standards. Exclusion is a great evil, even though the most vociferous opponents of exclusionism tend to be quite exclusive in their own lives. Yet on some issues--environmental ones immediately come to mind--the left dispenses with philosophical concerns about exclusion. What are some others? Exclusion from life in the case of abortion, I suppose, though that might be too emotionally charged to come to a consensus on. Maybe re-designation, too, but because the desire to do so is more attractive to the left and consequently those on the left are the ones who do it, it's ambiguous.

Parenthetically, it's easy to argue that things like racial quotas are zero sum and consequently neither inclusive nor exclusive, but instead merely a version of Cassius' most famous line, more easily (and thus less discriminatingly!) understood by the phrase "Who? Whom?". But while uncomfortable dissonance is a consequence of what the left preaches and how it behaves, I'm not cynical enough to attribute the entire broad philosophical outlook to a complex set of triple bank shots--they're mostly sincere in their instincts, at least as sincere as the religious believer is in the power of the supernatural.

* In reality, comparing the Derbs and the guys riding together in conversion vans to solicit work in Home Depot parking lots with one another is not an apples-to-apples comparison, but the point remains that even though there are lots of illegal immigrants in the US who don't care about obtaining citizenship, among the millions and millions of non-citizens who do, there are lots who would pay more than $600 for it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pat on the butt too much for Pats' fans

As a complement to Jayman's recent post on state laws regarding corporal punishment, I'll note that blacks express the greatest support for the practice as a means of disciplining children. Additional positive correlates include being male, politically conservative, and of modest intelligence. The GSS item doesn't specify who the spanker is, though it's reasonable to assume that much of the time the respondent has a parent in mind--if the question specifically inquired about opinions on schools using corporal punishment, the approval rates would surely be lower across the board.

One of Jayman's recurring themes is to employ an American Nations paradigm when evaluating social phenomena. The GSS doesn't allow quite that level of granularity, but it does break survey participants up by census region. The percentages of respondents who either "agree" or "strongly agree" with the statement "It is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking". For contemporary relevance, all responses are from 2000 onward. Here is a map of said regions for those who are unfamiliar with them:

Region%Spank
1) East South Central85.9
2) South Atlantic80.0
3) West South Central78.5
4) East North Central72.9
5) Mountain71.8
6) West North Central71.4
7) Mid Atlantic68.2
8) Pacific64.1
9) New England46.9

Most acceptable in the South, least so in the Northeast. Embers of the Civil War burn on.

And the same, by reported ethnicity. Minimum sample size of 50, though N is much exceeds that for most groups:

Ethnicity%Spank
1) African84.5
2) "American"81.5
3) Native American79.0
4) Scottish78.5
5) Puerto Rican78.3
6) Dutch74.9
7) English/Welsh73.3
8) German73.1
9) French71.3
10) Spanish71.1
11) Mexican69.0
12) Irish68.4
13) Filipino64.5
14) Swedish63.3
15) Italian63.0
16) Chinese61.6
17) Norwegian61.3
18) Indian (dot)59.7
19) Russian59.4
20) Czechoslovakian58.1

White liberals, black rednecks. Those who refer to themselves as "American" are largely Scottish, and unsurprisingly express attitudes similar to those who consider the highlands to be an ancestral homeland. Most people in the US of Russian national descent are Jewish, not little Putins. No idea about the Slavs!

Parenthetically, regarding the question of ethnicity, people much smarter and far more perspicacious than myself have said that in the contemporary US it is basically meaningless. Perhaps as a biological marker, okay, though it does track geographically and it seems to provide some insight into cultural characteristics. My working assumption is to treat it as good--or at least useful--information, and not an enemy of the perfect even if it falls well short of being as much.

Finally, in the comments section of Jayman's post, there is some incredulity about the use of corporal punishment among readers who are from states where it is legal. I suspect that in these states it occurs almost exclusively in private schools, though few if any of the state laws distinguish between public and private in questions of the legal permissibility of the practice.

GSS variables used: SPANKING(1-2)(3-4), YEAR(2000-2012), REGION, ETHNIC(1)(5)(6)(7)(10)(11)(14)(15)(17)(18)(19)(20)(22)(23)(24)(25)(26)(30)(31)(97)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Those disapproving of Obama more intelligent than those approving of him!

Although the 2012 GSS did not include any questions on presidential voting plans for the same year, the survey did sneak in a question on presidential approval, querying respondents on whether they approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the job of president. Because it's fun and often causes people to make fools of themselves, here are IQ estimates derived from wordsum scores for those approving and disapproving of Obama's performance, presuming an average national IQ of 98 and a standard deviation of 15:

Approve -- 97.7
Disapprove -- 98.5

A nation divided. Race, of course, is a confounding factor. When only non-Hispanic whites are considered:

Approve -- 101.5
Disapprove -- 99.3

Per usual, white leftists could appear more credible in the supercilious scorn they have for their bigoted brethren if they acknowledged as much. Since they're afraid to do so, however, let it be known that Obama's supporters aren't quite as intelligent as his detractors are!

More insightfully, the GSS results provide a useful illustration of what the Derb terms "classic class conflict: the top and the bottom against the middle". The following graph shows Obama's approval/disapproval numbers among members of five categories in which respondents are classified based on their wordsum scores*:


If only I could remain stuck in the middle with you. Unfortunately, stasis appears to be a dream of the past, not the way of the future.

GSS variables used: PRESPOP, WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), RACECEN1(1)

* Respondents are broken up into five categories that come to roughly resemble a normal distribution; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Real Dumbs (0-3, 12%).

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Trayvon Martin Day

The administration of Carrick high school in Pittsburgh planned and subsequently scrapped "Trayvon Martin Day" in which students would be encouraged to wear hoodies in celebration and remembrance of the dead teenager. The school stepped back after opposition from several parents who publicly expressed concerns over the day, specifically with the consequences it would bring to students who chose not to participate.

If this were a school on Martin Luther King boulevard or in a plush area of Belmont, there would likely still be media 'controversy' surrounding the proposed honorific day, but visceral fears for the safety of the students from parents at said schools probably wouldn't be a part of it.

Why so much worry about violent fallout among the student body at Carrick? Diversity. In addition to strength, it's also social combustibility! A pie chart of the racial composition of Carrick's student body:


Residuals are 5% two or more races, 1% Hispanic, 1% Asian. Despite Zimmerman's Hispanic heritage, his persecution and the coverage surrounding it operated upon the old binary racial template of oppressed black America under the thumb of oppressive white America. Too fitting.

And the school's unsurprising scholastic profile (Carrick students' proficiency rates, Pennsylvania's statewide proficiency rates):

Math -- 38%, 60%
Reading -- 57%, 68%
Science -- 16%, 42%
Writing -- 80%, 83%


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Cruel caricaturing of Derb Towners

See if you are able to detect something sinister about the following typical write-up of an up-and-coming community organizer and activist:
Brooks has appeared at the National Press Club in Washington and hosted web seminars with Cornel West, a similarly polished promoter of what West calls "color consciousness", and Julian Bond, who has spent his life promoting African-American rights and culture. Brooks has spoken before A Better Chance, a job placement group that once took credit for chalking "African-American pride" around the campus of Oberlin College. 
I couldn't, but based on the tone of the entire article, I feel like there must be something terrible lurking here.

And then there is this, which will surely blow your mind. It certainly did mine:
Why don’t people behave in more racially conscious ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with white nationalists.

That’s the conclusion of troubling new research from Canada, which similarly finds support for separatist goals is hampered by a dislike of separatists.

Participants held strongly negative stereotypes about such activists, and those feelings reduced their willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” reports a research team led by University of Toronto psychologist Nadia Bashir. This surprisingly cruel caricaturing, the researchers conclude, plays “a key role in creating resistance to social change.”
While the findings are lamentable, it's encouraging to see major media outlets such as Salon drawing attention to the inherent unfairness in these sorts of mendacious, bigoted portrayals of reformers merely promoting social change like Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Endovelicus

Granting the general political ineptitude of Republican pols and the continual creep of executive power at the expense of congressional restraint, why isn't the riposte to the assertion that the 2012 presidential election was a referendum on Obamacare that the GOP won the house? Every congressional district in the country had an election on the same night, and Republicans came out 33 bodies ahead, the vast majority of the victors having incorporated opposition to Obamacare as part of their campaign platforms (is there a single one who did not?).

Obamacare was passed by a Democratically-controlled House and Senate, but by the time the question of funding had come around, the public's dissatisfaction with the law had served as a catalyst for a return to divided government. The stupid party would be able to strike an oh so sought after moderate pose by claiming that the American people are divided on the question, and consequently the law should be put to a national referendum, or, in a more republican style, people should be allowed to opt out entirely for the first year or something similar.

I'd love a red pill review of Obamacare, and of the state of health care in the US more generally (this is a solicitation--please feel free to oblige in the comments). Much like our mutually exclusive national ideals of liberty and equality, our simultaneous insistence upon providing everyone access to the best health care available and also on making health care affordable for all tells me the whole enterprise is hopelessly saturated in a thick paste of contradictory, quixotic nonsense that conceals the perpetual, mendacious special interest plundering that is taking place on the inside.

I attempt to take a citizenist perspective on the issues of the day, but I scarcely feel like I can make out the top letter of the chart when it comes to this byzantine subject. Thus handicapped, I'm reduced to free market utilitarian analogies and firsthand experiences. Regarding the former, imagine how expensive and inefficient auto insurance, care, and usage would be if insurance companies footed the bill for every driver's flat tire, fuel up, and rim upgrade, or, even more profligately, if private auto insurance was abolished and instead all a person had to do was provide a driver's license to have these services performed, or if a home insurance provider was required to indiscriminately sell a home insurance policy to a home owner whose house had just burned down.

As far as personal experience goes, the head of my company's benefits department has earnestly told me that if one of our employees requests reimbursement for a pack of condoms, the affordable care act requires us to pay up. With a doc in the box that completely covers me and my family without my having to (directly!) pay a dime, I'm sensitive to concerns over--outright hostility to, really--the law's implementation among our corporate brain trust. I've been fortunate not to have ever fallen ill in the decade I've been an employee, but with a baby on the way, I've finally started trying to get to work on some long overdue homework.

Other questions linger. Will other companies follow the lead of Walgreens, UPS, and IBM and begin dumping their employees onto the public exchanges in the future, bringing about an effective socialization of health care in the US? Will the seemingly inexorable trend away from a national norm of working for a living necessitate the separation of health insurance and employment?

Nigeria had fewer people than Chicago when I was a wee lad

The Pew Research Center is an honest organization that provides often interesting and useful data on social issues, public opinion and demographic trends. That assertion, though, needs to be qualified by pointing out that Pew is honest by way of commission, while it is often less so by way of omission. The center regularly conducts a survey entitled "News IQ" in which American adults are surveyed on their knowledge of current events.

If I recall correctly, Pew originally included racial breakdowns in the quiz results, though it stopped doing so several years ago and it looks as though Pew only maintains the most recent results on its site. Now it appears as though a stop to breaking down results by sex is imminent. Report results from the latest survey only separate out male and female responses for three questions that specifically have to do with women (tragically, men performed better on all three!). However, after completing the quiz online, results are broken down by sex, age, and educational attainment.

While men performed better on the three ostensibly girl power questions (identifying Marissa Mayer, the percentage of congress critters who are female, and female college graduation rates), women actually outscored men on two of the thirteen items, the two concerning subjects of elevated interest to many women--same-sex marriage and educational curricula. While sexless feminists might be interested in female figures engaged in traditionally masculine pursuits, most women are far more interested in traditionally (and biologically) feminine concerns like social inclusion and nurturing.

If Pew stops reporting results by sex, we're left with age (fairly predictable question by question and a dead giveaway overall), education (more obvious than the outcome of a Globetrotters-Generals game), and party affiliation (almost indistinguishable this time around).

One age-related result does catch the eye:


Percentages who correctly answered "Nigeria" by age range:

18-29 -- 47%
30-49 -- 45%
50-64 -- 43%
65+ -- 29%

The question is multiple choice with four possible answers, so old fogies are essentially oblivious to the specific differences in rates of fertility between various different countries in the world. You don't have to care about demographics for demographics to care about you, of course.