Friday, March 17, 2006

Frank Bi

Frank Bi deserves some credit.

His proposal is the highest concentration of wisdom and dangerous derangement I have seen in...well, ever.

If you realize that J.S. Mill was a Stalinist, you have some idea of how he calibrates the "classical liberal" pantheon of heroes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Liberals need to be gettin' busy

This is a remarkable article


The liberal baby bust
By Phillip Longman
What's the difference between Seattle and Salt Lake City? There are many differences, of course, but here's one you might not know. In Seattle, there are nearly 45% more dogs than children. In Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19% more kids than dogs.
This curious fact might at first seem trivial, but it reflects a much broader and little-noticed demographic trend that has deep implications for the future of global culture and politics. It's not that people in a progressive city such as Seattle are so much fonder of dogs than are people in a conservative city such as Salt Lake City. It's that progressives are so much less likely to have children.

It's a pattern found throughout the world, and it augers a far more conservative future — one in which patriarchy and other traditional values make a comeback, if only by default. Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.

Today, fertility correlates strongly with a wide range of political, cultural and religious attitudes. In the USA, for example, 47% of people who attend church weekly say their ideal family size is three or more children. By contrast, 27% of those who seldom attend church want that many kids.

In Utah, where more than two-thirds of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 92 children are born each year for every 1,000 women, the highest fertility rate in the nation. By contrast Vermont — the first to embrace gay unions — has the nation's lowest rate, producing 51 children per 1,000 women.

A fascinating problem: The proportions in even an otherwise stable polymorphic population might be responsive to changes in institutions. If a society adopts majority rule, in particular, there can be a tipping point. And, if it is true that conservatives are reproducing (much) faster than liberals....Well, you know. You liberals need to get out there and get busy.

Otherwise? More conservative education, more emphasis on religion, perhaps teaching creation in some states with particularly high proportions of religious right voters.

What does this say about democracy? Does the will of the majority contain moral force? Or does it just reflect different rates of reproduction, rather than persuasion?

Shoe-in is a shoo-in in the Google horse race

So, my good friend and across-the-Duke-hallway interlocutor, Geoff Brennan, pokes his head in my door. He asks, "How do you spell (and then pronounces the phrase "shoo in").

I reply, confidently, because my confidence greatly exceeds my knowledge, "Oh, that is spelled 's-h-o-e dash i-n'." Geoff says he has a paper he is looking at, and it spells it wrong. In other words, Geoff agrees with me.

Bad idea. "Shoo-in" is clearly correct.

In terms of etymology, it's pretty obvious why: it's from horse racing. . For example, see here. An excerpt:

[Q] ...I was wondering if you could possibly find out the origin of the term shoe in, meaning someone will win for sure.”
[A] This one is spelled wrongly so often that it’s likely it will eventually end up that way. The correct form is shoo-in, usually with a hyphen. It has been known in that spelling and with the meaning of a certain winner from the 1930s. It came from horse racing, where a shoo-in was the winner of a rigged race.
In turn that seems to have come from the verb shoo, meaning to drive a person or an animal in a given direction by making noises or gestures, which in turn comes from the noise people often make when they do it.
The shift to the horse racing sense seems to have occurred sometime in the early 1900s. C E Smith made it clear how it came about in his Racing Maxims and Methods of Pittsburgh Phil in 1908: “There were many times presumably that ‘Tod’ would win through such manipulations, being ‘shooed in’, as it were”.
(Emphasis added)

"Spelled wrongly so often that it's likely it will eventually end up that way..." Like when your mom said, "If you make that ugly look, your face will get stuck that way!"?

No, more like this:
Google search for "shoe-in" reveals 1.73 million usages

Google search for "shoo-in" reveals fewer than half a million usages.

So, shoe-in is a shoo-in, by more than a 3-1 ratio.

Follow-up on L.I.Veto

A piece I had in the Boston Globe this morning, with help from Keith Lawrence and Kelly Gilmer at Duke News Services.

A brief excerpt:

BULKED UP beyond all recognition. Clearly operating outside the usual guidelines of acceptability, even if they are not violating the law. Scorned by most fans and pundits, and yet we can't help but watch to see what new record they might set this year.

I wish I were talking about hormone-laced sluggers swinging for baseball's fences. But the description describes the budget situation in Washington. The size of the federal budget has gone from $1.8 trillion in 2000 to more than $2.5 trillion in 2006, with even conservative estimates placing total outlays at well over $3 trillion by the end of the decade. The current Congress is Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays all wrapped into one muscle-bound package.

Who is supposed to be managing these guys? By tradition, and the Constitution, that would be the president. Public embarrassment and the threat of a veto -- followed at least occasionally by a real veto -- would provide a check on the burgeoning budget.

I wrote this over the weekend. But some of the points I make were echoed in comments or emails I received. Thanks for the comments. And, remember: if you don't comment, the terrorists win.

UPDATE: V from Badlands just sent me a very polite note, pointing out that JQ Adams had in fact served only ONE term. Well....darn. That's right. I had even checked, but had just misread the list.

Whether one should believe anything ELSE in an article that makes such an obvious mistake...well, not my finest moment, this.

UPDATE II: And a note on what society values. I checked the "most emailed" list for today's Globe. My op-ed had 6 forwards. That puts it....about 120th for the day.

Top Ten: "Woman gets beer from her faucet"


Woman gets beer from her kitchen faucet
March 13, 2006

OSLO, Norway --It almost seemed like a miracle to Haldis Gundersen when she turned on her kitchen faucet this weekend and found the water had turned into beer.

Two flights down, employees and customers at the Big Tower Bar were horrified when water poured out of the beer taps.

By an improbable feat of clumsy plumbing, someone at the bar in Kristiandsund, western Norway, had accidentally hooked the beer hoses to the water pipes for Gundersen's apartment.

"We had settled down for a cozy Saturday evening, had a nice dinner, and I was just going to clean up a little," Gundersen, 50, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. "I turned on the kitchen faucet and beer came out."

I emailed it to two people myself, just to join the wave. ATSRTWT