Your Lying Eyes

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

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30 August 2006

California - There They Go

A few months ago we learned that California's 4th and 8th graders' scientific illiteracy is exceeded only by those of Mississippi. So it seems only natural that as a state they would fall for the latest scientific fads. So Arnold and the Dems have decided to fight global warming. Well good for them. Do they really think that reducing power plant emissions by 25% is going to make a bit of difference in global temperatures? Two years ago enlightened Californians voted to throw away $3 billion funding futile stem cell research. And now they have decided to raise the minimum wage to the highest level in the nation. The state's 29% high school drop-out rate, that should make for an interesing low-skilled labor market.
With student achievement scores in the toilet, the Golden State is behaving more like a pompous banana republic with internationalist delusions than the great engine of progress we once knew.

29 August 2006

Lebanese Crude

The latest intrigue in the oil industry conspiracy to dominate the mideast has hit a slight snag as their Israeli proxies failed to install a suitable puppet government in Lebanon. But this is surely a temporary setback. Meanwhile, oil industry mouthpieces continue to slander oil-industry nemeses Walt and Mearscheimer, who have had to settle for sponsorship by the equally discredited CAIR in order to have their voices heard by a handful of insomniacs watching C-Span.

Of course big petroleum was instrumental in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, as known industry flunkies such as Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith took advantage of post-9/11 hysteria to convince a gullible president to do their bidding (despite opposition by some Bush family insiders lacking any big-oil bona fides). Former oil exec David Frum's coinage of "Axis of Evil" is of course well known.

Alright I'm being a little silly. Sure, all that oil in the mideast can be a temptation, but there's a whole bunch of oil all over this big ol' world, including such friendly spots as Nigeria and Venezuela, but Israel is only in the mideast, and it's only in the mideast where we're engaged in really damaging policy. Then again, no one who blames our mideast adventurism on oil has ever been driven from public debate as an anti-petrolist. (I highly recommend watching that CAIR press conference on C-Span - search for "CAIR Walt Mearsheimer" on the site if the link doesn't work. And just because you and I and others may not be crazy about CAIR that should have little to do with whether W&M make sense.)

25 August 2006

The Duke Rape - the Times Speaks

A few weeks ago I implored the NY Times to do a thorough examination of this case. Well today the Times obliges. Who knew I had such power? It seems to be far from the knock-out blow that I had hoped for. I only just started to read it and I have to go to work and I wish to reserve judgement, but this early paragraph does not bode well for the tone of the article:
What is more, regardless of one’s opinion about the prosecution, to read the files, with their graphically twined accusations of sexual violence and racial taunts, is to understand better why this case has radiated so powerfully from the edgily cohabited Southern world of Duke and Durham.
Ok, I just finished reading it - it's pretty much a run-through of the files. Much of the evidence is based on the girl's condition days later, while the information gathered that night tends to be rather exculpatory. I think the anonymous comment referenced below is a more credible account.

24 August 2006

The Duke Rape - the Inside Scoop?

An anonymous poster to this blog put up an extended comment pretending to be the alleged Duke rape victim presenting her true story. It's a pretty remarkable piece - while I'm not about to attempt to fact check it, I'm pretty confident it is a whole lot closer to the real story than we're ever going to get. Why someone would spend so much time (it's long and well thought out) on a comment that he has no hope of getting any credit for is beyond me (though it is a bit course) - perhaps it was cribbed from elsewhere on the net - I tried googling some phrases but came up empty - but here it is and it's worth a read.

22 August 2006

A Psychosis in Need of a Name

Note: Updated Below
Is there a feline condition where a cat develops a fear of mice? It's hard to imagine it, but perhaps it could be caused by a microbe like Toxoplasma Gondii which causes rats to lose their fear of cats. I'm asking because perhaps some such microbe is spreading among pundits commenting on the Mideast.

Today in the Washington Post, op-edist Richard Cohen sees clear parallels in the Mideast today with Europe in 1938
when World War II loomed, Britain -- especially and importantly Britain -- did precious little to stop it. The warnings of Churchill -- "believe me, it may be the last chance . . ." -- were ignored, and the government under Neville Chamberlain obstinately pursued a policy that forever after made the word appeasement one of the most odious in history. Somehow, though, it looks like 1938 all over again.
Oh yeah, just like it. In 1938 you had a fully-mobilized industrial power building an awesome military arsenal and annexing its neighbors. Similarly, in Lebanon, we have Hezbollah -
you don't have to have Churchillian prescience to see that what happened once in Lebanon can happen again. Hezbollah's avowed aim is to eradicate Israel. Listen to what it says. Pay attention. It will renew its attacks the first chance it gets. This is why it exists.
Just reading these snippets you might think Mr. Cohen is being ironic, but deadly serious he is.

Meanwhile, at TCS, Arnold Kling delusionally claims to be tapping into a nascent populist movement. Here's how he sees its take on the Mideast:
My sense is that popular opinion is likely to gravitate toward one of two positions.

(1)The Middle East is a hopeless cauldron of hatred. We should focus on homeland security, stay out of the Middle East, and have as little interaction with the Muslim world as possible; or

(2)A major war is inevitable, so that we need to get ready for it. Nothing else will stop Iranian aggression, and nothing else will stifle the funding, sponsoring, and glorification of terrorists.
Iranian aggression? What Iranian aggression? He goes on:
In my own thinking, I tend to vacillate between (1) and (2). The advantage of (2) is that it helps align our interests with the UK and Israel, which are not in a position to adopt (1). The UK, with its larger and more radical Muslim population, necessarily is affected by international Muslim belligerence. For Israel, staying out of the Middle East is not an option.
Okay, so at least Arnold doesn't appear to think that the U.S. is threatened by Iran. But the UK? Because of their "large" muslim population? Fighting a war against Iran is supposed to help that situation how? But regardless, the UK could just expel a good chunk of that population if they should feel threatened - but, no, easier to just have a war. At least he says he's ambivalent - though I must say my cat isn't at all ambivalent about how he feels about mice - he's pretty sure they're prey, and not the other way around.

Iran is not a threat. We should not let them develop atomic weapons - but that's true of any country not yet nuclear. Fighting a war with them is one way to prevent it, but surely the least desirable. And Hezbollah is most certainly not a threat - a nuisance for Israel, yes, but not a threat to Israel, never mind Europe or America. Mexico - which annually sends a million of its least desirable citizens, including drug smugglers and gang members, across the border - presents a far more serious threat to the U.S. than Hezbollah does to Israel, yet we have managed to refrain from bombing any of Mexico's infrastructure. Perhaps the CDC could look into this illness, before it becomes a truly frightening pandemic.

Update: The psychosis has leapt across the pond (via Drudge). The money quote:
But, alas, there's nothing which we would recognise as 'reasonable' about President Ahmadinejad, the small, bearded blacksmith's son from the slums of Tehran - who denies the existence of the Holocaust, promises to 'wipe Israel off the map' and who, moreover, urges Iranians to 'prepare to take over the world'.
Now, if you haven't, read Steve Sailer's latest review of the Iranian armed forces. Then consider the last line of this article, and I challenge you to keep from laughing:
But nuclear-weapon technology in the hands of an Iranian President obsessed with ' fruitcake theology' and the destruction of all 'infidels' is something which should keep us all awake at night.

21 August 2006

Perversion on the Net

The New York Times has a riveting and disturbing expose on the use of the internet by pedophiles as a kind of world-wide self-reinforcement support group. Pedophilia groups have blatant e-conversations seeking opportunities to fulfill their fantasies and assure each other to assuage guilt. The article reads like a tale of horror where our worst fears unfold one after the other:
Did anyone, one man asked, know of girls’ camps willing to hire adult males as counselors? Meanwhile, elsewhere in cyberspace, the second group celebrated the news that one of their own had been offered a job leading a boys’ cabin at a sleep-away camp.

The most frequent job mentioned, however, was schoolteacher. A number of self-described teachers shared detailed observations about children in their classes, including events they considered sexual, like a second-grade boy holding his crotch during class.

Some pedophiles revealed that they gained access to children through their own families. Some discussed how they married to be close to the children from their wives’ previous marriages.

Using deception to gain access to children is a recurring theme. For example, on a site for adults attracted to boys, someone calling himself Vespucci asked in June whether a single man could become a foster father. The respondents cautioned Vespucci to disguise his pedophilia.

Pointers on ways to get close to children were frequent topics. One man posted an Internet “help wanted” advertisement from a single mother seeking an overnight baby sitter for her 4-year-old daughter.

Their self-justifications are just as disturbing. The internet groups help not only in identifying opportunities but also in suppressing feelings of guilt and remorse.
Pedophiles see themselves as part of a social movement to gain acceptance of their attractions. The effort has a number of tenets: that pedophiles are beneficial to minors, that children are psychologically capable of consenting and that therapists manipulate the young into believing they are harmed by such encounters.
Pedophilia is obviously a serious dysfunction. While it is incredibly politically incorrect to associate it with homosexuality, both involve the focusing of sexual desire towards biologically barren targets. In neither case does it seem likely that a gene for such behavior is likely to have evolved never mind maintain itself in noticable numbers. (While pedophiles can and sometimes do have children - whom they may then abuse - they obviously are not as prolific as the general population). But perhaps pedophiles are rare enough (<1 in 10,000) that a 'pedophilia' gene might be the cause. That these people seem to not understand how bizarrely abnormal their desires are argues that the problem is organic and not some acquired psychological quirk. If a microbe can relieve a rat of its fear of cats - indeed, even build an attraction - then I don't think screwing up someone's sexual-desire wiring seems too far-fetched.

But whether it's a pedophilia gene or germ (apologies to Greg Cochran), this sure seems like something worth investigating with some serious intent to find a cure or vaccine (if pathogenic or effective genetic screening if not). However rare they may be, pedophiles can do a lot of damage - look at the carnage Joseph Duncan managed to perpetrate just by himself. Harsher and harsher prison terms may or may not deter acts of molestation and probably make us feel better, but they undoubtedly encourage murder by raising the stakes of getting caught so high. (Castration would probably work but I'm thinking we might want something a little less barbaric.) Funding this kind of research seems more important t our society - and a lot more likely to succeed - than, say, establishing Jeffersonian democracy in a fractured, medieval, tribal Islamic populace. Would 1/1000th of annual Iraq expenditures be too much to ask?

17 August 2006

This Just In: Federal Court Knocks Down NSA Warrantless Wiretapping

Well of course it's unconstitutional - the executive just can't listen in or read people's conversations without some legal basis approved by the courts or congress.

To my fellow Republicans: How would you feel if this surveillance were being done not by Bush but by Clinton - Hillary Clinton? Wouldn't you like to stop it now before we get to find out?

11 August 2006

Piss-Poor Study Finds No Effect of Immigration on Employment

But it does suggest that a "study," no matter how infantile its design, can gain national exposure in the New York Times if it sounds the right theme. "Immigration and Jobs Link Is Disputed" is the Times' headline. The actual study from the Pew Hispanic Center is here.

The study does little more than construct tables by state of foreign born residents and native-born employment metrics: employment rate, unemployment rate, and labor force participation rate. It finds that in some states native employment goes up, while in others it goes down, and so concludes that there is no national impact. The paper is something you might expect from a precocious high-schooler who doesn't have the necessary background in statistics to design a more robust study.

I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb by suggesting that any paper using so coarse a framework to identify negative effects of immigration is unlikely to have received such credulous coverage in the Times. Astonishingly, the Times was only able to find one expert to provide comment, which was positive with only a mild cautionary note.

The study's author does address one obvious objection: that increases in immigrants may cause native workers to leave an area. He points out that the literature is divided on this issue, and thus needn't concern us! The other obvious objection to his methodology - that immigrants go where the jobs are, and thus still might suppress native employment even where the employment numbers are up (or dissuade others from moving from depressed states to high-growth states) is not addressed at all (or so little that I couldn't find it).

Trying to pin down the actual effects of immigration is a very difficult endeavor. There are many confounding variables and the data is not consistently available in the detail required. And one really must get down to discussing the quality of different immigrants, since not all immigrants contribute equally to society. That means recognizing that some immigrant groups have higher crime rates, lower earnings potential, higher rates of anti-social behavior, higher propensity for ghettoization, etc.

No one (let's hope no one) would doubt that South Asian immigrants are less likely to commit crime, are more likely to get higher paying jobs, graduate high school or college, and less likely to have a child out of wedlock than Mexican immigrants. Yet immigration advocates brazenly go on TV accusing restrictionists of not being concerned about immigration so much who the immigrants are. Uh, yeah, that is important. But we're not allowed to talk about that. But everyone knows that there's a difference - we're supposed to just pretend it's not there.

And so I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the definitive study on immigration effects to decide the issue for good. Your just going to have to rely on the best analytical tool available - your own lying eyes.

06 August 2006

Duke Rape DA Nifong Is a Liar

A fine review of the case in an article in the Charlotte News & Observer (via Drudge) makes the case against Nifong rather succinctly:
He called the players hooligans and said he abhorred the gang-like rape accompanied by racial slurs. He disparaged rich Duke students whose daddies could hire expensive lawyers to get them out of trouble. He told reporters that DNA tests would tell precisely who was involved in the attack.

And Nifong made a series of factual assertions that contradicted his own files: He suggested the players used condoms; he accused the players of erecting a wall of silence to thwart investigators; and he said the woman had been hit, kicked and strangled.

The medical and police records show that the victim had said no condom was used, that police had interviewed three players at length and taken their DNA samples and that the accuser showed no significant bruises or injuries.

So he is simply a bald-faced liar. There are few things more abhorrent in our society than a prosecutor who lies in order to gain a conviction. The state wields no greater power against the citizenry than its ability to put people in jail. In this case each of the accused faces decades in prison if convicted. Abuse of this power should be the #1 concern of the citizenry, not, say, whether high school football coaches should be saying prayers before a game, as the NY Times reports today. Terrible injustices happen all the time, of course, particularly with rape, but usually it's due to incompetence or laziness or basic flaws in our process (particularly for rape). But outright subterfuge is hopefully rare. This Nifong should be investigated by the State of NC immediately - he should be at a minimum disbarred if the facts in this article are verified. The rape case of course should be dismissed out-of-hand.

And where is the Times on this case? They seemed to lose interest the less and less it appeared there was a real crime to investigate. Back in the late 80's the Times was instrumental in exposing the Tawana Brawley hoax, publishing a 6,000 word expose (link if you have Times Select) that ended the controversy once and for all. This N&O article is good, but far from the kind of comprehensive analysis the Times could muster. Perhaps they're working on it - it was after about a year of reporting the Brawley case as a presumed crime before they exposed it as the hoax it was, and that was in their backyard - we shall see.

05 August 2006

Are You My Other Mommy?

From the NYT:
Isabella Miller-Jenkins has two mothers, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled yesterday. The court rejected a host of arguments from Isabella’s biological mother, Lisa Miller, that her former lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins, should be denied parental rights.
The couple were separated when the child was just over a year old. The birth mother then moved to Virginia, where a court has since denied the lesbian partner any visitation rights and refused any recognition of Vermont civil unions. Meanwhile, a court in Vermont granted the partner visitation rights and has cited the birth mother with contempt for violating the order. The child is now 4 years old.

The Vermont Supreme Court's decision, though it mostly addresses the jurisdictional issues, seems to hinge on the concept of parental rights when an anonymous sperm donor is the father. The court noted that in conventional marriages, the husband is considered the legally 'natural' father when the mother is artificially inseminated. The court also cited an earlier ruling in a same-sex case questioning the need for the partner to legally adopt such a child:
To deny the children of same-sex partners, as a class, the security of a legally recognized relationship with their second parent serves noo legitimate state interest...our paramount concern should be with the effect of our laws on the reality of children's lives...[T]he advancement of reproductive technologies and society's recognition of alternative lifestyles...have produced families in which a biological, and therefore a legal, connection is no longer the sole organizing principle. But it is the courts that are required to define, declare and protect the rights of children raised in these families, usually upon their dissolution.
Very true, but how does a second mother (or father) fit with the rights of children, exactly? Do these justices imagine 4-year old Isabella, wide eyes looking up at her mother, asking where's her father? Then where's my other mommy? Do they foresee legions of single-parent raised children on reaching maturity, sensing a gaping hole in their identity, striking out in search of their mothers' discarded lesbian lovers?

By now of course the child will have absolutely no recognition of Ms Jenkins who's been out of her life now for nearly 3 years, never mind being able to comprehend what a civil union is and how it is that she has two mothers. I don't wish to pretend to lack any sympathy for the estranged woman who no doubt feels great pain over the separation from the child. But this kind of deprivation can happen to grandparents, aunts and close friends as well. Proponents of gay marriage often point out that many heterosexual marriages are childless to beat back the marriage-is-for-the-children argument, but here we see how easily children are drawn right into the battle.

The Vermont Supreme Court no doubt felt a strong obligation to defend its sovereignty and laws in this decision, but any further enforcement will lead to certain backlash. The Defense of Marriage Act (which the court also rejected as inapplicable) will no doubt be amended to clear up any jurisdictional confusion. I think what the court has done here is give a nice little gift to Republicans this fall - with both the situation in the Mideast and the economy declining daily, issues like this will seem heaven-sent.

04 August 2006

Even a German Tourist...

In a Daily Mail article about sardine-like conditions on a beach in China swarmed by 200,000 bathers (in contrast to the beach just 50 yards from me right now which is completely empty of bathers due to the estimated 200,000,000 greenhead flies), the beach was described as "so packed that even a German tourist would be unable to put his towel down to claim a spot." Is this phrase grounded in a stereotype of the German tourist as particularly aggressive, or ubiquitous, or what?

2006 Hurricane Forecast Revised Downward

In the news today it's reported that the 2006 hurricane season is now predicted to be less fearsome than previously thought and considerably less threatening than last year's. The hurricane forecast comes from Colorado State's William Gray, the World's Foremost Authority on Hurricanes.

Interestingly, the increase in hurricane activity in recent years has been linked by some scientists to global warming - a link which Dr. Gray vehemently denies. Gray is an irascible sort and a global warming skeptic generally. Here is a somewhat snarky profile of him (and other skeptics) from WaPo. I've seen Dr. Gray give testimony before a Senate committee and he is rather likable (if you like crusty, authoritative, avuncular types). Given that he has already been able to predict the heightened hurricane activity without relying on global warming, Occam's razor would seem to argue against the climate-change link.

Dr. Gray believes we are in a warming period of a natural cycle driven by thermohaline circulation. Needless to say, this idea is given rather short shrift among non-skeptics. Gray predicts that temperatures will begin to decline in a few years, putting him in the same company as my other favorite global-warming skeptic Dr. Abdusamatov, although his optimism is based on the Seuss solar cycle. Vacationing at the Jersey Shore in 100-degree weather encourages one to hope that Drs. Gray and Abdusamatov are on the right track, for whatever reason. On a bright note I have managed to tap into somebody's wireless ether nearby, giving me something to do since the beach is now in the sole custody of several million voracious greenhead flies.

Mel's Passions

It does not seem unreasonable to suppose that Gibson would develop some bitterness towards the Jewish community in the wake of their terribly unfair treatment of The Passion of the Christ. But it seems more likely to me that Mel always had these feelings, thinly veiled, and the literati's over-reaction to Passion was driven by in-the-know awareness of his anti-Semitic mindset. Generally I agree with Udolpho's take on this - the film ought to stand on its own. The unbearably patronizing stance of all those who assured us that the movie would poison our dim Christian minds opened a vast new front in the culture wars that we didn't need - a whole lot of bitterness, anger and resentment over nothing.

02 August 2006

The Lady in the Wa-Wa

Yes, I'm on vacation, down the Jersey Shore, amidst a most oppressive heat-wave, but home temporarily on some business. I spent a couple hours in an icy theater watching "The Lady in the Water" because my daughter wanted to see it and I liked Sixth Sense and didn't think The Village was completely awful.

I'm really not sure what the movie is about, but the story has a representative of the water people visiting the land people in an apartment complex in Philadelphia via its swimming pool. The water people are called "narfs" which is a cute word which sounds like "nymphs" and they are terrorized when out of the water by wolf-like creatures made of grass called "scrunts" which is not a cute name but sounds like a half-heartedly concealed frat-house pejorative for insufficiently fun coeds. Somehow, the narf is supposed to save humanity by breaking some slacker's writer's block.

The film's star, Paul Giamatti, deserves all our admiration for gamely putting all he had into this performance while surely knowing the entire enterprize would be instantly forgotten. The narf is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, who appears to be the victim of an unfortunate type of assortative mating. But about M. Night Shyamalan, we can only hope that one day he hears the words of St. Paul: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things.