How's That Again?
Let's see if I understand this Powerline post. First, they agree with John Yoo:
Add up all the recent scandals and the message is clear: the Obama administration is showing that it cannot be trusted with the basic functions of government: law enforcement (surveillance of reporters), taxation (IRS scandals), and national security (Benghazi).
This is followed by:
How, then, can we trust the administration when it comes to immigration — an area in which it already has refused to enforce portions of the law that it doesn’t like?
Are they saying that we cannot trust this government and therefore it should do more? I thought that was an OWS slogan.
An Inadvertently-Informative Study
A much-quoted recent study found that:
In 2008, 53 percent of all households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) with one or more children under age 18 used at least one welfare program, compared to 36 percent for native households with children. Immigrant use of welfare tends to be much higher than natives for food assistance programs and Medicaid. Use of cash and housing programs tends to be very similar to natives. A large share of the welfare used by immigrants is received on behalf of their U.S.-born children. But even households with children comprised entirely of immigrants still have a welfare use rate of 47 percent.
The above figures come from an analysis of the public use file of the March 2009 Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau. The survey asks about use of welfare programs in the calendar year prior to the survey. The eight major welfare programs reported above are SSI (Supplemental Security Income for low-income elderly and disabled), TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), WIC (Women Infants and Children food program), free school lunch, food stamps (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid (health insurance for those with low incomes), public housing, and rent subsidies.
Let us now apply the “Bloggs Test” (last used here
to bash a study that praised liberal atheists):
- Figure out what Joe Bloggs (an average reader) would conclude from the report. If the report was strongly stated, it was probably either written by an activist who was trying to get people to believe that conclusion or by someone who based it on the activists' press releases. (In this case, Joe Bloggs would conclude that immigrants are parasites.)
- Determine the strongest potential piece of evidence that would point in the same direction. If that evidence were true, the report would have mentioned it. (In this case, it would be a report that immigrants are major users of the two biggest Federal welfare programs: Social Security and Medicare.)
- In the absence of such evidence being mentioned, conclude that it doesn't exist.
In other words, we can conclude from this inadvertently-informative study that immigrants are less likely to receive Social Security and Medicare than natives.
By the way, the other ignorant army claims the Bloggs Test can be used for improving scores on standardized tests, which they regard as somehow unfair.
Wireworld and Fractals
If you set up a Wireworld universe that's all wire and then put a pulse in the middle, you can get some interesting-looking fractal patterns. I'll have to expand on this on my Netcom/Earthlink site; it's too much for a blog post.
THe IRS Scandal: What Were They Thinking?
Somehow, I don't think they were thinking “Let's crush civil liberties!” I think this was a consequence of a widespread belief in some quarters that conservatism is a matter of following leaders. As a result, they tried tracking down the leaders. They figured that if Tea Partiers are “a dime a dozen,” someone had to be supplying the dimes.
Were the Victorians Cleverer Than Us?
The news that at least one scientific article claimed that there was a decline in general intelligence since 1889 looks like it will become one of those “facts” that's passed from one hereditarian conservative to another without coming in contact with reality. (It's already started.)
When you look at the actual article, you will notice that it's based on something correlated with IQ (namely reaction times) instead of problem solving. You will also notice that there wasn't a smooth change in reaction times but instead they were hopping up and down with a fast reaction-time outlier at the start. The variation was not much lessened by increasing sample size. I suspect that minor differences in experimental protocol had more of an effect than any change in general intelligence. (I've noticed that my reaction times, as measured by my scores on Inkball, are much slower at 3:00 AM than 3:00 PM.) I won't more than mention that reaction times are correlated with athletic success as well as academic success …
Strong Men and Politics
The news that upper body strength in males is sometimes correlated with opposition to left-wing schemes has been going around the dextrosphere. For some reason, my fellow wingnuts don't seem to notice this is limited to upper-class men (as the actual paper indicates). Apparently, that would interfere with their Narrative that testosterone is the cause of all that's good.
If this correlation is due to men who work out more (or just plain work more) instead of testosterone, perhaps the decline of New Deal politics was due to the decline of work for the proverbial “burly men.” Maybe we don't want to subsidize that.
By the way, what's with all the blog posts repeating the conclusion without citing the original paper? I thought that was an environmentalist habit.
He Has the Words But Not the Music
The latest tactic of at least one copyright troll is to pretend to be a conservative under attack by liberals. Speaking as a right-wing crackpot, all I have to say is that he's not fooling us. Maybe he can fool a slime mold…
The IRS Shenanigans and the Dorsai Series
According to Joe Klein (explaining why a scandal caused by subordinates not given direct orders is supposedly not that serious):
The most important difference is that the Roosevelt and Nixon IRS depredations came from the White House. This mess seems to have percolated from the middle–the IRS’s Cincinnati office (a major facility, by the way)–up to the upper-middle.
I'm reminded of the end of Tactics of Mistake by Gordon Dickson
, in which General Cletus Grahame doesn't have to give detailed orders because his subordinates were so well trained.
News You Can Use
Henley's Twentieth century formulas is now online.
The recipe for gunpowder is on p. 328. (Does this count as an ITAR violation?)
What Financiers Do, Explained in Terms a Leftist Can Understand
They're community organizers.
The difference between them and the people usually called “community organizers” is that they're more likely to use feedback (in the form of prices) to determine what's useful and what's wasteful. Even when community organizers listen to the communities they're supposedly organizing (and sometimes they don't even do that), the bandwidth provided by prices is much greater than that provided by words.
On the other hand, sometimes they don't do that very well. You can tell when that happens because they ask for bailouts.
Social Science vs. Social Science
Rich Thau and Celeste Gregory are recommending that conservatives follow liberals in harnessing social science the way liberals harnessed social science in the Obama campaign. There is a minor problem with this. The social science used by the Obama campaign was based on large samples. The alleged social science published by academics frequently isn't. Maybe we should follow them by doing our own social science. (We should not follow their habit of keeping the results secret.)
Question about Congessbeing Lamar Smith
Is this a false-flag operation? I thought people that arrogant were all Democrats.
Addendum: I've got it! Congressbeing Smith is actually a slime mold!
The Ethnicity of the Wizard of Id
The Most Self-Congratulatory Paragraph on the Internet
… can be found here:
This expression indicates an American’s confusion and lack of understanding. When confronted with something he can not understand or respond to, Americans mumble, “Muh Freedoms” or “Muh Freedoms mu#^&@(er.” This is usually followed by clapping and stuffing their faces with burgers.
You will, of course, note that there is no actual argument to understand or respond to.
You Can't Throw Up Here; You Can Only Throw Out
It isn't as easy to vomit in space as you might think.
The title of this entry came from “201 Minutes of a Space Idiocy” in Mad Magazine as did the following quote: “If you don't mind staring at it in mid-air for hours!”
How Fat Is Schrödinger's Cat?
The above question is being asked. I have already answered it: Schrödinger's cat has to mass less than a Planck mass. Above a Planck mass, it is always observed.
My Guess about the Long-Term Effect of the Gay-Marriage Controversy
There will be little effect.
“Families” that don't produce that many children won't pass their memes on to the next generation.
A century from now gay marriage might be seen as an obvious irrelevancy that was not even worth opposing. As I have said before:
As for whether we should pay attention, if medical research stagnates the anti-natalists will disappear. On the other hand, if cryonics actually pays off we might have them to kick around forever. At first, they will be outvoted in elections and outbid in decision markets. Later they will be ignored completely as they become an infinitesimal fraction of the population.
The above reasoning explains why traditional religions allowed the elderly to get married even though many of the arguments against gay marriage might apply there. Old marriage was not worth opposing.
What a Child Might Say a Generation after Small Teleportation Devices Are Invented
“Grandpa, what were toilets?”
I was inspired by a recent article on 10 Terrible Tech Frustrations My Toddler Will Never Have. The development of small teleportation devices that can fit inside a bladder or colon would explain why characters in SF stories almost never have to go to the bathroom.
A Theory about the Lack of Terrorism for a Decade and Its Recent Revival
If there is a welfare–terrorism connection, could the relative lack of terrorist acts for most of the past decade be due the welfare reform of nineties? Could the recent revival be due to President Obama's attempts to undo the welfare reform? Maybe preventing terrorism is as simple as cutting budgets.
ObSF: “One hundred percent of nothing, and that is the secret of this crisis.”—Hober Mallow in Foundation by Isaac Asimov.
The Rich Are Exploiting the Poor!
The rich are exploiting the poor!
The rich are exploiting the poor!
Okay. Now the rich will ignore the poor.
What Paperclip Maximizers Are Really After …
A Note to Gun-Control Supporters
After Sandy Hook, you sounded just like this.
Uncle and Nephews
On the one hand, we see a law-abiding uncle, Ruslan Tsarnaev, who's willing to condemn terrorist bombs even from relatives and, on the other hand, we see his nephews, Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who apparently sent off the terrorist bombs. Maybe we should see that they had in common and how they differed.
What they had in common: Uncle: Muslim immigrant from the Caucasus; nephews: Muslim immigrants from the Caucasus. How they differed: Uncle: did not attend American schools; nephews: attended American schools. Maybe the schools were the problem.
I suspect that anti-American ideology in public school is more dangerous than anywhere else because, at least as far as youngsters are concerned, school is the Voice of the Establishment. If the Establishment says the Establishment is wrong…
Addendum: On the other hand, sometimes schools teach courses I approve.
Population Size and the Higher Education Bubble
In Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience, Kenneth Wachter wrote:
Small interstellar bands, below 500 persons, would certainly need to cultivate values that would recruit larger proportions of the young into learned studies than any past societies that come readily to mind.
This is needed in order to pass on an intellectual tradition. Without the tradition, any books that they have will not be understood. (ObSF: Earth Abides
by George Stewart, in which in the aftermath of a population-annihilating disease, there is only one youngster in the San Francisco area with academic inclinations and abilities and when he dies, the plan to revive civilization has to be cancelled. I'd like to know what's going on in New York, where there might be a half dozen scholars.)
This might apply in the other direction. A large population might need a far smaller proportion of scholars. Present day scholar recruitment (including the idea that the most prestigious job is that of training more scholars) might have been more appropriate to smaller populations.
Excessively Simple Technology
I've recently been asked to come up with ways to simplify my company's workflow. If you're someone with common sense, you might come up with something useful. If you're me, you start reading up on simpler technology, which leads to reading up on simpler computers, which leads to reading about Reduced Instruction Set Computers, which leads to One Instruction Set Computers. One of these devices even has a C compiler.
Maybe I should backtrack a little.
A Question about the Gosnell Case
Wasn't legalized abortion supposed to prevent this “back-alley” activity?
Not as Creepy as It Looks
This Is Nothing New
Melissa Harris-Perry's recent statement “that kids belong to whole communities” (criticized here here and all over the dextrosphere) is being treated as though it were something new. It isn't. We saw the same nonsense openly expressed over three decades ago and it's almost certainly older.
By the way, the reason that children do not belong to the state isn't that they belong to their parents; it's that they belong to themselves.
Why Dictators Are a Very Bad Idea
A recent IO9 article on “The Perfect Health Regimen that Only an Absolute Dictator Could Impose” accidentally explains why absolute dictators are a very bad idea. The article starts with a routine invocation of the Nanny State and then turns worse:
Most of us know a bunch of simple rules to improve our health — and most of us don't follow them at all. A few people do eat five to ten servings of local organic fruit and vegetables every day…
Stop there. There is little evidence to show that organic food is healthy (it's more a matter of pretending to eat healthy) and no evidence to show local food is healthy. That little phrase should have been enough to predict that the rest of the article would be a matter of reporting dubious studies that haven't been checked properly.
An absolute dictator is someone with the power to impose his/her/its/whatever ideas without regard for whether or not they make sense and to repress any criticism of them.
If Poets Are the Unacknowledged Legislators of the World …
… what would a revolt against such rulers be like?
Is it time for a Literary Spring?
Based on Pleas from the Nation's Comedians …
Even the Nostalgia Is Old
I was about to comment that the clearest sign that the Left is a tired movement is that it has been reduced to being nostalgic. Then I realized that even Leftist nostalgia is decades old.
Will there be an OWS movie in the 2050s?