Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

E-mail Me

Twitter: yourlyingeyes

29 April 2010

Gordon Brown Victim of Open-Mic Syndrome

Gordon Brown's "gaffe" - calling an nice old lady "a sort of bigoted woman" - is too funny. It underlines the knee-jerk reaction of all liberals that anyone who expresses concerns about changing demographics can be dismissed as a bigot. U.S. Republican politicians ought to be emphasizing this themselves on the campaign stump preemptively - fat chance!

I particularly enjoy Brown's comeuppance as I witnessed Brown in all his glory a few years back. I was in Glasgow on a short trip and, having some time to kill, went on a stroll through the city. I saw some hubbub on one of the cobblestone pedestrian walking fares so went to have a look. There was a bus with a big "Hope Not Hate" banner on it, and a man was being introduced named Gordon Brown. He was Finance Minister at the time, I believe, and Blair's anointed successor, but the complete lack of security had me second guessing his identity, but when I got back home I verified it was he. (I blogged about it at the time here.)

He went on to deliver a fiery condemnation of "Hate" to a mildly appreciative crowd (there was smattering of forced woo-hoos). I soon moved on, puzzled by the need for such a full-frontal assault on bigotry in a town nearly all white and where the few non-whites seemed to so effortlessly flow in and among the towns British residents. But apparently this is a bit of an obsession of ol' Gord's. It has come back to bite him.

27 April 2010

The Authorship Debate

An article in CNN today revisits the Shakespeare authorship debate, covering a new book by Stratfordian James Shapiro in defense of The Bard and mentioning a new film being made by Roland Emmerich disputing Shakespeare's authorship. The favored candidate these days is Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. I have a long way to go before I can contribute anything to this debate, but I do confess some sympathy with the anti-Stratfordians based solely on skepticism that a member of the merchant class (as was Shakespeare) could have pulled it off. He apparently made his living acting and directing at the theatre - so when would he have had time to write that body of work? A nobleman such as Oxford would have had the time and resources.

At any rate, there's a short passage in Henry IV Part 2 that I've found intriguing on this question, yet have never read anyone comment on it. At the beginning of Scene 2, cousins Shallow and Silence are exchanging pleasantries:

By yea and nay, sir, I dare say my cousin William is
become a good scholar: he is at Oxford still, is he not?


Indeed, sir, to my cost.
Just one bit of repartee, or perhaps some inside joke?

17 April 2010

Goldman Accused of Fraud - One Cheer

It's nice that some official government entity has finally realized that pure, unadulterated fraud was at the heart of this mess we experienced. Yes, you can blame all kinds of government interference in the market for sparking it - artificially low interest rates, relaxation of margin limits, encouragement of minority home ownership all played a role - and of course lax regulation generally - but had all contracts been honestly entered into, there would have been no bubble and no crash.

But only a civil suit, from the SEC? What the hell's our crack A.G. doing? Maybe with all the beefed up enforcement in the Civil Rights division he really can't afford to dedicate the resources necessary to bring criminal complaints. Yet it's really not very complicated - either you were honest about what you were selling, or you weren't. If you know the product you are selling is fundamentally flawed, and you don't disclose that, you're probably guilty of fraud.

But by going after the firms, rather than the individuals, the government is already conceding ground. Firms have massive resources to fight any charges. Plus, when you prosecute a firm, you're punishing the innocent as well as the guilty. But if Justice were to go after the individuals involved they'd have to fund their own defense, and lots of them would start talking. It's the old drill - charge-upon-charge are piled on until the accused is looking at about 335 years in total. The U.S. Government has been screwing people this way for years - now that we've had a deep and painful recession brought on by fraud, the DOJ is suddenly getting religion? Bullshit.

Never has a "witch hunt" been more justified. We need heads on poles, looting and burning of estates. Many of the bad guys are no doubt already broke, particularly the street hustlers who were on the front lines originating the crap, but many no doubt have tales to tell and names to name - particularly in the Spanish speaking enclaves - come on Mr. A.G. Holder, you must have lots of Hispanic investigators working in that diverse department of yours!

But my theory is that Obama has no interest in pursuing individual fraud charges, as that would undercut his push for financial reform. After all, if not just existing laws but the common law can be brought to bear in prosecuting these shenanigans, then why do we need some new regulations? The left sees this crisis as an opportunity to more organically insinuate the government into the corporate power structure, so that the money these firms control can be co-opted to support the progressive agenda. Mere criminal complaints, grounded in the common law, is hardly the path to revolution.

Of course if Obama were to initiate a wave of prosecutions Republicans would howl in protest accusing him of Stalinism (or more likely and more stupidly "fascism") because, for all the Wall St. money that went to Obama, Wall St is still the Republicans' bread-and-butter. I wonder though if Obama will notice the joy that this little civil action against Goldman - however puny it might be in the long run - has brought to his nemeses throughout the vast middle of the nation - the Tea-Partiers, more or less? If so - if it occurs to Obama that he can actually make real friends among middle Americans by fighting for them rather than running through a check-list of progressive causes - the Republicans are toast.

13 April 2010

He's Come, He's Come! - Emmanuel!

The New York Times leaves litte to the imagination regarding how we're supposed to think of the anointed one and the world's rejoicing at his arrival. Here's the picture they're highlighting on line in their coverage of the Security Summit.

In case any of you are groggy reading this and don't get it, here's the template for comparison:

A friend sent it along to Drudge who loves to highlight these kinds of things, but nothing yet, and I've seen no one else comment. My jaw dropped when I saw it - and I'd thought I'd seen about everything we could see from the Times's Obama worship.

12 April 2010

Fatal Flaw in Our Mideast Policy

Sure, we'd like Israel and the Palestinians to sit down and negotiate in good faith, and for Israel to stop building new settlements in Palestinian territories. But the basic premise seems fatally flawed: the Palestinians are probably not really capable of running an independent, functioning state. Maybe they can, but we've seen no evidence of it. Any Palestinian state will very likely be highly dysfunctional, suffering chronic poverty and fiscally imprudent. The persistent mal-governance will lead to perennial unrest and resentment towards its high-performing neighbor, which will translate into continued terrorist activity, which will of course lead to the inevitable Israeli "disproportionate responses" periodically, which will just feed into the cycle.

I'm thinking about this after reading an article about the Obama/Netanyahu tensions in the Financial Times (via Drudge).
Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu share the view that Tehran must be stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, a scenario both maintain would destabilise the wider Middle East and embolden Israel’s most committed foes. But there is a fundamental, and increasingly visible, rift on how best to respond. Crudely put, the Americans view Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts as the key ingredient in building an Arab coalition to curb Iran. Israel, by contrast, argues that a lasting Middle East peace is only attainable once the world has dealt with the threat from Tehran.

Speaking to more than 7,000 people at last month’s annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, highlighted the propaganda value of images of the occupied Palestinian territories, calling for Israel to help change “the facts on the ground” to “refute the claims of the rejectionists and extremists and in so doing create the circumstances for a safe, secure future for Israel”.

She added: “Behind these terrorist organisations and their rockets, we see the destabilising influence of Iran. Now, reaching a two-state solution will not end all these threats . . . but failure to do so gives the extremist foes a pretext to spread violence, instability and hatred.”

The US is also stepping up work with Arab states to contain Tehran. But as General David Petraeus, head of US central command, said last month: “If you go to moderate leaders in the Arab world they will tell you that the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process causes them problems.”
Sure, the continued building of settlements is a rather sore point, but I can't see much changing either way. Suppose Israel announces they will stop building settlements - what's supposed to happen, the Palestinians are going to suddenly put their noses to the grindstone and get to work on building functioning state? When Palestine continues to be mired in poverty while lobbing grenades into Israel, will the Arab states shrug their shoulders and say to us "Oh well, we what was it you wanted us to do again about Iran?..." I'm just not seeing it.

01 April 2010

More SAT Charts!

Because you guys just can't get enough of them, I know it.

This one provides the performance by Racial/Ethnic group since 1996 in Math.

You have to marvel at the consistency over time. There is one clear trend - Asians are putting more-and-more distance between themselves and the rest of the field over time.

This chart shows who's been taking the test over the years.

There has been some change over time in the composition of the test takers - most obviously the proportion of white students bottomed out in 2003, and the percentage of all minorities has clearly grown. The numbers of "No Responses" peaked in 2003 as well, and the response rate has improved ever since - not sure what's going on there, but the College Board is obviously having some success in getting test takers to fill in their ethnicity.

A few days ago I posted on the consistency of the "gender gap" in Math among white test takers. Here are the gender gaps for each race over time:

Again, the consistency and the persistence is impressive, even among non-responders and "Other", though there are differences to note. The Asian gap has been clearly narrowing, as has the gap among African-Americans, though in both cases it has ticked up over the last two years. If we extrapolate these gaps into the future, the Asian gap will close in 47 years, that for blacks in 59 years, and the gap among whites should finally close up sometime around the year 5192. The flattening or turning up of the gap over the last few years that is evident in each of these lines could be indicative that the flattening could be permanent. My understanding is that the white gap used to be larger, so if this data went back further we might see a descending line for whites prior to 1996 then a flattening. We'll see what comes out for 2010.

More girls do take the SAT's than boys, but the distribution has been consistent over time, so we can't really blame the failure to close the math gap on an ever increasing proportion of female test takers:

Methodology note: For the comparative scores by race I used the total average for each year as a baseline. I computed the average score of the time period for the mean scores of all students, and then computed the deviation from this average for each year from the average standard deviation (s.d.). Then for each group, I computed their performance for each year as (Mg - Mt) / St, where Mg is the mean score for the group, Mt is the mean score for all test takers, and St the s.d. for all test takers for that year.