Your Lying Eyes

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

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28 July 2005

Not One Cent for Tribute!

John Derbyshire, aka "the Derb", writing in NRO's blog, gives a rather British view of how the war on terror should play out (in contrast to the more conventionally American conservative views of his NRO colleagues):
I see the world as comprised of a zone of civilization, and a zone of barbarism. The barbarians are nomads and raiders (or descended from such), who attack us by raiding "over the wall" when we are complacent and unprepared -- that is how I saw 9/11. Our policy should be the one practiced by the great empires throughout history: (1) Soothe the barbarians with flattery, gifts, bribes, and commerce -- and yes, always hope they will take up civilized ways, which they always might. (2) Watch them constantly for signs of trouble. Infiltrate, conduct quiet assassinations, set them squabbling among themselves. (I greatly enjoyed the Iran-Iraq War.) Then, when (1) and (2) fail, as they always do sooner or later, (3) send an expeditionary force to chase them round the steppe, smash up their assets, humiliate their leaders, and knock them off balance for a few decades.

This seems rather sensible to me, particularly after the experience of the last few years. We (Americans) have always prided ourselves on not taking any shit from anyone. Even in the early days of the Republic, we departed from the European custom of paying tribute to the Barbary pirates of Tunisia, and instead sent an expeditionary force to quash them. It didn't really work out the way we hoped, and we ended up paying the bribes anyway. But we got out of it the memorable slogan "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" Fast forward to the 1980's, and Ronald Reagan pledged to never give in to terrorists while authorizing a deal to spring kidnapped hostages. The insistence not to negotiate with terrorists is not always easy to stick to, particularly when the costs escalate. While it's true that paying-off terrorists can encourage continued terror acts, if combined with a credible threat of overwhelming force it need not. That's why dictatorship is the preferred form of government in non-Western governments - they can do our dirty work while being easily bribed.

25 July 2005

What's Going On With the Unions?

I've read in the Times and the Washington Post about this big split where the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union and several other large unions are leaving the AFL/CIO. But I can't tell from these articles what it's all about. The only thing they mention is dissatisfaction with loss of membership, but there's no indication of what specifically the dissidents object to or would do differently. It seems rather obvious that the biggest problem for unions is the high rate of immigration. Unions in America reached their peak power during the highly restrictive immigration period of 1925 thru 1965. But then labor's biggest champion, Teddy Kennedy, set organized labor on its unabated road to ruin with his open borders immigration act of 1965. I'm hoping that maybe immigration is the secret reason for the split but no one wants to come out and say it.

23 July 2005

The MSM Is Ripping Me Off!

Following the lead of the Washington Post, now the New York Times has decided to poach my work without credit! Under the guise of a news story on a male violinist's sexual discrimination suit against the NY Philharmonic, the Times essentially re-hashes my article on Biodiversity at The Philharmonic. So that's twice in less than ten days that an icon of the Main Stream Media has needed to tap into my little blog for a story.

NYT: women count for 7 of the 12 violists, 6 of 11 cellists and 2 of 9 double bass players.
Me: I counted 18 first violinists. Six were men, 12 were women. A survey of the strings generally confirmed that at least half were women, except for the double basses, where only 1 of the 8 (eight!) was a woman.
NYT: ...a glance at rosters bear out other gender generalities: brass players tend to be men, though more and more French horn players are female; woodwinds are more mixed. Men play percussion; women play harps.
Me: Among the 20 woodwinds, 7 were women, but this is deceptive: of these, 4 were playing flutes (4 out of the 5 flautists). Of the remaining 15, only 3 were women. There were two harpists, and both were women, and two keyboardists, one a woman. But among the remainder of the orchestra, featuring 6 percussionists and 20 brass, all 26 were men.

Needless to say, my article explores more interestingly the reasons behind these tendencies. The Times could only come up with two. It blankly states "Much of this, naturally, reflects the influence of parents, who usually decide what instruments their children study." Not implausible, but hardly a proven fact. Then, more lamely, at the article's close, it quotes a female violinist: "As for the profusion of female violinists, she noted that the instrument was the smallest of the strings. 'It's easy to carry,' she said." Cute. But the obvious reason the "smallest of the strings" would be dominated by women is that women's smaller hands and fingers give them an advantage over men. No, that would be too close to declaring that innate biological differences could explain differences in ability, and that could lead to all kinds of terrible things. Don't Even Go There!!

20 July 2005

Roberts v O'Connor

At this point, it seems quite likely that, barring any skeletons jumping out of the closet, John G. Roberts will replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. So what does this mean?

Some on the right are concerned that he will end up being another Stevens or Souter, both named by Republican presidents but who turned out very liberal. I don't think so. He seems likely to be more like Rehnquist than Scalia or Thomas - safely conservative but unlikely to do anything too dramatic. But O'Connor was also conservative while still being a thorn in the side of the right. So let's take a look.

Last term, the court delivered 21 close opinions (5-4 or 5-3 when Rehnquist was out), one of which (Granholm) we'll ignore since it did not divide at all along ideological lines. How did O'Connor vote on these? On 10 of the cases she voted with the conservatives and she voted with the liberals on the other 10. Typical - you'd think she planned it this way. Looking a little closer at the cases, not all of them divided neatly ideologically - in 3 cases some mixing occurred (but not like Granholm). If we ignore these as well, that leaves it at 9 conservative to 8 liberal votes for O'Connor. Of those 8 liberal votes, 5 were in the majority. So if we assume that Roberts would have been consistently conservative had he been on the court last year instead of O'Connor, that would have given conservatives only 5 more decisions.

And what were these decisions? Here's a rundown:

McCreary County, KY. v. ACLU: Ten Commandments, 1st Amendment, establishment clause, displays
Rompilla v. PA Dept. of Corrections): Capital case, habeas corpus, sentencing, ineffective counsel
Small v. U.S.: Firearms ban, felons
Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education: Title IX, private cause of action, gender discrimination, retaliation
U.S. v. Booker: Enhanced sentencing, judge/jury findings, 6th Amendment, Blakely

Nothing too dramatic here. While Roberts should help even out the balance a bit on a court that tilts somewhat to the left, liberals have no reason to fear any substantial lurch rightward in the court's decisions.

There's Women Running All Kinds of Fortune 500 Companies!

In an article about the controversial appointment of a woman to be musical director of the Baltimore Symphony, the Washington Post attempts to provide some context:
In an era when women commonly run everything from universities to Fortune 500 companies to entire countries, why has it taken so long for a single leading orchestra to take the step?

Huh? I mean, HUH?!?! With the departure of Carly Fiorina from Hewlett Packard earlier this year, there were 7 women CEO's in the Fortune 500. That's 1.4%. That's what the Post characterizes as "commonly." Granted, 7 is more than zero, but since there are no more than 50 major symphony orchestras in the U.S., zero does not sound out of whack.
Further down it would appear that the WaPo reporter, Tim Page, reads this blog, as he pointed out that "women...dominat[e] the string section. (Brass remains mostly a male preserve..." as I documented in Biodiversity At The Philharmonic. So presumably he will read this and know that you can't slip such nonsense past these Lying Eyes!

18 July 2005

General William Westmoreland, RIP

General Westmoreland, chief commander during the Vietnam War, has died. I was always struck by how Westmoreland, as life-imitating-art, was notorious for asking for more troops, just as his namesake had done in Henry V:

WESTMORELAND: O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin.

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

Unfortunately, LBJ, on the other hand, was no Henry V.

15 July 2005

What About Karl Rove?

The news reports are rather confusing and conflicting on whether Rove was the source of the leak or whether he knew Valerie Plame was a covert agent, so it's hard to come to a conclusion at this time as to whether Karl Rove would actually undermine American security to score some political points. Are there any past actions that would suggest Rove might be so inclined? For example, would Rove ever do anything like undermine the enforcement of immigration laws and border security and undercut Americans' wages just to score some cheap political points among corporate interests looking for cheap labor? If so, that might be a clue as to what might have happened in this case.

14 July 2005

National Education Scores - Same Old Story

The latest NAEP round of tests showed sharp gains among 9 year old minority students, modest gains among 13 year olds, and no gains among 17 year olds. The NAEP administers the same test each year and, with the greater emphasis on testing, schools can teach students how to take the test pretty effectively. This is obvious in the very dramatic increase in the scores of 9 year old black students.
Most standardized tests function effectively as IQ tests, and so we should expect the group-level results of these teststo follow the pattern found with IQ tests: blacks score 1+ standard deviation below whites, with Hispanics in between but closer to the black scores. The NAEP doesn't make it easy to figure this since they don't provide standard deviations with their scores, but you can figure it out from the percentile achievement ranks. And indeed the pattern holds - with two exceptions - the 2004 scores for 9 year olds, where the white/black gap drops to about 3/4 of a standard deviation. This might mean good news on down the road, but likely not. It's long been known that the racial gap in IQ scores at early ages can be closed somewhat with intensive training, which is what we've seen in the public schools of late particularly targeting testing. But as adulthood approaches, the gap returns to its stable 1+ standard deviation level. And I have little doubt that's what we'll see happen here.

12 July 2005

Too Depressed to Post

The news is very depressing and I find it painful to even comment on. Here's a round-up of depressing news.

Sick Crazy Bastards. There are several serial killers in the news lately, including Karla Homolka getting out of jail in Canada after only 12 years and the BTK (Bind/Torture/Kill) killer going on trial in Kansas. The biggest sicko story right now is that of Joseph Duncan who bound and bludgeoned to death a woman, her boyfriend, and 13 year-old son in order to kidnap her 8 and 10 year old children. That's right - a multiple-homicice home invasion for the purpose of molesting children. Makes the old "Don't talk to strangers" admonishment seem rather quaint.

Meth Epidemic in Rural America. Meth-amphetamine is apparently the crack-cocaine for white trash. There is now an orphan problem related to parents strung-out on the stuff unable to care for their children. It apparently provides a ferocious sexual appetite which often leads to mothers behaving promiscuously in front of their children before crashing for days. This relates somewhat to the above story in that the woman and boyfriend killed in the above story had meth in their system, which originally led authorities to believe the brutal murders were drug related. The murderer also claimed to psychiatrists during his imprisonment for a previous rape that his crimes were in response to his anger over his mother's promiscuity. God I hope we're not creating a little army of deranged orphans out their in Methville.

One in Four Children Born to Foreigners. And since the vast majority of our immigrants come from third world countries south of the border, we are creating one, huge, permanent underclass. For the real fuzzy-brained among you, there is no record of either educational or economic advancement of our current immigrants from Latin America, so there is little hope of better news for the ones coming in now. Our children can look forward to really cheap landscaping and vegetables, and if they're lucky they'll make a lot of money in finance or law or construction so they can insulate themselves in McMansions away from all the smiling, happy immigrants, but otherwise a not very pleasant life awaits them.

So that's what's depressing me...and I'm not even thinking of the London bombings...

03 July 2005

All The Cool Things Have Already Been Invented

Via Dienekes. It should be obvious that we are not growing technologically like in the old days. People living between 1830 and 1910 saw the invention of trains, powered ships, telegraphs, telephones, photography, phonographs, motion pictures, automobiles, and airplanes. Aside from computers, everything else since then is just an improvement on these (well, spacecraft were invented, but none of us gets to use them).
A new study backs this up with facts, and proposes that we have reached a point where we get diminishing returns economically and that perhaps we have reached a cognitive limit.
I think there is an alternative explanation. The peak is said to be 1873. This is also when mass immigration (from the old world to the new world) began. The reduced economic gain from innovation is probably true, but this results from the easy flow of labor geographically. Innovation must now compete with cheap labor, of which there is an infintie supply (for all practical purposes). Ironically, it's the great innovations in transportation, communication, and computation that have made cheap labor more and more exploitable.

01 July 2005

O'Connor Hangs 'em up

If the Supreme Court is everybody's stepchild, O'Connor is the stepchild's stepchild - she outraged both right and left. She was at heart a conservative but would err on the side of individual liberty against legislative prerogative and minorities against majorities when in doubt. And she was in doubt alot - in Casey she was happy to admit that abortion isn't really a constitutional right but couldn't bring herself to overturn precedent. In the U of Michigan affirmative action decision, she threw out one approach while supporting another, all thru splitting hairs of what was a quota and what wasn't. But as Steve Sailer has pointed out, this was mostly the fault of Bush, who didn't have the balls to argue against the despicable notion of "diversity" itself - if Bush didn't have the balls , she sure wasn't going to let him off the hook by taking it on herself.
She also could have taken a back seat to Scalia, and joined onto his decisions rather than feeling she had to take control. Scalia, unlike O'Connor, is not plagued with doubt. But he's also seldom giving the majority opinion - and that's where the glory comes from.
It will be critical for Bush to name a real conservative to replace O'Connor. Given the disastrous track record of moderate Republican appointees - Warren, Stewart, Blackmum, Stevens, Souter - any choice but a staunch conservative must be viewed as (yet another) betrayal of the 60 million+ people who voted for him.