Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bill would mandate nicer term for illegals

Florida news:
TALLAHASSEE -- A state legislator whose district is home to thousands of Caribbean immigrants wants to ban the term "illegal alien" from the state's official documents."I personally find the word 'alien' offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children," said Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. "An alien to me is someone from out of space."
I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and assume she said "outer space".
"There are students in our schools whose parents are trying to become citizens and we shouldn't label them," she said. "They are immigrants, through no fault of their own, not aliens."

Wilson said the first word isn't as bad as the second.

"'Illegal,' I can live with, but I like 'undocumented' better," she said.
If their parents are really immigrants trying to become citizens, then they are documented. They have papers that describe their status. The term "undocumented" is incorrect. I'm also not sure why she says "no fault of their own". She seems to be confused about what these terms mean.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Gates complains of a CS crisis

Bill Gates writes in a Wash Post op-ed:
This issue has reached a crisis point. Computer science employment is growing by nearly 100,000 jobs annually. But at the same time studies show that there is a dramatic decline in the number of students graduating with computer science degrees. The United States provides 65,000 temporary H-1B visas each year to make up this shortfall -- not nearly enough to fill open technical positions.
I hope someone writes a rebuttal, and explains the basic laws of supply and demand. Meanwhile, see the scathing comments at the above Slashdot thread.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Connes says physicists are bosons

The brilliant French mathematician behind noncommutative geometry, Alain Connes, writes:
I was asked to write some advice for young mathematicians. The first observation is that each mathematician is a special case, and in general mathematicians tend to behave like "fermions" i.e. avoid working in areas which are too trendy whereas physicists behave a lot more like "bosons" which coalesce in large packs and are often "overselling" their doings, an attitude which mathematicians despise.
and also:
My main point is that mathematicians are so "singular", (and behave like fermions as opposed to the physicists who behave like bosons) that making general statements about them often produces something obviously wrong or devoid of any content.
You need a little quantum field theory to understand this. There are two kinds of quantum particles, bosons and fermions. Bosonic fields result from commuting operators, while fermionic fields anticommute. It is the difference between light and matter. Physical forces are intermediated by photons and other bosons, while matter is made of quarks and leptons (both fermions). Bosons in the same state are statistically distinguishable, while the Pauli exclusion principle bars more than one fermion being in the same state.

Mathematical discoveries complement other discoveries, and slowly build a substantial and enduring body of wisdom. Physicists jump from fad to fad like String Theory, and they all say more or less the same thing. We need both, of course. Connes has made a useful analogy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Placebo Nation

Here is John Horgan on the ineffectiveness of psycho drugs:
My problem with Big Pharma is that its products are often--and especially in the case of psychiatric drugs--much less effective than claimed. This was a major theme of my book The Undiscovered Mind. See also my short 1999 oped for the Times, "Placebo Nation." That's also why I've been so scathing about Listening to Prozac, which a responder to my last post recommends, but which I consider one of the Worst Science Books. Peter Kramer's book explores, yes, with great philosophical subtlety the implications of a drug that dispels despair and makes us "happy." Is this happy new me really me? And so on, blah blah blah. But the premise of the book is false! If you read the peer-reviewed clinical trials rather than the puffery of Kramer you would know that Prozac and other SSRIs are no more effective than earlier antidepressants, such as tricyclics, and antidepressants as a whole are no more effective than psychoanalysis and other talking cures. When I made this claim in The Undiscovered Mind in 1999, it was treated as highly controversial, but now it's been overwhelmingly confirmed.
He's right, and the evidence for the effectiveness of those talking cures is also extremely weak. If you hear someone swear that some psycho meds are helping, you are almost certainly observing a placebo effect.

California anti-spanking proposal

Sally Lieber, the wacky anti-cat-spanking lady, has just introduced California AB 755, her proposed California law against child corporal punishment. The Si Valley paper reports on her radical purpose:
With all the publicity, ``Many people we've talked to already think the Legislature has passed a ban on spanking,'' Lieber said. ``And that's just fine with us, because we would like to stop all physical punishment of children.''
Her original proposal was softened somewhat, but also raised the age cut-off from 4 to 18. ChristianNewsWire reports:
"AB 755 allows for the arrest and cuffing of responsible mothers who cannot spank effectively without using a little stick or paddle or switch when their youngsters are defiantly disobedient," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign of Children and Families (CCF), a California-based pro-family organization. "And nowhere does the bill specifically protect the right of parents to spank with an open hand, leaving this up to a judge's interpretation instead. AB 755 is a home invasion bill that equates healthy, infrequent spanking with child abuse. If that's the case, most of our grandparents were child abusers. Spanking is not child abuse."
The punishment is a minimum of 4 years probation and a maximum of 6 years in prison. The parent would also have to complete a "nonviolent parental education class". There is also a provision for random drug and alcohol testing.

The papers are reporting this as Lieber dropping her anti-spanking proposal, but it is apparent that she is as determined as ever to legislate her goofy and oppressive parenting theories.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Red Hot Optics

The Cosmic Variance blog cites this study:
School performance can also suffer. In one experiment cited, college-aged women were asked to try on and evaluate either a swim suit or a sweater. While they waited for 10 minutes while wearing the garment, they completed a math test.

"The results revealed that young women in swimsuits performed significantly worse ... than those wearing sweaters. No difference were found for young men."
to complain about an ad for Edmund optical equipment showing an attractive woman.

It is an odd complaint. It sounds like he just want to promote a different stereotype for women, so that more women will become physicists. The Edmund ad is actually pretty tame compared to ads elsewhere.

Here is more from the American Psychological Association:
The APA report calls on parents, school officials, and all health professionals to be alert for the potential impact of sexualization on girls and young women. Schools, the APA says, should teach media literacy skills to all students and should include information on the negative effects of the sexualization of girls in media literacy and sex education programs.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Merck drops push for mandatory vaccine

Wall Street Journal reports:
Merck Suspends Campaign to Make Gardasil Vaccination Mandatory
February 20, 2007 4:52 p.m.

Merck & Co. said it would stop lobbying states to pass laws requiring that preteen girls be vaccinated against cervical cancer in the face of a growing backlash among parents, physicians and consumer advocates.

Merck's aggressive lobbying campaign was intended to boost sales of its Gardasil vaccine, which received Food and Drug Administration approval last year. Gardasil provides protection against two strains of the human papillomavirus that are thought to cause the majority of cervical-cancer cases.

But unlike a number of other diseases that U.S. schoolchildren are required to be vaccinated against, HPV isn't an airborne virus that can spread easily in a group setting. Rather, it is sexually transmitted. Gardasil also stands apart from other vaccines that are compulsory because of its high cost: $360 for a three-dose regimen.

In recent weeks, opposition to state mandates has grown among parents who want the freedom to make such a medical decision on their own and are worried about exposing their children to the unforeseen side effects of a new vaccine. Physicians and consumer advocates have also questioned the need to immunize young girls against a disease that is no longer very prevalent in the U.S. and doesn't develop until much
later in life.

Merck's lobbying efforts have become a distraction from the company's goal of immunizing as many women as possible against cervical cancer, said Richard Haupt, Merck's executive director of medical affairs. Merck has "decided at this point not to lobby for school laws any further."
Merck's goal is making money. Merck was having a hard time getting people to voluntarily pay for this vaccine, so it was hoping that govt mandates would free up billions of dollars in govt money to pay Merck.

NY Times reports:
But Dr. Haupt said that Merck would continue to provide health officials and legislators with education about the vaccine and would continue to lobby for more financing for vaccines in general.

He declined to say how much money or staff resources Merck had expended in its efforts to require use of the cervical cancer vaccine.

The vaccine, called Gardasil, acts against strains of the human papillomavirus that account for an estimated 70 percent of the cases of cervical cancer. The virus, known as HPV, is transmitted sexually, so experts say the vaccine is best given before girls become sexually active.

The vaccine, which costs about $400 for the three-shot regimen, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June. Later that month, a federal advisory panel recommended that females 11 to 26 years old be vaccinated, although panelists have said that recommendation was not equivalent to recommending mandatory inoculation.
So I guess that Merck will be pushing for an arrangement in which the govt recommends and pays for the vaccine, but where the recommendation is not called a mandate.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Podcast vaccine debate

I just debated vaccines on Infidel Guy Debate Hour. Here is the podcast mp3. You can also subscribe to his other fine shows.

I was on with a vaccine researcher for the CDC, and with a woman who seemed to reject most of modern medicine. I took a middle road. I believe that some vaccines are effective, but that they should not be mandatory.

Jobs and Dell try to explain schools

AP reports:
In a rare joint appearance, [Apple CEO Steve] Jobs shared the stage with competitor Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc. Both spoke to the gathering about the potential for bringing technological advances to classrooms.

"I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said.

"This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy." ...

Dell also blamed problems in public schools on the lack of a competitive job market for principals.
Jobs had the much better argument. If we had a competitive market for computer CEOs, then Dell would be more likely to be looking for a job.

Rape drug is an urban legend

UK news:
Women who claim to be victims of 'date-rape' drugs such as Rohypnol have in fact been rendered helpless by binge-drinking, says a study by doctors.

They found no evidence that any woman seeking help from emergency doctors because their drinks were allegedly spiked had actually been given these drugs.

Around one in five tested positive for recreational drugs while two-thirds had been drinking heavily.

The findings further erode the theory that there is widespread use of Rohypnol and GHB, another drug said to be favoured by predatory rapists. ...

"Claiming their drink has been spiked may be used as an excuse by patients who have become incapacitated after the voluntary consumption of excess alcohol." ...

Last month Julie Bentley, chief executive of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said many women fall victim to sexual assaults after being plied with alcohol. Commenting on claims that Rohypnol had played a part in sex attacks, she said: "As far as I am aware, there has never been a case of Rohypnol in this country found."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mandating a new vaccine

The NY Times reports:
Racing to embrace a new vaccine, at least 20 states are considering mandatory inoculation of young girls against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

State Legislation on a Cervical Cancer Vaccine But a roaring backlash has some health experts worried that the proponents, including the vaccine's maker, Merck, have pushed too far too fast, potentially undermining eventual prospects for the broadest possible immunization. ...

Some of the bills, despite calling for compulsory vaccination, have "opt out" provisions, letting parents citing religious or moral grounds to choose not to have their daughters inoculated. Those provisions also have raised concerns among public health experts.

"A lot of us are concerned that if you allow people to opt out of one vaccine, they will opt out of other vaccines that are due at the same time," said Dr. Mark Myers, executive director of the National Network for Immunization Information ( ...

The American Academy of Pediatrics is not advocating mandatory Gardasil vaccination, either. One source of opposition from pediatricians is cost. Buying enough H.P.V. vaccine for 100 girls would require a practice to lay out nearly $40,000 in advance.
This is all about money. Those supporting the vaccine are those who are getting paid to support the vaccine. The main arguments for mandating the vaccine are to reduce Merck's marketing costs, and to trigger subsidies.

The vaccine looks like it may be a worthwhile vaccine for many people, but there is no good reason to make it mandatory. We live in a society where people are free to make their own medical and financial decisions. People voluntarily pay market prices for flu shots, and it should be up to Merck to convice the public that the benefits are worth the cost and risk.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Study: U.S. not best for kids

The LA Times reports:
UNITED NATIONS - The United States and the United Kingdom ranked as the worst places to be a child among 21 wealthy nations, according to a report by UNICEF released Wednesday. The Netherlands was the best, it said, followed by Sweden and Denmark.

UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre in Italy ranked the countries in material well-being, health, education, relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people's sense of happiness. ...

The United States has the highest proportion of children living in single-family homes, which the study defined as an indicator for increased risk of poverty and poor health, though it ``may seem unfair and insensitive,'' it said. The United States was close to the bottom of the scale for children who eat and talk frequently with their families. ...

The authors acknowledge the study is ``a work in progress in need of improved definitions and better data.''
Who else but a UN committee could decide that the USA is terrible for kids because they live in nice homes and have rich lives outside the home as well? You just cannot believe these studies until you read the fine print on what was really being studied.

The NY Times recently had to admit that a similar story was bogus. The story was headlined, 51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse By Sam Roberts, and was widely copied. Now a NY Times editor says:
The opening paragraph of the article sounded like grown-up stuff: "For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results."

It was a statistic that put the story on a fast track to the front page, providing a noteworthy benchmark for a well-established trend. But the new majority materialized only because The Times chose to use survey data that counted, as spouseless women, teenagers 15 through 17 ? almost 90 percent of whom were living with their parents.

Major newspapers and broadcast and cable news programs picked up on this tipping point, spotted by Sam Roberts, a veteran Times reporter who writes frequently about census data.
Oops, of course it should not have counted 15-year-old girls. I am not even sure about 24-year-old women who just finish 6 years of college and move back in with their parents.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rewarding underperforming schools

Teachers often complain that schools get bonuses for good performance
on stardard tests, because then suburban schools with smart kids
get the money. Now California is doing just the opposite, and rewarding the worst schools:
SACRAMENTO - About one in three of the state's worst-performing schools will get a share of nearly $3 billion in funding dedicated to helping them improve academic achievement. ...

The $2.9 billion package is part of a deal between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state's largest teachers' union, the California Teachers Association ...
I guess that is what the teachers' union wanted.

Charged with potential to change the world

A Philadelphia newspaper reports:
An aspiring attorney is in trouble with the law, accused of trying to cheat his way into a better law school. ...

Siangchin, an engineer, used the name John Galt on the e-mail. John Galt is a character in the Ayn Rand novel "Atlas Shrugged," about an engineer who designed a revolutionary new motor powered by ambient static electricity with the potential to change the world. ...

Siangchin is charged with potential to change the world.
This is an amusing editing error.

Monday, February 12, 2007

DC wants to be a state

Daniel Kotler reports:
Earlier this month, on January 9th, Rep. Norton (D-DC) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) reintroduced the DC Fair and Equal Voting Rights Act (HR 328), a measure which trades a voting seat in the House of Representatives for strongly Democratic DC for an additional seat for strongly Republican Utah.
It seems like a lousy deal for the Republicans, because Utah would just get the seat from 2008 to 2010. After that it could goto a Democrat state, while DC keeps its Democrat seat.

A commenter points out:
It's worth noting that the District of Columbia has fewer voters than all 50 states, and fewer people living in it than 49 of the 50 states (and in a few years, it will have fewer people than all 50 states).

So it's not clear why it should be treated like a state when it comes to representation in the Senate (meaning it would receive 2 senators).

Why should the District, which has less than 0.2 percent of the nation's population, receive 2 percent of the senate (that is, 2 senators out of 102?)?

That's 10 times what it would be entitled to based on population alone.

Is breast milk a junk food?

British govt news:
Next month, the Office for Communications (Ofcom) will enact its ban on TV advertising of junk food to children. But first, a model had to be constructed whereby foods could be judged "unhealthy", and therefore subject to the ban, or "healthy", and therefore not subject to the ban. The arbitrary and clumsy model conjured up by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will mean that foods such as cheese, raisins and bran flakes -- as well as breast milk, if it were available in shops -- will be branded "unhealthy" and thus banned from kids' TV.

The FSA aimed to formulate a scientific schema for judging the healthiness or otherwise of food products. It devised the "Nutrient Profile Model", a complicated system based around overall energy (number of calories) and the percentage of salt, sugar and saturated fats in a product per 100 grams (regardless of the average serving size). According to this model, cheese, alongside honey, certain cereals, marmite and a host of other pretty nice and healthy foods, will be classified as junk foods to be hidden from children. And according to the same Nutrient Profile Model, chicken nuggets, microwaveable curries, oven chips and diet fizzy drinks -- which are seen by many today as "junk" -- are healthy foods and therefore it's okay to show them on kids' TV.
It has gotten to the point where it is difficult to trust anyone on distinctions between healthy and unhealthy (or junk) foods. The fact is that there is very little scientific evidence that any food is any better than any other. And when there is evidence, people refuse to accept it.

There is rock-solid evidence that cheese is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And yet the British govt censors are going to apply some silly formula to classify cheese as junk food and ban cheese ads on TV.

Sex-ed method leads to felony charges

Rhode Island news:
PROVIDENCE - A Woonsocket mother and her boyfriend are facing felony child-neglect charges in Family Court after allegedly telling investigators they had intercourse in front of the woman's 9-year-old daughter in order to teach her about sex.

David Prata, 33, and Rebecca Arnold, 36, of 559 Park Ave., are accused of habitually neglecting the girl in 2004 "by providing an environment that is lewd and depraved in a manner that makes their home unfit for the child to live in," according to court records. They have pleaded not guilty.

The allegations came to light on Dec. 14, 2004, when the Child Abuse Hotline received a call from a teacher in North Adams, Mass. The teacher said the girl had recently come to live with her biological father in North Adams after spending the summer with her mother in Woonsocket. ...

The investigator asked why Prata thought a girl needed to know about sexual acts at the age of 8 or 9. "We wanted to prepare her so she would know how," he said.

The investigator asked if a child that age can comprehend sex. "Animals do it all the time," Prata said.

The investigator asked, "Do you think that animals function at a lower intelligence level than humans?"

"Not really," Prata said.

She asked if he would have liked to have seen his parents having sex. "Yes," he replied. "I probably would have learned something."

The interview concluded with the investigator asking Prata if he understood that he had done psychological damage to the girl. "No," Prata said.
The couple sounds a little kooky, but I really doubt that there is any good evidence of psychological damage to the girl. I wouldn't be surprised if millions of kids around the world are raised this way today, and no one has shown that they are psychologically damaged.
The interview concluded with Ciesla saying, "You know that you will not be seeing your daughter for Christmas?" Arnold said, "No. I didn't know that."

Ciesla immediately notified the Woonsocket police. ... The attorney general's office reviewed the case, and the Woonsocket police arrested Prata and Arnold on Feb. 10, 2005. ... If convicted, Prata and Arnold could face one to three years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
That might psychologically damage the girl.

George writes:
Yes, there are millions of kids who are present while their parents have sex, but not who watch a step-father have sex. Most domestic sex abuse comes from step-fathers, and that is what makes this case bizarre and dangerous.
You have a point. The girl is now back with her real father.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Profiling white people

According to this, whites in NY cites are stopped by the police at about twice the rate as their crime rate would seem to indicate.

Phonics works better

A study just published in Science magazine says:
Much of the controversy regarding the best way to teach children how to read has focused on whether instruction should be code-based, such as phonics, or based on whole language and meaning (6-8), but this debate may miss the point. Although most children develop stronger reading skills when they receive a balance of explicit decoding instruction in combination with meaningful reading activities (7, 9-12), even a balanced approach theory assumes that one approach, if it is the right one, will be equally effective for all children (13, 14).

6. D. Ravitch, in The Great Curriculum Debate: How Should We Teach Reading and Math?, T. Loveless, Ed. (Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC, 2001), pp. 210-228.
7. K. Rayner et al., Psych. Sci. Public Interest 2, 31 (2001).
8. K. L. Dahl, P. A. Freppon, Reading Res. Q. 30, 50 (1995).
9. J. T. Guthrie et al., J. Educ. Res. 94, 145 (2001).
10. B. M. Taylor et al., Elem. Sch. J. 101, 121 (2000).
11. P. Cunningham, D. Hall, in Teaching Every Child Every Day: Learning in Diverse Schools and Classrooms, K. R. Harris, S. Graham, D. Deshler, Eds. (Brookline Books, Cambridge, MA, 1998), pp. 32-76.
12. M. Pressley, Reading Instruction That Works: The Case for Balanced Teaching (Guilford, New York, 1998).
13. S. M. Ross et al., Psych. Sch. 34, 171 (1997).
14. National Reading Panel, "Teaching children to read: an evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction" (NIH Pub. No. 00-4769, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Washington, DC, 2000).

The authors have their own theories about how to individualize instruction. The point here is that the published studies say that most children learn to read better with phonics than with other methods. Some of those other methods are still popular with schools and teachers anyway.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gates on importing cheap labor

NetworkWorld magazine caught Bill Gates lying about H-1B visas for imported labor, quoting Robert Oak and Ron Hira:
As Gates said, these are highly paid, highly qualified individuals. Salaries for these jobs at Microsoft start at about $100,000 a year. ...

Unfortunately for Bill Gates, when a corporation sponsors a green card, they must publish the actual salary along with the application.

The median salary for all was $71k, well below the $100k that Bill Gates touted in his claim of a great shortage of "talent" in America (read cheap, controllable and young).
Regardless of what the actual salary is, Microsoft hires foreigners to save money and avoid paying the going rate for Americans. Now it is lobbying for increases in the H-1B quotas.

The authority on this subject is Norman Matloff.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It can still be rape if the woman consents

Time magazine reports:
If a woman consents to having sex with a man but then during intercourse says no, and the man continues, is it rape?

The answer depends on where you live. The highest courts of seven states, including Connecticut and Kansas, have ruled that a woman may withdraw her consent at any time, and if the man doesn't stop, he is committing rape. Illinois has become the first state to pass legislation giving a woman that right to change her mind.
The next time you hears about a man being a convicted rapist, remember that his crime could have been just lasted a few seconds while the woman changed her mind.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Objecting to sex selection

NY Science Times reports:
Regardless of the method, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes sex selection except in people who carry a genetic disease that primarily affects one sex. But allowing sex selection just because the parents want it, with no medical reason, may support "sexist practices," the college said in an opinion paper published this month in its journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Some people say sex selection is ethical if parents already have one or more boys and now want a girl, or vice versa. In that case, it's "family balancing," not sex discrimination.
I am always baffled at these sorts of ethical judgments from the pro-abortion crowd. The 1973 Roe v Wade decision said that a woman can terminate a pregnancy at any time during the nine months and for any reason. In fact, she does not even have to tell anyone a reason, or tell her husband she is getting one.

Abortion law is justified for the sake of "family planning". But if a family wants to actually do some planning, and plan to have a real live healthy baby boy or girl, these folks suddenly have all sorts of mysterious ethical concerns, and want to grill the parents for their reasons.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Texas HPV vaccine mandate

Andy Schlafly speaks out on MSNBC against the Texas HPV vaccine mandate, with video here and here.

In California, the cat-spanking lady introduced a law to force sixth-graders to get the $360 vaccine. If the vaccine were really so great, then people would get it voluntarily.

Update: CNN reports:
But in the real world, Gardasil is getting used less than doctors would like. Pediatricians and gynecologists from Arizona to New York are refusing to stock Gardasil because of its $360 price for the three doses required and "totally inadequate" reimbursement from most insurers.
Apparently the vaccine may not be cost-effective, even if it works as promised and is risk-free.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Barack Obama, the smooth-talking lawyer

A NY Times op-ed says:
Senator Joseph R. Biden's characterization of his fellow Democratic presidential contender Senator Barack Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" was so painfully clumsy that it nearly warranted pity. ...

It is amazing that this still requires clarification, but here it is. Black people get a little testy when white people call them "articulate." ...

"The word perfectly conveys, to quote George Bush, the soft bigotry of low expectations. It literally comes down to that. When people say it, what they are really saying is that someone is articulate ... for a black person." -- Anna Perez. ...

Being articulate must surely be a baseline requirement for a former president of The Harvard Law Review. After all, Webster's definitions of the word include "able to speak" and "expressing oneself easily and clearly." It would be more incredible, more of a phenomenon, to borrow two more of the senator's puzzling words, if Mr. Obama were inarticulate.

That is the core of the issue. When whites use the word in reference to blacks, it often carries a subtext of amazement, even bewilderment. It is similar to praising a female executive or politician by calling her "tough" or "a rational decision-maker."

"When people say it, what they are really saying is that someone is articulate ... for a black person," Ms. Perez said.

Such a subtext is inherently offensive because it suggests that the recipient of the "compliment" is notably different from other black people.
It is news to me that anyone is so sensitive about the word "articulate". It is just not true that being articulate is a baseline requirement for someone of Obama's background, or even a Democrat president. Obama is much more articulate than either Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.

Being articulate is the strongest quality that Obama has demonstrated. His main expertise is that of a lawyer, but I haven't heard him say anything of about law. I haven't heard him say anything of substance about foreign policy or other important topics for a presidential candidate either, but what he does say he says extremely well. How can it be racist to say so?

I think that Hillary Clinton would be helped by being called "tough" or "a rational decision-maker." She is coming across as a wishy-washy opportunist who cannot make up her mind about the Iraq War, and will not be tough against terrorist threats.

Biden claims that he meant "clean" in the sense of "fresh", but Obama is also clean in the sense of "clean-cut", and clean in the sense of having a clean political history. Other black candidates have had histories of selling out to political causes that make them unappealing to mainstream Americans.

I am not convinced that any blacks are really offended by the word "articulate". Being articulate is a high virtue among blacks. Among American blacks of West African descent anyway. I have no idea about someone like Obama. Nobody in the article suggested a better word. Maybe Obama should be called a "smooth-talking lawyer".

Steve Sailor says it is a gaffe to call Obama "Hawaiian", even tho he grew up in Hawaii (except when he lived in Indonesia). Obama's racial mix is different from the more common racial mixes in Hawaii.

Chris Hedges and the Lunatic Left

I just watched Chris Hedges on C-SPAN2 giving a hysterical and paranoid rant about how totalitarian fascists are getting ready to take over the USA. To stop them, we must learn to be less tolerant of Christians. He writes for The Nation, a leftist commie-sympathizer magazine.

He complained that Pres. Bush speaks in code words to Christians by using words like "liberty" in a recent speech. He complained that the book of Genesis in the Bible teaches that the Earth is flat, and is nonsensical because Light is created on the first day, but the Sun is not created until the fourth day.

The Genesis story of creation certainly has many problems, but Hedges sure picked some stupid attacks. Genesis does not say that the Earth is flat. We now know that the light was created billions of years before the Sun. There was light in the first few seconds of the Big Bang. It then took billions of years for stars to form, and billions of years more for those to supernova and die, making star like our Sun possible.

The Bible was written long before modern cosmology. What is Hedges' excuse?

The closest thing Hedges said to an actual fact was this:
45 Senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives earned between 80 to 100% approval rating from the 3 most influential Christian Right advocacy groups, the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and the Family Research Council.
I have no idea whether these figures are correct or not, but I do know that Eagle Forum is not a Christian Right group. It has no religious affiliation. The same could be true about the Family Research Council for all I know. If anything, these figures would show that these 3 groups are in the mainstream, and not fringe groups like The Nation magazine.

Friday, February 02, 2007

How feminists tried to destroy the family

From a UK paper:
Erin Pizzey, founder of the battered wives' refuge, on how militant feminists - with the collusion of Labour's leading women - hijacked her cause and used it to try to demonise all men.
Her story is remarkable.