Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Foreign policy excuses.
  2. Coming to the dance, and darn it all, but someone else has the same dress.
  3. And then … have a cup.
  4. Oddly enough, I have an LED bulb in my bathroom because it is brighter than the incandescent (the fixture limits because of heat to 60 watts, I put a liquid cooled LED 75+ watt equivalent which draws under 20 watts … and voila … more light than ever).
  5. Them folx are serious about their drinking (and avoiding taxes).
  6. Wow.
  7. Syria and gas … and who dun it … so cui bono? Al Qaeda or an equivalent?
  8. Sweets and athletes.
  9. Anti-Semitism as proof of the devil.
  10. Rape and vigilantism.
  11. One explanation …
  12. Luxury and academe.

13 Responses to Monday Highlights

  1. Syria and gas … and who dun it … so cui bono? Al Qaeda or an equivalent?

    This piece speaks of Al Qaeda as if it was an army, the impression I get is that it’s a rather loose confederation of small groups.

  2. Rape and vigilantism.

    speaker of which, I finally finished Pinker’s Better Angeles on Kindle borrowed from the NJ Digital Library (had to renew it multiple times). Well worth the effort. I’d note that the US and Europe had huge amounts of rape and other types of violence against women and the huge shift in that trend happened with the mass empowerment of women, esp. a cultural shift that saw them as complete owners of their sexuality.

    Vigilantism may be a solution in individual cases but it never has been a major factor in any serious decline in violence or crime.

  3. Anti-Semitism as proof of the devil.

    Cute but it kind of hits a brick wall at the 2nd assumption. We know that random and choatic functions can sometimes generate results that seem quite intelligent. so let’s look at anti-semitism in light of that.

    Let’s say that tribal prejudice is neither good or bad in itself. It can be good in that it motivates virtues like loyality, bravery, dedication, a willingness to sacrifice for the common good. It can also be evil in that it can motivate genocide, bigotry, lynchings and pogroms etc. Let’s say the assortment of humans into tribal groups is essentially ‘random and choatic’. There are big groups and small, some groups with few neighbors, some with many.

    Some tribes will then be highly concentrated geographically, others will be highly dispersed geographically. A highly dispersed tribe will suffer:

    1. Contact with a large number of other tribes, which offers the chance of hostility (I’m assuming that for tribes to be hostile to each other they have to have some type of contact…or at least be near each other).

    2. Their numbers will be dispersed making it difficult to intimidate other tribes or defend themselves from an outright attack.

    If tribes are allocated more or less randomly, then some tribe has to have the record for most concentrated and some other tribe will be the most dispersed. If you’re at the top of the dispersed list something like anti-semitism is likely to happen.

  4. One explanation …

    I think it can be read as a slightly positive sign. As noted in their comments, it costs next to nothing to advertise a position so employers who are edging closer to actually hiring can cheaply deploy some ads to see what types of people reply. That’s not quite the same, though, as a skill mismatch where an employer is advertising because he needs someone but won’t hire because everyone who answers the ad isn’t what he is looking for.

  5. Boonton,
    Looks interesting. I may get it. So … how likely are the trends to reverse? On what does that trend depends? And was the middle of the 20th century less violent than the middle of the 2nd?

    And decline in violence, like your criticism against open carry in bars being having no difference in gun violence (which you point out might just be “different people” being shot) might be the wrong metric. If vigilantism doesn’t lower the violence rate it might mean different people are on the short end of the violence, i.e., if the number of perpetrators beaten balances the number of women not being beaten there is still at net gain although “violence” remains constant.

  6. Boonton,
    One question that came to mind the other day for me was why hasn’t an anti-Al-Qaeda arisen, i.e., a loose confederation of non-governmental people banding together over modern communication networks to hunt terrorists groups like Al-Qaeda? Seems to me just as al-Qaeda likely gets funding via the back door from Muslim dominated nations, these groups might get back door funding from Western powers.

    So? Why didn’t it happen?

  7. Boonton,
    Random and chaotic functions rarely actually seem intelligent. Spend a half hour watching static on the TV and see how that compares to a well written show.

  8. Looks interesting. I may get it. So … how likely are the trends to reverse? On what does that trend depends? And was the middle of the 20th century less violent than the middle of the 2nd?

    Not really, believe it or not war deaths seem to follow a power rule for their distribution and WWI and II didn’t break the trend curve. As for 20th century vs 2nd, 2nd probably wins but the drivers of declining violence appear to come in waves. The first was expansion of gov’t. Absent a centralized king or gov’t, there’s a very high level of violence (think Somalia warlords, medeval knights). Centralized gov’ts combined with ideology, though, produce a lot of violence. The Crusades, Europe’s wars of religion and then nationalistic wars from around the Nepolianic age. Democracy then produces another decline in violence along with the lifting up of Reason. Feminization seems to have kicked into high gear in the post 50′s to 60′s era. He covers lots of trends and potential hypothesises (evolutionary ones such as the industrial revolution might have promoted certain genes among Britains. And he is willing to target politically correct thesises as well so I think you’ll find lots of interesting stuff to chew on.

    And decline in violence, like your criticism against open carry in bars being having no difference in gun violence (which you point out might just be “different people” being shot) might be the wrong metric. If vigilantism doesn’t lower the violence rate it might mean different people are on the short end of the violence

    Well two things. One is we are talking about rates of violence on a macro-scale. All things being the same, being in a bar today when a fight breaks out is safer on average than a bar in 1960 or 50 or 30 or 1870. Now I don’t really know if being in a bar with a concealed carry law or one without is safer, maybe it’s just a toss up.

    The other interesting fact was that most violent crime is NOT about your usual vices of lust, envy or greed. Most people caught up doing violence believe they were trying to achieve ‘rough justice’. In other words taking justice into their own hands and avenging some slight or wrong they perceive the victim is guilty of. This type of violence goes hand in hand with ‘honor culture’…and the US is very interesting because it’s roughly split between the north which was populated by British culture and the south and west which was populated by more rural culture. Honor culture is stronger in the south and west and rates of violence are higher there than the north. The west used to be much more violent because settlers reached it before law did. It’s rate didn’t really come down until the arrival of women in large numbers, who brought with them the institutions of church and family to check unruly young men’s impulses. (Think of Clint Eastwood’s dead wife in Unforgiven)

    What’s interesting is the confluence of so many variables. I suspect concealed guns in bars may or may not work the way you expect. In a high honor culture, it may be a bad idea since it will more likely escalate fights than be used for purely self-defense (Gene Hackman’s character in Unforgiven was onto something as he required all guns be checked at the sheriff’s office for visitors arriving in town). On the other hand it may be marginally good in a less honor driven culture where the person who uses it may be more likely to simply be responding in a purely self-defensive manner.

    One question that came to mind the other day for me was why hasn’t an anti-Al-Qaeda arisen, i.e., a loose confederation of non-governmental people banding together over modern communication networks to hunt terrorists groups like Al-Qaeda?

    If Al-Qaeda consists of maybe 1,000 people scattered around the globe in different ‘affiliated groups’ what would such a confederation do? The movement may simply be too small for many non-gov’t actors to infilitrate directly (how many non-law enforcement citizens in the United States are trying to hunt down drug kingpins or Mafia family networks?) Syria seems to be a civil war based on a minority religious clan that holds the bulk of gov’t power against a majority of the population. Most of the Arab world is aligned with the majority, but Iran is aligned with the minority clan. Al Qaeda may fight with the majority group but it’s probably one of many factions there.

    Random and chaotic functions rarely actually seem intelligent. Spend a half hour watching static on the TV and see how that compares to a well written show.

    Well you also need some simple rules, that in themselves need not be intelligent. Consider the air, how nicely it lines up in different layers…sort of like an interesting layer cake. Yet we know that you can achieve that simply by randomly mixing up a bunch of gas molecules and letting gravity and pressure cause them to sort themselves out. The rules I sketched out for how different tribes interact are simple in themselves, not out to design anything either good or evil. Yet they do seem to predict things like anti-semitism will develop without special intervention by an intelligent agent…good or evil.

  9. Boonton,
    Uhm, about 2% of the population was killed in WW2 in about a decade. It’s pretty clear that 2% of the population did not die in 1960 … so either your smoothing that out or it is a bump. The other side of that question then is that in the first milenium, did 2% die every year from violence. You haven’t offered any figures on what where your trend starts and where you think it is now.

    Now I don’t really know if being in a bar with a concealed carry law or one without is safer, maybe it’s just a toss up.

    The study found open carry in bars did not impact gun violence.

    Uhm,

    Honor culture is stronger in the south and west and rates of violence are higher there than the north.

    You really really really need to read Ablion’s Seed The “South” you speak of was two separate folkways from different places.

    If Al-Qaeda consists of maybe 1,000 people scattered around the globe in different ‘affiliated groups’ what would such a confederation do?

    It’s unclear on how to answer a hypothetical so clearly wrong. Can I ask you how the Vietnam war would turn out if 17 was not a prime number?

  10. The other side of that question then is that in the first milenium, did 2% die every year from violence

    Odd the book is still on my Kindle….thought it would be yanked by now…

    On infanticide alone 10-15% of all babies were killed shortly after birth, sometimes this figure approached 50% in some groups. In China there’s an old saying, “A daughter is like spilled water”….it was common for midwives to keep a bucket of water beside the birth mother…for drowning an unwanted girl…and this isn’t something new resulting from the ‘one child policy’.

    And this isn’t something that disappeared when Christianity took over Europe from the remains of Rome. Though out the Middle Ages infanticide was practiced on a mass scale which can be seen by comparing birth records of wealthy familes (avg 5.1 births) to poor (1.8 births). From infanticide alone you can probably get a 2% death from violence rate for nearly all the centuries before WWII.

    Of course beyond infanticide you get a lot of violence. If you wanted to be born in a time with a high chance of being killed violently, the 2nd century would be a much better choice than 1939.

    The study found open carry in bars did not impact gun violence.

    I doubt it could be measured properly. That means we can say the ‘signal’ (either it makes violence worse or better) must be weak, otherwise it would be able to be detected from the noise. But beyond that you can’t say ‘no impact’, only that impact can’t be detected.

    It’s unclear on how to answer a hypothetical so clearly wrong.

    What’s so clearly wrong? That Al-Qaeda is scattered around the globe as a bunch of loosely affiliated groups? Or that it has maybe 1000 total people? Well if you look at wikipedia their estimates of Al-Qaeda’s members are 50-100 in Afghanistan, 300-800 in Maghreb, 500-600 in Yemen, 2500 in Iraq. How many people in the Us might be in the Mafia? Certainly more than 50-100! Yet you can spend your whole life never knowing a single real mafiousio. The highest estimate is Syria of 6-10K but that seems to be by counting ‘Al Nusra, indirect associate’ and who really knows whose fighting who in Syria these days.

    Even these estimates are probably too high when you consider at the margins some members are probably pretty loosely connected and many ‘local Al-Qaedas’ contain members who are dedicated to a local cause (i.e. the cause of some local warlord who has aligned his clan with Al Qaeda) and only loosely loyal to Al-Qaeda’s international terrorism goals.

  11. Boonton,
    Infanticide is similar to abortion in an age where surgery was so iffy. Do you want to add abortion to today’s figures?

    Of course beyond infanticide you get a lot of violence. If you wanted to be born in a time with a high chance of being killed violently, the 2nd century would be a much better choice than 1939.

    That’s not a percentage. A random person had a 2% chance of dying … way way way higher if in Poland or the Ukraine during WWII. You make the claim that it was still higher back then. I have a figure 2% for the 30s. What was the higher figure from 2 or 3 thousand years ago?

    But beyond that you can’t say ‘no impact’, only that impact can’t be detected.

    Ask your liberal anti-gun crowd if they agree with that. No reason to change any laws if the impact is not measurable, eh?

    We are fighting 100 people in Afghanistan? I question that notion. But that begs the question why there are not extra-governmental groups going after them. The mafia isn’t going on donations for its money, al-Qaeda is. Seems to me you’d have more donors and money to fund people outside of governments to “go after” terrorists. But (apparently) we don’t. Why?

  12. Boonton,

    . If you wanted to be born in a time with a high chance of being killed violently, the 2nd century would be a much better choice than 1939.

    Another reading suggestion Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder.

  13. Infanticide is similar to abortion in an age where surgery was so iffy. Do you want to add abortion to today’s figures?

    Even if you do this period is still pretty competitive to the past in terms of violence. Keep in mind abortion existed in the past too so you’d have to add the past’s abortion figures as well. And while we’re at it why not add in what was done to kids who weren’t aborted or killed as infants. Ever read about the ‘orphan trains’? Vagrant children were collected from the streets of cities like NYC, put on trains by Catholic charities and sent out west where they were put on stages so families could ‘adopt’ them after inspecting them like cattle. As bad as that sounds, it was actually an act of charity because even at the turn of hte last century the cities had tens of thousands of children who literally lived in the streets without any adult supervision. The chimney sweeps of England who died either on the job or of scrotum cancer in their young adult years were in many ways better off for having some way to make a living. Even the recent past doesn’t commend itself when compared to our present.

    That’s not a percentage. A random person had a 2% chance of dying … way way way higher if in Poland or the Ukraine during WWII.

    If infanticide ranged from 10-15% that alone would trump a 2% chance of dying in WWII. But I will try to pull out some more data for you. Hunter-gatherer ancestors I see quoted at 15-60% chance of meeting their end violently (that probably does not include infanticide), which certainly trumps even the 20th century’s rate with WWI, II and various genocides in Communist and other countries.

    http://www.literaryreview.co.uk/kaufmann_12_11.php quotes the wars of religion in Europe in the 16th and 17th century killing 2% of the population (but it cites the world wars as killing 3%). The odds of war death in the middle ages was either on a par with war death in WWII or even greater (remember there were plenty of non-religious wars to go around…and the middle ages offered you plenty of ways to get yourself executed). On top of that you had regular homicide death which was certainly higher in the middle ages.

    Ask your liberal anti-gun crowd if they agree with that. No reason to change any laws if the impact is not measurable, eh?

    Most laws can’t be measured. In fact most things can’t be measured. Companies spend billions on advertising yet only a tiny fraction of that is anywhere near suitable for rigerous analysis. When you can’t measure things you have to go on hunches and whether your theories are plausible or not. For example, most places do not allow bars to be open all night on the theory that the later people spend drinking, the more likely they are to engage in bad behavior. I don’t know that this theory have ever been rigerously tested. Maybe out in the sticks where there’s nothing to do an all night bar will provide somewhere where people can drink in a supervised environment.

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