Sunday, April 30, 2006

Binary Thinking/One death is one too many.

Recently I have been introduced to the concept of Binary Opposition or as I will be referring to it here as Binary Thinking. It is basically dividing the world always into two parts. And in studying science it is natural to divide the universe into two classifications to study between one group to another group. The easiest way to see this would be a control group that is not changed and the subject group that is exposed to some new stimuli or condition.

But the one BO(Binary Opposition) area I want to explore today is the idea that one death of an American Soldier is too high a price to pay for 50 million freed people. Was it worth it that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan can now determine their own future without the shackles of authoritarian regimes? So I will assume that no soldiers died it would be worth it, anything more is not worth it. But it can be easily shown that any human activity can be boiled down to how many human lives it costs. As in 106,000 people die each year from properly prescribed medications and:
Americans consume 15 tons of aspirin a day, 19 billion tablets per year. Although thought to be harmless, a single aspirin will
…Be responsible for 1500-2000 deaths
…Be the leading cause of kidney disease
…Cause ulcers, toxic headaches and children’s Reye’s syndrome.

According to Antiwar the latest count of soldiers that died in Iraq is 2399. This is for a three year war.

But let me now ask the question, isn't being a soldier a dangerous job, just like loggers, and public safety jobs (fire, police)?
According to US Active Duty Military Deaths, the number of deaths during the first four years of President Bush's term is 891(2001)+ 999(2002)+ 1410(2003)+ 1887(2004)=5187. These numbers reflect engaging the enemy in two countries and toppling two governments.

So how did Clinton do on protecting US soldiers? Active Duty Deaths: Bush vs. Clinton states and can be calculated from above link: "Active duty deaths during Clinton's first four years (1993 - 1996): 4302."

How did Carter do? From FrontPage Mag:
I would this comparison: more active duty service members (2,392) died in 1980, Jimmy Carter's last year in office, than in either 2003 or 2004, when the Iraq war was being fought (1,410 and 1,887, respectively). No military actions were conducted during 1980 other than the failed effort to rescue the hostages in Iran, in which eight servicemen lost their lives. Keep that in mind next time you hear Carter pontificating about the "carnage" in Iraq.

Every death of a serviceman or woman is a tragedy. Funny how different it seems, though, when every death is also a front-page news story.

Yes, but are the deaths only worth mentioning if it was the result of war or terrorist acts? Which, I find ironic that all the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are considered hostile action, but reading many news reports most deaths are the result of acts of terrorism. As in when a soldier is handing candy to children and a suicide truck driver blows up everyone there.

The inspiration of this post is from Ren at Iraq Worse than Under Saddam. Ren served in the military in Viet Nam and as such he places a high value on US soldiers lives. Which is commendable. But now looking to the problems in Sudan, are we willing to spend a small amount of lives (soldiers) to secure the freedom and safety of millions? I too am hesitant about sending forces to Africa. But I see no easy solution to the genocides/democides in Sudan and other parts of Africa.

Links of note:
Winged warriors: a tribute to military aviators - aviation casualties in US Armed Forces since 1917 which shows only 2 AirForce Deaths in 2003 for Iraq. I know that some helicopters were shot down and this link is suppose to be for both fixed and rotating wings aircrafts.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

More Free Speech Thoughts

Today I want to explore some issues on free speech from a variety of incidents.
The first comes from Michelle Malkin. I don't know how she does it. She writes books and lectures and blogs quite extensively with a detail for facts. Her post is THEY SCREAMED: "GET WHITEY!"
If John Hehman, may he rest in peace, had been black and his assailants had been white, you'd know his story by now. But the races were reversed and his murder has been relegated to a footnote by the p.c. New York Times and the rest of the national MSM. (Compare the NYTimes' coverage of Hehman with this NYTimes story of a local white-on-black attack last year.)

Her basic point is that hate crimes are discriminatory. Even though this clearly shows signs of this type of crime, I still don't know how you can judge what is in a persons heart. Was the racial slur just as way of identifing the victim or was it hate at that person or group that the victim comes from?

But I want to bring this up as a perfect example of when free speech should not be allowed. Just like yelling fire in crowded theatre this action directly causes pain or loss from intended or unintended victims.

Odds and Ends:
University Librarian Recommends Conservative Books To Students, Then Gets Hit With Sexual Harrassment Rap shows how suggesting a book titles can instead of being a free speech right but a harrassment situation. Or in the writers words:" Given the fact that these charges come from adult XXXXXX women claiming to feel "unsafe" based on book recommendations, I retract all skepticism. This is unbelievable."

A Paris court fined the terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal" more than $6,000 Tuesday for saying in a French television interview that terror attacks sometimes were "necessary."
The court did not convict him for expressing pleasure that "the Great Satan" - the United States - suffered the Sept. 11 attacks, saying those comments were his personal reaction.

And the writers suggestion:"The fight against terrorism is probably better served if former terrorists that are serving their sentence are barred from giving any interviews for the duration of their incarceration."
Yes, I agree that hate speech and hate crime legislature is non-productive except as noted above in speech leads to direct actions.

And along with hate speech crimes: We didn't start the fire: should Holocaust Denial be criminalized?
This is a fairly complex issue and a through investigation would take at least one full post but for now background is here at Wiki.
And from the first link in the paragraph:
The first thing I noticed is that Holocaust Denial itself is not a crime; it's the public pronouncement of it that is penalized. The speech itself is allowed; what is not allowed is to say it publicly in front of groups--that is, to preach it. It may seem a small distinction, but it's an interesting one.

In this article it treats the subject in very even handed way. And while I would still think that all speech should be free of most regulations, I understand at least some more reasons why they have them.
To Germans and Austrians the danger of public promulgation of Holocaust denial may indeed (especially when the laws were first passed) have seemed like the danger of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Likewise--although to a lesser extant--to countries such as Poland, who have reason to know the Holocaust in a way that countries such as Britain and the US never can, Holocaust denial may seem a particular affront and a special danger. "He jests at scars that never felt a wound;" and so it is much easier for countries who have not experienced such a cataclysmic upheaval to be absolutist about protecting freedom of speech.

We didn't start the fire: should Holocaust Denial be criminalized?
University Librarian Recommends Conservative Books To Students, Then Gets Hit With Sexual Harrassment Rap

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hamas good managers of money? Copperfield may be able to help.

Lol, LOL, LOL.
Had to get that out of my system.
By way of LGF at Hamas Foreign Minister 'Loses' $450k
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar has had $450,000 stolen from his hotel room during his current visit to Kuwait, the Itim news agency quoted the Kuwaiti media as saying Wednesday.

According to the report, al-Zahar had asked the Kuwaiti authorities to keep the theft under wraps, but the incident was confirmed by a security official at the hotel.

The foreign minister, a senior member of Hamas, is on a tour of Arab and Muslim countries to drum up funds after Israel suspended the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and Western donors cut off aid to the Hamas-led government.

The European Union and the United States have cut off direct aid to the Palestinian Authority over Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previously signed peace agreements.

Itim also reported that an official at the Palestinian Finance Ministry has revealed that, despite its empty coffers, the PA has funded the trip for al-Zahar and his entourage.

Obviously they 'lost' it or they need to take lessons from David Copperfield:
Copperfield Works Magic on Bad Guys
David Copperfield has added a new trick to his repertoire: faking out robbers.

Despite being possessed of a "large amount of cash," the illusionist showed nothing but empty pockets to armed gunmen who targeted him and two female companions Sunday night in West Palm Beach, Florida, police said.

In the Palm Beach Post, Copperfield called his sleight of hand bit "reverse pickpocketing."

Don't you love the irony of life?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Have we created a climate of no tolerance because of Sexual Harrassment Lawsuits?

I want to look at an issue that has been bothering me for some time now.
Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher Resigns; Board Appoints James Bell Interim President and CEO; Lew Platt to Expand Role
And why was he fired?
The Board actions were taken following an investigation by internal and external legal counsel of the facts and circumstances surrounding a personal relationship between Stonecipher and a female executive of the company who did not report directly to him. The Board determined that his actions were inconsistent with Boeing's Code of Conduct.

"The Board concluded that the facts reflected poorly on Harry's judgment and would impair his ability to lead the company," said Platt.

"The resignation was in no way related to the company's operational performance or financial condition, both of which remain strong. However, the CEO must set the standard for unimpeachable professional and personal behavior, and the Board determined that this was the right and necessary decision under the circumstances," he said.

The Board ordered an immediate and comprehensive investigation of the matter after Platt received information that was sent anonymously to him and to the company's legal and ethics leaders 10 days ago. The investigation determined the relationship was consensual and had no effect on the conduct of the company's business. The investigation also determined that neither the career nor the compensation of the female executive was influenced by this relationship.

Should a consenting sexual affair between mature adults and not consummated on company grounds, dictates that the CEO should resign? This means that no CEO can have any relationship with any person that works inside the company. And I can assume that it is not against the law for extramarital relationships, otherwise the prisons would be filled up now.

And for some more information on this situation,Boeing CEO Resigns Over Affair With Subordinate.
"It's not the fact that he was having an affair" that caused him to be fired, said Lewis E. Platt, Boeing's non-executive chairman. "But as we explored the circumstances surrounding the affair, we just thought there were some issues of poor judgment that . . . impaired his ability to lead going forward."

So fire someone for poor judgment, I think we can all be in that boat at one time or another.
"In this environment, office romances have serious legal complications today that they didn't have 20 years ago," said Charles M. Elson, director of a corporate governance program at the University of Delaware. "It's not the relationship; it's the judgment that got you into the relationship that can get you into trouble."
Boeing refused to name the female executive but said she has not been disciplined. A spokesman said there were no charges of sexual harassment. The woman did not work directly for Stonecipher, and he did not show her preferential treatment, company officials said. The executive is "several levels down in the company," Platt said.

Stonecipher, who is married, did not return calls for comment.

Platt said he learned about the affair Feb. 28 after receiving an anonymous tip that included evidence of communication between Stonecipher and the female executive. Platt said he approached Stonecipher with the allegations the next day.
"In my very first conversation with him, he stepped up and said that, yes, he was having a relationship," Platt said. "And Harry was very open and very honest throughout this investigation."

Platt said he then informed the board, which was holding a regularly scheduled meeting. The board ordered an investigation, which included interviews with Stonecipher and the woman by an outside attorney. It found that the pair started the affair shortly after the first of the year and that it lasted only a few weeks, company officials said.

In all honesty, I was accused of sexual harassment. So I have felt the bad end of being accused and having to prove a negative. There was no grounds for it so no disciplinary action and the woman that accused me left the company for a variety of reasons but not before cheating the company out of a few hundred dollars.

So now what is my point?
"I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me ... I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Clinton said during a White House after-school care event with his wife standing by his side. (448K wav sound)

"I never told anybody to lie, not a single time. Never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work," Clinton continued. The president offered no more detailed explanation and took no questions. Lewinsky Has Spoken

That's right! Clinton's extramarital relationship when he was "CEO" of the USA on company grounds with an intern that was directly under him, is what I am talking about.
Can we say that his judgement was flawed?
And then for the coverup, Beating The Rap: The Evolving Tale Of How Billy's Gifts Ended Up Under Betty Currie's Bed.
Can we now say that his judgment was flawed?
If any CEO had done what Clinton had done, there would have been multiple lawsuits and he would have been fired so fast as to have security escort him out that minute.
This is partially due to the fact that sexual harassment does not have to be the two in the affair. Any other intern that was not given preferential treatment could sue. Or any one there could have sued on the grounds that it created a "hostile work environment" not the least being Betty Currie.

PS (5-6-2006): Winds fo Change has a nice post on Jefferson/Kennedy scandals:
As I've said, I think there's an opportunity for the Democrats to use this and make both moral and political progress - but it will require cleaning their own house first. I think that's a smart political move, not a dumb one, because it w(i)ll show the American people that they are serious about changing the culture in Washington.

I have heard so much mudslinging on the Republicans it would fill a book but when it happens to the Democrats then it is "Standing up to bullies". The Kennedy case shows deffinite signs of bad judgement. And as shown above that is only thing required to force a CEO to resign!
I won't go into every detail of the Kennedy incidents, but I will point out that it is odd that Kennedy says he has no memory of the night but insists that he did not take alchohol.

Video of Above Statements/Washington Post
What Clinton Said
Senior Official Linked to Escort Service Resigns
BP boss quits after allegations

Part 2 Shouting Down a Tyrant/Free Speech Rights?

In my last post, I talked about Wenyi Wang and her interruption of the speech by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Now to be perfectly honest I think she broke the law as written:
Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said she had been charged with disorderly conduct and that a charge of intimidating or disrupting foreign officials also was being considered.

And for the exact text from Free Speech Outrage:
Disorderly conduct is a local offense and not to big of a deal, but from what we could gather. The more serious federal charge of intimidating a foreign official -- which you can find here in Title 18, Section 112(b) of the U.S. Code -- is rare.

Yes it is rare since the secret service controls every aspect of visits, but it is not so "rare" that I have not heard of it. The US wanted guests to feel welcome here and since we have the UN buildings here we have officials from every country come here.
(2) attempts to intimidate, coerce, threaten, or harass a foreign official or an official guest or obstruct a foreign official in the performance of his duties; or
(3) within the United States and within one hundred feet of any building or premises in whole or in part owned, used, or occupied for official business or for diplomatic, consular, or residential purposes by -
(C) a foreign official; or
(D) an official guest;

I am not sure you could say it was intimidation but harrassment could easily be concluded from the actions.

And of course I am a defender of free speech and actually appreciate her willingness to speak out against a tyrant. She has actually shed some light on the plight of the Falun Gong situation.

Now let look at other situations where speakers have had to deal with shouters and hecklers in the crowd up to including violence on the speakers.
Conservative Author Is Attacked With Pies ( Ann Coulter)
Leftist Hatred Behind Pie-Throwing Thugs
It has not escalated like David Horowitz stated. But does show that people somehow think it is fair game to attack not only with words but actions against ideas and people they don't like. This article included: William Kristol attacked with a pie, Pat Buchanan face was covered with salad dressing, and Ann Coulter's attacks with pies.
Democrats: Racism Against Black Republicans Is Okay
Now some have questioned whether this actually happened and whether the cookies were thrown or just landed but it still remains that Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele said that he did see Oreo Cookies being thrown at him but not sure if any hit him.

And there were cases of the President and Dick Cheney being booed. I did not see any one on the left get heckled and booed at except Hillary Clinton (most from FreeRepublic):
[Anti-war] Hecklers interrupt Sen. Clinton at Brown University
PROVIDENCE, R.I. --Anti-war protesters interrupted U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech at Brown University on Saturday night by heckling the New York Democrat for four solid minutes before police escorted them out of the auditorium.

Clinton was about eight minutes into her 50-minute speech, "Women Leaders," when an unidentified man stood and shouted "Is it leadership to support the war?"

He was quickly joined by two other hecklers as he stood on his seat and continued to criticize Clinton for her vote to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq and her subsequent votes to fund the war. Boston Globe

Hillary: I've Gotten Used to Being Booed
My question is why should she have to get use to being booed?

And this is funny:
"Booing" of Hillary Clinton Electronically Transformed into "Applause" for TV Viewers!
Stossel explained: “Last fall Paul McCartney headlined a concert to benefit victims of September 11th. Some politicians appeared, including Senator Hillary Clinton.” Over the booing of Senator Clinton as she walked on stage and waved, Stossel noted: “And people in the audience booed her. Booed and heckled.”

Stossel told viewers: “But then MTV's channel VH1 re-ran the same concert and made it into a DVD.” As 20/20 showed the same scene again, but this time VH1's new version with applause, Stossel pointed out: “Notice a difference? The booing has been removed. Now and forever on the DVD the crowd applauds Senator Clinton.”

If this had been done for a Republican, can you imagine how much outrage this would have been? They would have been reviving every crackpot theory of Machiavelli or part of a vast right wing conspiracy!

Like usual I have included more information in the process of coming to a point than I wanted.
But in conclusion I don't think that any of these interruptions are examples of free speech. I think there are plenty of chances to have your voice heard, but screaming or taking actions against an invited lecturer is not only of bad manners but should be punished. In essence when a podium is set up, it conveys that that person has the con (control of the direction of the conversation). By letting everyone talk at once only tries to drown out the original message. But the one axiom I believe is that "the antidote for speech you don't like is more speech not less". This meaning that the people that want to shout over the speaker need to find other avenues to express themselves. And in the case of all domestic speakers there are plenty of ways to show to the speaker your displeasure, without resorting to shouting and interrupting the speech.

And now back to Wang. Yes I still believe she broke the law, but I hope that someone along the way will let her off with no punishment. It is not like she can go to China and express her feelings there. And even if she does go to trial and prison, at least she then has a platform to express what is going on in China.

P.S.: No Banquet for Hu
But while Singh got a dinner banquet, Hu was offered only lunch, to the irritation of the Chinese. While this protocol difference was clearly a planned one, the protest by a Chinese woman produced an unexpected complication at Hu’s reception.

As Hu began to speak, the woman, who managed to get into the camera stand for the media directly facing the two leaders, began shouting.

It sounds like petty jealousy, but it is what other countries are saying.
And the article goes on to explain the FalunGong and the Tibetans protests.

And from Taipei Times/White House bans foreign press during Bush-Hu talks
Not only has Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) refused to hold a joint press conference with US President George W. Bush during his visit to the US, but the US has banned members of the foreign press from reporting from inside the White House.
The official also said that such restrictions would apply to other foreign correspondents besides the Taiwanese press. Currently, very few foreign correspondents have White House press clearance due to strict vetting.

No Taiwanese correspondents possess White House clearance, and in the past all have had to pre-register and provide authorities with their passports, Social Security numbers and other personal information, before being allowed to enter the White House.

According to the new regulations as stated by the NSC, all Taiwanese press members who are not US citizens will be excluded from reporting from the White House, effective immediately.

Misc. Links of Note:
China's Hu Comes to America
Why Wang Wenyi Was Shouting

Saturday, April 22, 2006


This incident has brought up some interesting aspects of free speach I hope to explore in this post. But for now let us get some background...
From title link:
WASHINGTON — President Bush expressed personal regret to Chinese President Hu Jintao for a protest during an elaborate welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn Thursday.

The protester interrupted the ceremony by shouting to Bush to stop the Chinese president from "persecuting the Falun Gong."

Bush later addressed the matter when he met with Hu in the Oval Office. "He just said this was unfortunate and I'm sorry it happened," said Dennis Wilder, acting senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff.

Let me try to summarize this incident more succinctly:
Wenyi Wang, 47 got press credentials from Falun Gong-affiliated newspaper to get into the event and stood on a platform with the camera crews. Hu was about 1 minute into his speach when she started shouting:
"President Bush: Stop him from killing" and "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong." And "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong!" She also shouted in Chinese, "President Hu, your days are numbered."

Links to video at Michelle Malkin. Before she was taken away the camera man next to her put his hand on her neck and shoulder. Which was odd since I thought they must know each other since it was more intimate than what a stranger would do in public? And at least once he put his hand to her mouth but not in a forceful manner.

It looks like she was at times blocking his camera angle, thus he tries to get her out of the line of site and at least once to quiet her for the audio feed.
Then at sometime another lady presumably a security guard puts her hand over Wang's mouth.

From Free-speech outrage: Wenyi Wang may be charged with federal crime for daring to criticize the president...of China

The second picture shows clearly that Wang in on a platform and is the same person but wathcing the video I did not see that presumably black lady anywhere, including when the male security guard escorted Wang off the stage.

Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said she had been charged with disorderly conduct and that a charge of intimidating or disrupting foreign officials also was being considered.Link

For some background on the Falun Gong and Chinese atrocities I have blogged quit a bit on Thom's Board at China/Democratic Communism. The purpose for setting up the thread was to explore what a truly authoritarian regime does to its citizens. The title was making fun of the Chinese stating that they have a Democracy of the People, which Democratic Peace site has pointed out also.

To get some points of views in here: Huffington post thinks that President Bush Stands Up for Free Speech by Standing Up. The points they want to make is that is ironic what the US President said before Hu's speech and the interruption:
"China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce -- and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, to worship."

and CNN live coverage:
CNN's coverage: "An embarrassing moment, potentially, for the president." Then Miles O'Brien reacted, "I should say amid the pomp and circumstance -- a blemish." A Chinese woman expressing her views to the Chinese president in the only forum possible -- she certainly couldn't do that in China -- is a blemish? Yes, it was a pimple on the ass of such a wonderful event; an event which will usher in an era of more American jobs going overseas to communist controlled sweatshops. Dag. How dare she interrupt such pomp with all that annoying pus-filled free speech!

And Theodore's World thinks that the Genocide President Hu Jintao Meets With President Bush deserves only third place.

The article has some more nice information about atrocities in China.

And now the inspiration for this thread is from Antifascist(Anti) at China Envy...
As I was saying in the first post, American has more incommon with China than not. IN the second picture a US Agent puts her hand over Wang's mouth. The Secret Service may charge Wang with a obsure federal offense! Welcome to Amerika!
Bush's business partner, Hu.

What? Yes you would expect two things that are the same by definition (a nation) to have more things in common that not. But since this thread is running a little long I want to continue these and other discussions on other threads.

Woman arrested for speaking freely right after Bush call for " speak freely" -- and CNN calls it "a blemish" on Hu visit
Free-speech outrage: Wenyi Wang may be charged with federal crime for daring to criticize the president...of China

Caution Graphic Links:
Stop the Genocide and Coverup at Chinese Concentration Camps
The Same Song and the Nazi Symbol

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Machiavelli personality test

There has been some interest in Machiavelli from the left.
Machiavellianism is the term some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person's tendency to deceive and manipulate others for gain. Whether the gain is personal or not is of no relevance, only that the resulting actions are the goal and the means by which one achieves the results are only important insofar as it affects the results. Used to describe later works by other authors based on Machiavelli's writings—particularly The Prince—in which the authors stress the view that "The ends justify the means." These authors failed to include some of the more moderating themes found in Machiavelli's works and the name is now associated with the extreme view point. Notwithstanding the mitigating themes in The Prince, it was viewed in a negative light largely because the Catholic church put the work in its Index – a list of books against the faith.

Many of the theories are that neocons lap this up, that they are followers of these line of thoughts. I am not going to address that here...

But in the title link there is an interesting test of a "Machiavelli Personality Test".
And as far as my results:
The Machiavelli personality test has a range of 0-100
Your Machiavelli score is: 64
You are a high Mach, you endorse Machiavelli's opinions.

Most people fall somewhere in the middle, but there's a significant minority at either extreme.

It says high, but this is in a framework of blogging and sales. Any salesperson knows that you do not reveal all truths to the client. There is always some information you keep back until it is important in the conversation.

Monday, April 17, 2006

How to spot a baby conservative

Thom Hartman's Board was the original location that I heard about the so called "study".
Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.

But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.

Block admits in his paper that liberal Berkeley is not representative of the whole country. But within his sample, he says, the results hold. He reasons that insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority, and find it in conservative politics. The more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives to the way things are, and find liberal politics more congenial.

In a society that values self-confidence and out-goingness, it's a mostly flattering picture for liberals. It also runs contrary to the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives.

This is from the title link above. Here we see that a study that tracked 95 children (originally over 100) in one localty is the basis for his conclusions.
Since there is every indication that Block is a liberal professor from Berkeley, it does not take too much leap of faith to see how his bias is reflected in his results. Even creating the questionaire can create bias results. It is easy for a researcher to get too involved in the experiment and loose objectivity.

This is not to say that there may be "traits" that are manifested in early age as to how the subjects views the world.

But Jeff Greenberg, a social psychologist at the University of Arizona who was critical of Jost's study, was less impressed.

"I found it to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best," he said of the Block study. He thinks insecure, defensive, rigid people can as easily gravitate to left-wing ideologies as right-wing ones. He suspects that in Communist China, those kinds of people would likely become fervid party members.

The results do raise some obvious questions. Are nursery school teachers in the conservative heartland cursed with classes filled with little proto-conservative whiners?

Or does an insecure little boy raised in Idaho or Alberta surrounded by conservatives turn instead to liberalism?

Or do the whiny kids grow up conservative along with the majority of their more confident peers, while only the kids with poor impulse control turn liberal?

Part of the answer is that personality is not the only factor that determines political leanings. For instance, there was a .27 correlation between being self-reliant in nursery school and being a liberal as an adult. Another way of saying it is that self-reliance predicts statistically about 7 per cent of the variance between kids who became liberal and those who became conservative. (If every self-reliant kid became a liberal and none became conservatives, it would predict 100 per cent of the variance). Seven per cent is fairly strong for social science, but it still leaves an awful lot of room for other influences, such as friends, family, education, personal experience and plain old intellect.

So if there was 7% varience and 7 people droped out of the experiment could it be that the ones that droped out were the 7%? But like most studies they don't release the raw numbers (to the public) for independent analysis.

But if conservatives are whiny and insecure, then why are Republicans happier:
Are We Happy Yet?
Some 45% of all Republicans report being very happy, compared with just 30% of Democrats and 29% of independents. This finding has also been around a long time; Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey began taking its measurements in 1972. Pew surveys since 1991 also show a partisan gap on happiness; the current 16 percentage point gap is among the largest in Pew surveys, rivaled only by a 17 point gap in February 2003.

But even this explanation only goes so far. If one controls for household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats.

Might ideology be the key? It's true that conservatives, who are more likely to be Republican, are happier than liberals, who are more likely to be Democrats. But even controlling for this ideological factor, a significant partisan gap remains. Conservative Republicans are happier than conservative Democrats, and moderate/liberal Republicans are happier than liberal Democrats. Hmmm, what other factors might be at play? Well, there's always...

Some have stated they are more happy since the Republicans live in peaceful bliss. But that seems way too simplistic to be taken seriously.

And not only are conservatives happier, they also appear to be more generous. National Generosity Index 2004 shows that the states that have the least are more like to give than the states that have more. And further inspection seems to show that Red Rural States are ranked higher in the generosity index.

29 years and counting...
UC Santa Cruz is chosen to carry on landmark study chronicling the lives of 100 individuals

does not pertain to the most recent results, but gives some background information on the longitudinal studies.

Are We Happy Yet?
Jack Block Ph.D., Stanford University Emeritus
A clinical upstart elbows its way into the personality-assessment fray
UC Santa Cruz is chosen to carry on landmark study chronicling the lives of 100 individuals
Generosity Index 2004
The Anti-Empire Report
Some things you need to know before the world ends

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Group Decision making and keeping up on the Blogs you are interested in

Before I get into the heart of this post, I wanted to point out a web site that helps you keep track of blogs that do not post every day-such as mine. sends an email only on days that have your favorite blogs posts new items. Recently they have added some more features. It is easy to set up and to add blogs for it to monitor. But for me, most of the blogs update at least once per day, so I get an email every day.

Ever since a relative of mine talked about how ideas are formed from a single mind, I thought of how different ways that ideas can be created. He basically said that if it was not for that person then it would not have been created.

But I said what about "group think". Couldn't groups of people come up with ideas also. I was even thinking that society as a whole creates climates that help people come up with the answer to the problems they are looking at. I don't have any links right now, but I remember in science class that several scientists working at different corners of the world would come up with the same or similar answers to the problems they were working on. How did this phenomenon happen?

Oooops! Groupthink is more to do with the negative aspects of sheep following what others in the group believe is the concensus vs. groups that can come to good decisions since all members are able to freely contribute.
In 1972 Janice used the term to describe a process by which a group can make bad or irrational decisions. In a groupthink situation, each member of the group attempts to conform his or her opinions to what they believe to be the consensus of the group. In a general sense this seems to be a rational way to approach the situation. However this results in a situation in which the group ultimately agrees upon an action which each member might individually consider to be unwise (the risky shift).

So without getting too off track, let me say that I was looking at how different power or information structures could solve different problems better or worse.

And now we see that Cockroaches Make Group Decisions:
March 30, 2006 — Cockroaches govern themselves in a very simple democracy where each insect has equal standing and group consultations precede decisions that affect the entire group, indicates a new study.

The research determined that cockroach decision-making follows a predictable pattern that could explain group dynamics of other insects and animals, such as ants, spiders, fish and even cows.

Cockroaches, Blattella germanica, are silent creatures, save perhaps for the sound of them scurrying over a countertop. They therefore must communicate without vocalizing.

However they communicate, how can they come up with answers to the problems they face?
After much "consultation," through antenna probing, touching and more, the cockroaches divided themselves up perfectly within the shelters. For example, if 50 insects were placed in a dish with three shelters, each with a capacity for 40 bugs, 25 roaches huddled together in the first shelter, 25 gathered in the second shelter, and the third was left vacant.

When the researchers altered this setup so that it had three shelters with a capacity for more than 50 insects, all of the cockroaches moved into the first "house."

Allocation of resources of course is a significant decision by any group to make. And of course the cockroaches can not individually decide how this will be answered. So the collective "mindset" must have come into play.

Sumpter continued, "It is important because it looks both at the mechanisms underlying decision-making by animals and how those mechanisms produce a distribution of animals amongst resource sites that optimizes their individual fitness. Much previous research has concentrated on either mechanisms or optimality at the expense of the other."

For cockroaches, it seems, cooperation comes naturally.

Of course humans can handle much more complex issues than this.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Puerto Rico's Decolonization/Our 51st State part Two.

According to Rubén Berríos Martínez President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party "The Time is Now". Let me explore his article from the above link.
QUIETA, NON MOVERE, was the motto of the statesman Robert Walpole, who for most of the eighteenth century inspired Britain's policy toward its American colonies. The U.S. Congress for more than four decades has followed a similar don't-rock-the-boat territorial policy regarding Puerto Rico, one of the few remaining colonies in the world even after the U.N. General Assembly in 1988 declared the 1990's the "international Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism." Yet if the trends of the last half-century continue, a change in political status seems inevitable for the 3.8 million inhabitants of the Caribbean commonwealth, a U.S. possession since the Spanish-American War of 1898. If the United States remains in a state of Walpolian inertia, it may soon face a challenge to the very nature of American federalism and to its relationship with Latin America.

A nice summary showing his points of view including Colonialism on Puerto Rico. If Puerto Ricans really wanted independence, I feel, it would happen in a nanosecond. A few suicide bombers would end our relationship fast and cut them off forever. And later he again tries to say it will be bad for the US is we allow statehood to PR. The USA is big and can handle this in stride. We have willingly/unwillingly allowed 10-12 million illegal aliens to enter our country. Don't you think that we can handle 4 million that are already US citizens?

Some of the premises of the Young Bill are either fantasy or glaringly inconsistent with the legitimate interests of the United States and Puerto Rico. Unless those premises are changed, and the United States adopts a principled and rational policy while alternatives are still available, Puerto Rico is likely to opt for state hood. The Senate should be forward-looking. It should exclude outmoded colonial commonwealth as an option, address itself candidly to the consequences of statehood-which would burden the United States and preserve the economic problems of Puerto Rico while furthering its cultural assimilation-and adopt a policy that will pave the way for Puerto Rican independence.

What are the interests of PR and USA? So far it seems that it has been in both to maintain close relations/territorial status. What consequences does the author envision? And how would the USA be more burdened than it already is? He slipped in the last phrase as a cheap shot since he knows most of his fellow Puerto Ricans do not hold this view.

A statehood petition would be the direct result of U.S. Cold War policies that de facto criminalized the island's independence movement, which was supported by a majority of the Puerto Rican people until the 1940's· For the last half-century, those policies have also fostered dependence on federal welfare payments and on tax-sparing arrangements for U.S. corporate investors. In 1996 a budget-conscious Congress repealed what it called corporate welfare and began cutting back on social programs as part of welfare "reform." Puerto Ricans, once again reminded of their colonial vulnerability, have thus been induced to seek the greater federal largess that would purportedly accrue under state hood and consequent representation in Congress.

Yes many of our world views have shaped our policies toward PR. From having men for WWI combat to having naval bases in the Carribean area. But he does bring up why did the attitude change as he believes happened? Every state is somewhat vunerable to the Federal System. Take Alaska with regard to ANWR, a vast amount of Alaskans support drilling but the Federal Government has not allowed it.

The implications of statehood for a territory populated by Spanish speaking Latin Americans (and not a minority, culturally isolated or overwhelmed by a ruling majority identified with Anglo-American culture, as was the case in Texas) with a per capita income one-third that of the United States and half that of Mississippi should not be underestimated. In a Caribbean nation where half the families receive food checks under the federal Nutritional Assistance Program, "State hood is for the poor," as Carlos Romero-Barceló, now Puerto Rico's pro-statehood resident commissioner, said in 1973, was an effective slogan. But the founding fathers did not intend statehood as a ticket for a poor nation to a cornucopia of federal welfare payments. More important, it was not designed with anything like Puerto Rico in mind. It is one thing to accept individual Jamaicans or Dominicans as immigrants; it is quite another to annex entire nations like Jamaica or the Dominican Republic as states.

Sounds like he is trying to say Puerto Ricans are so backward that they don't deserve to be part of the USA. I have not come accross a definitive difference in GDP per capita, but I doubt the numbers he gave. Our founding fathers did not put much faith in the welfare system, but we have supported redistibution of income. And for a variety of reasons redistribution does occur between the states. The US has annexed entire nations or did he forget Hawaii, Alaska and the Oregon territory? Does he not know about the European Union? Where there is not a complete melting of the distinct countries, but the direction to a Federalism system has been created. Where the currency and central bank is over 25 countries. I believe our federalism system is designed for inclusion of nation states such as Puerto Rico.

The present commonwealth arrangement is an outmoded remnant of the Cold War. According to Sections 1 and 9 of the Federal Relations Act, which provided the legal framework for commonwealth in 1952, all U.S. laws enacted by Congress apply to "Puerto Rico and adjacent islands [offshore Puerto Rican municipalities] belonging to the United States," except when deemed locally inapplicable. But territory under the U.S. Constitution was never intended to be permanent, and a growing majority of Puerto Ricans repudiates the present status. In a 1952 yes-or-no referendum, 81 percent of voters backed common wealth and 19 percent opposed it. In a 1993 plebiscite sponsored by the Puerto Rican government, by contrast, the percentage for common wealth had decreased to 49 percent, while statehood had increased to 46 percent, and independence, in spite of decades of discrimination and persecution, garnered 4 percent.

Yes a growing percentage of Puerto Rican oppose the present common wealth status but the opposition to getting closer ties to the US is about the same or dwindling. That is 19% opposed common wealth status before and only 4% wanted independence. The difference in the first pole could have been some that opposed common wealth status for support of statehood. So the writer is in the minority.

As early as 1914, the Union Party, Puerto Rico's majority party, proclaimed independence as its final-status aspiration, but as U.S. participation in World War I became imminent, the United States tightened its hold on the Caribbean. It invaded Haiti in 1915 and the Dominican Republic in 1916 and formalized its will to occupy Puerto Rico permanently by unilaterally imposing U.S. citizenship through the Jones Act of 1917, over the unanimous objection of the House of Delegates. The Jones Act included some reforms, such as an elected Senate, but the fundamental disenfranchisement remained.

I would imagine if the people really felt us citizenship was "imposed" on them they could have asked to become citizens of another nation nearby like Venezuela. Even now it does not look like many Puerto Ricans want to denounce their US Citizenship status. I am sure Cuba would love a propaganda coup.

A massive anti-independence government propaganda campaign was launched. The words patria and nación (nation) were proscribed for decades. In 1948 the Puerto Rican legislature approved the infamous Ley de la Mordaza (Gag Law), a version of the 1940 Smith Act prohibiting seditious speech, under which independentistas were arrested and imprisoned for almost any reason, including reciting patriotic poetry, making speeches, and unfurling the Puerto Rican flag.

This must be the only time in history that repression of political group has nearly wiped it out and subdued it in to submission. Can you think of any other time in history this has happened? Repression of ideas usually strenthens those ideas to the extent of the repression.

After nearly 100 years of American colonial rule, Puerto Ricans remain a distinct and homogeneous Latin American nationality. Spanish is the only language of common understanding as well as of high culture, and less than one-third of the population understands English, even as a foreign language. Renowned Puerto Rican writers, painters, and other artists, heirs to a distinguished centuries-old tradition, have made significant contributions to twentieth-century Latin-American culture. Our folklore and popular arts, a rich blend of the island's Spanish, African, and Taino inheritance, and Caribbean customs and traditions contribute to our national culture, proud and defiant even under the constant threat of assimilation.

Yes I would expect them to maintain their own culture but the only thing that needs to be changed is for High School students to have a degree valid in all of the US to be able to understand (read, write and speak) english and understand the basic history of the USA.

Well a fascinating article, but I think this is enough on the subject for now.