Recently in Society & Culture Category
A brilliant generosity experiment conducted by a homeless man who asks "which religion cares most about the homeless"? A collection of labeled bowls reveals the results! A smart way to exert social pressure to collect money.
(HT: Boing Boing.)
What emotions do men and women find sexually attractive? Of pride, shame, and happiness women find male emotion most attractive in this order:
And men prefer women who display:
The advice is for men to smile less (at least until dominance is established) and women to smile more.
Even if you support at-will abortion you must be horrified by the casual attitude of abortionists towards infanticide, right? Details of what goes on in abortion clinics continues to emerge from hidden camera sting operations.
In an exchange laden with euphemisms on both sides to conceal the gruesome nature of the discussion, the pregnant woman wondered aloud what would happen if "it" (her fetus) emerged from her intact and alive.
The employee assigned to take note of medical history reassured the woman, "We never had that for ages" (a seeming admission that a baby did survive abortion at the clinic at least once) but that should "it" "survive this," "They would still have to put it in like a jar, a container, with solution, and send it to the lab. . . . We don't just throw it out in the garbage."
Oh, and this innocuous-sounding "solution" was, of course, a toxic substance suitable for killing an infant.
"Like, what if it was twitching?" asked the pregnant woman.
"The solution will make it stop," said the clinic employee. "That's the whole purpose of the solution . . . It will automatically stop. It won't be able to breathe anymore."
As for any qualms a woman might have about seeing her newborn child being poisoned and drowned in a jar, the employee advised her "patient" not to worry: She'd be under sedation, and the murder would take place in another room anyway.
Pro-lifers and pro-choicers often disagree on terminology, but who can deny that Kermit Gosnell is a baby murderer?
The trial testimony is graphic, and should make "choice" advocates sick to their stomachs. Again, see the AP: "A medical assistant told a jury Tuesday that she snipped the spines of at least 10 babies during unorthodox abortions at a West Philadelphia clinic, at the direction of the clinic's owner."
Later, AP mangled the medical facts: "Abortions are typically performed in utero." When babies are killed over a toilet, as alleged in this trial, this is not an "unorthodox abortion" of a "fetus." This is a baby who is born and then murdered. Liberals claim to revere "science," but this trial is not about tiny "zygotes." It's about viable babies.
It gets more grotesque at every turn. Clinic assistant Adrienne Moton testified she took a photo of the child described as "Baby A" with her cell phone before Dr. Gosnell took the baby out of the room. "I just saw a big baby boy. He had that color, that color that a baby has," Moton said in court. "I just felt he could have had a chance....He could have been born any day."
Another Gosnell assistant said the abortionist joked about one child he murdered: "This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop." But AP reported that Gosnell sits serenely in the courtroom, undisturbed by the accusations.
Is this kind of atrocity acceptable within the pro-abortion community? Is it common? Do pro-choicers have their heads buried in the sand to avoid the horror they've wrought?
James Taranto characterizes feminism as a failure of wit.
Now think of the traditional 1950s household with an employed father and a stay-at-home mother. The mother is able to devote her full efforts to the children and the home. The father may have some secondary household duties--taking out the trash and playing ball with Junior--but most of his time is spent away from home, doing a boss's bidding, in order to raise money to meet the family's needs.
Let's stipulate that in the latter scenario, the mother could do the father's job just as well as he can. Would that be the highest use of her time? Only if one thinks that office work is intrinsically superior to the development of the next generation.
In some sense the prefeminist understanding of the family was based on the supposition that it was. The father, after all, was the "head of the household," a dominant figure, even if most of what he did for the household involved submitting to another man in an office. We'd like to suggest that this was a useful fiction that helped encourage social cohesion by meeting both the male need for respect and the female need to look up to her mate. In reality, it was Mom's house; Dad just lived there.
Feminism was in part a failure of wit. It mistook fiction for reality and thought men really were dominant. Now, increasingly, men are redundant, women are overburdened, and what pass for families are producing fewer and worse-developed children.
I'm a man, and I'm making career decisions that will impact my children and my relationships with them forever. I definitely don't feel like I can "have it all", despite my wonderful and supportive wife. Everyone has to make trade-offs, and you should do it with your eyes open. I've spoken to a lot of older folks who only recognized the trade-offs they'd made decades after it was too late to change course.
I'll get to the meat of his story in a second. But basically, with no record label and mostly just the suppot of his YouTube fans, he released his latest album in the UK the same day Justin Timberlake did.
Here's the result:
Read the whole interview and then watch Alex's video about why record labels are rubbish.
I'm on the edge, but my kids will live entirely in this new economy.
It seems there are a lot of theories about how humanity escaped the Malthusian Trap, defined as such:
The Malthusian trap, named after political economist Thomas Robert Malthus, suggests that for most of human history, income was largely stagnant because technological advances and discoveries only resulted in more people, rather than improvements in the standard of living. It is only with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in about 1800 that the income per person dramatically increased in some countries, and they broke out of the Trap
That is: more total wealth led to more people, and the per capital wealth remained unchanged. I'm sure lots of historians and economists have covered this ground before, but the explanation for how humanity escaped this trap seems pretty obvious to me.
At some point in history, wealth started being generated more quickly than humans were generated. The percentage growth of wealth may have remained the same, but the absolute value of that growth kept increasing. At some point, the absolute value of the wealth increase was more than could be absorbed by simply having more kids. The "wealth/person" ratio had stayed constant, but at some point the numerator started growing faster than the denominator could, due to biology.
I'm starting to think that it's fortunate that ObamaCare (a.k.a., the Affordable Care Act) is full of holes. Maybe some semblance of sanity will be able to leak through.
The core problem with Obamacare is that it depends on ripping off the young and healthy to subsidize the old and infirm. On the one hand, we're glad that young people are able to escape the clutches of this trap, but we can't help but notice that their escape will bankrupt the system. It's almost as if the politicians didn't read the law before they passed it, and had no idea how its various provisions would cause car crashes as they tried to roll it out.
Maybe it'll be so bad that it gets repealed or basically ignored.
President Obama wants gun control so badly that he is resorting to one of the dumbest arguments ever made, one that is usually trotted out when you know you're losing: "if there's even one life that can be saved":
President Obama on Wednesday formally proposed the most expansive gun-control policies in generations and initiated 23 separate executive actions aimed at curbing what he called "the epidemic of gun violence in this country."
While no legislation can prevent every tragedy, he said in announcing the proposals, "if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."
The argument is absurd on many levels.
1. Assume he's talking about saving lives in the gross, not net. There are innumerable things we could ban that would save at least one life gross, such as: cars, airplanes, knives, shoveling snow, boxing, cell phones, swimming pools, coal mining, and drone attacks on suspected terrorists. Why doesn't the President offer to ban any of these? If it would save even one life then doesn't he have an obligation to try?
2. Would banning guns save lives, net? Well, that would be a tough argument to make and the President doesn't really try. Estimates vary, but the Easy Bake Gun Club counts news stories about defensive gun use and here are their entries for December, 2012. The Cato Institute has a defensive gun use map. Both of these resources are based on news reports, but the vast majority of times that a gun is used in self-defense it isn't actually fired and the use isn't reported to the police or media. No one can know for sure, but it seems overwhelmingly likely that guns save more lives than they cost.
3. What's the value of a human life? It's obviously not "infinite" because we make trade-offs all the time between money and lives. Would you borrow money to buy a $500,000 car that was 10% safer than your $25,000 car? Of course not. Do you even have working smoke detectors in your house? It's sad when someone dies in a fire or is shot by a gun, but those deaths don't necessarily mean that we have to change the system. All factors need to be weighed.
4. How about low-probability catastrophic events such as invasion, tyranny, or nuclear holocaust? Sure, these aren't likely to happen, but if they did then having guns in the hands of trained and loyal citizens would be very valuable. The authorities are always trying to get us to be prepared for disasters, and there are many circumstances in which a gun would be a useful tool for survival.
Walter Russell Mead explains how the fiscal cliff is just another battle in the war between generations.
We see this as yet another sign of the Baby Boom's unrelenting war on the young. Geezers are so tightly organized to defend their pet programs that they are willing to sacrifice everything and everyone else to ensure that not a penny is cut from Medicare or Social Security. Discretionary programs are the things the actually keep the country running, yet they will be the first things to be cut when the government scales back.
It's the national version of the fight we see being waged in many states and cities where public sector unions demand either sky high tax increases or savage cuts in services -- anything so that unrealistic pensions be paid to a generation which collectively failed to create the wealth or invest the assets which could cover those liabilities at a reasonable social cost. It is the Boomer determination to ensure that future generations pay the price of its planning and social policy mistakes -- and it is both shameful and wrong.
Rich boomers don't want to be taxed to pay their share of the collective generational failure; less wealthy ones don't want to lose a penny of the benefits they claim to have earned. It's reasonable for some kind of political compromise to distribute the pain between different wings of this generation, but the generation as a whole needs to pay its fair share of the bill.
A tipping point will come when the oldest members of the Baby Boomer cohort die and the generation eventually loses its electoral power. The middling and younger members of the cohort will be stripped of their benefits faster than you can blink.
This zombie-themed sports equipment ad was banned during prime time in Norway. I think it's pretty fun.
(HT: RB, Blastr.)
Rush Limbaugh asks an important and difficult question: how can conservatives connect with minorities?
The usual suspects are out, and they're saying, "Rush, we gotta reach out now to the Hispanics and reach out to the minorities, blacks." Okay, let me remind you of something. Just ask you a question. And we will be getting your phone calls of course today, you weigh in on this, 800-282-2882 is the number. Let me take you back to the Republican convention. We had Suzanne Martinez, female Hispanic governor, New Mexico. We had Condoleezza Rice, African-American, former secretary of state. Both of those people imminently qualified, terrifically achieved. They have reached the pinnacles of their profession.
We had Marco Rubio. We had a parade of minorities who have become successful Americans. And they all had a common story: up from nothing, hard work, their parents sacrificed for them. Now, why didn't that work, folks? The answer to that is our future. Why didn't it work? Some people say, "Well, Rush, we pandered." No, we didn't pander. Everybody says that we need to reach out to minorities. We have plenty of highly achieved minorities in our party, and they are in prominent positions, and they all have a common story. They all came from nothing. Their parents came from nothing. They worked hard. They told those stories with great pride. Those stories evoked tears. It didn't work. And don't tell me that people didn't watch the convention or people didn't see it. I mean, there's a reason it doesn't work.
There is a reason, but what? I really have no idea. There are plenty of successful, laudable and influential minority and female conservatives. Why do the larger female and minority populations ignore and marginalize these people? What else can conservatives do to "reach out"?
Heh, Frank J. Fleming explains that the president isn't the leader of the country:
I mean, really, why does everyone believe the president is the leader of our country? What he is, is the head of our government, i.e., he is the leader of the least part of our country. We have two groups in America: the people who work hard and create businesses and jobs and all the things that make our country great, and the screw-ups who get in the way of that. Government is by far the greatest force of the latter. So why do we as citizens think the guy we put in charge of the government and all the bureaucrats -- "King Idiot," basically -- is our leader? That's like saying a pothole is in charge of the road.
Read the whole thing. We really need a humbler government, and a humbler view of government.
I recommend reading the whole post by Sarah A. Hoyt about "The Myth that Kills, and please direct your wrath towards her, not me!
What I see is women who were freed by tech advances and who THINK they were freed by marching shoulder to shoulder and taking permanent offense. These women live in a state of paranoia, dreaming up male privilege that is invisible to anyone but them, and taking offense at ever more ridiculous things - even things that have nothing to do with gender - because they're so terrified of men taking the upper hand again.
I look at them going to war with spelling: Womyn, Herstory. I look at them dancing around dressed as vaginas (!) because apparently the most important thing in these women's lives is their sexual organs. I look at them acting as a pack and attacking whoever they're told to attack because "so and so is anti-woman" and I think... these are humans? These are civilized people? Don't they see they're being tools of the Marxist divide-and-conquer strategy? Don't they see the end of this is either societal destruction or TRUE backlash for the sake of saving civilization?
We need to treat people as individuals, not merely as members of easily labelled groups based on physical characteristics. The groups that an individual self-identifies with are far more important than the groups they're forced into by biology. Choosing to join a group (and/or remain in a group past childhood) says a lot about an individual. All the biological groupings are fine for evolutionary biologists and statisticians, but rotten for everyday use by the rest of us.
Here's a fascinating account of a live social engineering capture-the-flag game in front of an audience at the Defcon hacker conference.
Finally, Darnell directed the manager to an external website to fill out a survey to prep for the upcoming visit. The manager dutifully plugged the address into his browser. His computer blocked the connection, but Darnell wasn't fazed. He said he'd call the IT department and have it unlocked.
The manager didn't think that was a concern. "Sounds good," he answered. "I'll try again in a few hours."
After thanking the manager for his help, Darnell made plans to follow up the next day. The manager promised to send Darnell over a list of good hotels in the area.
Then "Gary Darnell" hung up and stepped out of the soundproof booth he had been in for the last 20 minutes.
"All flags! All flags!" he announced, throwing his arms up in a V-for-Victory symbol.
His audience of some 100 spectators at the Defcon conference in Las Vegas burst into applause. They had been listening to both sides of the call through a loudspeaker broadcast.
I would have loved to see it live. Be on your guard.
Just because you think something "should be" doesn't mean it "can be", no matter how smart or powerful you are.
The Atlantic has an article this month with the title "Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don't Realize It)." I am always curious when intellectuals announce that the people (who in the American constitutional system serve as the sovereign power) don't know what's good for them (What's the Matter with Kansas?) or don't even know what they want.
Implicit in all of these revelations, of course, is the firmest, if never directly expressed, belief of the Left: That the average person is too stupid to run his own life, let alone make public policy decisions. Those few, those happy few, that band of liberal intellectuals, must do that for them. ...
The idea that something as fundamental as the distribution of wealth can be radically altered in a democracy without disastrous side effects is an intellectual fantasy. Prohibition, a far simpler social engineering project than fundamentally redistributing wealth, didn't get rid of demon rum, it gave us Al Capone. And the people who wanted to drink kept right on doing so.
This is a variation on the common trope: the perfect is the enemy of the good. More precisely, the attempt at perfection can ruin the good you've already got.
This hacking story demonstrates why you have to use multifactor authentication to secure your critical accounts. It's almost certain that your email provider and your bank support it, and those are generally your most important accounts. Please take security seriously.
And make offline backups of your important data.
Lefties hate cars and suburbs because they let the rest of us escape with our lives.
But cars didn't shape our existence; cars let us escape with our lives. We're way the heck out here in Valley Bottom Heights and Trout Antler Estates because we were at war with the cities. We fought rotten public schools, idiot municipal bureaucracies, corrupt political machines, rampant criminality and the pointy-headed busybodies. Cars gave us our dragoons and hussars, lent us speed and mobility, let us scout the terrain and probe the enemy's lines. And thanks to our cars, when we lost the cities we weren't forced to surrender, we were able to retreat.
James Taranto argues that "contemporary feminism" has had more to do with the decline of marriage than has homosexuality.
The institution of marriage has been a casualty of contemporary feminism--specifically of the idea of sexual equality. In prefeminist times, as this column has argued, a husband and a wife each brought something distinctive to the marriage. The 50-year campaign to elevate the status, power and wealth of women relative to men has blurred these sex roles--and of course that is one of the goals of feminism, which views such roles as oppressive social constructs.
Same-sex marriage is a logical extension of the idea of sexual equality. If men and women are at the deepest level interchangeable, then there's nothing to distinguish a "husband" from a "wife" and no reason that a "marriage" has to consist of one of each rather than two of one or the other. (Traditionalists can take some comfort in the realization that this logic does not lead to such horribles as incest or polygamy.)
Same-sex marriage, then, is connected to the breakdown of ordinary marriage. But the former has not caused the latter; rather, they are both effects of the same cause.
I wouldn't use the word "elevate" as Taranto did in the first quoted paragraph. I don't think it's an elevation to make women more manly, and more than it's an elevation to make men more womanly. I do think that the prevailing view that men and women are interchangeable is wrong and harmful to families and society.
You're not getting screwed by billionaires and plutocrats. You're getting screwed by Mom and Dad.
Systematically and in all sorts of ways. Old people are doing everything possible to rob you of your money, your future, your dignity, and your freedom. ...
As a point of fact, retirees aren't particularly "independent" if they rely on tax dollars for income, are they? But here's the real rub, kids: You're getting screwed by Social Security, a program that is now more sacrosanct to aging boomers than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. You're paying more into the system than you're ever going to get out. No wonder it's mandatory. C. Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane put out a study for the Urban Institute last summer that should have caused far more riots than anything that happened at Zuccotti Park. They document that folks making average wages who retired in 2010 will get a raw deal over the coming decades. The deal will only get worse if you retire in, say, 2030. Read it and weep, kids, and don't believe it when old people who are either already on Social Security or about to join that club tell you it's part of a generational bargain that can't be changed even if retirees are totally wealthy compared to you.
Just last month I wrote that we need to dramatically increase the retirement age right now.
I agree that rapid changes to the retirement system will be disruptive for current and near-term retirees, but I don't care. Just because they've built their lives around the prospect of looting and pillaging my generation doesn't mean that they're entitled to succeed. They're attempting to use democracy to transfer a massive amount of wealth from my generation to theirs by borrowing money to spend on themselves that we are going to have to pay back. I say no! I say that we link the Social Security retirement age to longevity and push it back dramatically effective immediately.
Just because Boomers are using democracy to rob us doesn't make the theft legitimate.