Sunday, May 30, 2010

LTC Allen West in 2010!

Allen West is running for Congress from Florida's 22nd congressional district. Here is a video of him breathing fire addressing the issues:

The Florida primary election is August 24th. Mark your calendars.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dale Peterson in 2010!

Okay, it’s only Alabama’s Agricultural Commissioner, but hey, at least it’s a start!

The Alabama primary is next Tuesday. All y'all Alabamians: rock the vote!

HT: Alternet.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Man Without a Country

Petrarch writes:

People who have legally come into the U.S. as tourists, students, or permanent residents may not have sworn loyalty as citizens, but they've at least acknowledged the supremacy of our laws by obeying them on the way in. In return, legal immigrants do share in basic rights of due process that we've chosen to grant them as well as the core inalienable human rights granted them by their Creator.

But they most certainly do not have the full rights of citizens - they can't bear arms, they can't vote, they must under Federal law carry proof of legal residency at all times. Most importantly, We the People can revoke their permission to be here at any time we choose and send them out of the country - we cannot do that to U.S. citizens since we don't practice exiling.

Illegal immigrants have no such link; by their very presence, they show a complete disregard of and contempt for our laws and for our culture. Particularly for those from right next door in Mexico, all too many view themselves as primarily loyal to that country rather than to America where they're living unlawfully. Obviously, foreign terrorists have no loyalty whatsoever to the United States, their whole goal being to wage war on the enemy's side, but illegals aren't much more loyal.

Having forcefully and visibly rejected the responsibilities of citizenship, by what right do either terrorists or illegal immigrants claim the civil and Constitutional rights reserved to citizens alone? None whatsoever.

Well said. But does this go too far?

U.S. law identifies seven categories of acts that could result in loss of citizenship. They include serving in the armed forces of a foreign state at war with the United States, renouncing nationality when the United States is at war, and treason. Sponsors said the law needs to be updated to combat terrorism.

The [Terrorist Expatriation Act] would expand the revocation law to anyone who provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the secretary of state. It also would apply to anyone who engages in, or supports, hostilities against the U.S. or its allies.

Under current law, when an American citizen serves in the armed forces of a foreign country, he is rightly viewed as having transferred his allegience to that nation state. (This rule somehow doesn't apply to people like Rahm Emmanuel, who served in the Israeli armed forces. Go figure.)

But Al Qaeda is not a nation-state. It has no government. It has no territory. Under long-standing international law, it has no lawful status as a combatant. If a naturalized American allies himself with such an organization, I have no problem stripping his citizenship; let his nation-of-origin deal with him. But an American-born citizen has no other country. If we take his citizenship, what becomes of him? He is a citizen of nowhere.

Call me squeamish, but . . . I'm squeamish about creating men-without-a-country.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

John Mulaney: “The Top Part”

Via Ace:

Subsequent clips should load automatically. I haven't laughed so hard in a while.

Does anybody other than me feel compelled to explain apologetically to women that "I'm not really following you; this is just a coincidence"?

Guilt by Association

The Associated Builders & Contractors recently announced35 primary candidate endorsements across the country. Unfortunately, this list does not appear in any one place, so you'll have to check locally.

Here is a sample of how these endorsements can be spun:

"ABC stands for free enterprise, Merit Shop, and balanced, reasonable regulation," said Chapter Chairman Chuck Lester. "Steve Southerland shares our philosophy, and we look forward to doing all we can to elect him as the next Congressman from Florida's second congressional district."

"I thank the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida for their principled stand and for their long tradition of standing by candidates who support limited government and free market principles," said Republican Congressional District 2 Candidate Steve Southerland. "The timing of this endorsement humbles me and speaks volumes about the commitment of ABC and the working men and women in the construction industry."

Here is what ABC is actually up to:

  • Amnesty for illegal aliens
  • An expanded guest worker program, followed by citizenship.
  • No requirement to hire Americans if an illegal alien already has the job.
  • No penalties for firms that hire illegal aliens.
  • No e-verify or counterfeit-proof social security card.

Know your candidates by the company they keep.

Mental Health Break: “The Government Can!”

I’m pretty sure this has made the rounds before, so apologies to whoever I forgot posted it first.

Tim Hawkins has a lot of funny videos on YouTube worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reflections on Crime Disparities: White vs. Black, Men vs. Women

I left a comment a while back on Mangan’s report of Helmuth Nyborg’s finding that the average male IQ might exceed the the average female IQ by as much as 7 points:

That different standard deviations in intelligence between men and women account for the overrepresentation of men at both the top of highly cognitive professional endeavors and in the criminal underclass strikes me as plausible and likely. That women have a 7 point IQ deficit compared to men is problematic.

Think about it: a 7 point difference, while small compared to the black-white difference, approaches the Hispanic-white difference, which I take to be around 9 points. Yet the Hispanic IQ manifests itself in all kinds of both academic and social indicators, and obviously so. In contrast, I struggle to think of a way in which the female deficit shows up in disparate male-female outcomes among the broad middle of the population.  The entire point of IQ testing is to predict these outcomes.

Commenter rebelliousvanilla replied:

Greek sign poster, women do commit crime, just that not the one you think of. We commit less crime because our ways are manipulative, not coercive. For example, half, if not more of rape allegations are false. A lot of DV allegations are false. We lie and manipulate to reach our goals, we don't bash heads in. So we are underrepresented in crime due to these reasons.

I found this observation interesting for a number of reasons.  That there are both racial and sexual disparities in violent crime rates is undeniable from an empirical point of view.  But as a Calvinist, I am inclined to find the proposition that some races or sexes are inherently more or less virtuous than others to be theologically problematic.  If indeed all of us have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, then I would expect evil to be distributed, if not equally, then randomly with respect to other traits.

How, then, do we account for the data?

  • RebelliousVanilla appears to be arguing that crime, is “socially constructed”:  the differences in crime rates reflect, not differences in virtue, but differences in the way society views different kinds of bad behavior.  If this is true, then I would reply:  good!  ReligiousVanilla may speak for herself, but personally, having experienced both “manipulation” and “coercion”, I know I prefer the former to the latter.  If this be misandry, then color me misandrist.

    I suppose one could come up with a similar argument for racial disparities in crime:  our laws and sentencing guidelines reflect Anglo-European standards of behavior rather than, say, African standards, and black Americans find themselves on the wrong side of them.  Again I say:  well and good!  As an Anglo-European myself, I’m quite happy that, say, armed robbery is punished more heavily than insider trading.  (Or at least, I hope this is still the case.)

  • Whatever the underlying propensities, we inevitably see both racial and sexual specialization.  The argument with respect to race might go something like this:  American blacks do not have a greater propensity to commit violent crime; however, because blacks bring to violent crime greater comparative advantages in size, strength, speed, and extroversion relative to the general population, they are more likely to find violent crime a viable career path.  Furthermore, some criminal tracks – drug trafficking comes to mind – are winner-take-all, and whites undertaking a career in this field quickly find themselves driven out of the profession.  I find this entirely plausible, if for no other reason than this appears to be the experience in Great Britain.  Without a large sub-Saharan African population to monopolize crime, white participation in English crime is much higher than it is here in America, and it should be easy to hypothesize that were American blacks to leave us, the white crime rate here would increase as well.

    Similarly, given the sexual dimorphism in size and strength, most women should find a career in violent crime unconducive for the same reasons.

    What does the evidence look like at the local level?  Although we don’t really have any test cases of all-female communities, we do have examples of all white communities, and I anticipate the objection that such communities do not really show any sign of having larger white crime rates.  However, selection effects are important here.  Racially segregated neighborhoods are also segregated by SES, itself a strong predictor.  White rural areas may not be so segregated, but population density and church attendance may also be confounding factors.

Are there other possible explanations?

Monday, May 24, 2010

High-tech Censorship

I clicked on Professor Hale's link to a story about how the police shot an old lady who didn't want to answer the census (and backed up her displeasure with a shotgun), when I was greeted by this:


Kewl.  Does anybody know how I, too, can flag news stories I don’t approve of to Microsoft as “unsafe”?

Remember the name Ethan Stacy.


H.T.: Welmer

Mental Health Break: The Potter Puppet Pals

My girls totally love this:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wayne LaPierre on Border Security

As many of you know, Congressional Democrats allowed Mexican President Felipe Calderon to launch an attack on America's 2nd Amendment rights before a joint session last week. It fell to Wayne LaPierre of the NRA to respond.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Arizona Anologies

While I found Megan’s analogy linking Arizona’s immigration law to progressive taxation to be without merit, I must admit that Roger Clegg’s analogy linking it to affirmative action gave me somewhat more pause.  But the analogy ultimately fails.

Let’s assume, arguendo, that the law results in absolute racial profiling in that only Hispanics will be questioned about their immigration status.  I suppose a proper, though limited, analogy to affirmative action might go something like this:  in considering applicants to a “highly selective” institution of higher learning, an admissions committee reasons that since the percentage of minorities with an IQ in the desired range (130+) is only 1/16th the percentage of whites, it will not bother to consider applications from minorities.  The committee won’t automatically admit whites, who must still “show their papers” (i.e. test scores and transcripts) in order to gain admission.  But non-whites won’t be considered.

Obviously, this analogy inverts the undesired thing (having immigration status challenged) into a desired thing (being considered for university admission); thus, all students with good records would be eager to “show their papers”.  But my analogy also inverts reality:  affirmative action is not a program to search for talented students where they are most likely to be found; it is rather a program to admit students known to have inferior qualifications.

If Arizona’s program were anything like affirmative action in the real world, it would not only question non-Hispanic residents of Arizona in proportion to their share of the general population, but arrest, prosecute, and convict them in that percentage as well.

So, Roger, when Arizona starts doing that, get back to me.  Until then, I see no reason to abandon Arizona’s enforcement of immigration law because of specious analogies to an odious policy that has no chance of being similarly abandoned anyway.

On the other hand, Andrew McCarthy has an analogy to the Patriot Act that is quite worrying.

I continue to believe — for the reasons argued here — that the Arizona law actually gives more protection to suspects than federal law does. If I am right about that, the law could well be counter-productive because (a) it gives police less lee-way than they previously had, (b) as a practical matter, it may be ineffective or irrelevant in many if not most instances, and (c) politically, it has put people in Arizona on the defensive when they are actually the aggrieved party.

We saw the same thing with the Patriot Act. Other than knocking down the infamous "wall" (which may have been unnecessary given a later FISA court decision), most of the Patriot Act simply gave national security investigators powers that criminal investigators had been exercising for years — and, in fact, put more strictures on those powers. For example, for all the hysteria over the so-called "library records" provision, the fact is that the Patriot Act made a national security agent go to a judge to get such records whereas a prosecutor who wanted library records for an ordinary criminal case simply wrote a grand-jury subpoena and asked an agent to serve it — no need to make any showing or representations to a judge.

But what happened? The Left and the civil libertarians used the Patriot Act as a vehicle to re-litigate all sorts of Fouth Amendment privacy issues that had been settled in the government's favor for 30 or 40 years. There is a good argument that the Patriot Act, for all its useful provisions and good intentions, has left government more hamstrung than it might have been had Patriot not been passed.

I don’t have the background to know if this analogy is valid or not.  Thoughts?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police

Dead-serious instruction to minorities (and the rest of us) for dealing with Law Enforcement. In four segments:

HT: Vox Day.

Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without a shout-out to Chris Rock.

Also, here is an old video entitled Ten reasons not to talk to the police. James Duane is a professor at Regent Law School. Question: how would you recognize from the video that Duane is a Christian speaking to a Christian audience? (Note: this is not an invitation to commenters -- and you know who you are -- to make gratuitous insults.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jud Süß

I watched the Nazi anti-semitic propaganda film Jud Süß on Netflix Instant Play. . . um, well . . .

I watched a history channel documentary a while back that identified this film as one of wartime Germany's better prograganda projects, an assessment with which I agree. An accurate (although opinionated) review can be found on Wikipedia, which highlights the film's surprisingly balanced portrayal of Jews and anti-semitism, although not of the central character himself.

Jud Süß is based on the true story of Joseph Süß Oppenheimer, the "finance minister" to 18th century Duke of Württemberg. The subject of various novels, plays, and movies, Joseph Oppenheimer was arrested after the death of the Duke and tried for various charges of corruption. He was convicted and hanged.

This much is not in dispute. Wikipedia is coy about the truth or reasonableness of these charges, and since I have no other information, I will merely speculate that 18th century standards of neither financial probity nor due process would pass muster by today's standards, and I say this without reference to the race of those involved in Oppenheimer's case. But I would happily revise this speculation upon presentation of evidence.

What struck me about the film specifically is how common the theme is, regardless of one's opinions of the Jews' role 18th century Europe. Here we have Oppenheimer, a member of an outgroup perceived to be economically dominant, gaining the confidence of a despotic ruler, who extends to him protection that he then uses to economically exploit the majority group. The people complain and are repressed. The ruler dies (or loses power), and the people fall in a rage upon the outgroup.

This is the tale of "middleman minorities" everywhere. It is the story of the Chinese under the protection of Suharto in Indonesia and Marcos in the Phillipines. It is the story of Lebanese merchants in French colonies and Asian Indian merchants in British colonies. It is the story of the Korean shopkeepers in South-Central Los Angeles. All these fell to bad ends when their protectors lost power, so it should not surprise us to see the same kind of thing happening to European Jews, given what we know about their economic position in medievel Europe.

We see this psychology in full display in Jud Süß. I suspect that European peasantry rarely got a fair break from their overlords regardless of race, but racial difference aggravated its mental impact.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fussell on SWPLs

I finished reading Paul Fussell’s book, Class:  Inside the American Status System, and all told I was disappointed.  Not because it didn’t have its entertaining moments, but because it’s subtitle is misleading.  Candidly, I read the book with an eye primarily for identifying upper-middle class markers, but in this the book was sadly lacking.  Instead, Fussell spends most of his energy mocking the middle class.  In this he follows in a distinguished literary tradition – H. L. Menken and Sinclair Lewis come to mind – but, like them, Fussell has little useful instruction on how to make an upper-middle class presentation.

It my last post on the book, I confidently asserted that Fussell’s category “upper middle class” was coterminous with the kind of White People described in the book Stuff White People Like.  In this, I may have been premature.  In Fussell’s final chapter, he describes the habits of what he calls “Class X”, so called because the designation allegedly transcends the class distinctions Fussell spent the rest of the book making.  But “Class X” turns out to be a deadly-earnest description of exactly what Christian Lander mocks:  young, urban, “arty”, social-status-obsessed consumer culture – the difference being that Lander’s work was ironically self-aware.  In fact, I find it nigh impossible that Lander was not familiar with Fussell’s work when he came up with the SWPL concept.  Here is Fussell’s description of Class X:

Identifying X people is not difficult once you know the signs.  Their dress and looks, for one thing.  Since there’s not one they think worth impressing by mere appearance, X people tend to dress for themselves alone, which means they dress comfortably, and generally “down.”  One degree down will usually do the trick:  if black tie is designated, an X person appears in a dark suit (of a distinctly unstylish, archaic cut) and a notable necktie.  If suites are expected, he omits the tie.  If “informal” is the proclaimed style, his jeans will be torn and patched, his cords very used, if not soiled.  If others are wearing bathing suits, X people are likely to show up naked.  X shoes are always comfortable, regardless of current modes, and they usually suggest that they have been chosen (like sandals and moccasins) for walking on soft carpets of pine needles.  Indeed, L. L. Bean and Land’s End are the main costumers for X people, who annually consume the bulk of the down vests, flannel shirts, and hiking boots vended in this country.  Xs are likely to wear these things specifically where most people are got up in jackets and nice dresses.  If the Xs ever descend to legible clothing, the words – unlike BUDWEISER or U.S.A. DRINKING TEAM – are original and interesting, although no comment on them is ever expected.  Indeed, visibly to notice them would be bad form.  When an X person, male or female, meets a member of an identifiable class, the costume, no matter what it is, conveys the message “I am freer and less terrified than you are,” or – in extreme circumstances – am more intelligent and interesting than you are:  please do not bore me.”  The question of whether to select a black or a beige raincoat never troubles X people, for they don’t use raincoats at all:  they either get wet and pay no attention or wait under cover – they are not the slaves of timeclocks – until the rain stops.  X people are almost never fat, for they exercise a lot, naturally and for the fun of it.  They were exercising thirty years ago, before the upper-middles had been instructed about jogging by the popular press.  Favorite X sport:  ad hoc games of touch football, especially while slightly drunk.  X people tend to eschew the obvious kinds of pets, leaning instead toward things like tame coyotes, skunks, peacocks, and anteaters.  X people are likely to appear with unexplained sexual partners, and some have been known to become pregnant at socially inappropriate moments.  Their infant issue they may tote about in ways that appear novel, if not shocking, to the middle class:  in slings, for example, or backpack papoose carriers.

The places where X people choose to live usually have a decent delicatessen and a good wine store.  There is likely to be a nearby Army and Navy  or hiking shop, for the dress-down clothes, and a good public or university library as a stay against boredom.  A sophisticated newsdealer is also an attraction, for one needs British, French, German, and Italian periodicals.  X people move away when they, not their bosses, feel they should.  They like where they live, and when they stop liking their location – when, for example, it seems drifting too speedily middle- or prolewards – they move.  Their houses, which are never positioned in “developments,” tend to be sited oddly – on the sides of mountains, say, or planted stubbornly between skyscrapers.  Their houses (never, of course, “homes”) are more likely to be old than new:  old ones are cheaper, for one thing, and by flaunting a well-used house you can proclaim your freedom from the childish American obsession with the up-to-date.  Since X people Disdain the standard kinds of status display, their houses are likely to have no driveways, and their cars, unstylish and most often unwashed, will be parked in the street.  The understatement principle governing the kind and condition of the automobile will determine that no stickers, college or any other kind, ever appear in the windows, although a black-and-white “A” sticker, indicating the minimal gasoline ration during the Second World War, would be a permissible archaic gesture.  Of course X people shun turnpikes and freeways, those tedious, characterless conduits for the middle class, preferring instead slowpoke back roads because of their “charm.”  in the X spirit of parody, the lawn and yard of the X house are never impressive and often give off powerful satiric overtones.  Thus instead of grass the front yard may feature a spread of gravel, asphalt, or cement (sometimes painted bright green), haphazard arrangements of stones and weeds, and ostentatious marijuana patches.  In addition to parody middle-class effects, parody prole items may make an appearance, like ironically ugly lawn furniture and joke flower-bed diggings.  But regardless of the way it’s furnished, the front yard must be nondescript, for the street facade of the house is negligible to Xs, the backyard being the important place because private.  There you can play unobserved.  X people like to have houseguests, although they never designate them by that upper-middle-class term.  They lodge them not in guest rooms but on spare couches or in sleeping bags, and there may be lots of coming and going at night, never mentioned in the morning.

The readiest way to describe an X living room is to say that anything recommended in a sound home-furnishings magazine will not appear there.  The guiding principle will be parody display:  there may be an elephant’s foot umbrella stand and some unlikely manifestations of the art of the taxidermist – stuffed cats and dogs, penguins, iguanas.  Lots of campy fabric – odd curtains, fringed shawls draped about, walls covered in museum clot.  The pictures on the walls will bespeak vigorous inner-directedness:  there will be shameless nudes (all sexes and ages), and instead of the chart of Nantucket or Catalina Island favored by the upper-middles, a chart of Bikini Atoll or Guadalcanal.  On the coffee table, Mother Jones and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  The nearer you approach pure X the closer to the floor you find yourself sitting.  The ultimate X living room displays no furniture legs at all, no sitting, dining, or reclining surface being higher than twelve inches from the floor.  The floor is either entirely bare wood or covered irregularly with thick rugs, always from uncommon places like Nepal or Honduras.  There will usually be a large and not too neat working fireplace, less because it’s pretty than because it’s fun to copulate on the floor in front of it.  And there are copious bookshelves packed with hardbound books, most of them dating from well before the 1950s.

X people watch a lot of TV but never look at anything remotely improving, regarding National Educational Television as a menace to culture.  On their sets, which will often display a fairground plaster Popeye on top, Xs like to watch classic reruns like The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy, experiencing ecstasies watching for the fiftieth time Jackie Gleason’s Chef of the Future or Lucy’s manic game of golf.  By these pursuits X people pay their own obeisance to the great status principle of archaism.  They will often seek out live transmissions, in the hope of witnessing comic error – the football flubbed, the manuscript of he public speech blown away and scattered by an impudent gust, the gaffe extempore committed by a President, governor, senator, mayor, or high clergyman.  X people still treasure the moment during John F. Kennedy’s inauguration when the speaker’s stand being used for public prayer by His Eminence Richard Cardinal Cushing suddenly caught fire, the ominous wisps of smoke unperceived by the unwitting grandees on the platform.

Drinking:  X people drink not to show off but to get quietly tight.  Vodka and gin they find the most expedient means to this end, although some Xs will also be seen drinking white wine pretty freely.  Regardless of the tipple, X people like to buy it in quantity and cheaply, specializing in excellent but unknown liquor store house brands – Beefeater Gin and Cutty Sark Scotch betray the credulous victim of advertising, and hence the middle class – and on X premises gallon jugs of drink are commonly seen.

X people seldom eat at stated mealtimes, hunger and convenience being their only motivations for eating.  Like the uppers, Xs generally eat late rather than early, and their meals tend to last a long time, what with all the prolonged comic and scandalous narrative at table.  The X cuisine is seldom the pseudo-French or mock-British of the upper-middle class:  it is more likely to be North African, or Turkish, or “Indo-Chinese,” or vegetarian, or “organic,” or “health.”  Feeling no insecure need to display themselves in the act of dominating inferiors by issuing orders and demanding that their whims be honored, X people generally avoid eating out.  Intelligent and perceptive as they are, they know that if you’re at all clever, you can feed better at home.   Besides, Xs go in for a lot of things you can’t readily get out, like herbal teas, lemon-flavored vodka, and baked goods made of stone-ground flour.  Now and then X people will suddenly, without warning, lurch away from their usual exotic foods and go ape American, eating nothing but apple pies, hams, hot dogs, hamburgers, chili, and turkey.  But regardless of the style of the cuisine, X food is always (1) good and (2) un-praised by the company, its excellence taken for granted.  Except for the occasional sauterne or after-dinner port, the wine is dry, good, and never discussed.  There’s one surefire way, other things being equal, to identify an X dinner party.  All the wine brought by guests, no matter the quantity, is inevitably consumed, and so is more of the host’s stock than he’s probably anticipated.

Instinctively un-provincial, X people tend to be unostentatiously familiar with the street layouts and landmarks of London, Paris, and Rome – and sometimes Istanbul and Karachi.  This is in accord with their habit of knowing a lot for the pleasure of it, as well as their more specific curiosity about people, no matter where or when they live.  Hence the X interest in history, literature, architecture, and aesthetic styles.  (The critic of Aberdarcy’s main square is right in the center of the tradition.)  Regardless of the work they do, the Xs read a great deal, and they regard reading as a normal part of experience, as vital as “experience” and often more interesting.  They never belong to book clubs.  Because they choose their own books entirely themselves, they will often be heard complaining about the vulgarity and hopelessness of their local book outlets.  The X reader reads everything, his curiosity being without limit.  On occasion he will even read best-sellers, but largely to see if their cliché content is as high as usual.  X people have usually “been to college,” but they generally throw out unread, together with other junk mail, their college alumni magazine.

Being entirely self-directed, X people pursue remote and un-commonplace knowledge – they may be fanatical about Serbo-Croatian prosody, geodes, or Northern French church vestments of the eleventh century.  When in a flux of joy X people burst into song, the air is likely to derive from opera of the Baroque period, or from Don Giovanni or The Messiah.  Even the tunes they whistle will be from the classical repertory:  a really able X person can whistle a given Beethoven quartet with hardly a lapse.  X people are good a playing musical instruments, but seldom the expected ones:  instead of the violin or the recorder, they will play the melophone, the auto harp, or the nose flute.

Although X people abjure the word creative, regarding it as stylish, sentimental, psychologically naive, and therefore middle-class, they adopt toward cultural objects the attitude of makers, and of course critics.  It’s not hard for an X person to imagine himself producing any contemporary work of art or drama or architecture.  Thus with films X people are as interested in the styles of directors as of actors.  Although they may know a great deal about European ecclesiastical architecture and even about the niceties of fifteen centuries of liturgical usage, X people never to to church, except for the odd wedding or funeral.  Furthermore, they don’t know anyone who does go, and the whole idea would strike them as embarrassing.  When obliged to bow their heads in prayer in public places, some X people have been known to raise their eyes surreptitiously to inspect the expressions, postures, and clothing of their more conformist neighbors.  X people tend to make their own rules and to get away with so doing, which means that many of them are writers.  And, as Diana Trilling has said, “If everyone . . . wants to be a writer, this is not only because of the promise of celebrity but also because of what the life of the artist promises of freedom to make one’s own rules.”

X people are verbal.  They’re good at languages and take it for granted that it is disgraceful, because merely American and provincial, to remain monolingual.  Instead of the occasional dress-up foreign word of the middle and upper-middle classes (gourmet, arrivederci, kaput), Xs can deliver whole paragraphs in French, Italian, German, or Spanish, and sometimes Russian or Chinese as well.  The more self-conscious Xs will sometimes go so far in the international direction as to cross their sevens.  Soliciting no reputation for respectability, X people are freely obscene and profane, but tend to deploy vile language with considerable rhetorical effectiveness, differing from proles by using f*cking as a modifier only now and then and never dropping the g.  They may be rather fonder than most people of designating someone – usually a public servant or idol of the middle class – an asshole.  This will suggest that generally they eschew euphemism, as, for example, when they insist that their children use the words penis and vagina.  But they don’t always call spades spades.  Sometimes they will euphemize, but unlike more genteel speakers Xs like to use euphemisms ironically or parodically, favoring those especially which low newspapers use with a knowing, libel-skirting leer.  Thus when an X person lifts one eyebrow slightly while referring to someone as a confirmed bachelor, we are to gather than flaming homosexual is meant.  Similarly, as Neil Mackwood observes, starlet is the ironic euphemism for whore, constant companion for lover, tired (or overtired) for publicly drunk, and fun-loving for promiscuous.  Applied to young women, willowy means near death from anorexia.  X people can also use the middle class’s euphemisms for sardonic effect if sufficient irony is signaled at the same time.  Thus it is possible so speak of some poor soul’s kleptomania problem in such a way as to install viciously skeptical quotation marks around the words.

But I want to put a question to my readers, especially those who have read Class:  is the Class X / SWPL category really class-transcendent as Fussell claims?  Does it constitute a separate layer in the class hierarchy?  Or is it a subset or superset of one of the other classes?

My personal take is that X/SWPL is what many upper-middle-class people play at before they grow up.  I am struck while reading Fussell’s description especially how juvenile their preoccupations seem.  I find it difficult to believe that people could keep up that kind of pretense once they have children, for instance.

Update: Authenticity Hoax has a post about the lack of an X/SWPL movement in China.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Parenthood on Teen Sex

In Episode 9, Adam and Kristina’s daughter Haddie orders a lacy bra from Victoria’s Secret.  The bra is intercepted by her parents, who confront her.  Kristina asks her directly if she is having sex with her boyfriend Steve, a question Haddie evades.  Later, Adam pursues Haddie to Steve’s house, wherein he finds the two of them in flagrante.  He promptly orders Haddie home, an order she defies unsuccessfully.

I have a love-hate relationship with Parenthood:  on the one hand, so much talent and promise; on the other, so much wasted opportunity.  The characters seem to spend a lot of effort not having adult (by which I mean direct and purposeful) conversation.

Adam’s conflict with Haddie overlaps his efforts to teach his nephew Drew some dancing skills in preparation for an upcoming school dance.  Drew (in his painfully awkward and shy way) is attracted to a girl he knows will be at the dance, and wants to make a good impression.  Drew’s precise agenda remains unspoken, but Haddie perceives a double standard and complains to Adam that he is on the one hand helping Drew “socialize” (I forget the exact word she used, except that it wasn’t “have sex”) with a classmate, but wouldn’t let her “be with” (ditto) Steve.  Adam replies: yes, there is a double standard; no, it’s not fair; and life’s not fair.  You’re my daughter, and this is the way it’s going to be.

A few thoughts:

The double standard – sons are encouraged or permitted to have sex with girls while daughters are discouraged or forbidden from having sex with boys – is such a long-running staple of “family” entertainment dealing with teen sex that it is easy to forget what a failure of liberalism it represents.  A number of bloggers – Ferdinand and Roissy come to mind – straightforwardly embrace this double standard.  But Ferdinand and Roissy are not liberals and, I suppose, are prepared to recognize the idea that some conflicts are intrinsically permanent.  But how to explain mainstream Hollywood’s embrace of permanent conflict?  Reciprocity is supposedly the Great Liberal Ethic, and, to this conservative, entirely appropriate in this case; after all, the 7th Commandment requires the “preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity”, in the words of the Shorter Catechism.  If all parents value their daughters’ sexual virtue (or whatever), then they should likewise agree to restrain the trespasses of their own sons.  Yet here, liberal Hollywood would rather have parents engage in proxy warfare with their own offspring.

Adam, at least, is no hypocrite:  he doesn’t bother addressing himself to Steve, the boy eager to plunder his daughter, or to Steve’s parents, with whose tacit permission this was about to occur.

What, exactly, are Adam’s expectations of Haddie?  I mean, as a Christian, I have told my daughters since they could walk:  no sex outside of marriage.  God says so.  I say so.  This is bright, easily defensible line.  (I will get back with you in five or ten years to let you know how it worked out.)  But the Braverman family obviously doesn’t believe this to be a worthwhile standard, so . . . well, what is the standard?  Does Adam expect Haddie to remain a virgin until marriage?  Until college?  Until she’s “mature” (whatever that means)?

I suspect the answer is:  as long as Mom and Dad can prevent her.  Indeed, this is specifically the advice that Adam’s sister Sarah gives him:  delay his daughter’s sexual activity as long as possible.  But there is little here to give Haddie a reason to keep her virginity, or even to respect her father’s authority for its own sake.  Ultimately, it’s a contest of will and power between father and daughter.

At the other extreme is Trumwill’s approach.  Trumwill anticipates giving his children self-interested reasons to think very hard before having sex.   They are good reasons – in the case of his son, scary good reasons – but absent from them is any reference to an authority beyond themselves.

But I have a question for my readers.  How would a father reply to a daughter who, in apparently full possession of her faculties, tells him that she has calculated the risk-reward ratios, given due regard to her own reputation and moral standards, taken all available precautions, and is ready to get boned?

I see several defensible responses:

  • “God says you have to be married.  As your father, God has entrusted me with the authority to compel your obedience to His will.”
  • “The law says you have to be 18.  As your father, the law has entrusted me with the authority to compel your obedience to the applicable statutes.”
  • “I’m not paying for another man’s lay.  If this young man wants to have sex with you, then he can support you.  So keep your knickers on or pack your bags.”
  • “Will he be staying for dinner?”

Are there others?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Time makes a mockery of us all.

At 35, Danica McKellar is just too old to make this compelling. That, or I'm too old to appreciate it.

You be the judge.

HT: Ace.

Mental Health Break: Power Carousel

Don’t try this at home:

HT: Ace.  Other fun videos at the link.

SAT Question

I did pretty well on the verbal section of the SAT, at least for someone who chose to pursue engineering. But this question kicked my ass:

Part of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

"The gong, believed to have originated in Western Asia, reached China in the sixth century, where it continues to be used for a wide range of purposes, including as a military signal, a rhythmic accompaniment for vocal performance, and a ritual instrument."

  • A. including as

  • B. which include

  • C. which includes

  • D. including

  • E. they include as

Here is the answer:

Choice (A) is correct. It avoids the errors of the other options by correctly using the preposition “as” to introduce the “wide range of purposes” for which the gong is used.

Only 21% of online respondents answered the question correctly, i.e. about the rate of random guessing.

The alternative to the underlined phase that immediately sprang to mind was "such as", meaning "for example". However, such a use is considered idiomatic, and is in any case not among the options.

Among the listed answers, (E) is obviously wrong, given the punctuation.

(C) is wrong because since "purposes" is plural, it requires the plural noun "include", not the singular "includes".

But that said, why is (B) wrong: ". . . used for a wide range of purposes, which include a military signal, . . . ."? Can't a "military signal" be a "purpose"?

For that matter, why is (D) wrong?

Frankly, (A) would have been my third choice. I suppose if we were to drop the "include", we would say, "purpose as a military signal". But the construction still feels uncomfortable.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Project Prevention: Is It Eugenic?

Via Meteuphoric, a story on Project Prevention, an organization that pays drug addicts $300 to be sterilized.

As I commented there, all the evidence I’m aware of tells us that existing fertility patterns are dysgenic:  by measures of intelligence, earning power, education, and general got-it-togetherness, the best parents are more likely to limit their own fecudity, while the worst are more likely to let sh!t happen all the way to the delivery room.  Thus, as Steve Sailer has conclusively demonstrated, a non-targeted “eugenics” program like abortion tends to keep those with the most going for them from becoming parents rather than those with the least.

Arguably, this would be true within a targeted; population as well:  drug addicts with the most potential would be most likely to avail themselves of Project Prevention’s offer.  But, also arguably, the drug-addicted population is sufficiently dysfunctional that even culling the “best” of them from the gene pool would still; be eugenic by the median standards of the non-addicted population.

So . . . before I get out my checkbook, can anyone tell me why this program might have unintended consequences?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The War on Drugs

If the police ever serve a warrant on your house, you can evidently count on losing the family pets, even if they're caged.

Via Megan. After being so hard on her over immigration, I should say that she got this one pretty much right.

Friday, May 07, 2010

After the Wedding

I watched the Danish film After the Wedding on Netflix Instant Play. It was a deeply moving film that mostly avoided the movie cliches to which its American remake will probably succumb.

[Spoilers below.]

The film concerns Jacob, a youthful social worker in India who is sent home to Denmark to secure a large grant from Jørgen, a wealthy real-estate developer. Since Jacob's stay in Denmark overlaps a weekend, Jørgen invites him to his daughter's wedding. Jacob attends . . . whereupon he discovers that Jørgen's wife Helene was his own teenaged lover, and that the daughter getting married is, in fact, his own.

Now, any American movie with this premise would be setting up a love triangle, but there is much more at stake in this film as it slowly reveals Jørgen's true agenda. Particularly compelling is Rolf Lassgard's performance as Jørgen. He gives the character the right mix of earthiness and brillo that is vastly superior to the legion of John Houseman knockoffs.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Corruption of Science

Will Offensicht writes  a wide-ranging article at Scragged about the cognitive biases and outright corruption that plague academic science.  And it isn’t just “climate science” this time:

The 18-inch-long Atlantic salmon lay perfectly still for its [fMRI] brain scan. Emotional pictures —a triumphant young girl just out of a somersault, a distressed waiter who had just dropped a plate — flashed in front of the fish as a scientist read the standard instruction script aloud.

By the end of the experiment, neuroscientist Craig Bennett and his colleagues at Dartmouth College could clearly discern in the scan of the salmon’s brain a beautiful, red-hot area of activity that lit up during emotional scenes.

An Atlantic salmon that responded to human emotions would have been an astounding discovery, guaranteeing publication in a top-tier journal and a life of scientific glory for the researchers. Except for one thing. The fish was dead.

Will writes:

Academics don't appreciate having their careers disrupted by "transformative research" any more than businesses appreciate being disrupted by new competitors; reviewers don't want anything funded that would question whatever papers qualified them for tenure.  Bureaucratic conservatism coupled with conservative "peer review" means that no cutting-edge research will be funded.  That's one of the beauties of fMRI research - since you get to choose how to analyze the data after the fact, you can nearly always show something to justify your funding, just like the pyramidologists.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Losing My Linux

You may be remember my travails establishing an XP-Win7 dual-booted desktop last fall. So when I upgraded my 60GB laptop harddrive to a 500GB harddrive over Christmas, and wanted to triple-boot it, I knew what to do.

First, I installed XP. It was a clean install, from which I subsequently restored a backup of the 60GB drive, keeping all my computer programs. The XP boot manager is called “ntldr”. I gave this partition 80GB.

Second, I installed Win7. The Win7 boot manager, “BCD”, is backward-compatible with ntldr, which it calls when the XP option is selected. I gave this partition 100GB

Finally, I installed Linux (Fedora). The Linux boot manager is called “GRUB” and in addition to two options for starting Linux (I’m not sure how that happened or what it means), it has an option called “other”, which calls BCD.

Did you follow that?

The Problem.

It turns out that I underestimated how much space I would want devoted to Win7. For several reasons. First, although Linux can see the Win7 partition, the Linux partition is invisible to Win7, so I can’t easily use it to store my growing video library (from which I create iPod Touch copies) . Second, despite its problems, Win7 really does provide the best computing experience, especially its Live Writer blog program and its printer management. Linux, meanwhile, has issues with the screen resolution and both Linux and XP seem very . . . <em>plain</em> by comparison.

The bottom line is that I wanted to expand my Win7 partition at the expense of Linux. As you all know, Windows functionality in this regard is extremely limited. What do do . . . .

First, I downloaded a program called Gparted that advertised itself as being able to shift the partition boundaries. Short answer: it didn’t work on the Windows partitions. But the side effect that it made the Linux partition non-bootable.

Second, since it wasn’t working anymore, and I hadn’t been using it anyway, I went to Windows and deleted the Linux partition. The weird thing was that there were two non-Windows partitions, one of them trivially small, like 100MB, and the other was the 300GB partition. Since I didn’t know what they were for, I did the logical thing and deleted them both. This allowed me to expand Win7 into the empty space.

But when I rebooted, GRUB informed me that it couldn’t find the partition table. Evidently, while GRUB was apparently on one of the remaining Windows partitions, the partition table it needed was not. GRUB’s user’s manual says of the message I was getting, partition table invalid or corrupt: “This is not good.”

I then attempted to use a utility called Testdisk. Testdisk advertises itself as being able to repair or replace partition tables used by GRUB. It also says that it came with Gparted, but I couldn’t find it. So I put my own copy on a usb drive and then used the installation media for Windows 7 to obtain a command prompt at which to run it. I was told that the program was incompatible with that version of Windows. So I used my installation media for WinXP, but depending on which disk I used, I either was told that I needed an administrator password (which I didn’t seem to have) or that I was restricted to the OS command set and not allowed to run any programs.

Finally, I said, screw it, and I installed Win 7 again in the empty space left over from the Linux partition. This reasserted BCD primary control over the boot process, and allowed me to boot both the older and the newer installations of Win7.

When I look at the the Win7 disk manager, I see that when I am running the older Win7 installation, that partition is labeled “System, Boot, Page File, Active, Crash Dump, Primary Partition”. I assume this means that I can delete the second installation because the new boot manager and partition table is securely on the old Win7 partition.

The remaining problem is: XP won’t boot anymore. The new boot list displayed by the new BCD installation showed only my new and “old” Win7 options. I used a program called EasyBCD to edit the partition list and add an option for XP, but I can’t seem to connect that option with the actual XP location.

On a positive note: for some mysterious reason, the “hibernate” function now works. Also on a positive note, my new Win7 installation starts up using only about 600MB of memory, more than the mere 400MB that XP requires, but a lot less than the 1.4GB that the older installation presently demands. Somewhere that is a lot of extra crap being loaded into memory that I can probably get rid of if I can find it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Another Simpsons Fail

In last night's episode, Springfield, blankets the town with security cameras after Homer leaves a bag of plutonium unattended, causing a bomb scare. The cameras become a tool for Ned Flanders to scold people for littering.

Meanwhile, in the real world, security cameras may help us catch the NYC car bomber.

I almost feel sorry for the Simpsons crew. You know they queue these episodes up weeks if not months in advance. Yet reality has a way of biting their plot lines in the ass with almost exquisite timing.

The Stupidity of Anti-Semites

Ferdinand, in the context of attacking his anti-semitism, quotes Richard Hoste:

I would much rather have a people that seeks to kill those who offend them than a people that works behind the scenes to get you thrown in jail for opinions. The first are open and honest enemies of your civilization and inspire people to fight back, the second enlist your children in the cause of “fighting hate” as they destroy you in the name of love and tolerance.

The irony of this statement is that Western Christendom has conspicuously not closed ranks in racial or cultural solidarity against “open and honest” Muslim violence.

Why is this?

Is it because Muslims occupy the commanding heights of our media, education, and government?

Just askin’.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

This is not your father’s McCarthyism

Megan McArdle on Arizona’s immigration reform:

[I]t’s not just wrong.  It’s un-American.

Funny how people who can’t be bothered to defend the actual American identity rush to denounce as “un-American” those who can.

Earth to Megan:  unlike libertarianism, “Americanism” is not a national suicide pact.