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2012 March 27 Tuesday
Iraqi Shiites Favor Syrian Dictatorship

Catching up on back reading and came across this funny article from a month ago in the New York Times: Shiites in Iraq (where they rule due to constituting a majority in Iraqi elections) are for a dictatorship in Syrian when that dictatorship keeps Sunnis out of power.

And here in Iraq, where Shiites are a majority, the events across the border have put the nation on edge while hardening a sectarian schism. As Abu Ali discovered, Iraq’s Shiites are now lined up on the side of a Baathist dictatorship in Syria, less than a decade after the American invasion of Iraq toppled the rule of Saddam Hussein and his own Baath Party, which for decades had repressed and brutalized the Shiites.

Similarly, Syria's Christians back Assad because they know a Sunni majority elected government in Syria will treat them far worse. We can see that in Democracy only works well when the divisions in a society aren't deep. Look at what's happening to the Christians in the Middle East. The purge of Christians from Iraq continues. The Coptic Christians of Egypt live in fear now that Hosni Mubarak's dictatorship is ended.

Christians in Sudan have been stripped of their citizenship.

In common with other Arab countries, Arab chauvinism in Sudan is combined with a domineering, supremacist version of Islam. The religious aspect was dramatically underlined at the beginning of March, when Sudan announced that it had stripped around 700,000 of its citizens of their nationality, the vast majority Christian. They have just over two weeks from today to leave Sudan. Those who depart for the south will walk straight into an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. Those who remain in the north face the prospect of imprisonment or forced deportation.

The Western nations now care very little about Christians in the Middle East. Majority rule in the Middle East has little to restrain it. Democracy just unleashes a very illiberal majority. It is not clear why we in Western countries should feel we have a stake in spreading democracy in the Middle East.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 27 09:38 PM  MidEast Political Islam
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2012 March 20 Tuesday
Heartiste Criticizes Charles Murray Over Female Hypergamy

Heartiste is disappointed that Charles Murray, who has rather courageously written so much to bring people to a more accurate view of human nature (and gotten heavily attacked by leftist ideologues for his troubles), still shrinks from fingering female hypergamy as the biggest cause of the decline of the family. Heartiste points out that Murray is contradicting himself.

Look, I have no problem with shaming men who don’t want to work, or who can’t muster the motivation to at least try to find work. It’s not like the existence of self-destructive male bums is unheard of. But Murray DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS his proposed shaming solution with his explanation for the bleak male employment scenario just a few paragraphs above in the very same article! Once more:

Simplifying somewhat, here’s my reading of the relevant causes: Whether because of support from the state or earned income, women became much better able to support a child without a husband over the period of 1960 to 2010. As women needed men less, the social status that working-class men enjoyed if they supported families began to disappear.

Where, pray tell, in that explanation does it follow that men are primarily to blame for their poor employment numbers? Doesn’t the exact opposite conclusion — that women’s mate choices are to blame for men dropping out — seem more obvious? Shouldn’t it be the case then, that single working women on the fast track to single motherhood and alpha cock carouseling are the ones deserving of shame?

Seems obvious to me anyway.

Has Murray missed the hypergamy debate? I still see too many commentators who, while willing to be realistic on IQ and other aspects of human nature, still shrink from looking at human sexuality without sentimentality. This is foolish because natural selection gave us mating strategies that have huge influence on how we behave. Any attempt to explain social pathologies without taking into account differences in female and male mating strategies will reach many serious errors when attempting explanations or to form policy recommendations. We need unsentimental realism about all aspects of human nature.

Murray, like most pundits, is deathly afraid of confronting female hypergamy. For to confront it in full, with all the consequences that entails, would mean arousing the ire of every dim-witted, aggressively stupid feminist, mangina and talk show snarktard with a sympathetic media at its instant disposal. To confront female hypergamy would be to confront the very foundational rationale for the sexual revolution and the fifty year program to equalize social and economic outcomes between men and women.

In one of his greatest accomplishments Heartiste's own writings on hypergamy have influenced mainstream writers. Hypergamy has entered the debate on single motherhood and drop-out males. The decline in benefits that males, especially lower class males, get from marriage has demotivated males toward getting married and working. But lower class male prospects for marriage are due in large part to female preferences for higher class males who they can manage to bed but not get to commit. Females basically playing out of their league have brought upon us the decline of marriage for the lower class and many social pathologies that have come as a result.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 20 10:02 PM  Human Nature Mating
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2012 March 19 Monday
Not Enough Preparing For Retirement

The Employee Benefits Research Institute says the number of workers preparing sufficiently for retirement is declining.

Only 58 percent of workers said they were currently saving money for retirement, compared with a peak of 65 percent in 2009. The decline in the number of people saving was all in households earning less than $75,000. Furthermore, significant numbers of workers said they had to make unplanned withdrawals from their savings in order to meet ordinary expenses.

With the phase-out of defined benefit pension plans I do not see how most people are going to prepare sufficiently for retirement. Most people just don't have long enough time horizons. Their lives are far more focused on short term desires. So I expect poverty among the elderly to rise in future generations and people will find themselves working into their 70s.

This problem is made worse due to demographic changes. Singles do worse in saving for retirement and yet singles are a growing portion of the populace.

DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS: Singles, blacks, and high school dropouts do not have a sound financial standing in retirement. Their expenditures exceed their income and they hold very little financial wealth. The bottom income quartile, which includes mostly these demographic groups, has the weakest financial standing in retirement.

Another example: I do not see how the future and poorer population of California is going to be able to prepare for their retirement as well as current retirees. Thank you immigration enthusiasts for your lack of foresight and willful ignorance.

It is dawning on people that they'll have to work longer.

Twenty-five percent of workers in the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey say the age at which they expect to retire has changed in the past year. In 1991, 11 percent of workers said they expected to retire after age 65, and by 2012 that has grown to 37 percent.

I repeat advice I've previously offered here: Save more. Work harder. Build up more skills. Spend less. Choose a career path that will enable you to work longer. Get out of your comfort zone and accept you aren't doing well enough. Now, that might not apply to a few of you who have great savings and career prospects that make it very easy to control the latter years of your working careers. But the vast majority need to prepare better for changes coming in the US marketplace and with lower retirement benefits from government and other sources.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 19 08:42 PM  Economics Retirement
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Jon Hamm Sees Reality Stars As Idiots

Kim Kardashian? Paris Hilton?

The Mad Men actor referred to the reality star when he recently hit out at the cult of celebrity in an interview with April's Elle UK magazine, saying that it made ' f***ing idiots' like Kim and Paris Hilton into millionaires.

Hamm probably doesn't want the competition. But is Mad Men less harmful to the development of adolescent minds than reality TV shows? It has been too many years since I saw any TV show episode for me to judge.

Reality TV as "a sort of car crash sensibility".

'It’s a part of our culture that I certainly don’t identify with, and I don’t really understand the appeal of it other than in a sort of car crash sensibility,' he said.

I've only ever seen short excerpts of Jersey Shore in online videos. Not owning a TV I've gotten pretty insulated from what comes across on TV channels nowadays. But Jersey Shore's sensibility strikes me as aimed at people who already have impulsive simple minds. It is an unfortunate side effect of having many media channels that some can specialize in producing content that glorifies simple minds living impulsive lives.

We used to have more cultural gatekeepers. We still have such gatekeepers for political correctness (and said gatekeepers cause great damage by suppressing the truth about IQ for example). But we have gatekeepers where they do damage and we lack them where they would help. We really need gatekeepers for the cultural fare the media companies deliver to the dumbest and most impulsive. But such gatekeepers would reduce profits. So that's not going to happen.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 19 07:51 PM  Cultural Wars Values
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2012 March 15 Thursday
The Derb On Chemo

Sad to report John Derbyshire is on chemotherapy for cancer

The base state for a chemotherapy patient, at least for this one, is listless apathy. Everything seems to move at half-speed. Tasks I could accomplish in a couple of hours now take all morning. This isn’t particularly unpleasant, just income-diminishing for a freelancer on piecework.

Serious bummer. The Derb is one of the guys who write about politics and human nature without attachment to irrational ideologies. The Derb thinks we are all doomed (true enough) and his writings bring to mind the idea that the center can not hold.

Came about this strangely coming from David Weigel at Slate (which is more notable for foaming hatred of the Right). Weigel writes warm words for the Derb.

I would wish the Derb well. But he and I both know wishes won't work against cancer. We need far more advanced biomedical science and biotechnology to defeat that killer.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 15 09:42 PM  Life And Death
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2012 March 13 Tuesday
California's Grim Demographics

Heather Mac Donald takes a look at how poorly Hispanics are doing in California. As goes California so goes the rest of the nation in a generation or two.

The family situations of these young gangbangers are typical of California’s lower-class Hispanic population, characterized by high rates of single parenthood, teen pregnancy, and welfare use. Michael’s unmarried mother is on welfare. The mother of Salvador’s 16-year-old girlfriend recently sent her to Washington State to keep her away from him—too late, since she is already pregnant. “If she has the kid, I’ll stop messing around and take care of it,” he says. Salvador’s father was arrested in January for drug possession and deported after serving time in the Orange County jail; he is presently planning his return. Casimiro claims that his parents tolerate his gang activities: “I be going to parks and I be like, I was like kind of nervous in the beginning but I was like, ‘Get used to it,’ but they were cool with it,” he says. Perhaps Casimiro is accurately conveying his family’s attitudes toward his gang-banging; social workers in Santa Ana and Los Angeles tell of multigenerational gang families in which the fathers smoke pot and take meth with their children. Equally likely, however, is that Casimiro’s parents oppose criminality but cannot keep him away from the streets.

Multigenerational gang families. Since we've left the Malthusian Trap we no longer have selective pressures to increase the incidence of cultural beliefs and and genes for middle class behaviors. (and more here and here and here). We would need an end to the welfare state, draconian police enforcement and other policies currently beyond the pale to create the pressures needed to end Hispanic gang culture. Absent a revolution in upper class thinking I expect our society to deteriorate.

Some of the more Panglossian pundits on the Right try to argue that Hispanics should be targeted for recruitment since they embrace family values. This is delusional. Over half of all Hispanic births are out of wedlock.

on Pederson works as a pastor in the Willard area of Santa Ana, a formerly middle-class neighborhood of stucco apartment blocks whose balconies now sport bright blue tarps and small satellite dishes. Participation in gangs and drug culture is rising in the second and third generation of Hispanic immigrants, he observes. “It’s a perfect storm. When a family comes from Mexico, both parents need to work to survive; their ability to monitor their child’s life is limited.” Families take in boarders, often kin, who sometimes rape and impregnate the young daughters. “Daddy hunger” in girls raised by single mothers is expressed in promiscuity, Pederson says; the boys, meanwhile, channel their anger into gang life. Nearly 53 percent of all Hispanic births in California are now out of wedlock, and Hispanics have the highest teen birthrate of all ethnic groups. Pederson saw similar patterns as a missionary in Central America: teen pregnancy, single-parent families with six or eight serial fathers, and high poverty rates.

I despair for the future of the United States.

Update: Also see Heather's article Less Academics, More Narcissism. Also see Lost Angeles by Joel Kotkin. LA is going to fade into insignificance.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 13 09:34 PM  Immigration Societal Decay
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2012 March 11 Sunday
Chuck Rudd On “Chicks Dig Jerks” And Agentic Men

Chuck Rudd of Gucci Little Piggy argues that women who are attracted to assholes are really attracted to men who are assertive. The assertiveness is a signal for a man who can get resources. Are positive agentic men as attractive to women as negative agentic men?

But I think the “Chicks Dig Jerks” argument can go a little bit further. It’s not that women dig the jerkiness, per se; they just prefer the agency, the assertiveness.

I’d argue that women prefer positive agentic men, but often settle for negative agentic men – assholes – because the most desired group is in short supply and high demand. Along an evo psych framework – much like the one offered by the National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson who I think must be reading Heartiste – I argue that women, in general, are attracted to men who will increase their pool of resources. Positive agentic men have access to resources and are more likely to share those resources with the women in their lives. Negative agentic men will get resources through more direct and assholish ways, but they’ll obtain resources nonetheless. Even if the negative agentic is selfish the woman he is with will benefit indirectly.

My guess: there are genetic variants that cause different women to lean more toward positive or negative agentic men. How are those genetic variants distributed? Also, how does IQ influence a woman's attraction toward different kinds of agentic men? Also, does finger length ratio influence the preference for positive versus negative agentic men?

Update: My guess is that higher testosterone in women might make them less inclined to like agentic men because the testosterone makes them more like men. So feminine desire for agentic men would be lower in women whose minds are more like male minds. Could be wrong on this.

What I also wonder: Are higher testosterone women less likely to seek the advice of other women about which men to be attracted to? Does the female desire for confirmation of desires run less strongly among females whose minds are less feminine?

By Randall Parker 2012 March 11 09:19 AM  Human Natue Sexuality
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2012 March 10 Saturday
Massive Open Online Courses Taking Off

Online education is starting to reach critical mass.

Consider Stanford’s experience: Last fall, 160,000 students in 190 countries enrolled in an Artificial Intelligence course taught by Mr. Thrun and Peter Norvig, a Google colleague. An additional 200 registered for the course on campus, but a few weeks into the semester, attendance at Stanford dwindled to about 30, as those who had the option of seeing their professors in person decided they preferred the online videos, with their simple views of a hand holding a pen, working through the problems.

The bricks-and-mortar college campus model is headed for obsolescence. It makes far more sense to have a small number of the best lecturers and cutting edge researchers record videos that can be watched by hundreds of thousands or even millions. We get multiple advantages from this approach:

  • Lower costs. No need to hire many professors to each lecture to small groups.
  • Higher quality. Only the best lecturers can be used.
  • Greater convenience. No need to drive to a campus or live on a campus. No need to attend the lecture right when it is first delivered. Watch when you want to from where you want to.
  • The ability to watch different lecturers on the same subject in order to see different ways of looking at the same topic area.

What else we need: more standard tests that one can take online to test one's understanding of a topic area. Also, facilities where one can take proctored tests for a wide range of subjects. Some companies already make a business out of this with industry standard tests such as for Cisco networking certifications and Microsoft certifications. We need the same model to cover understanding of basic college courses such as Calculus and Organic Chemistry.

I expect in the next 10 years the online courses are going to start driving some traditional colleges out of business. The uptake rate for online education is rapidly accelerating. This will raise productivity and cut costs across the economy.

Another important advantage of online education: it will break up the educational factory model.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 10 07:59 PM  Education Online
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Britain: The Young Person's Guide To Emigration

An article from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph goes over the bleak prospects for many younger people in Britain and then surveys emigration destinations.

It is not a great time to be a young person in Britain. The unemployment rate among under-25s is 20 per cent and rising. Highly skilled roles are being taken by German, Swiss and French graduates. At the other end of the spectrum British workers are losing out to cheaper competition from Eastern Europe, Asia and South America.

Even if you have a job, you are unlikely to be able to live very well. You might not be able to buy a house for years. The average deposit on a house in Britain, according to a survey by Santander, is £37,000. The average age of first-time buyer is nearly 40.

So far most Americans haven't felt a need to leave the United States because the country is big enough that they can move somewhere else. The big exodus from California is an example of this phenomenon. But the attraction of other places beyond America's shores will grow.

What I'm wondering: will declining telecommunications cost lead to the emergence of small countries that suck in the smartest workers? Will emigration become a means of sorting by cognitive ability? For example, could New Zealand fulfill that role? Imagine what Singapore's government could do along those lines if only it had more land to work with.

Is a solution possible in Europe? Unfortunately, the European Union's open internal borders make it difficult for a southern European country with pleasant climate to develop that niche. The smarties need a government that will enforce very selective immigration rules and also that can attract so many smart people that the smarties can basically take over the country. Could some European country manage to keep itself out of the EU and develop a brain power niche?

By Randall Parker 2012 March 10 07:43 PM  Immigration Brain Drain
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2012 March 05 Monday
Eric Holder Argues For Killing American Terrorists Abroad

Some US citizens should become eligible to explore the afterlife at the push of a UAV missile launch button if they cross certain lines.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Americans who have joined al Qaeda or its affiliates can be targeted for lethal strikes if there is an imminent threat to the United States and capturing them is not feasible

If Americans were far more homogeneous (i.e. if we did not allow birthright citizenship and immigration of believers of a hostile religion and if our liberal beliefs hadn't become hostile to the idea of a dominant culture whose norms all should embrace) then I could see treating all Americans abroad has possessed of special protection as far as US foreign policy is concerned. But this isn't the 1950s. Our elites have seen fit to cheapen and dilute the value of US citizenship, to bestow it automatically on those indifferent to or even enemies of the United States.

Look at basic facts about Anwar al-Awlaki's US citizenship and killing by US forces.

Awlaki was born in 1971 in the southern US state of New Mexico, where his father, Nasser, a future Yemeni agriculture minister and university president, was studying agricultural economics.

He lived in the US until the age of seven, when his family returned to Yemen.

After studying Islam during his teenage years, Awlaki returned to the US to gain a degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University and a master's in education at San Diego State.

Why should he have had US citizenship in the first place? Making it so easy to get US citizenship cheapens its value. If someone has citizenship and yet has no allegiance to the United States, no emotional bond, no sense of common cause with the American people, then why should we act like he's one of us? I see no reason whatsoever to treat him as being owed special status as a US citizen.

The problem here is that the US government wants to de facto yank someone's citizenship without doing it de jure. Why? The de jure step takes us down the road toward standards for who qualifies for citizenship. They don't want to open that can of worms.

I think we need levels of citizenship. Some of the rights of US citizens should earned. We already have that to some extent and we even have some mechanisms for revoking rights. For example, felons can't vote. We need more gradations of privileges and rights so that it is clear to all that US citizenship bears with it responsibilities and obligations.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 05 08:58 PM  Immigration Terrorism
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2012 March 04 Sunday
Least Skilled Little Employed

As long time readers know, I want to put a total end to low skilled immigration. Every immigrant to the United States should be very smart and very useful. The era when lots of human brawn was needed for manufacturing and construction is long gone and more manual labor tasks are getting automated every day. To give you a sense of just low little market value the least skilled have: Most high school drop-outs do not have jobs.

Less than 40% of the 25 million Americans over age 25 who lack a high-school diploma are employed. And those who are working don't earn much.

High school drop-outs have much lower IQs on average than college graduates. It is not like we can do miraculous educational reforms that will enable schools to turn drop-outs into brilliant engineers and entrepreneurs. With rare exceptions the drop-outs aren't smart enough to learn skills that will make them highly useful in an economy where even truck drivers will eventually be replaced by robots.

By Randall Parker 2012 March 04 09:51 PM  Human Nature Cognitive Ability
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Are You A Good Person?

The Last Psychiatrist weighs in:

"I'm a good person, I just am making bad choices." Wrong. You're not a good person until you make good choices. Until then you are chaos.

And you know it.

The summing up gives no hint to what the full post is about.

What I wonder about from the full post: Would a woman pretend to want to commit suicide just to get her boyfriend to dump her?

By Randall Parker 2012 March 04 07:22 PM  Ethics
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