Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gawker Names Lena Dunham's Rapist--And He's a Democrat

Lena Dunham's memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, includes the classic date rape story--she had sex with some guy, giving in to his advances, then decided later that she wasn't really too thrilled with the sex, and eventually decided that it was rape. However, not content with that, she added details to describe the man as a flamboyantly dressed Republican named Barry, with mustache and purple boots, the son of a radio show host, and someone that had hosted a radio program at her university. She makes a point that she had not met a Republican before him, and that he was a Republican.

Some of the details, but not all, pointed to an actual Republican who had never met Dunham. Her story was shown to be a false narrative. Now, attempting to rescue Dunham's account, and the narrative of out-of-control campus rape, Gawker reports that the specific details were changed to protect the identity of the actual person, but that Gawker has figured out who he was from earlier drafts of Dunham's book that had been circulated. Turns out that the man was, according to Gawker:
... Philip Samuel Ungar, a 2006 graduate of Oberlin. Now 30, he’s the son of former All Things Considered host and retired Goucher College president Sanford J. Ungar. Dunham has never explicitly named him, but his biography closely aligns with her characterization of her alleged rapist—“His father was actually the former host of NPR’s All Things Considered”—in an early draft of the chapter where she describes being assaulted.
Oh, and he is a registered Democrat.

The Gawker article downplays the latter part, but I think it is actually a key issue. Dunham's book made a point of emphasizing "Barry" as being Republican. His politics was not a passing detail, but a central point intended to demonize conservatives. This incident was portrayed as her first exposure to someone from a conservative background. And now, we are told that the actual person who Dunham alleges raped her was a liberal Democrat. In retrospect, it almost seems inevitable that if there was an actual "bad person" in her story, it would be a liberal, and so it was.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This is What Happens When You Ban Words

Those of you that have read 1984 may remember that one of the goals of Big Brother was to slowly reduce the number of words in the language in order to control how people thought; the idea being that if people could not express an idea, they could not think it. Now we get a peek into how this works in real life. 

Ever since 9/11, our government had been deluding itself, and trying to delude Americans that we are not at war with Islam. Fine, Islam is a broad umbrella and we certainly weren't battling all Islamic sects or nations. But the government went further than this to decree that we could not associate Islam with terrorism or the motives of terrorists.

In 2009, we had the Ft. Hood massacre, whose perpetrator has clearly stated numerous times that he was motivated by Islam. The New York Post observed after the fact:
In the wake of the terrorist strike on our soldiers at Fort Hood, one individual’s still missing in action: Our commander in chief. The massacre’s 51 casualties, including 13 dead, were insufficient to drag President Obama away from the White House Happy Hour. 
We just saw the worst terror attack on America since 9/11. And Obama couldn’t adjust his schedule to support our grieving troops. 
Instead, we got his subtle defense of the perp: Unwilling to use the word “terror,” let alone the phrase “Islamist terror,” Obama warned us not to “rush to judgment.” 
A Muslim fanatic, known to the FBI as a fan of suicide bombers and to colleagues as an opponent of our government, coolly buys weapons, heads to a military facility he knows will be packed with unsuspecting soldiers, waits for the crowd to thicken, then shouts, “Allah is great!” and guns down 51 patriots, calmly reloading among the dead and dying. 
But don’t rush to judgment.
From an article by CNS News in July 2010:
The Obama administration’s reluctance to acknowledge and confront the religious motivation behind Islamist terrorism is not helping the counter-terror effort, leading experts warn in a new report.

The administration’s recently released National Security Strategy (NSS) defines the enemy as “al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates,” but Washington Institute for Near East Policy report argues that it is a bigger one – “the extremist ideology that fuels and supports Islamist violence.”

Authors J. Scott Carpenter, Matthew Levitt, Steven Simon and Juan Zarate contend that just because ideology is not the only driving force behind violent Islamic terrorism does not mean it can be ignored.

Instead, the administration should recognize Islamism as “the key ideological driver” behind the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups, and prioritize an effort to combat the ideology, they say.

“To be sure, officials need to make very clear that they do not consider Islam itself a danger, only the distorted version of Islam perpetrated by radical extremists. But they – and, in particular, the president – must also come to terms with the fact that individuals implicated in each of the recently exposed plots in the United States were imbued with a common radical ethos.”

In keeping with President Obama’s agenda of reaching out to the Islamic world administration officials have moved away from terminology that could cause offense when discussing violent terrorism or extremism.
 In June 2013, Paul Murphy wrote at The American Thinker:
"Don't Invoke Islam: Although the al-Qaida network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal." 
-- From 'Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication'. 
In the last week or so President Obama visited the National Defence University in order to re-express, or revaluate, America's broad goals and commitments in its 'war against terror' (a phrase he -- now? -- rejects).  
Predictably, Obama said that 'the United States is not at war with Islam'. Nonetheless, Obama is simply reiterating a stance he has held since he became president. In fact his position is based upon, or, more correctly, it is best expressed by, a document which dates back to 2008; a year before he became president. That document is called 'Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication' which can be found on the website of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. 'Words that Work,' produced by the State Department's Counterterrorism Communications Center, found that Islam and terrorism are not linked.

 So that's official! Islamism or militant Islam and terrorism are not linked either. There is absolutely no connection whatsoever between Islam, in any of its forms, and terrorism. The only thing that is linked to terrorism are various 'death cults' or 'sects'. This is now the truth according to Barack Obama too. Obama ordered a revision of America's National Security Strategy, around three years ago, so as to erase all possible connections between Islam and terrorism. That is, between Islam and anything violent.
This is thought control. It's all really about words; not about realities or actions.
Specifically, the phrase 'Islamic radicalism' has been erased from much -- or all! -- American governmental discourse. And if the words no longer exist, then surely the realities can't exist either -- at least not according to the postmodern logic of the American Government.
So now we get to present day, and I read the following in an article from Robert Stacy McCain on how to win wars (quoting a New York Times article):
Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, sought help this summer in solving an urgent problem for the American military: What makes the Islamic State so dangerous? 
Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. . . . 
We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it,” he said, according to the confidential minutes of a conference call he held with the experts. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.” . . . 
This month, Lisa Monaco, Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, said the increasing effort by the Islamic State to branch out to countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Libya “is a huge area of concern.” About 1,000 foreign fighters flock to Iraq and Syria every month, American intelligence officials say, most to join arms with ISIS. . . .
(Underline mine).

The Pentagon cannot link Islam with terrorism and the result is that our military leaders now cannot understand the motivations of ISIS. Whether or not the top ISIS leaders believe it, the rank and file are convinced that they are doing the work of Allah, and will usher in the era of the Mahdi. Everything they do flows from this.

Racism Jumps the Shark

Racists are upset that Target is using white girls to model its "Annie" line of dresses, because even though the Annie character is a white girl with red hair, the current actress of the Broadway play is black. From the Daily Mail article:
Target is under fire from angry consumers over its use of predominantly white models to promote a new clothing line inspired by the recent remake of hit musical Annie, which is led by an African American actress.  
A petition issued by motivational speaker L'Sean Rinique Shelton, based in Bear, Delaware, calls for the retail giant to remove the 'disrespectful' in-store displays and apologize to the movie's 11-year-old star, Quvenzhan√© Wallis. 
'In the current stench of racism and division amongst Americans, why would Target singlehandedly disrespect Quvenzhané Wallis and add more pain to injury as it relates to race relations?' poses Ms Shelton, a mother-of-three.
So, it is okay to cast a black person in a white role, but not use white people to model dresses developed for that same role. So, using that same logic, it should be okay to cast a white man as Martin Luther King, Jr., after which it would be verboten to use black men to model Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is This a Threat or a Promise?

President Barack Obama will block 2015 funding for the Department of Homeland Security if Republicans includes spending curbs on the president’s “executive action,” says a top aide. 
That amnesty action includes the award of work permits, drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards and tax rebates to at least four million illegal immigrants, despite the wage-cutting surplus of American workers in Obama’s economy. 
The adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, told a Huffington Post interviewer Dec. 29 that the president would “absolutely not” sign a 2015 spending bill that would include limits on amnesty spending. 
Would Obama veto the spending curbs? “Yep,” Pfeiffer said.
The question that the Republicans should be asking is whether anyone would notice if the DHS shut down, or care?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Economy and the Imperial Presidency

Just a few miscellaneous topics that seem to describe the new political and economic reality in the United States. One of the large disconnects between the coastal elites and Joe Everyman has been the "recovery"--that is, the wealthy have been doing well, while the middle-class continues to struggle. A short article from the Brookings Institute looks at this issue from one perspective--wealth. From the article:
“America’s wealth gap between middle-income and upper-income families is [the] widest on record.”  So reads the title of a Pew Research Center analysis by Richard Fry and Rakesh Kochhar that sheds new light on the persisting anxiety of middle-class Americans. 
The analysis offers a useful definition of wealth as the difference between a family’s assets and debt.  Wealth is an important dimension of household well-being, notes Fry, because “it’s a measure of a family’s ‘nest egg’ and can be used to sustain consumption during emergencies (for example, job layoffs) as well as provide income during retirement.”  Wealth is an index both of resiliency in the face of shocks and of preparation for the future. 
In the 30 years that the Federal Reserve Board has been collecting these data, the gap between upper-income and middle-class families has rough doubled.  In 1983, the median net worth of upper-income families was 3.4 times that of their middle-income counterparts.  In 2013, that figure stood at 6.6 times.  Although the increase occurred by fits and starts throughout the past three decades, it accelerated dramatically during the Great Recession and its aftermath. 
The key point, however, is not that the ratio doubled but why.  Corrected for inflation, the median wealth of upper-income families has doubled since 1983, from $318,000 to $639,000.  By contrast, the median wealth of middle-class families has stagnated during that period--$94,000 in 1983, $96,000 today.  To be sure, middle-class wealth increased to $158,000 between 1983 and 2007 but the Great Recession reversed that gain, and the middle class has not participated significantly in the stock market surge that began in mid-2009.
Unfortunately, the author never goes on to explain the "why" aspect. One clear issue that jumps out is that the increase of "wealth" seen by middle-class families between 1983 and 2007 was not a result of large jumps in income--adjusted for inflation, the average worker saw wages stagnate during the same time period--but the increase in the value of residential housing. The collapse of the real estate market wiped away most of those gains, and it is unlikely that the value of houses will rebound, overall, although certain markets will show growth.

Part of the reasons are demographic, and some of it is economic/debt related. Here are a few articles on the topic from The Atlantic and The Washington Post and the Futurist. Essentially, the main problems related are (i) high student loan debt that keeps younger people from accumulating the savings necessary to buy a home; (ii) lower marriage rates, which eliminates one of the main reasons for buying a family home--a family; and (iii) stagnating wages, as noted above. At the same time, however, retiring baby boomers will be seeking to sell their homes to fund their retirements. More people attempting to sell at the same time there are fewer buyers means that housing prices will at least stay flat, if not decline, when viewed nationally.

Breitbart notes that the mega-rich overwhelmingly donated to the Democrats in 2014. No surprise there--it has been a trend for a long time. Unfortunately for them, their investment did not pay off, and so they are having to resort to other tactics to advance their agenda. Victor Davis Hanson warns:
Obama’s promised new legislation — gun control, climate change, Obamacare — was either rejected by Congress or passed but found to be both unpopular and nearly unworkable. Positive changes — such as lower gas prices brought on by new American oil and gas discoveries and innovative new methods of extraction — came despite, not because of, Obama. 
Yet the president presses on with his unpopular agenda, believing, as did Napoleon, that he alone is the revolution — intent to ignore popular opinion, the rule of law, and Congress. He assumes that his mastery of the teleprompter and iconic status as the first black president exempt him from congressional censure or outright public revolt. 
In the next two years, we will see presidential overreach that we have not witnessed in modern memory.
Great civilizations don't die--they commit suicide.

"The Great Eastern"

Dark Roasted Blend has an article on the history of the greatest of the Victorian Steam Ships, the Great Eastern. Built in 1858, it was capable of bringing 4,000 people (or 10,000 troops) around the world, without ever once needing to refuel. It was 680 feet long, had a beam of 83 feet, and displaced 22,000 tons. Besides the two side paddle wheels, it was also used a 24 foot wide screw propeller, and could put up 2,500 square feet of sail. Its top speed was 14 knots. Its most important job, however, was laying the first Transatlantic Cable.

And this interesting comparison:
Two great ships: the "Great Eastern" & the "Titanic".  
Both suffered a damage to their hull.  
One sunk, one didn't. 
SS "Great Eastern" was also incredibly modern, boasting double hull construction (far ahead of its common use) and even gas lighting. It is this DOUBLE HULL that kept her afloat in the same circumstances that sent the "Titanic" to its doom. According to this source, here is a comparison with the Titanic: 
- Both the Titanic and the Great Eastern were the largest ships of their time. 
- Each suffered nearly the same accident, with utterly different results. 
- The Great Eastern featured fifty water-tight compartments, and a maze of bulkheads. 
- The Titanic's hull had only a single wall on each side!.. And even though the hull was divided in fifteen sections, which were designed to be sealed on a moments notice, "the bulkheads between those sections were riddled with access doors to improve luxury service" 
The Great Eastern suffered a huge 83-foot-long, 9-foot-wide gash, after the encounter with an uncharted rock in Long Island Sound in 1862. But the inner hull held, and the ship remained afloat. 
The Titanic did not suffer anything like the huge continuous gash in the side of the Great Eastern: According to these recent acoustic imaging results, Titanic's hull "had not been gashed at all, but had been punctured in six of its forward compartments with a series of thin slits amounting to no more that 12 square feet." 
No double sidewall ensured the fate of famous luxury liner, sending it to the depths in less than three hours.
More photos and illustrations at the link.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"The Better Angels of Our Nature" -- Part 2

           This is a continuation of my prior review and analysis of Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature. In Chapter 2 of his book, Pinker explores the first of 6 forces which he believes led to the decline of violence, which he terms "the pacification process." Basically, what he describes is the impact of civilization on reducing violence, but not to be confused with the "civilizing process" which he describes in a later chapter and is a different (or perhaps, more correctly, a further) stage in civilization. At this point, what Pinker focuses on is the creation of the first city states, with the attendant development of writing, the arts, etc.--the hallmarks of civilization. "Pacification" is a very descriptive term because it relates to the transition from primitive societies, with no law, to one governed by laws--whether because that society developed such laws on its own, or it was imposed on it by an outside group (e.g., the pacification of native tribes in many areas of the world by colonial powers).

File:Emile gsell hmong warriors.jpg
Hmong Warriors
           The first point to understand is that primitive cultures (i.e., pre-state cultures) are very violent. On this point, Pinker appears to draw heavily on Lawrence Keeley's War Before Civilization (which I have reviewed previously). As Pinker notes, an average of 15% of people in pre-state cultures die from a violent death, with some archaeological sites evidencing a rate as high as 60%. Conversely, in primitive states, the percentage rate is far less--2.5% to 5% seems typical. Moreover, through ethnographic studies, murder rates appear to be much higher than more advanced societies. For instance, the Semai, a Malaysian tribe known for the peaceful behavior, had a murder rate of 30 per 100,000--some three times the worst crime infested holes in the United States. (p. 55).

          (For further comparison, even when considering the impact of all deaths from murder and warfare in the 20th Century, deaths in modern cultures is just a small blip compared to primitive cultures. Pinker notes that in the 20th Century, 6 billion people died. Of these, 40 million (0.7%) died as a direct result of battle. Deaths due to warfare, both direct and indirect, genocides, purges, and other man-made disasters are estimated to be 180 million in the 20th Century--only about 3%. (p. 50). The difference is even more stark when comparing primitive societies to the U.S. in 2005--one of the worst years for U.S. troops deaths in recent years. Pinker observes that roughly 2,500,000 Americans died in 2005. Of that, 945 died in combat (0.0004%). Adding in the 18,124 homicides only brings the rate of death from violence to 0.008%.).

         The reason for the high numbers of violent deaths in primitive societies is that, although formal warfare between primitive tribes is mostly blustering, the impact of regular raids--even if only small numbers are killed in each raid--is significant on a small group. "It is the sneaky raids, not the noise battles, that kill in large numbers." (pp. 43-44).
A party of men will slink into an enemy village before dawn, fire [sic] arrows into the first men who emerge from their huts in the morning to pee, and then shoot the others as they rush out of their huts to see what the commotion is about. They may thrust their spears through walls, shoot arrows through doorways or chimneys, and set the huts on fire. They can kill a lot of drowsy people before the villagers organize themselves in defense, by which time the attackers have melted back into the forest.
(p. 44). Not only did primitive tribes enjoy killing one another, they would take trophies and even enjoyed torturing and mutilating their victims. (pp. 44-45).

          But why the violence? That is an interesting question that I don't think Pinker fully explores. He focuses on realpolitik type reasons. Pinker observes that Hobbes wrote that the three principles causes of quarrel are (1) competition (as for resources), (2) diffidence (meaning "fear"), and (3) glory (i.e., "honor" or "credibility"). (pp. 33-34).
 Many scholars have found the image of the harmless foragers to be plausible because they had trouble imagining the means and motives that could drive them to war. Recall, for example, Eckhardt's claim that hunter-gatherers had "little to fight about." But organisms that have evolved by natural selection always have something to fight about (which doesn't, or course, mean that they will always fight). Hobbes noted that humans in particular have three reasons for quarrel: gain, safety, and credible deterrence. People in nonstate societies fight about all three. 
Foraging peoples can invade to gain territory, such as hunting grounds, watering holes, the banks or mouths of rivers, and sources of valued minerals like flint, obsidian, salt, or ochre. They may raid livestock or caches or stored food. And very often they fight over women. Men may raid a neighboring village for the express purpose of kidnapping women, whom they gang-rape and distribute as wives. They may raid for some other reason and take the women as a bonus. Or they may raid to claim women who had been promised to them in marriage but were not delivered at the agreed-upon time. And sometimes young men attack for trophies, coups, and other signs of aggressive prowess, especially in societies where they are a prerequisite to attaining adult status. 
People in nonstate societies also invade for safety. The security dilemma or Hobbesian trap is very much on their minds, and they may form an alliance with nearby villages if they fear they are too small, or launch a preemptive strike if they fear that an enemy alliance is getting too big. ... 
But in most surveys the most commonly cited motive for warfare is vengeance, which serves as a crude deterrent to potential enemies by raising the anticipated long-term costs of an attack. ... Foraging and tribal people avenge theft, adultery, vandalism, poaching, abduction of women, soured deals, alleged sorcery, and previous acts of violence. One cross-cultural survey found that in 95 percent of societies, people explicitly endorse the idea of taking a life for a life. Tribal people not only feel the smoke welling up in their breasts but know that their enemies feel it too. That is why they sometimes massacre every last member of a village they raid: they anticipate that any survivors would seek revenge for their slain kinsmen.
(pp. 46-47).

          The security dilemma or Hobbesian trap described above refers to the calculus that, in a state of anarchy, it may be better to attack someone before they attack you. One method for avoiding the Hobbesian trap is pursuing a policy of deterrence--that is, not to strike first, but be able to survive a surprise attack by an enemy and be able to inflict a grievous injury in response. Otherwise known as detente.  But Hobbes saw another way to escape the dilemma which he termed the Leviathan: a governmental authority that has a monopoly on the use of force. "By inflicting penalties on aggressors, the Leviathan can eliminate their incentive for aggression, in turn defusing general anxieties about preemptive attack and obviating everyone's need to maintain a hair trigger for retaliation to prove their resolve." (p. 35). So, this is the first force for decreasing violence in Pinker's opinion: the formation of the state. Thus, the gigantic drop in violence between non-state and state societies.

          This raises the interesting possibility, which Pinker will explore in a later chapter, that reversing or eliminating the forces that reduce violence will also reverse the downward trend in violence.

           Although Pinker does not explore the issue--he merely pokes around the edges--their may be a genetic basis for violence, at least in some people. Pinker spends some time discussing violence among our nearest primate relatives: the chimpanzee. (However, chimps are not the only higher mammal to engage in violence). He observes that the common chimpanzee lives in large groups (about 150 individuals, although they will forage in smaller groups) that occupy a distinct territory. If a group encounters another group from different community, the interaction is hostile. "When the groups are evenly matched, they dispute the boundary in a noisy battle. The two sides bark, hoot, shake branches, throw objects, and charge at each other for half an hour or more, until one side, usually the smaller one, skulks away." (p. 37). These displays may also occur between individuals. "Once thought to be rituals that settle disputes without bloodshed for the good of the species, they are now understood as displays of strength and resolve that allow the weaker side to concede when the outcome of a fight is a foregone conclusion and going through with it would only risk injury to both." This behavior can still be seen between gangs or gang members--e.g., "the monkey dance."

          Like humans, though, chimpanzee are not content to simply raise a ruckus. They will engage in ambushes and raids against chimps from different communities; and they will murder chimps in their own communities. (pp. 37-38). There are evolutionary advantages to gaining territory or eliminating rivals. Pinker seems to recognize that chimpanzees and humans probably descended from a common ancestor that was likewise violent, but lets the obvious conclusion simply lie there: that because of the advantages it may convey, some people may be genetically predisposed to violence.

         The Independent recently reported:
A study looking at the genetic makeup of 895 criminals in Finland has discovered a pair of genes linked with extreme violent behaviour. 
The research, carried out by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and published in the journal Molecular Pyschiatry, compared the genes of non-violent offenders with a group of 78 individuals convicted of violent crimes. 
Experts involved in the study say that the majority of violent crime in any society is usually carried out by a small group of repeat offenders who resist attempts at rehabilitation. 
The group of 78 were responsible for a total of 1,154 murders, manslaughters, attempted homicides or batteries and the geneticists concluded that between 4 and 10 per cent of all violent crimes in Finland could be traced back to individuals with these genotypes.
All those in the study that had committed murder (including a secondary group of 114 individuals who had all killed at least one person) possessed the MAOA gene, with a variant gene of cadherin 13 or CDH13 also found to be common among violent offenders.
The MAOA gene is sometimes known as the “warrior gene” and is associated with higher levels of aggression in response to provocation, while studies into CDH13 have associated it with substance abusers and low impulse control.
Boys with this gene are more likely to join gangs. The so-called "warrior gene" is controversial because it is more common among black men--almost 10 times as many black men have the gene than whites. The latter article from The Unsilenced Science notes:
... The MAOA gene has a portion with repeated segments of DNA. This section of the gene is called a promoter because having more repeats increases the amount of enzyme that the gene produces (with a rare, debatable exception). After a 2002 study found that having three repeats together with having suffered child abuse is somewhat associated with violent tendencies, a flood of follow-up research ensued, and MAOA was relabeled “the warrior gene.” This version of the gene and one with four repeats are the most common versions, or alleles. These studies always had a few people with neither the 3-repeat nor the 4-repeat allele. A small number only had 2-repeats. The scientists decided that having 2-repeats in the promoter is sort of like having 3-repeats, so they invented the term “MAOA-L.” (“L” stands for low. Pretty clever, huh?) However, a pair of studies in 2008 found that the 2-repeat allele is associated with twice the rate of violence without child abuse coming into the equation. This allele is less powerful than Brunner syndrome but far more common. 
Two small studies gave hints that the especially dangerous 2-repeat allele might be more common among African Americans. One study wrote that 6% of their non-white (but probably mostly African-American) male subjects had this allele. The other had 5 of 37 (14%) African-American men possessing “rare MAOA alleles.” Those percentages are remarkable given that studies of white men have suggested that 1% or fewer have this gene. 
If a single gene could offer some explanation as to why African-Americans commit roughly five times as many violent crimes per capita as whites, then wouldn’t studying it potentially save countless lives and deserve a Nobel Prize? After all, even a case of Brunner syndrome was effectively treated for a period with an antipsychotic. Well, at long last, Reti et al determined that 0.5% of white MAOA genes and 4.7% of African-American MAOA genes are this 2-repeat allele, almost a ten-fold difference.
See also the following article at Conservative News.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Racists and Their Quislings

Most, if not all of you, have already heard of the execution style slayings of two New York police officers by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a black MuslimThe Huffington Post has the basic facts of the story:
Two New York City police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were shot dead "execution style" in Brooklyn just before 3 p.m. Saturday, police said, by an alleged gang member who posted on social media that he wanted revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 
"Quite simply, they were assassinated," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a press conference held Saturday evening at the hospital where the grieving families gathered. "Both officers paid the ultimate sacrifice today while protecting the communities they serve." 
Liu and Ramos may have never seen the attacker open fire as they were sitting in their patrol car, Bratton said, on special duty because of heightened violence in the area.
Liu, age 32, was a seven year veteran of the force, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information said in a statement. Liu was married only two months ago, according to Bratton, who met with the fallen officer's devastated parents and new bride.
Ramos, who just had his 40th birthday, became a cop only three years ago after working for years as a school safety officer. He was a two year veteran of the NYPD, the DCPI said. Ramos' family includes a wife and 13-year-old son, "who couldn't comprehend what had happened to his father," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Two Con Ed workers witnessed the shooting, followed Brinsley to a subway station, and were able to describe him to police. Brinsley killed himself as police closed in on him. Although Obama, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton and the other race baiters are trying to back away from this event, it is clear that they own itThe race baiters Quislings have been celebratingSome in Brooklyn cheered at news of the killings, as did protestors in Ferguson. (See also this story at Newsbusters).

On a related note, I spotted the following in an post at The Truth About Guns about ridiculous gun laws in Belize:
Remember, there was a time when we were enslaved, and for sure we knew we were not free. The white supremacists, in their calculated brilliance, then introduced a disguised form of slavery to us, and they called it colonialism. When we got hip to how degrading colonialism really was, the white supremacists, in a burst of renewed calculated brilliance, said, listen up, we’ll give you independence. 
Okay now, can’t you see, Belizean people, that this game is bogus? The evidence is the weed law and the evidence is the gun law. These are not Belizean laws. These are oppressive laws. The PUDP are in bed with white supremacy. Power to the people. This is a must.
(Underlines added). The quote was from an op-ed published in a Belizean publication.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sluts Are More Likely to Divorce

From an article at The New York Times:
But when you look specifically at sex itself, at patterns of actual sexual activity and their link to marital happiness and longevity, direct evidence for a permissiveness premium is extremely hard to find. And for women, almost all the the data points sharply in the opposite direction. Notwithstanding the potential for regrets, women who only had sex with their future spouse are more likely to be in a high quality marriage than women who had a higher number of sexual partners. Divorce rates are higher for women with multiple premarital partners than women who had only one; they’retwice as high for women who have cohabitated serially than women who only cohabitated with their future husband. Independent of marriage, relationship stability is stronger when sex is initiated later, and monogamy and a restricted number of sex partners isstrongly associated with female happiness and emotional well-being, period. And these results hold irrespective of education levels, as this piece by Brad Wilcox and Nicholas Wolfinger points out: There’s a stronger correlation between multiple premarital partners and marital instability among less-educated Americans, but well-educated Americans, too, show much stronger marital outcomes when they have fewer premarital partners. (And interestingly, the usual connection between education and stability disappears entirely for people who married their first partner: They’re equally unlikely to divorce no matter whether they attended college or not.)
To put it more succinctly, only 20% of women who are virgins at marriage will get divorced; even having one prior sexual partner raises the odds of divorce to nearly 50%; and 80% or more of the sluttiest (more than 15 partners) will be divorced.

And this added bit from the NYT article:
... what Smith and others are casting as a successful “liberal” marriage model still often has much stronger traditional elements woven in than that rhetoric would suggest. The division of labor in America’s more-successful upper-middle-class marriages, in particular, is more egalitarian than “Father Knows Best” but still often quite gendered (as this Wilcox post points out), with college-educated husbands bringing home larger shares of household income and wives often preferring part-time work. And that gendered division actually increases at the highest (and, in my experience, most politically liberal) levels of the meritocracy: Wives and mothers who are elite college graduates are more likely to opt out of the workforce than the college-educated norm. 
Then similarly, college-educated Americas are more religious overall than the secularism of the Pacific Coast and the BosWash corridor would lead one to expect, and more likely to practice a religion than downscale Americans — and since religion is still a big factor in marital stability, with religious practice in particularcorrelating strongly with low divorce rates, this too seems like a case where “traditional” ideas or approaches are still providing crucial support to marriage’s contemporary resilience among the better-educated strata of society. 
And then finally, if you try to pin down their attitudes and values, it isn’t obvious that working class America’s struggling men are all stuck in some antiquated patriarchal rut. At times, they seem almost too well adapted to the emotivist, individualist, therapeutic ideas that we tend to think of as more “progressive” or modern or what-have-you, when perhaps certain lost or fading elements of “traditional masculinity” might actually still stand them in good stead.

Why The Government Can't Be Trusted With Firearms

Shocking new crime scene photos show the serial number of the Department of Justice Fast and Furious rifle used in a bloody apartment shooting in Phoenix, Arizona. 
The photos, obtained by the nonprofit group Judicial Watch in a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix and provided to The Daily Caller, depict the grisly aftermath of a July 29, 2013 shooting in a Phoenix apartment that wounded two people. Four arrests were made in the case. Suspects Bruno Brizuela, Jonathan Mejinez-Sanchez, Jovanny Andrade, and Kayonte Scott were believed to have been using an acquaintance’s car, which was abandoned near the crime scene after hitting a fence. 
Joaquin Bojorquez-Romero was shot in the leg and Jobani Flores was shot in the head. Victim Cleiver Nava-Diaz was not injured. 
A rifle found in the abandoned car came from Attorney General Eric Holder’s Fast and Furious program, which put firearms into the black market on the Southern border in a failed attempt to track firearm circulation among Mexican drug cartels. The AK-47 style rifle was purchased in 2009 by Sean Christopher Seward, who pled guilty to trafficking firearms that he bought while the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was monitoring his activities as part of Fast and Furious.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Voyager 1 Riding the Wave

The Daily Mail reports:
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is still riding a massive 'tsunami wave' that first began in February, Nasa has revealed. 
It is the longest-lasting shock wave that researchers have seen in interstellar space.  
* * * 
'Most people would have thought the interstellar medium would have been smooth and quiet. But these shock waves seem to be more common than we thought,' said Don Gurnett, professor of physics at the University of Iowa. 
He presented the new data at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. 
A 'tsunami wave' occurs when the sun emits a coronal mass ejection, throwing out a magnetic cloud of plasma from its surface. This generates a wave of pressure.  
When the wave runs into the interstellar plasma - the charged particles found in the space between the stars - a shock wave results that perturbs the plasma and causes in to 'sing'. 
 'The tsunami causes the ionized gas that is out there to resonate -- 'sing' or vibrate like a bell,' said Ed Stone, project scientist for the Voyager mission based at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Seeing Life Through Racism Tinted Glasses

Michelle Obama claims that she suffered racism even as the First Lady because someone once asked for help to reach an item on a high shelf. From the Daily Mail:
She said that even when she went to Target as First Lady, a fellow shopper had asked her to get something from a shelf. 
Mrs Obama said: 'Even as the First Lady - during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf.'  
She added: 'These incidents in the black community, this is the regular course of life. These are the challenges that we still face as a country.' 
Holy crap! I'm not even black and I've been subject to the same racist behavior many, many times in my life. I used to think that people were asking me for assistance because I looked like someone that might help them, but now I know--thanks to Michelle Obama--that it was racism.

She didn't always believe this way. Weasel Zippers dug up this earlier description of the incident by Ms. Obama when she appeared on the David Letterman show in 2012:
OBAMA: “That’s my Target run! I went to Target. I thought I was undercover! I have to tell you something about this trip tough [sic].” 
LETTERMAN: “Uh-huh.” 
OBAMA: “No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right. I was in the detergent aisle. And she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, cover is blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not! (Applause) And the only thing she said, I reached up because she was short, and I reached up and pulled it down, and she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy!’ That was my interaction. I felt so good.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mass Killing at School In Pakistan

At least 140 children dead. The gunmen that stormed the school were Taliban--the same group that will soon be taking control of Afghanistan.

Just Liberals Showing Their True Colors

The Daily Mail reports that the effigies of black men and women hung around the University of California-Berkeley campus this past weekend was done by a group of artists, who say they are a "collective of queer black and (people of color) artists". What is it with the left and their love of mass execution?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rising Dollar Threatens Emerging Markets

You would think that the rising dollar would help China by making American goods more expensive and, thereby, Chinese goods more competitive. But the other side of the coin is that it raises the expense of paying back dollar denominated loans--loans which the Chinese thought would decrease in value, having bet on a declining dollar. From the American Thinker:
The U.S. Federal Reserve drastically cut interest rates for over a decade to weaken the U.S. dollar exchange rate in order to make American exports more competitive and foreign imports more expensive.  Cheap money and a depreciating currency incentivized emerging market companies to borrow 9.3 trillion in U.S. dollars.  But with the Fed eliminating quantitative easing and other stimulus, the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar is strengthening, and the cost for foreigners to pay back “dollar loans” is rising.  Strong dollar periods in the 1980s and 1990s caused emerging market financial crises.  With the dollar appreciating, trillions in emerging market “dollar loans” may default. 
From 2002 to 2012, the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar steadily declined by 38% as huge swaths of the domestic American economy were outsourced to contract manufacturers predominantly in China and other emerging markets.  Despite the Fed’s $5 trillion of bank liquidity offered at historically cheap interest rates, U.S. industrial loan demand tanked, and then real estate lending collapsed once the 2008 financial crisis hit.   
But with foreign companies desperate for cash and willing to pay high interest rates to fund a ramp-up of exports to the U.S., American banks, bond investors, and hedge funds loaned a record 2.3 trillion in dollars to foreign companies.  Taking advantage of the trillions of dollars of Fed liquidity sloshing around in global money markets, foreign banks and bond investors lent another $7 trillion in “dollar loans” to foreign companies.  At $9.3 trillion, foreign dollar loans exceed the entire GDP of China.   
Because foreign borrowers assumed that the United States' competitiveness would continue to be crushed by cheap emerging market labor, they also expected to book a future profit when they paid off their loans with depreciated U.S. dollars. 
But with the U.S. energy boom stimulating American economic competitiveness, the U.S. dollar has strengthened by 13% over the last two years, and the Fed has reduced its economic stimulus.  The stronger dollar means foreign companies, mostly in Asia, now owe another $1.2 trillion in U.S. dollars on top of the $9.3 trillion they borrowed!
Read the whole thing.

The Torture Report Doesn't Appear to Actually Describe Torture

The recent "torture" report from the House Democrats was issued to (a) draw attention away from Jonathan Gruber's recent testimony regarding Obama Care (pathetically, the same information was made public in 2009); and (b) a last attempt to paint Republicans as evil. Unfortunately, at least for the Democrats, is that about half of Americans seem okay with it.  More Americans would probably not care if they knew what was being considered torture.

Rolling Stone Magazine (not exactly known for objective or even accurate reporting, especially after the completely made up story about a gang rape at a UVa fraternity) lists the so-called tortures: (1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap (insult slap), (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in a confinement box, and (10) the waterboard.

So what are these? From a Wall Street Journal article:
“Attention grasp” – Grabbing a detainee forcibly by the collar. 
Cramped confinement – Place the detainee in a dark, tight space for hours at a time. 
Cramped confinement “with an insect” - Developed for Abu Zubaydah, a militant commander allegedly allied with Osama bin Laden. CIA officers learned Mr. Zubaydah was afraid of insects, so they sought permission to place him in a box with a harmless bug such as a caterpillar, while telling him it was a stinging insect. People familiar with the matter say this technique was approved but not used. 
Facial hold – Holding the detainee’s head immobile during questioning. 
Facial slap or “Insult Slap” – Slapping a detainee in the face “with fingers slightly spread.” “The goal of the facial slap is not to inflict physical pain” but “to induce shock, surprise, and/or humiliation,” Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee wrote. 
Sleep deprivation – A detainee is forced to go without sleep for more than 48 hours. “You have orally informed us that you would not deprive Zubaydah of sleep for more than 11 days at a time and that you have previously kept him awake for 72 hours,” Mr. Bybee wrote. 
Stress positions – Requiring the detainee to stay in uncomfortable positions to induce muscle fatigue. 
“Walling” – Pushing a detainee “quick and forcefully” against a flexible wall. “The false wall is in part constructed to create a loud sound when the individual hits it, which will further shock or surprise… the individual,” Mr. Bybee wrote for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2002. 
Wall standing – “Used to induce muscle fatigue.” The detainee is forced to stand about four feet from a wall, leaning so that his arms resting against the wall carry some of his weight. “The individual is not permitted to move or reposition his hands or feet,” Mr. Bybee wrote. 
Waterboarding – A detainee lying on a gurney has a cloth placed over his face. Water is poured on the cloth, simulating the experience of drowning.
Ann Coulter wrote a scathingly sarcastic article about these techniques in 2009. However, I would note that I suffered many of these growing up and none the worse for the wear: my father seemed fond of the attention grasp, facial hold, facial slap and walling, depending on the offense. And, of course, every police drama on TV features these "torture" techniques. My mother preferred the "cramped confinement"--"go to bed and don't get up 'til I tell you." I had some teachers sadistically use "wall standing" and "stress positions": e.g., "stand with your nose in the corner" or the worse "sit at your desk with your head down." The sleep deprivation, unfortunately, was generally self-induced, especially around the time term papers were due. Worse than the detainees, I was subjected to spankings at home and at school (the latter of which was so pitiful that, instead of causing pain, I almost burst out laughing).

A lot of attention is focused on water boarding, which apparently was only used on three individuals. describes the technique:
Restrain the interrogation subject on a board. Incline the board about 15-20 degrees so that the feet are above the head. Optionally, put a damp cloth over the face to keep the water clinging to the face (Khmer Rouge technique), or put plastic wrap over the mouth but not the eyes or nose to prevent water from escaping the throat and sinuses (CIA technique). Pour water onto the inclined face so that the water runs into the upturned mouth and nose. The water stays in the head, filling the throat, mouth, and sinuses with water. The lungs don't fill up with water so your prisoner doesn't asphyxiate, but they *do* feel their entire upper respiratory system from sinuses to trachea filled with water, "simulating drowning". You're drowning your subject from the inside, filling their head and neck. The lungs stay out of the water, keeping oxygen in the blood and prolonging the glubbing. "His sufferings must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown." Key points:
  • Keep the chest elevated above the head and neck to keep the lungs "above the waterline".
  • Incline the head, both to keep the throat open and to present the nostrils for easier filling.
  • Force the mouth open so that water can be poured into both the nose and mouth.
Saran wrap, damp cloth, or any facial covering is not essential, but sometimes used as a bonus multiplier. If someone coughs to try to blow the water out of their throat or mouth the plastic catches the water and keeps it in. The cloth or plastic also acts as a one-way valve, opening to let more air out and then closing again to prevent inhalation. Eventually you end up with collapsed, empty lungs, no ability to inhale more air, a throat, mouth, and nose that's still full of water, and no capacity to get the water out since you're already fully exhaled. 
Another issue that seems to have caught the attention of reporters is the rectal rehydration techniques, which has handedly been demonstrated by Bear Grylls:

So what is real torture? This piece from the Daily Mail describes some of ISIS' favorite techniques:

  • The ghost: The hands are tied behind their back with handcuffs, which are then used to suspend their bodies in the air. (aka, strappado)
  • The German chair: Victims are strapped to a chair whose back is adjusted abruptly at will to cause extreme spinal damage.
  • The flying carpet: Victims are strapped down to a hinged board. The ends are then brought towards each other to bend the spine.
  • The tyre: Victims are placed inside a large tyre - rendering them immobile - before they're mercilessly beaten

Don't forget the rapes. Muslims love to rape prisoners--men or women. I'm sure it more humiliating than forcing the prisoner to wear a diaper.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Are Social Services Too Generous?

The New York Times reports in an article entitled "The Vanishing Male Worker":
Frank Walsh still pays dues to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, but more than four years have passed since his name was called at the union hall where the few available jobs are distributed. Mr. Walsh, his wife and two children live on her part-time income and a small inheritance from his mother, which is running out. 
Sitting in the food court at a mall near his Maryland home, he sees that some of the restaurants are hiring. He says he can’t wait much longer to find a job. But he’s not ready yet. 
“I’d work for them, but they’re only willing to pay $10 an hour,” he said, pointing at a Chick-fil-A that probably pays most of its workers less than that. “I’m 49 with two kids — $10 just isn’t going to cut it.” 
As the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession, many of those men and women are eager to find work and willing to make large sacrifices to do so. Many others, however, are choosing not to work, according to a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll that provides a detailed look at the lives of the 30 million Americans 25 to 54 who are without jobs. 
Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment. 
At the same time, it has become harder for men to find higher-paying jobs. Foreign competition and technological advances have eliminated many of the jobs in which high school graduates like Mr. Walsh once could earn $40 an hour, or more. The poll found that 85 percent of prime-age men without jobs do not have bachelor’s degrees. And 34 percent said they had criminal records, making it hard to find any work. 
The resulting absence of millions of potential workers has serious consequences not just for the men and their families but for the nation as a whole. A smaller work force is likely to lead to a slower-growing economy, and will leave a smaller share of the population to cover the cost of government, even as a larger share seeks help. 
“They’re not working, because it’s not paying them enough to work,” said Alan B. Krueger, a leading labor economist and a professor at Princeton. “And that means the economy is going to be smaller than it otherwise would be.”
 * * *
For most unemployed men, life without work is not easy. In follow-up interviews, about two dozen men described days spent mostly at home, chewing through dwindling resources, relying on friends, strangers and the federal government. The poll found that 30 percent had used food stamps, while 33 percent said they had taken food from a nonprofit or religious group. 
They are unhappy to be out of work and eager to find new jobs. They are struggling both with the loss of income and a loss of dignity. Their mental and physical health is suffering. 
Yet 44 percent of men in the survey said there were jobs in their area they could get but were not willing to take.
 (Underline added). This is when it is appropriate to say: "Get a job!" I think of the jobs I worked (and that friends worked) to get through college, and this guy is too proud to work fast food.

You know, I would rather my tax dollars be spent on something like this...

CIA Defends Rectal Hydration

The Daily Mail reports:
The CIA's former director general has defended the use of rectal hydration on terror suspects following a series of damning revelations over the agency's interrogation methods on detainees following the September 11 attacks. 
Michael Hayden told CNN that the tactic was a legitimate 'medical procedure' used when detainees were dehydrated. 
He said the the decision to perform the invasive method of rehydration was made because giving them intravenous fluids with needles was too dangerous.
It may be a legitimate survival technique under some circumstances, as illustrated by Bear Grylls in the following video:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We Need to Ban Cars--For the Children

The Daily Mail reports:
Six people were seriously injured after an alleged female drunk driver lost control of her car, mounting a curb in midtown Manhattan and mowing down a group of Christmas shoppers. 
A witness said the driver of a Mustang convertible hit an SUV before driving into oncoming traffic, colliding with a vehicle before careering into more people on the sidewalk. 
There are unconfirmed reports that the crash left a little girl pinned under the vehicle.

If The Economy Is Improving, Why Don't I Feel Richer?

Probably one of the biggest factor behind the massive Democratic losses during the mid-terms is the simple fact that people still feel stuck in the recession--wages and, more importantly, disposable income are stagnant. Why? Well, here are probably a couple of reasons: 

The U.S. Treasury continued to rake in tax dollars at a record rate in November as the federal government closed out the first two months of fiscal 2015 with $404,155,000,000 in total receipts, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today. 
In constant 2014 dollars, this is the first time federal revenues have topped $400 billion in the first two months of the fiscal year.
Even if most of the income taxes come from the wealthy (or at least, the better off), that is still money that could have been used to grow a business that instead went into the federal coffers. And, notwithstanding all of the arguments that the bottom half of the income brackets don't pay income taxes, they still pay all sorts of other federal and state taxes: their half of the employment taxes (if they are employed), gasoline taxes and other excise taxes, etc.

Second, thanks to ObamaCare, you may not be getting a raise--the money for increased premiums need to come from somewhere.

American Fertility Reaches New Low

          Live Science reports:
The U.S. birth rate reached an all-time low in 2013, as the number of babies born in the country declined for the sixth straight year since the peak in 2007, a new report finds.
The country's birth rate dipped to 62.5 births per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 44, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That is 10 percent lower than the birth rate in 2007, which was 69.3 per 1,000 women, and a record low since the government started tracking birth rates in 1909, when birth rate was 126.8.
The real question is why the lower birth rates, and whether this is a long-term trend or only temporary.

          Although some researchers are candid enough to admit that they don't know the real reason for the continued decline, the recent plunge in birth rates is generally linked to the financial crises and recession. This Wall Street Journal article from 2012 reports:
 A steep decline in births among immigrant women hard hit by the recent recession is the driving force behind the record low U.S. birthrate, according to the Pew Research Center. 
The annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 dropped 8% in the U.S. from 2007 to 2010 to 64 births per 1,000, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew center. The U.S. birthrate peaked during the baby boom, at 122.7 in 1957. 
Immigrant women, both legal and illegal, still have a higher birthrate than the U.S. population as a whole. Yet the rate for foreign-born women dropped 14% between 2007 and 2010, to 87.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, compared with a 6% decline for U.S.-born women, to 58.9 births. The birthrate plunged 19% for immigrants of Hispanic origin during that period; among Mexicans, the largest group among Hispanics, the rate plunged 23%. 
... The U.S. birthrate has declined during major economic crises in the past, including the Great Depression in the 1930s and the oil shock of the 1970s. Birthrates, which have reliable records dating back to 1920, have historically bounced back after economic conditions improved. 
Over the long term, nations tend to see their birthrates decline as they become more prosperous, a trend that can threaten that prosperity. When low fertility is coupled with low mortality, the result is an aging society with a high proportion of elderly people and relatively fewer workers to support them, a situation that Japan and many European countries face. Overall U.S. fertility has remained around the replacement level, owing to the large number of immigrants it attracts. 
The total fertility rate in 2012 is estimated at 1.39 children per woman in Japan and 1.40 in Italy, compared with 2.06 in the U.S., according to the Central Intelligence Agency, which compiles world data.
This May 2014 article from CBC News still focuses on tight finances as the reason for an overall global decline in births. It states:
The drop in birth rates is rooted in the 1960s, when many women entered the workforce for the first time and couples decided to have smaller families. Births did begin rising in many countries in the new millennium. But then the financial crisis struck. Stocks and home values plummeted, blowing a hole in household finances, and tens of millions of people lost jobs. Many couples delayed having children or decided to have none at all. 
Couples in the world's five biggest developed economies — the United States, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom — had 350,000 fewer babies in 2012 than in 2008, a drop of nearly 5 per cent. The United Nations forecasts that women in those countries will have an average 1.7 children in their lifetimes. Demographers say the fertility rate needs to reach 2.1 just to replace people dying and keep populations constant.
 And now, reporting on this most recent CDC report, the New York Times likewise blames the economy:
According to the report, the general fertility rate in the United States — the average number of babies women from 15 to 44 bear over their lifetime — dropped to a record low last year, to 1.86 babies, well below the 2.1 needed for a stable population. For every 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, there were 62.5 births in 2013, compared with 63 the previous year. 
The decline is especially notable because the number of women in their prime childbearing years, 20 to 39, has been growing since 2007. 
Some demographers said the numbers were not cause for concern. 
“Americans haven’t worried much about birthrates in the past, because we have the faucet of immigration to turn on and off,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a family demographer at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s a bigger problem in Europe, where countries like Germany and Spain have much lower rates. And even at 1.8, we’re in the ballpark with the highest rates in Europe.” 
American women’s rates of childlessness, he said, will probably become comparable to those of the Great Depression, when about one-fifth of women did not have children.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, also related the fertility rates to the economy.
“On just about every demographic indicator involving young adults, whether it’s marriage, buying a home or delaying childbearing, it’s all been on hold since the beginning of the recession,” he said. “I think it’ll come back up, and each time new numbers are coming out, I think maybe this will be the moment.”
The economy may have exacerbated a decline, and it is possible that the decline would rebound slightly if the economy were to improve, but I don't think we will see it rise back to 2.1--in fact, I would be surprised if it rose above 1.9 even if the economy had a strong rebound.

There are several factors in play here. Fertility rates have been falling for a long time in the United States, mirroring similar declines in Europe, Japan, and other industrialized nations. In 1800, the average woman bore 7 children during her lifetime; in 1900, fertility had fallen to 4 children per woman; and to about 2 per woman in 2000. There are probably multiple reasons for the decline, but as David Goldman notes in How Civilizations Die, "[i]n the industrial world today, a prospective child has to compete against material pleasures, and the child is losing the competition." In other words, children are no longer a necessity, but a luxury.

Related to this is that more women are choosing to postpone having children, and that means having fewer children or none at all. It isn't just that a woman's fertility declines (although that is an issue), but the financial wherewithal also declines. Goldman notes that families go into debt to have and raise children, and so the later that a couple starts a family, the less time they have to pay off that debt and begin saving for retirement. Many woman delay having children to accomodate college or a career. (See also here).

You will notice that I said that "women are choosing to postpone having children." That is typically how the issue is framed in the media because of the inherent bias toward woman having sole control over when to have children. I used the phrase deliberately because it represents a factor that is rarely discussed: that men are losing interest in relationships. Although the U.S. is behind this trend as well, it is becoming well established in other industrial nations. In examining Japan's dramatic demographic collapse (it is expected to lose 1/3 of its population within the next 50 years), a surprising fact turned up--young Japanese are not interested in sex. A third of Japanese men under 40 have never dated a woman45 percent of Japanese women and 25 percent of men, ages 16 to 24, are "not interested in or despised sexual contact"; and 49 percent of unmarried women and 61 of unmarried men, ages 18 to 34, are not in any kind of romantic relationship. In the U.K., fewer than 1.5% of men under 25 are married; and less than half of adults are married. It would be easy to suggest that this is an issue with women, but while women control the intimacy in a relationship, men control commitment; and this, at heart, is largely an issue of commitment.

There is evidence that some of this is men simply giving up on a feminist world. Writing at Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos recently observed:
"In school, boys are screwed over time and again. Schools are engineered for women. In the US, they force-feed boys Ritalin like Skittles to shut them up. And while girls are favoured to fulfil quotas, men are slipping into distant second place. 
"Nobody in my generation believes they're going to get a meaningful retirement. We have a third or a quarter of the wealth previous generations had, and everyone's fleeing to higher education to stave off unemployment and poverty because there are no jobs.
"All that wouldn't be so bad if we could at least dull the pain with girls. But we're treated like paedophiles and potential rapists just for showing interest. My generation are the beautiful ones," he sighs, referring to a 1960s experiment on mice that supposedly predicted a grim future for the human race. 
After overpopulation ran out of control, the female mice in John Calhoun's "mouse universe" experiment stopped breeding, and the male mice withdrew from the company of others entirely, eating, sleeping, feeding and grooming themselves but doing little else. They had shiny coats, but empty lives. 
"The parallels are astounding," says Rupert.
* * * 
Never before in history have relations between the sexes been so fraught with anxiety, animosity and misunderstanding. To radical feminists, who have been the driving force behind many tectonic societal shifts in recent decades, that's a sign of success: they want to tear down the institutions and power structures that underpin society, never mind the fall-out. Nihilistic destruction is part of their road map. 
But, for the rest of us, the sight of society breaking down, and ordinary men and women being driven into separate but equal misery, thanks to a small but highly organised group of agitators, is distressing. Particularly because, as increasing numbers of social observers are noticing, an entire generation of young people—mostly men—are being left behind in the wreckage of this social engineering project. 
Social commentators, journalists, academics, scientists and young men themselves have all spotted the trend: among men of about 15 to 30 years old, ever-increasing numbers are checking out of society altogether, giving up on women, sex and relationships and retreating into pornography, sexual fetishes, chemical addictions, video games and, in some cases, boorish lad culture, all of which insulate them from a hostile, debilitating social environment created, some argue, by the modern feminist movement.

You can hardly blame them. Cruelly derided as man-children and crybabies for objecting to absurdly unfair conditions in college, bars, clubs and beyond, men are damned if they do and damned if they don't: ridiculed as basement-dwellers for avoiding aggressive, demanding women with unrealistic expectations, or called rapists and misogynists merely for expressing sexual interest.
Some of the men he interviewed expressed fear of marriage because of divorce laws that favor women over men. He writes:
Jack Donovan, a writer based in Portland who has written several books on men and masculinity, each of which has become a cult hit, says the phenomenon is already endemic among the adult population. "I do see a lot of young men who would otherwise be dating and marrying giving up on women," he explains, "Or giving up on the idea of having a wife and family. This includes both the kind of men who would traditionally be a little awkward with women, and the kind of men who aren't awkward with women at all. 
"They've done a cost-benefit analysis and realised it is a bad deal. They know that if they invest in a marriage and children, a woman can take all of that away from them on a whim. So they use apps like Tinder and OK Cupid to find women to have protected sex with and resign themselves to being 'players,' or when they get tired of that, 'boyfriends.'" 
He goes on: "Almost all young men have attended mandatory sexual harassment and anti-rape seminars, and they know that they can be fired, expelled or arrested based more or less on the word of any woman. They know they are basically guilty until proven innocent in most situations."
The result is that rather than being a rewarding experience, marriage increasingly makes men feel trappedMen see fewer positives to marriage in almost any aspect, whether it be sex, money, or socializing. Not surprisingly, a Pew Research study that was released last year showed that among American young adults, 27% of men say they do not want to get married versus only 8% of women.

Because of the foregoing, having children has become an act of faith--literally. Demographers have noticed that the religious have more children than those of little or no religious faith. (See here and here, for instance).

The thesis of Goldman's book is that birth rates below replacement demonstrate a society or civilization that is dying. Dying societies may act unpredictably--faced with no future, they are more willing to take risks. And the problem is that most countries are facing rapid declines in population in the coming decades, and all countries will have declining populations after the mid-century. Declining birth rates will lead to international instability and war.

Related Posts: America's Demographic CliffDemographic Winter Hits U.S.; Demographic Decline in the U.S.; Putin is the Sane OneJapan's Population Continues to DeclineLoss of Faith in the Future Behind Iran's Falling Birthrates?The Far East's Demographic DeclineLack of Babies Could Mean End of JapaneseSlate: "World Population May Actually Start Declining..." More On Declining Birth Rates in the U.S.; "Demographic Winter"; "The Single Nation".

Related Links: "The Role of Infanticide and Abortion in Pagan Rome's Decline"; "No Babies? Declining Population in Europe"; "Empty Cradles, Demographic Destiny, and the Death of the West"; "What's Really Behind Europe's Decline? It's The Birth Rates, Stupid".

Monday, December 8, 2014

Should Have Been An Evolution in Action Moment

Protesters block Amtrak train in Berkeley (from Weasel Zippers)

Obama's B.S. Concern His Children Will Suffer From Racism

President Barack Obama got unusually personal during an interview about race relations that aired Monday night on BET.

The president spoke about his experiences as a young black man and opened up about concerns he has about the way his daughters, Sasha and Malia, and future grandsons could be treated in society because of their skin color.

'I want my children to be seen as the individuals that they are, and I want them to be judged based on the content of their character and their behavior and their talents and their gifts,' he told BET's Jeff Johnson.

'I don't want them to be objects of fear simply because of misguided attitudes.'
This from a man whose has benefited from racism his whole life--affirmative action, white guilt, etc. He wouldn't have been elected president if Americans hadn't been so excited about electing a "black" man. What a putz. He wants his children to benefit from being among the black elite.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Michelle Obama Warns that Small Number of Students are Getting Every Advantage

From CNS News:
Speaking at a "college opportunity summit" on Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama described "two worlds" of college-bound students:

"[T]he fact is that right now, a small number of students are getting every advantage in the college admissions race, while millions of other students who are just as talented can't even begin to compete."
Sort of rich coming from a person who only got to attend an elite university because of her skin color, thereby displacing someone who deserved to attend.

Anyway, "a small number of students" is code language for Oriental students.