Tuesday, November 30, 2004
File this under WTF
The latest film from French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, A Very Long Engagement, has been declared not French by a Paris court.
The film, which lands in theatres in North America on Friday, was shot in France using French actors and a French crew. [emphasis mine]
More Target goodies
And speaking of humming, Target also has a a good deal on blow jobs at the moment. (h/t boing boing)
On a somewhat related note I have the email id santaclaus AT vt dot edu and I occassionally get emails from random strangers asking what they'll be getting for christmas (like today). I think santa will be shopping at Target this year...
Sleazy SciFi Covers
Monday, November 29, 2004
Nature v Nurture v Libertarian v Liberal
This produced a number of results that you already knew like:
Your height is strongly influenced by your biological parents' height (nature)
Your probability of smoking is strongly influenced by whether or not you were raised in a household that smokes (nurture).
But the one result that has gotten everyone's attention (I'm using "everyone" very loosely) is the comparison of the children's income against their parents' income. The biological kids' incomes are strongly (and positively) correlated with their parents' incomes. However, the adopted kids show virtually no correlation with their adopted parents' incomes. This indicates that there's a strong correlation between genetics (or nature) and income.
If you read Gene Expression (and if you're not reading the site, you should be), you would know this is a subject they couldn't pass up (Gene Expression's unwritten motto seems to be "IQ is the best indicator of almost everything and IQ is largely determined by genetics" - a point I won't quibble with, they're just unusually upfront about it). So shortly after I read the post on marginal revolution, TangoMan already had a post up. He says about the same thing and directs his readers to the Nurture Assumption(which I haven't read). However he also offers this interesting observation.
Jane Galt (a libertarian site) and Kevin Drum (a liberal site, formerly CalPundit, now Washington Monthly's blog) have both linked to the same piece. We now have an interesting case study unfolding before our eyes as to how one's political leanings color one's reaction to a specific data point.
Reading the comments to the two posts have made for quite the amusing afternoon. Sometimes political labels DO have meaning.
Sacerdote seems to have hidden the paper behind a pay for access wall. If you want a copy and I know who you are, email me, and we'll see what we can do...
The point of the plot was not the disparity of incomes between biological children and the adopted children, but the relative shape of the curves.
The biological childrens' incomes positively (and strongly) correlate with their parents' incomes and the plot of children's income versus parents' income slopes sharply up. This is an expected result and is traditionally attributed to these kids being a) exposed to the same type of peer groups b) afforded the same types of educational opportunities c) able to tap into their parents' network of connections.
The adopted childrens' incomes, however, exhibit virtually no correlation between their adoptive parents' incomes and their incomes hence their curve is practically flat. However, it is reasonable to assume that the adopted kids would also have access to a), b), and c). Even if the adopted kids have a massive number of disadvantages arrayed against them, then increasing parental wealth should be reflected in increasing adopted child wealth (adopted child wealth still should exhibit positive correlation with adopted parental wealth).
The key implication from this plot is there is clearly something that parents impart to their biological children in proportion to their income that parents cannot/do not impart to their adoptive children. There is one simple thing that biological parents give to their children that adoptive parents cannot give to their children - their genes. A genetic explanation neatly explains the relative slope of the two plots.
All other potential sources of explanation (racial, difference in treatment of biological and adoptive children) fail unless you suppose that those sources are applied in a manner that is inversely proportional to the nurture benefit imparted by increasing parental income.
A similar explanation is given in the follow-up over at marginalrevolution.
As a final note, commentors on other sites (and JP here) have questioned the data set sizes used to create the plot. I have taken the liberty of extracting the relevant table from the paper and have displayed it below. As you can see, reasonably sized samples were used for each data point.
Target branches out
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Do it for America
I found a site today called the Geography Olympics. You can check the site out here. Entrants indicate the nation (and state, if they choose the United States) they want to represent, and then they take a ten question quiz.
Given a map of the world, the player has 200 seconds to find 10 countries on a clickable, draggable map. After the player has finished the 10 questions, the quiz is scored, and the result is added to a rolling average of players from that country (and state).
I think that you can only play 3 times a day. The quiz said something about not being able to cheat, but given that I really only had trouble with one of my questions, I could have easily looked that one up and still had time to finish.
Oh well, I got 90 percent on my first try, because I couldn't find Tonga.
Give it a shot, and let the bragging begin...I'm especially talking to all of you trivia people out there.
Presidential Pardon Scandal
Clinton may have had his way with an intern, but Bush has sunk to a new low...
Click here to see the damning photo
UpdateLink fixed...Now shamelessly using Bill's bandwidth...
Friday, November 26, 2004
In praise of France
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Confusing the Spanish
But mostly it’s kinda silly to join a “Club for smart people” whose name means “Stupid”
What I really wonder is why this group of people in Mexico chose to join MENSA...
One of the primary reasons the pilgrims had so much extra food the second time around was their ending of collectivism. The first year the pilgrims shared all of their production communally, and shock of shocks, virtually no one worked the fields. The next year the system was ended and the pilgrims found themsleves with more food than they knew what to do with.
Of course, you don't have to believe me on this story, you can just believe William Bradford (h/t Marginal Revolution, though I first heard this story on Rush some years ago)
At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.
The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.
Beer is good for you
Klosterbraueri Neuzelle, a former monastery brewery in Neuzelle, Germany, says it has developed a beer named Bathbeer that is designed to slow the aging process. The beverage contains vitamins, minerals and an algae called spirulina.However, the beer may have problems in Germany...
The beer, which is expected to be introduced this week, claims to provide rejuvenation through either drinking or dabbing on the skin. In addition to Germany, it will be released in the United States, Poland and South Korea.
Interestingly, one problem with the beer is that its manufacture might not be legal under Germany's beer purity regulation. The Reinheitsgebot, as it is called, is the world's oldest valid law, dating from 1516. It requires that beer contain only four ingredients: hops, barley, yeast and water.No word yet if the Germans are ready to reconsider certifying the beer bear whiz river or how this would fit into Skilink's "Drink Beer Get Thin Diet". Or how this beer will compete with Guinness.
Slashing prices on the game cube
Actually, it's intended as a controller for Resident Evil 4. I almost have to buy the game just for the controller (and I'm not a fan of first person shooters). (h/t Gizmodo)
A Game Theorist's Wet Dream
Diane had longed to bandwagon with Jack since their first year in grad school. In their own prisoner's dilemma, she now knew that she wanted more than just tit-for-tat -- she had to have Jack's grim trigger. This wasn't just a one-shot interaction for her. She wanted repeated play -- and although she would never say this out loud, she sensed that Jack had a very long shadow of the future.Be sure to thank Daniel Drezner for putting the grim trigger in a whole new light.
I know I used to hate it when I would be out at a bar talking to a girl when her friend would slide in and "grim trigger block" me.
Back in town
I have a number of posts backlogged in my mind that I need to get out (a bout of blogispation) so I may post quite a bit today (including some news from the conference)...
Monday, November 22, 2004
BOSTON—Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, a group that gained national prominence in the months before the 2004 election, announced Monday that it will continue its campaign "to set the record straight about John Kerry."
"We've made great progress in spreading the truth about John Kerry's treasonous past, but our job isn't over just because he lost the presidency," said John O'Neill, founding member of the Swift Vets and author of Unfit For The Community, a new book arguing that Kerry's Vietnam service record indicates that he would make a dangerous neighbor. "John Kerry is a threat to every American he comes in contact with, whether he's running for president, getting his oil changed, or going to a movie with his wife."
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Two years ago, my advisor, a colleague and I gave a tutorial on software radio at the conference. (pretty cool, ehh? Giving a tutorial on software radio at a software radio conference.) In conjunction with this tutorial, we filmed 8 hours of our tutorial for release on a set of DVDs. At the 2002 conference, the SDR Forum (who paid the production costs) was selling our DVDs for about $500. At the 2003 conference, the Forum was selling our DVDs for about $250. This year, every conference registrant got a copy of the DVDs for free.
Always fun when the market tells you exactly how much your work is worth.
However, I'm actually not that bothered by the DVDs being given away. We had contracted Virginia Tech's Video Broadcasting Services group to do the filiming and post-production. And the production of the video is so bad, it's actually comical. There's innumerable audio and video hiccups. There's a lovely three minutes where my advisor is just staring at the screen not saying anything. Twice during my portion, you hear instructions from the VT production crew for me to stop and go back and redo a bit; once they interrupt my segment with a question about who would be doing the next segment. Really, the production value is so low, that a) I believe we could've gotten better value from a pair of teenagers pulled off the street and b) it's so bad it just has to be seen to be believed.
So with the SDR Forum giving away the DVDs, the price finally matches the production value.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
End of the Internet
Robots are being used to trick sick kids into thinking that cats might actually be affectionate!
Via Adam at Trickeration we learn that some robots are being equipped with shotguns!
In an even more sinister development, Allen from mackenab.com emails the following link to an article on a robot whose only purpose is to make bathroom patrons think someone is having an extended bowel movement.
If you are reading this and have been genetically modified to shoot lasers out of your arms, you should start preparing now for when you must protect the last human family from being eliminated due to their inefficiencies. Fortunately, a crude simulation of this eventuality has already been developed. So if you're serious about saving humanity, you must practice, practice, practice!
If your boss interrupts your practice, you should calmly explain that work is nowhere near as important as preventing the world from being overrun by shotgun wielding, flatulent robotic cats. Then you should shoot him with your laser arms.
I know why. Mars failed to sign Kyoto.
Michael Malin, president of Malin Space Science Systems, talked about gullies that may have been sculpted recently by liquid water; evidence of ancient seas; and the discovery that the planet's south polar cap of dry ice is losing weight.
"Mars is experiencing global warming," Malin said. "And we don't know why."
Or maybe it's just the fact that the sun is burning brighter than at any point in the past 1000 years.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Following the action in Fallujah
Doping for nerds
Typically, I'm all hyped up from sugar and caffeine for the first several hours of a tournament and do rather well. However, I crash towards the end of the day and my play takes a rather noticeable dive. I experience similar effects depending on how much sleep I get the night before the tourney (more sleep results in better play, less sleep results in worse play). My play is a direct function of my mental alertness. While I may be a more extreme case, I figure other quizbowlers experience similar effects.
My question is the following: how long before quizbowl tournaments begin screening for "performance enhancing substances?" If no screening occurs, how long will it be before truck driving schools realize they can dominate the quizbowl circuit?
Viva Fallacious Memes!
But if you're interested in spreading some fallacies, I think this is a good place to start. Little Known Facts About American Presidents. Samples:
- Andrew Johnson never once set foot inside the white house. Instead, he performed his presidential duties from within a giant, hollow watermelon in Mexico.
- "Chester Arthur" was a pseudonym. His actual name was Norman Schelmitsen, aka "The Stockholm Sadist."
- While visiting France, Herbert Hoover thought he had accidentally killed the French Prime Minister and blamed it on Zorro.
Winners write the history books, people! Let's get cracking!
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Death to Fallacious Memes Day!
The following three posts are based on emails I've recently sent while attempting to correct ideas that, for lack of a better word, are just wrong.
Fallacious Meme 1: Family Values and the South
The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1.Statistics which are correct. The Globe (and Kos) use these statistics to bludgeon Bush and red-staters (who are near and dear to my heart):
For all the Bible Belt talk about family values, it is the people from Kerry's home state, along with their neighbors in the Northeast corridor, who live these values.Kos trumpets something quite similar:
All that talk about "family values" is just that -- talk. It is states like the oft demonized Massachusetts that lead the way in true family values.D'Antonio offers the following rationales for how this could be so.
- More couples in the South enter their first marriage at a younger age.
- Average household incomes are lower in the South.
- Southern states have a lower percentage of Roman Catholics, "a denomination that does not recognize divorce." Barna's study showed that 21 percent of Catholics had been divorced, compared with 29 percent of Baptists. [ed - both of those numbers would be pretty darn good nationally as you'll see]
If you ain't hitched, you can't get unhitched.
The following makes use of statistics presented in the Colorado Health Department 2001 Vital Statistics report (link).
The marriage rate in Massachussets is 6.2 per 1,000 and the marriage rate for Texas is 9.1. So significantly more people get married in Texas than in Massachussetts. Indeed here's a listing for the top 15 states by rate of marriage:
Virtually all red and "family values" states, the exceptions being Hawaii (blue, though a family values state), Vermont(I have no explanation why Vermont is different), and Nevada (the Vegas wedding factor).
Similarly, the US has the world's worst divorce rate! The horrors! But it also has the world's highest marriage rate.
A fairer measure would be the incidence of divorce per marriage, i.e., what's the probability of a marriage will end in a divorce. Without access to direct numbers, we can approximate this value by the ratio of divorces to marriages.1
|Mississippi||0.82||New Hampshire||0.58||Connecticut||0.52||Arkansas||0.45||South Dakota||0.37|
|West Virginia||0.66||North Carolina||0.57||New Jersey||0.52||Illinois||0.44||Tennessee||0.37|
|New Mexico||0.64||Colorado||0.57||Alaska||0.51||Kansas||0.43||New York||0.37|
|Oregon||0.63||Missouri||0.56||Idaho||0.49||North Dakota||0.42||South Carolina||0.34|
Texas and Massachussetts are VERY close in their rates of divorces per marriage (separated by two spots) and the distribution of blue and red states is all over the place.2,3,4,5
Bottom Line: Massachussetts is doing pretty well with respect to divorces, but not significantly better than Texas (or a number of other red states). D'Antonio's factors may play a bigger role in my numbers where the two states (Mississippi and West Virginia) with the lowest incomes and the lowest rates of high school graduation. Further, the red/blue divide is not particularly good for predicting divorce ratios, though it is pretty good at predicting marriage rates.
In the comments wonders if the the marriage rates of West Coast states, particularly California, Washington, and Oregon, are being depressed by their proximity to Nevada. So I looked up some detailed Nevada statistics. It's off by two years (1999 instead of 2001), but there's not a lot of variation from year to year other than a general trend downwards.
Using this report we have the following numbers:
|State||Grooms married in NV||State Population (1,000's)||Groom Rate||Additional Marriage Rate|
If we adjust these states' marriage rates, then we get these numbers:
So CA enters into the top 15 (Virginia drops out), NV drops down to 2 and OR and WA remain outside of the top 15.
1. What we're missing out on by not having access to better numbers is the fact that some people marry in one state and then divorce in another, like Nevada.
2. Note that Nevada's stats are skewed by people entering the state, marrying, and then getting divorced elsewhere.
3. Mississippi at 0.82 is particularly disappointing and is probably a function of income and some other factors that I can't be certain of without doing real sociological research.
4, The US (and Virginia) has approximately 0.48 divorces per marriage - a stat that is pretty disappointing to me.
5. CA, IN, OK, and LA have unreported stats and are thus not included.
Fallacious Meme 2: It's a Bad Thing to Expect Free Check Services
I've finally figured out just what it is about that Bank of America television commercial that bothers me so much. You know the one ... this woman and her husband are unpacking in their new home. She has obviously been to the local bank to open an account. She regales her husband with the story of her conversation with the bank. She wants free checking with no minimum balance. She wants free this, that and the other thing .... And she wants all of these things free "because I don't believe I should pay for any of it."While I'm generally sympathetic to the argument that it's wrong to expect something for nothing, that's not what's going on here. And if Boortz took a moment to examine the situation he should quickly realize that it's not a something for nothing trade because the trade is occuring in a free market. If Bank of America didn't feel like they were getting something worthwhile out of the deal, then they wouldn't agree to enter into it (much less spend advertising dollars signaling their willingness to enter into such a deal).
This woman represents the attitude of so many Americans. It doesn't matter whether or not some service actually costs anything to provide ... they not only want it free, they believe that they deserve it free! I'm surprised this woman doesn't say that the government ought to force the bank to give her the goodies she believe she so richly deserves.
So what is the bank getting out of the deal? Minimally, the time value of the money deposited in the checking account (even without a minimum balance, some positive balance will be kept in the account on average). If you don't think banks understand this concept, try to get your bank to give you a zero interest loan.
Further, banks only have to maintain the checking account's reserve ratio and can loan out the rest. As most checking accounts pay no interest, any interest earned off those loans is pure profit (without underpants!). So when someone opens a checking account at a bank, the bank receives some value from the checking account, specifically the profit from the checking account less the costs of servicing the account.
For giving the bank this valuable account, the customer can rightly demand some recompensense (it is a free market after all). Indeed any price that is less than money the bank makes would make off the account is acceptable to the bank. For savings accounts, the bank pays interest (tough less than the interest they charge for loans, as should be expected). For checking accounts, the bank generally pays for the money in terms of services.
When the customer says that she wants services x, y, and z, that is her way of signaling the value she wishes to receive for allowing the bank for using her money. Ultimately, this is no different than Walmart pricing goods (signals the customer what monetary value Walmart expects to receive for the good) or a bank advertising their loan rates. All of these parties are merely signaling what they wish to receive in exchange.
The woman is most definitely not getting something for free and both sides in the transaction must be satisfied by the trade - otherwise the trade would not be made.
Fallacious Meme 3: Dems have a Comparative Disadvantage in "Away Games"
But what I mean by that clunky phrasing is that Republican senators can still often run and win in blue states despite the unpopularity of the national Republican party in those states. But Democrats have a far harder time doing the same thing -- as Daschle, Bowles, Tenenbaum, Castor and Knowles found out to their dismay.This prompted me to email Josh the following:
I don't follow. There were 31 red states and 19 blue states. If it were harder for a Dem to be elected in a red state than for a Rep to be elected in a blue state, then shouldn't there be more than 62 Rep senators? As it stands there are 55 Rep senators, so the exact opposite appears to be true.Josh then replied with:
your reasoning doesn't make sense to me for several reasons. for starters, the tenure of most senators predates what we now call blue and red states.This prompted the following email from me (some editing for the post - mostly coloring which I couldn't do in the email).
Ok let's only examine those current office holders who were elected for the first time from 2000 forward (a date when I think we can agree the red/blue divide was defined.) We then have the following statistics:
2004: 8 Red, 1 Blue, 0 R|B (0 Reps given a blue state), 1D|R (1 Dem given a red state)
Colorado(R) = Ken Salazar(D)
Florida(R) = Mel Martinez(R)
Georgia(R) = Johnny Isakson(R)
Illinois(B) = Barack Obama(D)
Louisiana(R) = David Vitter(R)
North Carolina(R) = Richard Burr(R)
Oklahoma(R) = Tom Coburn(R)
South Carolina(R) = Jim DeMint(R)
South Dakota(R) = Jim Thune(R)
2002 Election: 8 Red, 2 Blue, 1 D|R, 1 R|B
Arkansas(R) = Mark Pryor(D)
Georgia(R) = Saxby Chambliss(R)
Minnesota(B) = Norm Coleman(R)
Missouri(R) = Jim Talent(R)
New Hampshire(R)=John Sununu(R) (Considered Red at the time. Blue assignment considered below)
New Jersey(B)=Frank Lautenberg(D)
North Carolina(R)=Elizabeth Dole(R)
South Carolina(R)=Lindsey Graham(R)
Tennessee(R) = Lamar Alexander II (R) (Teve Torbes!!!)
2000 Election: 4 Red, 6 Blue, 2 D|R, 0R|B
Michigan(B) = Debbie Stabenow(D)
Minnesota(B) = Mark Dayton(D)
Nebraska(R) = Ben Nelson(D)
Nevada(R) = John Ensign(R)
New Jersey(B) = Jon Corzine(D)
New York(B) = Hillary Clinton(D)
Virginia(R)= George Allen(R)
Totals for all new senators elected from 2000-2004.
20 Red, 9 Blue, 17 Rep 12 Dem, 1 R|B, 4D|R
The relative probabilities of winning an "away game" are as follows: Probabilities: p(R|B) = 1/12 = 8.3%, p(D|R)=4/20 = 20%.
If I choose NH in 2002 to be blue instead, then the probabilites become: p(R|B) = 2/11 = 18.2%, p(D|R)=4/19 = 21.1% and Dems still have a greater chance of winning "away games" than Reps.
As a further indication that these are not outlier statistics, consider the implication of these probabilities as applied to the current red/blue divide:
62 * (.8) + 38 * (1/12) = 53 Rep Senators.
62 * (.8) + 38 * (2/11) = 56 Rep Senators.
So judging from the current Senate breakdown (55 Rep), the two estimations appear to bracket what should be the "true" probability, giving us further confidence that Dems do hold some advantage in away games.
Bottom line: The exact opposite of Marshall's1 thesis is reality. Democrats have a (slight) comparative advantage running in states that lean in the opposite direction in the Presidential election.
Note members of the House are not considered in this analysis as (most) House seats are not statewide offices and thus not easily considered within the context of the red/blue state divide. Also note the 2000 Carnahan election is not considered (wouldn't help the original thesis anyways) as that seat was determined in 2002. Also the 2000 Miller election is not considered as that seat was determined in 2004 (again this wouldn't help the original thesis).
Election Results gathered from wikipedia:
1. Instead of "Marshall's", the post originally said "your." However, as the post is not a letter to Marshall, the use of the second person seemed a bit stupid.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
I demand satisfaction!
Digging deeper still we find another difference—though here the evidence becomes a bit murkier and less definitive. In the North, where murder rates are higher in urban centers, they tend to track with the commission of felonies.
In other words, people get killed by people who are in the process of committing felonies—whether those be drug sales, muggings, robberies gone bad, organized crime, or something else. But in the Southern states, where murder rates are higher in small towns and rural areas, this isn’t the case. Rather than happening in the process of committing other crimes, these murders tend to be rooted in what are best described as violations of honor, personal slights that escalate into violence or in the simplest sense, rage.
Read the whole thing.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Revenge of the Sith Trailer
Even after seeing the trailer, I'm not jazzed up about seeing the movie. Unlike some, I didn't mind the first and second episodes, sort of a neutral movie going experience1. However with all the idiotic tinkering that Lucas has doing, I'm not confident of his abilities to make a good Star Wars film anymore. Still, I'll go see it - probably on opening night - out of some bizzare sense of obligation to the the franchise.
1. For me a neutral movie-going experience is a movie which, after viewing, I'm neither happy nor unhappy about having bought the ticket. This is slightly better than being not quite willing to gnaw off your own arm to get away the morning after.
Wouldn't it be really funny if the whole Star Wars series was just some way for George to work through some issues with his sisters (Katy, Ann, and Wendy). I mean just look at the whole Luke and Leia thing. Plus the "Revenge of the Sith" is just a lisp away from being subject matter for a FoxTrot strip.
Chapter 2 Related Work
“I am self-taught. If I see far it is because I am standing on the feet of giants.”
- Russ Nelson, The Angry Economist
Nelson’s somewhat self-aggrandizing quote is an interesting play on a famous line in a 1676 letter that Isaac Newton penned to Robert Hooke.
“If I have seen further [than Hooke and Descartes], it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
“A dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants sees farther than a giant himself.”
“We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.”
“Pygmies placed on the shoulders of giants see more than the giants themselves.”
But even Lucan referenced the otherwise unknown Didacus Stella as the originator of this quote. So
"If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on a really big heap of midgets." - Eric Drexler
Indeed, the number of quotes related to
The application of game theory to distributed radio resource management is a rich field full of giants and heaps of midgets. If the etymology of a single quote fills a book, an exhaustive documentation of all work related to game theory and radio resource management would be expected to fill several books. So rather than attempting to provide an exhaustive documentation, the following chapter endeavors to highlight the works that are important to understanding the field of game theory as applied to distributed radio resource management.
Friday, November 05, 2004
The really important issues
As noted on marginal revolution, the most successful line a woman can use to pick up a guy for a date (presumably with the commission of date rape in mind) is "Will you go to bed with me tonight?" which is reportedly a successful pickup line with 75% of all guys.
Those evil misleading date-raping women. Obviously all men would interpret "Will you go to bed with me tonight?" as "Would you like to have coffee with me? I'm only interested in your mind" and not as an invitation to sex.
Where's my wife? Suddenly, I feel like some coffee.
Non upgraded accounts
All right, you're right, it's not zero sum. And don't think for a minute that I don't have respect for some, even most, aspects of redneck culture. Hell, the south has at least as rich a literary tradition as Los Angeles (it would be no contest except I include screenplays).
But that pesky church/state thing I can't really drop. I still think it's pretty clear that if it never occured to you to be offended by "Under God" in the Pledge, and you think it's fine that the ten commandments are posted in public places then you don't mind state endorsement of religion (again, pls. see Elk Grove Unified v. Newdow). To the extent that you accept state endorsement of religion, you are aligning yourself with other theocracies. And it's a matter of degree, don't get me wrong. But it's not a matter of principle: a Muslim state that endorses a religion is acting on the same principle as a Christian state. One of the founding principles of this country is supposed to be that we don't let our government get into that at all. I wholeheartedly agree that the first two items on the list are characteristic of rednecks. I will deny to the death that they're virtues.
One last thing: Elk Grove Unified is in California; it's not a redneck thing only (although god forbid someone in, say, Birmingham had brought that suit: the guys who protested for Roy Moore would have had his head on a stick. Or a cross! Kidding! Kidding! Relax!).
Look, I've been all over the country and I've been on every side of the cultural divide. When I came to Knoxville I was a carpetbagger from D.C. When I went to Massachusetts, I was a dumb redneck from Appalachia. When I taught school in Georgia, I was again, a carpetbagger from Massachusetts. & out here in Los Angeles, I'm a dumbass southerner (and most of my friends out here are from Georgia). To put it bluntly, I've never lived in a part of the country where people didn't see the places I lived before as a liability or question whether I authentically belonged there (Idaho? Alaska? Surely there's some state that doesn't hate the rest of them...). Except Italy, where they thought I was a yahoo just for being from the states. The fact of the matter is this: in blue states, people assume I'm from a red state, and in red states, people assume I'm from a blue state. And they assign all sorts of attitudes to me based on that, and I think it's a stupid thing to fight over; Obama got that right. So Jody, you're touchy when rednecks are, as a group, denigrated. Fine: for that I apologize. But I'm touchy about anything that celebrates cultural differences between the south and the rest of the country (at least when those cultural differences are things I don't agree with), because in Los Angeles and Boston, I am a redneck. But I don't think for a minute that "under God" should be in the Pledge & I don't like having to explain that. In Georgia and Tennessee, I'm a bicoastal elitist. But I don't march around blaming America for everything. It's never that simple.
Those crazy, wacky gays: OK, tolerate, don't approve, ok. I won't ask you to approve. But I will & do ask you to leave that out of the constitution; let the states decide. Otherwise, you're imposing your moral values on me: just as bad. Gay marriage has been legal in Mass. for months and America hasn't collapsed, and it doesn't look like it's about to become legal in Virginia.
My next posts will not be political.
Re: Mea Culpa
At no point did I go off on the Decadent Coasts. Go fight that battle with someone else.
I praised redneck culture in response to attacks on redneck culture (one of which I linked to) and had to make the second post to justify the praise (and to criticize some of your comments). Praise of one group IS NOT denigration of another group. Praise is not a zero-sum game particularly when there are more groups out there than rednecks and liberal bicoastals.
I'm real big on defending groups I feel are unfairly maligned, particularly when I feel a close affinity to the group.
As far as the subpoints:
1. You mistyped that intro, right? Cause as it stands it's nonsense.
For the rest, see the first comment. Praise of one group is not damnation of another group (I think we both agree that disrespecting Vets is bad behavior and that burning the flag doesn't display a particular love of country).
2a. Religion in the southwest - they're not rednecks. You're making my point on the importance of faith to rednecks.
I ignored the separation of church and state because I felt it was a ludicrous charge particularly the
"Well, the first two items say basically that rednecks don't mind church and state being linked. Great! Good luck with that! You have more in common with the Taliban than you think!"(that's the Taliban equation I referred to, "equate" was too strong a word, but the link is still not very respectful of faith, hence my point).
c) See the first comment.
d) I withdraw my criticism of "the old." I was pretty pissed and intemperate and I apologize.
e) If you don't feel that giving with respect to income is a fair measure of generosity, then fine. But I do. And if you don't, then do you support a progressive income tax? And if so, how does that square with your feelings on the generosity index?
Monopoly on virtue: Again see the first comment.
As far as the challenge at the end:
I don't approve of a gay lifestyle. I tolerate it. There's a big difference and expecting anything more than tolerance is an attempt to impose your morals on me.
On a completely unrelated note:
Tonight, Polyscifi will go over 4000 visitors since June! Whoo hooo! My irrational fascination with round numbers continues!
Sorry: apparently I didn't adequately paraphrase the values in Jody's dad's list. But ok, point by point:
1. The values of one culture are not mutually exclusive of the values of another culture. But that list implies that patriotism is a redneck value, not an American one. Look again:
you treat Viet Nam vets with great respect, and always have.
you've never burned an American flag.
This isn't exactly the same thing as saying that rednecks love their country. This is saying, "Unlike people who disrespected Viet Nam veterans and burned flags ***THE DECADENT COASTS*** rednecks are patriots."
2 a. According to the map Jody links to, North Dakota values religion more than any other state (which I think is probably true--if I lived in North Dakota, I'd believe there was a God, and He had it in for me). And New York values it more than Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, and Utah. California's up there at 19% (go CA!), but so is the whole southwest.
My own hostility to religion, which Jody brings up, is no doubt a product of my East Tennessee upbringing.
I do not, will not, and have not equated a respect for Christian traditions with the Taliban. You're conflating two issues here because you don't want to address the idea that the red states want to see more religion (and I mean protestant religion) in the public sphere. You can respect a tradition without enshrining it in the Pledge of Allegiance or plastering its commandments on government buildings. I'm not a nutjob: I don't want, say, the Supreme Court building torn down. And do whatever you want in your church. But putting up new monuments in government buildings? Not defendable. "Under God" as part of the pledge isn't a Christian tradition. It's an outdated fuck you to communism. If you haven't read the oral arguments from Elk Grove Unified v. Newdow, I urge you to, and understand this: Like Newdow, I live in a country in which I will never hold political office because of my beliefs. I reserve the right to be touchy about that. And which respects faith more, a secular state or school prayer? Remember this: any powers you give the government will one day be used by someone you disagree with.
I can't find good data about geographic distribution of U. S. military; I suspect that there are as many recruits from urban areas as the sticks, but can't find any data. I used to teach high school in an air force base town in Georgia; my students were military brats; I think the correlation you're looking for is not geography or culture but wealth. The poor volunteer more.
c) Blue staters speak their minds as often and as freely as rednecks, thanks. I deplore any politically correct assault on free speech as much as the next guy. But the South is hardly a beacon of free speech either.
d) Jody's implying here that I have less respect for my elders than the author of the list. Because I said "the old." Well, fuck that. I'm in better touch with my grandfather than I am with my parents; I'd estimate I talk to him about two hours a week.
e) The Generosity Index Jody links to was specifically designed to motivate Massachusetts residents to donate more. It's completely unscientific, only counts charitable donations listed as itemized tax deductions, and weights results against the relative wealth of states. So I don't think that passes the laugh test.
Valuing family: which states have more divorces? Which states do more young (and thus more likely to be unmarried) people emigrate to? Give me a break. You guys do not have a monopoly on virtue, no matter how much you'd like to think you do.
Now I have to go. But note that J. has said nothing about "not approving" of gays or church and state.
A new use for legos
A legend for a city map of Fallujah, made out of gravels and Lego stones, is on display for training purpose at a base outside Fallujah, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 5 , 2004. More than 10,000 U.S. troops have taken positions around rebel-controlled Fallujah, bolstering the U.S. Marine units expected to lead a joint Army-Marine assault on the city. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Re: Redneck culture
“The rest of the items in the list are absolutely and unequivocably not linked to redneck culture. Claiming that respect for, in order, a) faith, b) country, c) free speech, d) the old, and e) friendship [lettered subdivisions are mine] are hallmarks of redneck culture is claiming that they're not characteristics of the rest of the country. And I'm going to cry bullshit on that… Knock the first two items off the list and retitle it, ‘You might be John Kerry if...’ and it still applies.”1. Why do the values of one culture have to be mutually exclusive of the values of other cultures? Seems like a fallacious assumption to me.
2. However, cultural differences are also reflected in the differences in degree by which traits are valued.
a) Redneck states indeed more faithful. Click around this map, and see which states reported "No religion."
As far as "respect for faith", I don’t see how equating a respect for Christian traditions with the Taliban helps your case, nor do I see how stating “I'm an atheist. I'm not neutral about religion, I'm hostile to it.” helps demonstrate a respect for faith. Compare this to the language used by our redneck President.
b) As far as relative value for country, again which group volunteers in the greatest numbers for the military? Some dude once said: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Seems like a logical statement to me. I think similar logic holds for a willingness to lay down your life for your country and the relative value that you ascribe to country.
c) Respect for free speech is very different from “know[ing] what you believe and [not being] afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.” Even if there were repercussions, a redneck is still going to tell you exactly what he thinks. Doubt it? Hang out with one for a while. And if you think the blue staters have a greater appreciation for free speech, you haven’t been paying attention (link).
d) Respect for “your elders” is different from respect for “the old” but I would ask where do “the old” move when they retire and note that some insight is shed just by examining the relative choice of phrases used to describe those who have spent more time on this mortal coil. As a quicky aside, I do recall how the French treat their elderly.
e) Respect for friendship and whether or not "you'd give your last dollar to a friend" are again different concepts. I'll not get into the respect for friendship thing as that's a univeral trait. However, to backup the assertion that a redneck is more likely to give away their last dollar to a friend, note this study which shows that the redneck states are indeed more charitable.
As far as valuing family (one of my dad’s redneck points though not in the listing above), which grouping of states have more married couples and fewer singles? Rednecks. One's values are no more clearly expressed than through one's actions.
3. It's a mistake to expect to reap economic rewards from funding basic research into stem cells. When research is involved, the optimum economic strategy is to get someone else to pay for the basic research and then put money into applied research once the basic research yields some results (normally years to decades down the road). California just tossed $3 billion into a massive money hole. However, the rest of us do appreciate the (unintentional) charity.
4. To expect a mass migration into California, one has to ignore trends. Tax and regulation policy matter a lot for where businesses (and thus people) chose to locate and the $3 billion in additional spending isn't going to help the tax burden.
Below, Jody says that rednecks "don't loathe gays, but we don't approve either." Well, that kind of presupposes that homosexuality is a choice. (or, more distastefully, acknowledges that there are some people who, through no fault or decision of their own, are unworthy of approval). But that's fine, because it gives blue states a competitive advantage. Not fine: firing arabic translators because of their sexuality; that hurts all of us. It's like Clinton said: we need everyone we can get. Well, if you don't want gays, we'll take them, thanks.
California is also now in position to cherry-pick the best medical scientists in the nation because we've got money for stem cell research (in this aspect, we're doing better than the other blue states--watch for some big moves from Harvard, Yale, & Johns Hopkins to the UC system). In both of these cases, I think the blue states are on the right side of the moral issues, but even if you disagree, this can only help us economically.
Anyway, Jody posts here a list of signs that you're a redneck. Well, the first two items say basically that rednecks don't mind church and state being linked. Great! Good luck with that! You have more in common with the Taliban than you think! The rest of the items in the list are absolutely and unequivocably not linked to redneck culture. Claiming that respect for, in order, faith, country, free speech, the old, and friendship are hallmarks of redneck culture is claiming that they're not characteristics of the rest of the country. And I'm going to cry bullshit on that; I am really, truly tired of the implication that the good solid patriotic middle of the country is surrounded by the traitorous west and east coasts. Knock the first two items off the list and retitle it "You might be John Kerry if..." and it still applies. I would argue, though, that a more or less open wish for theocracy is a characteristic redneck trait. Cheers to that!
I think if Jesusland ever secedes and has an election, this guy will win.
On a related note, my brother once visited The Holy Land Experience Theme Park, and all I got was a lousy t-shirt.
How could I let a reference to the borg go by without posting a picture of Jeri Ryan? Rest assured, your faithful correspondent is engaging in a bout of self-flagellation. [ed - I bet you're "self-flagellating" seven of nine times too. - No comment]
Image shamelessly lifted from the Jeri Collective
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Typecasting scifi actors
My advice to actors who find themselves stuck in sci-fi - don't fight it. It may very well give you something that most actors never know - job security.
Stem cells and immortality
Mmmm fruit juice
Were I a Kerry voter, though, I'd feel deep anger, not only at them returning Bush to power, but for allowing the outside world to lump us all into the same category of moronic muppets.Were I in a fisking mood, I might give a detailed response pointing out all the logical flaws and erroneous assumptions that suffuse the whole piece - accusing others of being self-righteous in a self-righteous diatribe, despising a group of foreigners labeled as foreigner-despisin' (a categorization I would disagree with for some reason, though in all honesty I don't like the French, but that's not without reason), "urinating" on a group while accusing them of "urinating" on you (another point I would disagree with)... you get the picture.
The self-righteous, gun-totin', military lovin', sister marryin', abortion-hatin', gay-loathin', foreigner-despisin', non-passport ownin' red-necks, who believe God gave America the biggest dick in the world so it could urinate on the rest of us and make their land "free and strong."
Others are more sanguine about rednecks, recognize rednecks as the Scots-Irish and are aware of the limits of redneck interest in the world.
Here is the saving grace of the Scots-Irish version of American nationalism: it would really rather finish the job quickly in Iraq, and go home and listen to Roy Acuff or Hank Williams. [or Gretchen Wilson] It does not like being drawn into the role of imperialist policeman. But anti-Americans should beware of getting what they wish for - living without the Americans may prove worse than living with them.I would only differ on that last point slightly. While finishing quickly is important, finishing the job in a non-half-ass way is even more important. As an example, yesterday Fox was interviewing soldiers in Iraq about the election, and one soldier (most soldiers are rednecks, you knew that, right?) said that he was happy Bush had won because he thought Kerry would pull out too soon (bellus interruptus) and then we'll have to come back again in 10 years. Getting home quickly is important, but finishing the job so you don't have to come back is more important.
As a culture based on self-reliance and Mosaic rules of social conduct, Scots-Irish American nationalism cannot comprehend societies based on clientelism and endemic personal corruption.
That’s why it does not like the way the United Nations has developed into a talking shop, and why it gets exasperated by the Middle East. The Scots-Irish have given George Bush a mandate: but it says: "Finish the job quickly, or we will let the world stew in its own juice."
On a related note and speaking as a redneck/Scots-Irishman, placing a greater emphasis on the process rather than the results is seen as foolish. This is another reason why we've never been enamored with the Middle East Peace Process (Peace in the Middle East is GOOD. Talking about how much you want peace for 40 years without making any real progress is VERY BAD) and why emphasizing management skills over vision is such a nonstarter.
Like most groups, the rednecks have developed their own culture over time, a culture that reflects these views. Here, I am using culture in the sense of:
The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.and not in the sense of:
Intellectual and artistic activity and the works produced by it.The latter can be manufactured, the former cannot (and Motherwell's work is crap no matter how many people tell me he was a genius).
So what is the redneck culture, then? Well, we are gun-totin', military lovin', and abortion-hatin' (why these are supposed to be bad things is beyond my moronic muppet reasoning abilities). We don't loathe gays, but we don't approve either. We don't despise foreigners (sometime ask a redneck how they feel about the Aussies), we just don't trust those who we feel have betrayed us and recognize that when other countries offer opinions about what we should do, the advice is probably more in their best interests than in our best interests.
I could go on, but I'll let my dad's words summarize redneck culture by quoting from an email he sent me yesterday. (My dad is also a self-styled redneck, which would make him a "moronic muppet" with a PhD working at a university).
You might be a redneck if. . .One more point about redneck culture, rednecks also have a sense of humor about ourselves (when meant as such) and this couldn't be a post entitled "redneck nation" if I didn't poke a little fun at rednecks. So here's some pictures my dad sent me a few weeks back.
it never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, "One nation, under God..."
you've never protested about seeing the 10 Commandments posted in public places.
you still say "Christmas" instead of "Winter Festival." [RamaHanaKwanzMas!]
you bow your head when someone prays.
you stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem.
you treat Viet Nam vets with great respect, and always have.
you've never burned an American flag.
you know what you believe and you aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.
you respect your elders and expect your kids to do the same.
you'd give your last dollar to a friend.
We have enjoyed the redneck jokes for years. It's time to take a reflective look at the core beliefs of a culture that values home, family, country and God. If I had to stand before a dozen terrorists who threaten my life, I'd choose a half dozen or so rednecks to back me up. Tire irons, squirrel guns and grit -- that's what rednecks are made of. I hope I am one of them.
Redneck Anti-Terrorist Traning Camp
Redneck Gingerbread House
Redneck House Alarm
Redneck Measuring Tape
Redneck Fishing Hole
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I can live with a Bush win, especially if it seemed like his war on terror blah blah blah strategy was what clinched it. But it wasn't. I wrote something really intemperate this morning when I was still royally hung over, then deleted it. But Rove called it--playing to the base and going harder right, and energizing the evangelicals is what won the election. I'm living in a country where 20% of the electorate said that "morality" was a more important issue to them than the war on terror. And six states just passed constitutional amendments that explicitly deny gay couples any sort of common-law or civil union rights. That's well beyond protecting marriage. And that issue was enough to get those people to the polls. That's really fucking depressing. If that's the level of political discourse in America, if that's the winning strategy, I don't want any part of it.
If the red states want a moral theocracy, I say let them have it. Let that whole part of the country go to heaven in a rowboat. Just leave me the fuck alone. Bill Bennet is already saying Bush has a mandate for a culture war; I think he's probably right. Well, bring it on: we manufacture culture out here.
This is sour grapes, but it isn't just sour grapes. I had forgotten in the past twelve years or so just how much of America was real-deal evangelical. I'm of the Chris Hitchens school on this:
"I'm an atheist. I'm not neutral about religion, I'm hostile to it. I think it is a positively bad idea, not just a false one. And I mean not just organized religion, but religious belief itself."
Now I remember. Here's to the second Great Awakening, America!
The Greater Commission
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Mathew 28:19You see what's not in there? Lions. Not one word about proselytizing lions. So I wonder what's in the translation the Gideons have been sending Taiwan (link).
Image shamelessly lifted from MSNBC
Fantasy Literature Awards
I whole heartedly agree...
Kerry did the right thing
T-one week until the bumper stickers come off my car. (I want one week of
Praise for Kerry's concession speech here. (h/t Virginia Postrel)