Thursday, June 12, 2008

I think that I shall never see.....

Malagasy Musings

While the citizens of Madagascar seem hell bent on digging up, burning down, or chopping down their country ASAP, there are still quite a lot of beautiful spots left with truly amazing wildlife.

Interestingly, the Malagasy do NOT consider themselves to be African nor do they think Madagascar is part of Africa.

One of the most striking things I noticed was the fact that you don't really see hardly any old people there.

In the villages especially there were tons of quite young children everywhere. Babies be havin' babies! I think the national anthem should be "me so horny".

Transportation infrastructure is pretty much non-existent, especially the further you get from the capital city.

Malagasy pop songs are quite long compared to American pop songs.

It was jarring for me to be in a national park and see villages inside it with, in some cases, people cutting trees to make charcoal right in the park.

Most of the people we spoke to had little conception of the US or our lifestyles (and these obviously were people who had exposure to tourists). We were asked things like, "what is your staple food in the US?" (I would answer "high fructose corn syrup"), and when we asked a person who said he'd like to visit the USA where he'd like to go he said "the wetlands and the drylands".

dude: OF COURSE YOU GOTTA VET THE VETTERS!!!!!

This is gonna be a fun election. BO is as nutty in his own way as Johnny Mac. He travels the country railing at Countrywide and its CEO by name over and over. He then appoints as his VP vetting head a dude who is in bed bigtime with said CEO and company.

When called on it he basically says, "what do you expect me to do? I can't possibly vet my vetters". He also appears to say that the guy doesn't work for him apparently because he's not getting paid and hasn't (yet) been given a permanent position in the BO administration.

I love the hollow moral outrage of people who by definition feel themselves incapable of doing something wrong or making a mistake.

feast your eyes and ears people:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wow: Chilipunk'd for SURE

The candidates from the "major" parties have organized their own private election, with just two people invited: Bev Purdue and Pat McCrory. Five debates, only two candidates will be allowed.

Here's the strange thing: It's really hard to get on the ballot in North Carolina. The Libertarians did what the state required. It wasn't easy, but we did it.

Why doesn't that translate into being included in the debate? Why do the state-sponsored parties get away with this? It's because you, the voters, are indifferent.

It's not the media; you can't blame them. Having me in the debate is MUCH more interesting, and would improve ratings. You can count on the media actually preferring that I be included.

But I'm not. Because the Dems and Repubs don't want even a whiff of competition to affect their cozy cartel.

Where's the outrage?

We Have a Tariff on Ethanol? Really?

Good sweet fancy Moses.

We want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

So we tax imported ethanol?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Political Counterpoints

A new series that Duke is producing.

Some quick hits on major topics in politics, on YouTube.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Piper Comes Up Big

A disturbing small incident in North Carolina, related by my man the Piper.

(While you are there, set up an account. We need the membership!)

The Grand Game: Privatize are watching YOU!

I don't know where to start here. So, Hall and Oates seemed like the only answer.

Readers, please play the Grand Game: Identify the hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the positions described in the article. Use back of paper if necessary.

Now, for the adapted Hall and Oates lyrics:

I see you, you see me
Watch you blowin the lines when youre making a speech
Oh Senator, you've got to know
What my head overlooks
The voters will take to the polls
When its watching for lies
You cant escape my
Privatize
We're watching you
In your private dining room!
Privatize
We're watching you
Privatize
As you eat your soup eat your soup eat your soup....


(Nod to GQ Boy)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Comfortably Obama

Obamanomics? Like this?

So, it's time for "Comfortably Numb," I think.

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I cant explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Ok.
Just a little pinprick. [ping]
Therell be no more --aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.


Nod to Neanderbill for the reference. Don't blame him for my interpretation, though.
Libertarian paternalism, indeed.

Really? REALLY?

Not sure if this is real.

But it's pretty.....well, ironic. A story.

Turns out Obama was right: there ARE a lot of bitter white people, after all.

Angus is back and he brought pics!!

Some Links

Authoritarianism: The Role of Threat, Evolutionary Psychology, and the Will
to Power

Brad Hastings & Barbara Shaffer
Theory & Psychology, June 2008, Pages 423-440

Abstract:
It has been demonstrated empirically and theoretically that threat is a primary contributor to the increased manifestations of the authoritarian personality. However, most conceptualizations of authoritarianism have failed to explore how these manifestations may have an adaptive value in the face of threat. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to employ the theories of evolutionary psychology in an attempt to provide a comprehensive explanation of authoritarianism. Attention is given to specific psychological mechanisms, such as coalition formation and social exchange, that when utilized by the authoritarian individual under conditions of threat, demonstrate adaptive value. Furthermore, a comprehensive explanation of authoritarianism is offered that encompasses variables related to authoritarianism, its association with a fundamental need to belong, and its larger philosophical relationship to Nietzsche's `will to power.'

--------------------------

Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy

Pedro Dal Bó, Andrew Foster & Louis Putterman
NBER Working Paper, May 2008

Abstract:
A novel experiment is used to show that the effect of a policy on the level of cooperation is greater when it is chosen democratically by the subjects than when it is exogenously imposed. In contrast to the previous literature, our experimental design allows us to control for selection effects (e.g. those who choose the policy may be affected differently by it). Our finding implies that democratic institutions may affect behavior directly in addition to having effects through the choice of policies. Our findings have implications for the generalizability of the results of randomized policy interventions.

--------------------------

On the Usefulness of Memory Skills in Social Interactions: Modifying the
Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma

Isabell Winkler, Klaus Jonas & Udo Rudolph
Journal of Conflict Resolution, June 2008, Pages 375-384

Abstract:
The present experiment introduces a modification of the iterated prisoner's dilemma (PD). In contrast to classical dilemma situations with only one interaction partner, participants (N = 120) interacted with five fictitious interaction partners within one game, either in a random order (change condition) or against each of the interaction partners in succession (block condition). The authors assume that the change condition simulates the social interactions of a real environment more accurately and that individual memory skills are more important in the change condition as compared to the block condition. As dependent variables, the participants' score in the game was recorded, as well as the participants' memory
performance concerning information about their interaction partners. Results show that good memory performance with respect to biographical information leads to higher scores only in the condition with changing interaction partners, but not in the block condition.

-------------------------

Sociality, selection, and survival: Simulated evolution of mortality with
intergenerational transfers and food sharing

Ronald Lee
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract:
Why do humans survive so long past reproductive age, and why does juvenile mortality decline after birth, both contrary to the classic theory of aging? Previous work has shown formally that intergenerational transfers can explain both these patterns. Here, simulations confirm those results under weaker assumptions and explore how different social arrangements shape life-history evolution. Simulated single-sex hunter–gatherers survive, forage, reproduce, and share food with kin and nonkin in ways guided by the ethnographic literature. Natural selection acts on probabilistically occurring deleterious mutations. Neither stable population age distributions nor homogeneous genetic lineages are assumed. When food is shared only
within kin groups, an infant death permits reallocation of its unneeded food to the infant's kin, offsetting the fitness cost of the death and weakening the force of selection against infant mortality. Thus, evolved infant mortality is relatively high, more so in larger kin groups. Food sharing with nonkin reduces the costs to kin of child rearing, but also reduces the resources recaptured by kin after an infant death, so evolved infant mortality is lower. Postreproductive adults transfer food to descendants, enhancing their growth and survival, so postreproductive survival is selected. The force of selection for old-age survival depends in omplicated ways on the food-sharing arrangements. Population-level food sharing with
nonkin leads to the classic pattern of constant low mortality up to sexual maturity and no postreproductive survival.

(Nod to KL, with Thanks!)

The UN: Looking for a few rich white people.....

UN List of Most Livable Countries, Top Six

1. Norway
2. Iceland
3. Australia
4. Ireland
5. Sweden
6. Canada

Now, look at that. These nations have an population growth rates under 0.5. They have lilly white populations, with the exception of Australia, and one city (Toronto) in Canada. (And the non-white Ozzies and Torontons are mostly from east or south Asia, plus a few Aboriginals or First People or whatever it is politically correct to call the folks who escaped the colonial genocide).

And, their average population density is less than 50 people per square mile. Three of these countries, Iceland, Australia, and Canada, have population densities under 10 per square mile.

So, if by "livable," you mean "I'm looking for a few rich white people," this list makes sense.