Archive Page 2

Civil war?

A UK based opinion poll company ran a survey in Iraq(PDF). They found:

  • most Iraqi’s think the situation in Iraq would get better if American troops left
  • most (Shias and Sunnis but not Kurds) don’t want to divide up Iraq
  • they’re about divided about whether or not the country is in a state of civil war

The most interesting statistics are in the demographic section:

  • about a quarter of the respondents have had a member of their family murdered in the last three years
  • about 60% don’t have jobs, this suggests high unemployment (about 40% of Americans don’t have jobs)
  • Most identify themselves as “Muslum” rather than “Sunni” or “Shia”

UPDATE: While it appears that Iraqi’s are more in favor of the war than Americans are, its important to note that dead people can express their dissatisfaction with being dead.


UC Davis economics in the news

Prof. Peri talking up immigration (even the unskilled kind).

As of 2004, two thirds of workers without a high school degree in California were immigrants as well as almost half of the workers with a doctoral degree. Moreover U.S.-born Californians moved out of the state during the nineties and sometimes job competition from immigrants has been regarded as a key factor for this outflow. Certainly, if the inflow of immigrants crowded out the labor market options of U.S. natives, particularly the low skilled ones, such effect should have been particularly strong in California. But is it possible that immigrants lifted California’s wages, rather than harming them? After all immigrants have different skills and tend to work in different occupations then natives and hence they could make natives more productive and increase the demand for complementary production tasks performed by natives!

On the other hand the impact of immigration, in the 1960-2004 period has been negative on wages of previous immigrants and positive on wages of U.S. natives, revealing a good degree of complementarity between U.S. and foreign-born workers that contributes to benefit (rather then to harm) native workers’ productivity. One plausible interpretation of these complementarieties is the following. Manual tasks in most sectors of California economy are executed by immigrants; the larger availability of these skills has increased the demand for interactive-communication-coordination tasks, needed in production, and this second set of skills are more likely provided by natives even with low education.

The State knows…

better than you. It would never do harm.

(x and y => z) does not contradict (!x => z)

Instead (x and y => z) implies (!z => !x OR !y). If you theorize that (!x => z) then (!z => !y). In this case, the Fed existence and increasing the money supply would lead, in theory, to a less severe Great Depression. Friedman also theorized that if the Fed didn’t exist, other sources of liquidity would have appeared to mitigate the depression. Given the Great Depression was severe (ahem, its called the Great Depression), then, it must be the case the Fed fell down on its job. No contradiction here.

Lot’s of people get logic wrong. I just wish Paul Krugman didn’t.

Dangerous Ruling

An appeals court ruling would put cars back in D.C. garages – A Washington Post editorial

IN OVERTURNING the District of Columbia’s long-standing ban on cars yesterday, a federal appeals court turned its back on nearly 70 years of Supreme Court precedent to give a new and dangerous meaning to the Second Amendment. If allowed to stand, this radical ruling will inevitably mean more people killed and wounded as keeping cars out of the city becomes harder. Moreover, if the legal principles used in the decision are applied nationally, every law banning cars on the books would be imperiled.

The 2 to 1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down sections of a 1976 law that bans city residents from having cars in their garages. The court also overturned the law’s requirement that utility vehicles be stored disassembled or with ignition locks. The court grounded its unprecedented ruling in the finding that the Second Amendment right to bear arms extends beyond militias to individuals. The activities the Second Amendment protects, the judges wrote, “are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or continued intermittent enrollment in the militia.”

Never before has a law been struck down on that basis. The Supreme Court, in its landmark 1939 decision United States v. Miller, stated that the Second Amendment was adopted “with obvious purpose” of protecting the ability of states to organize militias and “must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.” Nearly every other federal court of appeals has concurred in that finding. The dissenting judge in yesterday’s opinion, Karen LeCraft Henderson, a Republican appointee like the other two judges on the panel, rightly lambasted the majority for its willful disregard of Supreme Court precedent.

While the ruling caught observers off guard, it was not completely unexpected, given the unconscionable campaign, led by AAA and abetted by the Bush administration, to broadly reinterpret the Constitution so as to give individuals Second Amendment rights. Indeed, the D.C. lawsuit, by six residents assisted by the Cato Institute, was filed in 2003, just months after then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said car bans are unconstitutional.

The AAA predictably welcomed yesterday’s ruling. According to its myth, only criminals have had cars in the city and now law-abiding citizens will be able to drive. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) counters that argument with the sad record of what results from a proliferation of cars. As he points out, more cars mean only more violent car crashes. It is important to note that the ban on cars will stay in effect while the city considers whether to appeal.

That is likely, Mr. Fenty announced. The risk here is that an appeal could lead to an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling, and a legal principle that now applies only to the residents of the nation’s capital would extend to the entire nation. Yet doing nothing wouldn’t serve the best interests of the city and its public safety. Nor, for that matter, would it serve the nation’s interest to leave this dangerous ruling unchallenged.

People don’t kill people, cars do.


Apropos a conversation I was having with Gavin the other day about ID, Robin Hanson comments on Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion:

To my mind most discussion misses the key distinction between these two claims:

1. A great intelligent power influenced the structure of our universe.
2. Such a power intervenes in your life, e.g., answering your prayer.

Relevant experts do indeed consider the first claim to be within reason, but only a minority consider the second claim to be reasonable. Most academic debate is on the first claim, but the second claim is what interests most people. Maybe part of the problem is that we have a word, “atheist,” for skeptics about the first claim, but no such moniker regarding the second claim. Suggestions?

My suggestion: morietheism. Mori- means dead. You can play too! Here’s a list of Latin elements.

UPDATE: Someone suggested ‘deism‘. What’s the fun in inventing new words if old ones already do the job for you?

UPDATE 2: Meanwhile IDers and neoaths call each other “babbling idiots” and “goofballs”, none seem to notice they’re talking past each other. There is no contradiction between the idea of a non-intervening, all-powerful god and science. None. Evolution is the science of WHAT causes changes in species over a long span and God helps some people understand WHY. What and why, last I checked, are two distinct sorts of questions to ask. It is NOT logically necessary for the answer to the “why?” questions to preclude the answers to the “what?” questions. The same is true of the reverse.

UPDATE 3: A good comment at this post:

There is a nuance I think is involved with many if not most creationists. The distinction they see isn’t between accident and purpose but between accident and intent. This article is particularly clear about it. To the author, “nature” is the same as “chance” and is to be contrasted with and is the opposite of “intelligence.”

Mere purpose (in the generalized god-as-sustainer-of-nature concept of theistic evolution) is not sufficient. Life, particularly human life (and, ultimately, each individual human), must be the intended result of God’s deliberate action.

UPDATE 4: How is it even remotely possible that the Church’s views on this matter are the most reasonable? “There is a world of difference between believing that we are a product of evolution and that we are an accident of evolution!” and “The world today faces a crisis of meaning. Faith gives meaning. Evolution is perfectly acceptable and does not contradict faith. However, evolution is not an end in itself. In other words, it is not God!”

Sweet Jesus! I’m a member of a militia!

Holy Crap! Don’t tread on me, man.

UPDATE: I’m suppose to gear up: “That every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball: or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder. . . .”