Sunday, May 30, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
It begins with Matthew Yglesias noting on his blog a strange looking statistic in a Foreign Affairs piece:
This Foreign Policy article on Steig Larsson and the decline of the Swedish utopia concludes with what seems to me to be a whopper of a factual error:If you look at the statistics, Sweden is not a particularly violent country, nor a particularly lenient one to criminals. It is in about the middle of the European averages for both figures. There were 230 homicides in Sweden in 2009, compared with 143 in Washington, D.C., which has a population a bit more than half Sweden’s size. But compare these figures to what they were in the years when Sweden looked like a utopia. In 1990, there were 120 homicides in Sweden, and 472 in Washington. There is a convergence here that doesn’t flatter Sweden.In fact, there are 9.3 million people in Sweden and only 600,000 in Sweden. In other words, Sweden has about fifteen times the population of Washington DC and less than half the murders.
Wow, the author of the Foreign Affairs piece, Andrew Brown, got the population of Washington wrong by a factor of fifteen?!? What a maroon, right?
Well, wrong. The fact the numbers Brown presents (something over 4.65 million for DC) are so different from the actual population of the District of Columbia should have been a clue that we has citing another statistic, and, of course, that is exactly what Brown was doing. Brown used some version of the Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2009 was estimated at a little over 5.4 million for Washington DC. As a result Yglesias, more interested in playing "gotcha!" than doing a little thinking and research, really doesn't help us understand what is going on here.
Picking up on Yglesias, Balloon Juice manages to be even more unhelpful:
If I had written or edited this article, I would right now be deciding between suicide and a career change. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true.
You mean such as writing something about demography without, seemingly, knowledge of a basic demographic measure (i.e. the Metropolitan Statistical Area)? Good luck with your suicide decision Mr. Balloon Juice.
Now, to be fair to Yglesias he does acknowledge his error, at least to a point. At some point after he wrote his initial posting he added:
It seems clear that the author of the piece meant to refer to the population of the overall Washington DC metropolitan area but if that's what he wants to talk about then he needs to add up the total number of murders in that area.
Gee, if it is so "clear" why didn't you mention that in your initial writing on the matter?
Now, to be sure, Brown did make an error in his piece in using the murder statistics for the city of Washington DC instead of for the MSA. From what I can tell, the F.B.I. has not released the relevant statistics for 2009 yet, so I cannot find out what the actual murder numbers should be for the Washington MSA for 2009. In 2008, the rate was 7.5 per 100,000. Using the 2009 population estimate that would give us roughly 405 murders in the DC MSA for 2009.
But let us remember, Brown's original point was that the murders numbers were converging over time. Are they?
Using the HUD USER demographic data I can see that in 1992 the murder rate in the Washington MSA was 15.7. Alright, using the MSA 1990 census data the population of the DC MSA was 4.1 million. This would make the numbers of murders for the MSA in 1990 be roughly, 644, while in 2009 there were 405. The homicide rate decreased 37%. In 1990 Sweden had a population of right around 8 million and 120 homicides were committed. In 2009 the numbers were 9.3 million and 230. This means the homicide rate increased 167%. So, the convergence is real, if not of the magnitude that Brown implies.
So, yes, Brown screwed up, but so did Yglesias.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
On a July afternoon in 2006, Patrick Hale microwaved a bag of popcorn for his two young children and sat down with them to watch television. When he got up to change the channel, he heard a strange noise behind him, and turned to see his 23-month-old daughter, Allison, turning purple and unable to breathe.
As a Marine, he was certified in CPR, but he could not dislodge the popcorn with blows to her back and finger swipes down her throat. He called 911, but it was too late: by the time Allison arrived at the hospital, her heart had stopped beating. An autopsy found that she had inhaled pieces of popcorn into her vocal cords, her bronchial tubes and a lung.
"Neither one of us knew that popcorn was unsafe," said her mother, Christie Hale of Keller, Texas.
Look, I'm sorry about the loss of this child in this freak accident, but of course popcorn is "safe." It simply isn't meant to be inhaled. Neither are grapes, mashed potatoes, chewing gum, or any other food item that children could ingest.
Here is the list of items they want to label:
...hot dogs, peanuts, carrots, boned chicken, candy, meat, popcorn, fish with bones, sunflower seeds and apples.
But, of course, these are mentioned because they are very common foods, so we would probably want to also label any foods akin to hot dogs, peanuts, carrots, boned chicken, candy, meat, popcorn, fish with bones, sunflower seeds or apples, which would basically cover all non-Jello forms of sustenance.
Though I bet, if inhaled, one could drown in Jello, so you better slap a label on that as well.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
The BBC has gone all breathless again: Texas schools to get controversial syllabus
Education officials in the US state of Texas have adopted new guidelines to the school curriculum which critics say will politicise teaching.
The changes include teaching that the United Nations could be a threat to American freedom, and that the Founding Fathers may not have intended a complete separation of church and state.
Critics say the changes are ideological and distort history, but proponents argue they are redressing a long-standing liberal bias in education.
OMG "Critics" don't like it? What ever shall we do?
Let's see what those evil "political" conservatives have in store for the poor unsuspecting children of Texas!
Thomas Jefferson has been dropped from a list of enlightenment thinkers in the world-history curriculum, despite being one of the Founding Fathers who is credited with developing the idea that church and state should be separate.
OMG! They've taken out Jefferson! Now they won't learn about him in the World History section! Those evil conniving bastards! Where will our children learn about Jefferson!!!
What's that? They will learn about Jefferson in American History? (Taken from the Proposals for Social Science Education in High Schools):
(1) History. The student understands how constitutional government, as developed in America and expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution, has been influenced by ideas, people, and historical documents. The student is expected to:
(A) explain major political ideas in history, including the laws of nature and nature's God, unalienable rights, divine right of kings, social contract theory, and the rights of resistance to illegitimate government;
(B) identify major intellectual, philosophical, political, and religious traditions that informed the American founding, including Judeo-Christian (especially biblical law), English common law and constitutionalism, Enlightenment, and republicanism, as they address issues of liberty, rights, and responsibilities of individuals;
(C) identify the individuals whose principles of laws and government institutions informed the American founding documents, including those of Moses, William Blackstone, John Locke, and Charles de Montesquieu;
(D) identify the contributions of the political philosophies of the Founding Fathers, including John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Jay, George Mason, Roger Sherman, and James Wilson, on the development of the U.S. government;
(E) examine debates and compromises that impacted the creation of the founding documents; and
(F) identify significant individuals in the field of government and politics, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.
So, high school students are only supposed to be able to identify the political philosophy of Jefferson, but also Jefferson the President as well. See?!?!? Evil!!!! Just look how kids in Texas will be deprived of Jefferson's many accomplishments outside of the United States, such as... um... let's see... such as... hmm.. OH! I know, such as his banging his slave while he was in France! This would be useful to fulfill the part of the proposal that calls for teachers to "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society." Conservatives have always been trying to sell that "institutional racism" angle, right?
Alright, so maybe Jefferson is still in the curriculum, but I'm sure the BBC has other reasons to know it is evil!
Students in Texas will now be taught the benefits of US free-market economics and how government taxation can harm economic progress.
OMG!! The students of Texas will be expected to know how the economy works in this country!! But... but... but... if they learn that they could become competent adults who can fend for themselves! What bias!! Who will be there to teach them the joys of sponging off of wealthier people?
Throughout social studies in Kindergarten-Grade 12, students build a foundation in history; geography; economics; government; citizenship; culture; science, technology, and society; and social studies skills. The content, as appropriate for the grade level or course, enables students to understand the importance of patriotism, function in a free enterprise society, and appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation...
But how will they be instructed in the beauties of neo-Marxism, if they are being brain-washed with all this "free market" and "democracy" stuff?
(14) Social institutions. The student identifies the basic social institutions of economics and politics and explains their influence on society. The student is expected to:(A) define and differentiate between the economic models of free enterprise and socialism and how they impact society;
(18) Economics. The student understands the historic origins of contemporary economic systems. The student is expected to:(A) identify the historic origins and characteristics of the free enterprise system, including the contributions of Adam Smith;
(B) identify the historic origins and characteristics of communism, including the influences of Karl Marx;
(C) identify the historic origins and characteristics of socialism;
Once again, this shows bias because by teaching the kids about the free market as well they might make comparisons that are unflattering to socialism!! The evil bastards!
That's all I can do. I'm literally all out of snark. This BBC story is so stupid and insipid it depleted it right quick.
I'll just add this in case I get some of the more dimwitted dropping by here: I teach political theory at the college level, and I assure you Jefferson is almost never discussed in a Western Political Thought course anywhere in the country. In an American Political Thought class, absolutely, but never in a class focusing on world thinkers. From a generic political theory perspective Jefferson simply isn't that important. Besides, John Locke and John Stuart Mill are far more important if you are discussing the origins of religious freedom and the importance of the freedom of individual conscience. All of this hand-wringing is the work of political hacks, and nothing more. That these hacks are masquerading as journalists is another problem for the republic. ("Oh he called the United States a 'republic'! Quick!! Get the PC police on the line! We have an unbeliever!!")
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I'm speechless: "You Lied to Me, Jew Producer": Comedy Central Shocker
Currently appearing on Comedy Central's website is a game called "I.S.R.A.E.L. Attack!". The premise of this game has nothing to do with Israel and, as such, is nothing more than an insidious attempt at association. The game's introduction begins with a character who states:You lied to me, Jew Producer
referring to a character who has failed to carry out a mission to destroy other child-like cartoon characters. If this piece of anti-Semitism isn't bad enough, a robot - the Intelligent Smart Robot Animation Eraser Lady - is sent to do the job that the Jew Producer failed to achieve.
The character openly calls the robot by its acronym - ISRAEL - and the association created by those behind this game is unmistakable - Israel the child killer.
The game then involves the robot destroying everything and everyone in its path, including children and animals.
It's textbook, if the textbook you are followng is Mein Kampf.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The MSA is a bunch of moral degenerates.
I've noticed over at Memeorandum that 14 other blogs are listed as talking about this particular video. All 14 of them are right of center blogs.
The Left in this country is seriously starting to scare me. When will enough be enough for them?
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Good God. The problem with the "intellectual" left as a class in this country is they are a rather dimwitted bunch. The latest installment of their attempt to "theorize" occurs in Mark Lilla latest "essay," The Tea Party Jacobins. A full fledged fisking is beyond my current time constraints, and far beyond the merit of Lilla's feeble broadside, but it will be instructive to look at the symptoms of intellectual decay it displays.
Let's start with its patrician air:
A new strain of populism is metastasizing before our eyes, nourished by the same libertarian impulses that have unsettled American society for half a century now. Anarchistic like the Sixties, selfish like the Eighties, contradicting neither, it is estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that. This is the one threat that will bring Americans into the streets....
My own view is that we need to take [this supposed new populism] even more seriously... we need to see it as a manifestation of deeper social and even psychological changes that the country has undergone in the past half-century. Quite apart from the movement’s effect on the balance of party power, which should be short-lived, it has given us a new political type: the antipolitical Jacobin. The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing—and unwarranted—confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.
At least this has the virtue of wearing Lilla's feelings of revulsion towards the American people on his sleeve.
But, maybe Lilla is going to make a nuanced argument here. Maybe, he will argue for something like a pragmatic renaissance that will guide politics based upon some connection with reality.
No such luck. Lilla is a utopian thinker. You know, like Stalin.
The new American populism is not, by and large, directed against immigrants. Its political target is an abstract noun, “the government,” which has been a source of disenchantment since the late Sixties. In Why Trust Matters, Marc Hetherington uncovers the astonishing fact that in 1965 nearly half of Americans believed that the War on Poverty would “help wipe out poverty”—a vote of confidence in our political institutions unimaginable today. The failure of the Great Society programs to meet the high expectations invested in them was a major source of disappointment and loss of confidence.
Got that? The "War on Poverty" failed only because high expectations were not met, and not because the goal itself was unattainable. You see, the Lillas of the world have ideological fervor which informs them that if the "War on Poverty" failed it was because we failed to will it into being and nothing else. Utopia is ours to be had as long as we subsume the individual into the collective, mostly by deferring to the elites (like Lilla) and by disregarding "special interests" (which would include the interests of ordinary, i.e. "stupid," individuals.)
Now, what do you call someone who blindly holds onto such an ideological vision as Lilla's? Well, it has a long historical pedigree. It arose first out of the political philosophy of Rousseau, who taught that the General Will was always directed towards the common good. Thus any individual who differed from the General Will was guilty of promoting nothing but their inferior particular will. As the General Will was equated with the "truth" this meant that those who didn't support them were guilty of promoting falsehood. These fools were the one who had to be "forced to be free" by the virtuous. The virtuous were those who "knew" the truth about the General Will, and were largely made up of a self-appointed intellectual elite. At all cost the "truth" as promulgated by the "virtuous" had to be preserved, even if this called for the elimination of the recalcitrant. This eventually murderous elite were the real Jacobins, born out of a perversion of liberalism that offered a utopian promised land which could be ours if only we were virtuous enough to allow out elite overlords to build it for us. That it would be built upon the corpses of the unbelievers was an unpleasant detail which was best not dwelt upon.
That Lilla, a living embodiment of Jacobinism if ever there were one, sees the complaint of average Americans that they wish to exercise the liberal promise of defining their own ends based upon their own vision of the Good, as an example of "Jacobinism" just shows how shallow our virtuous elite really has become. It also shows how immoral they have become. It is impossible to square Lilla's vision of the American people with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. For Lilla, the common people are simply too stupid to be imbued with anything like rights.
Here is how Protein Wisdom sums up Lilla's piece:
You know why the TEA Party is dangerous? … because it gives you bitter-clinging, Zionist, Xtianist, redneck, low-IQ, low-education, two-digit, Walmart-shopping, steak-on-the-backyard-BBQ, homeskooling, Boy-Scout-supporting, US-flag-wearing cousinfuckers the IDEA you can actually be responsible for your own life.
So they basically read it the same way I do.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
You have nothing to lose but your dignity and any sense of common human decency you may have possessed!
The failed Times Square bombing prompted a leading light of academia to opine:
Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, professor, Washington and Lee University
I think the politics of this incident will turn heavily on who is found to be responsible. If, as seems unlikely, the bomb is linked to South Asian or Middle Eastern terrorists, questions will again arise as to whether the Department of Homeland Security is doing all it can do to keep us safe. If, as I believe is much more likely, the bomb was placed by a right-wing lunatic, it seems to me that questions need to be raised as to whether the right-wing media bear some responsibility for stoking the delusions of such people through their relentless and often unfounded attacks on the Obama administration and the federal government.
We need to consider whether it isn’t time to return to responsible, ethical journalism.
After I read this I kept repeating to myself, "Please don't let this have been a Political Science prof!" I can breathe easier as this particular moron is a professor of Law.
Make no mistake, Professor Stoltzfus Jost is a moron. His prejudice against "right-wingers" has caused him to believe, apparently, that domestic terror, when it occurs, is likely to issue from the right side of the political spectrum. Is this prejudice justified?
Well, let's see. Looking at the FBI's list of most wanted domestic terror fugitives we get this group. Let us see where they fall on the old left-right scale.
ELIZABETH ANNA DUKE
Elizabeth Anna Duke is wanted for her alleged involvement in a series of criminal activities during the late 1970's and early 1980's. She was allegedly a member of the radical group known as the May 19th Communist Organization which advocated communism and the violent overthrow of the United States Government.
JOANNE DEBORAH CHESIMARD
Joanne Chesimard is wanted for escaping from prison in Clinton, New Jersey, while serving a life sentence for murder. On May 2, 1973, Chesimard, who was part of a revolutionary activist organization known as the Black Liberation Army, and two accomplices were stopped for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike by two troopers with the New Jersey State Police. At the time, Chesimard was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery.
REBECCA J. RUBIN
On January 19, 2006, a federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, indicted Rebecca J. Rubin on multiple charges related to her alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. Rubin was charged with two conspiracy violations related to seventeen incidents and two counts of arson. These crimes occurred in Oregon and date back to 1997. Many of the crimes she is accused of participating in were claimed to be committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio is allegedly a member of a clandestine Puerto Rican terrorist group which has claimed responsibility for armed robberies and terrorist bombings.
Verdict: I couldn't tell from this, so I looked him up. Apparently, he was a part of a violent "Puerto Rico Liberation" movement called "The Macheteros." Therefore, Leftist.
LEO FREDERICK BURT
Leo Frederick Burt is wanted for allegedly participating in the bombing of Sterling Hall, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, on August 24, 1970.
Verdict: Once again this isn't entirely clear immediately. (One can guess given the time period and the target, but it is always better to get the facts.) Given what one can read here, the answer is clear: Leftist.
JOSEPH MAHMOUD DIBEE
On January 19, 2006, a federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, indicted Joseph Mahmoud Dibee on multiple charges related to his alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. Dibee was charged with two conspiracy violations related to seventeen incidents and one count of arson. These crimes occurred in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and Wyoming, and date back to 1996. Many of the crimes he is accused of participating in were claimed to be committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
JOSEPHINE SUNSHINE OVERAKER
On January 19, 2006, a federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, indicted Josephine Sunshine Overaker on multiple charges related to her alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. Overaker was charged with two conspiracy violations related to seventeen incidents, five counts of arson, one count of attempted arson, and one count of destruction of an energy facility. These crimes occurred in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and Wyoming, and date back to 1996. Many of the crimes she is accused of participating in were claimed to be committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
JUSTIN FRANCHI SOLONDZ
Justin Franchi Solondz is wanted on multiple charges related to his alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. On May 21, 2001, the University of Washington, Center for Urban Horticulture, in Seattle, Washington, was destroyed by fire during the early morning hours. At the same time, in Clatskanie, Oregon, several buildings and vehicles were also destroyed by fire. Fire investigators determined that both fires were the result of arson by use of timed improvised incendiary devices. Shortly thereafter, a communication was released stating that both fires were committed by members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). The combined loss from these two arsons totaled over five million dollars.
On October 15, 2001, an arson and attempted animal release took place at the Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corral in Susanville, California. Investigators found multiple improvised incendiary devices at the crime scene. This arson was claimed to have been committed by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The damages from this arson were estimated to be eighty five thousand dollars.
RONALD STANLEY BRIDGEFORTH
Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth is wanted for his alleged involvement in attacks on law enforcement officials in California, including the August 29, 1971, attack on San Francisco's Ingleside Police Station in which a Police Sergeant was shot and killed. Law enforcement investigation determined that this act of violence was committed by members of an extremist group known as the Black Liberation Army (BLA). The BLA had undertaken a series of attacks on police targets consisting of shootings, bombings, and attempted bombings beginning in the late 1960s and continuing through the 1970s. These attacks resulted in the deaths of several police officers around the nation.
So, there are nine people listed on the FBI's Most Wanted for domestic terrorism list and all of them originate on the political left. Given this fact, it is hard to take the pronouncements of Professor Stoltzfus Jost as anything other than gibberish uttered without the slightest reference to reality; in other words, he's a moron, literally and etymologically.
Really, the good professor's stupidity is so bad it even lacks the possibility of a mitigating circumstance. After all, the locale of the attempted bombing, Times Square, does not necessarily lend itself to the idea of it as a tempting target for the radical right. In fact, were it to have been the target of a domestic terrorist, it would have made much more sense for it to have been the work of someone who held anti-corporate/anti-capitalist ideas, and thus be leftist.
As events unfolded, of course, the terrorists turn out to be internationally based (and include at least one registered Democrat.) One wonders just how "unlikely" the good professor feels this outcome was.
I have no doubt the professor will never think this result should force him to confront reality and the stupidity of his own prejudices.
After all, he's a law prof.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
Will Owsley, the Middle Tennessee-based singer, songwriter, engineer and guitarist known professionally as Owsley, died April 30 of an apparent suicide.
Mr. Owsley was Amy Grant’s touring guitarist for 16 years, and his own music veered into edgier, power-pop terrains. He was nominated for a Grammy award for his engineering work on 1999 solo debut album Owsley, released through Giant Records....
Giant Records dissolved soon after Owsley’s release, and Mr. Owsley set about writing and recording independent follow-up The Hard Way. He constructed the album in his home studio, and it won positive reviews.
This is a damn shame. Both Owlsey and The Hard Way are fine power pop albums.
Evidently he leaves behind a wife and two children.