Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Diversity, faux and real

One thing that struck me about this presidential primary season was how the candidates of each party reflected their respective visions of diversity.

For Democrats, diversity is just bean-counting. All of the candidates thought alike, so the most important thing about the candidates ended up being what supposedly oppressed groups each of them belonged to. Since preening metrosexual trial lawyers who have fun babies while their wives fight cancer is not a preferred grievance group at all, and Mexican-Americans with Anglo surnames isn’t preferred enough, it pretty much had to come down to either the black guy or the woman.

In contrast, Republicans are aligned with the Martin Luther King vision: what matters is a candidate’s character and stands on issues, not the color of their skin or what’s covered by their underwear. Thus on the Republican side you had pro- and anti-war candidates, pro-and anti-abortion candidates, pro- and anti-illegal immigration candidates, pro-and anti-gun candidates, etc.

I think this neatly summarizes where the major parties and their supporters are in 2008. If diversity of opinion matters to you more than group membership, you probably lean more often to Republican candidates or points of view. If you are partial to "diversity" as the term is currently used and are generally hostile to diversity of opinion, you are probably more sympathetic to Democrats and their positions.

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More random stuff

Ugh, I had forgotten how much of an ass-whipping it is to listen to Mickey Spagnola. I think I’m tired of football season before it’s started.


Dennis Prager's sobering take on why the existential enemy we face now might be even more dangerous than those we faced in the 20th century:

"[T]here are two unique aspects to the evil emanating from the Islamic world that render this latest threat to humanity particularly difficult to overcome. One is the number of people who believe in it. This is a new phenomenon among organized evils. Far fewer people believed in Nazism or in communism than believe in Islam generally or in authoritarian Islam specifically. There are one billion Muslims in the world. If just 10 percent believe in the Islam of Hamas, the Taliban, the Sudanese regime, Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, bin Ladin, Islamic Jihad, the Finley Park Mosque in London or Hizbollah---and it is inconceivable that only one of 10 Muslims supports any of these groups' ideologies---that means a true believing enemy of at least 100 million people. Outside of Germany, how many people believed in Nazism? Outside of Japan, who believed in Japanese imperialism and militarism? And outside of universities, the arts world or Hollywood, how many people believed in Soviet-style totalitarianism? A far larger number of people believe in Islamic authoritarianism than ever believed in
Marxism. Virtually no one living in Marxist countries believed in Marxism or communism. Likewise, far fewer people believed in Nazism, an ideology confined largely to one country for less than one generation. This is one enormous difference between the radical Islamic threat to our civilization and the two previous ones."


You often hear that Barry Bonds hit many more homers late in his career than the other home run leaders. Does it stand up to scrutiny?

1st ten years of their career:
Player A - 292 HR
Player B - 238 HR
Player C - 342 HR

Years 11 – 15 of their career:
Player A – 202 HR
Player B - 232 HR
Player C – 168 HR

Years 16 – 22
Player A – 268 Homers
Player B – 262 Homers
Player C – 235 homers

Funny how not only is it not quite obvious, indeed it’s basically impossible to tell, which is the alleged steroid user when you just look at the evidence.

A is Bonds, B is Ruth, C is Aaron


A little more Raul Castro, from the BBC via Jay Nordlinger:

Cuba is to put more state-controlled farm land into private hands, in a move to increase the island’s lagging food production. Private farmers who do well will be able to increase their holdings by up to 99 acres (40 hectares) for a 10-year period that can be renewed. Until now, private farmers have only been able to run small areas of land...[T]his is one of President Raul Castro’s most significant reforms to date.

Imagine how much better off Cubans would be had Fidel died 50 years earlier.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Random thoughts

An irony of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s reactionary, racist hate mongering: he was born in 1941, which means he lived 23 years (until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) when it was legal for the government to discriminate against blacks on the basis of their race…and has now lived 30 years (and counting) since the legality of the government discriminating against whites on the basis of their race was affirmed (in the Supreme Court’s 1978 Bakke decision).


My favorite bird? Yep, you guessed it.


Maybe the most amazing NBA stat I’ve ever seen: in April, Jose Calderon dished out 66 assists and turned the ball over…once.


From an Obama speech: “[A Pennsylvania man] can't afford four more years of an energy policy written by the oil companies and for the oil companies; a policy that is not only keeping gas at record prices but funding both sides of the war on terror and destroying our planet.”

Psst, Barack…one of the sides in the war on terror is the good guys, funding them is a good thing.


That deserves a “Wow!”: Argentine Olympian and occasional NBA rotation player Walter “Fabio” Herrmann can palm a basketball using just his index finger and thumb. Try that out sometime.


This Israeli story would seem certain to be a parody were we not so well-acquainted with hate speech as academic scholarship:

A research paper that won a Hebrew University teachers' committee prize finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.

The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that "the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals."

The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: "In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences - just as organized military rape would have done."

The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers' eyes.

Did you get that? If Israeli soldiers rape Arab women, it is evidence of racism. And if Israeli soldiers do not rape Arab women, it is evidence of racism. Could you imagine a more perfect illustration of modern education?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Random stuff

I could not prouder to live in Dallas, but every village has its idiot. Our continual source of embarrassment is County Commissioner John Wiley Price, one of the country’s most despicable and consistent racists. His latest escapade, complaining when a fellow commissioner said that the central collections office "has become a black hole," was typical of his career, but this one made the national news. That Judge and fellow ignorant bigot Thomas Jones demanded an apology was just piling on, we were already ducking our heads in shame.


Apparently NBC now stands for No Barack Criticism.


According to a recent World Bank study, biofuels have forced up global food prices 75% while only negligibly reducing worldwide oil demand. Can we stop this nonsense immediately before it drives people back into poverty faster than the growth of global capitalism and trade lifts them out of it? Biofuel research and production should be strictly limited to non-food sources. Not that we'd expect greens to care about easing poverty or anything - it's antithetical to their mission.


Was it really Raul Castro that said "Socialism means social justice and equality, but equality of rights, of opportunities, not of income. Equality is not egalitarianism."? When a Castro brother makes more economic sense than one of our own presidential candidates…should I be happy for Cubans or fearful for my own countrymen?

I think the answer is “yes.”


Terrorist Mohammed Siddique Khan, ringleader of the 2005 London subway suicide bombers, made a farewell video to his infant daughter on which he said "I love you to bits."

I guess he wants to also see her die in an explosion some day?


I could not agree more with this from Jay Nordlinger:

While in Japan, President Bush placed a message on a “wishing tree.” Apparently, this is an old tradition. (Is that a redundancy?) Bush’s message: “I wish for a world free from tyranny: the tyranny of hunger, disease; and free from tyrannical governments. I wish for a world in which the universal desire for liberty is realized.”

That is what I would have expected from him — and one reason I admire him so much. Most people, it seems certain, would have wished for “peace.” Bush is a man who recognizes that genuine peace comes from freedom.

And this, from the same column:

Was talking to a friend of mine back home in Michigan. Bright guy, well educated, very successful. And very much a liberal Democrat. He said we had to have Obama in November — because “we can’t have Big Oil running the government any longer.”

I ask for the millionth time: How can perfectly normal and non-crazy people believe that stuff?

I ask myself the same question of so many people in so many settings. How is it that otherwise educated people can lose (or never gain) the ability to think critically in the area of politics? Can it be as simple as university brainwashing?

There are some fascinating psychological research possibilities here, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any such studies.

Talk to you soon, or at least sooner than last time I hope.

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