Thursday, July 18, 2019

Best of the Bee



Mobs and circuses

From Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun. Page 164.
“In the event, the repeal of the Corn Laws (which had held the price of corn artificially high) in 1846 did much to draw the sting of proletarian fervour. Rising employment and wages, improvements to scandalous factory working conditions and falling food prices during the early 1860s all somewhat appeased the mobs, though occasional, violent agitation for reform would continue until the Second Reform Act of 1867, which doubled the number of English and Welsh adult males allowed to vote. Even then, 60 per cent of males would remain unfranchised, harbouring a grievance that would rumble well into the twentieth century. Meanwhile, the taint of revolutionary aggression remained attached to the congregation of mobs, and the criminal element endemic in any large crowd made them deeply unsettling in their unpredictability. The publicity surrounding Thomas Briggs’ murder and the capture and repatriation of Müller was likely to ensure the congregation of thousands wherever the prisoner appeared.

Early Sunday Morning by Edward Hirsch

Early Sunday Morning
by Edward Hirsch

I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I'm one of those chumps.

No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.

It's like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up

early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else's motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.

And so now I'm sitting in a dimly lit
cafe full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.

Ham, cheese, eggs, lemons and a cat with a captured mouse

Ham, cheese, eggs, lemons and a cat with a captured mouse by George Smith (England, 1713 – 1776)

Click to enlarge.

You have to compare levels of motivation.

From Polyamory Offers A “Unique Opportunity” To Enjoy Prolonged Passion And Closeness In Romantic Relationships by Emma Young. One writer whom I quite respect for his evidence-based approach and his rationalism is a keen polyamorist but otherwise I have no particular connection to this debate.

Marriage cultural norms patterns are clearly associated with certain estimable outcomes such as productivity, longevity, well-being but their specific causal mechanism are deeply speculated but little proven. Monogamous marriage at a later age (mid-twenties), to out-members (i.e. non-cousin marriage), in a nuclear family context is associated with all the early members of the Age of Enlightenment countries and the industrial revolution (i.e. those behind the hajnal line).

This particular research is wretchedly speculative. Small sample size, self-selected sample, internet based, no apparent control of confounding variables (particularly geography), and, most critically, an apples and oranges comparison.
Rhonda Balzarini at York University, Canada and colleagues conducted the first empirical test of differences between eroticism and nurturance among participants who were in either a monogamous or a polyamorous relationship. Someone in a polyamorous relationship typically has a primary partner (they usually live with this person who is often their spouse and the co-parent of their children if they have any) and also, with the consent of that person, a secondary romantic partner. Relationships with secondary partners tend to last for at least a few years, allowing for some nurturance, as well as sex.

The researchers recruited their polyamorous participants – more than one thousand of them – from Facebook and Reddit groups dedicated to polyamory discussions. These individuals had been with their primary partner for an average of seven years, and with their secondary partner for two. They completed questionnaires that asked about levels of nurturance (to what extent they felt a strong sense of security, love, warmth, etc) and eroticism (including their felt levels of desire and lust, and sexual excitement) in each relationship, how close they felt to each partner, and also their levels of sexual satisfaction. The team also collected similar data on over two thousand monogamous people, who had been in an exclusive relationship for an average of 17 years.
It does, however, highlight a particular surveying issue which is recognized but rarely discussed. Participant asymmetric motivation.

I am making up the numbers in order illustrate the likely issue.

Among all stable relationships, I'll assume that less than 5% are polyamorous. I suspect it is probably less than 1% according their definitions, but let's stipulate 5%.

They recruit 1,000 participants in polyamorous relationships. They recruit 2,000 representing traditional monogamous relationships.

Let's also hold aside that they are all self-selected, there are few or no observational controls, there appears to be no controls around standard confounding factors such as income, educational attainment, geographical location (both by nationality and by urban/rural type issues), etc. I hypothesize that the polyamorous community to have higher education credentials, more urban, higher income, less religiously observant, perhaps more ethnically homogenous, more white collar services class, etc. than the traditional monogamists. That's not an inconsiderable number of confounding factors which ought to be controlled.

However, there is another which is rarely focused on but which this study highlights. Motivation.

Given, at 5%, that polyamory is socially deviant from norms (the other 95%), anybody pursuing polyamory must almost necessarily be highly motivated. There are all sorts of social and legal norms which raise the regulatory barriers, economic opportunity costs, and social costs to polyamory. The commitment to polyamory must exceed the barriers and costs.

Monogamous relationships, well within the social norm, have far fewer barriers and costs. It is easier to go along with the norm.

Therefore when you compare two such populations you are effectively comparing a highly motivated population to a non-motivated population. The unlikeness between the two populations in motivational inspiration will necessarily generate its own patterns of variance which have nothing to do with the differences between monogamy and polyandry per se.

How would you control for the motivational variable? How do you find highly motivated monogamists?

However you do that, you are then likely to find that it introduces yet another uncontrolled variable. In other words, I suspect that you will find that a population of highly motivated monogamists are also highly religious compared to polyamorists.

But I also suspect that if you compare highly motivated polyamorists with highly motivated monogamists, their life satisfaction, nurturance, eroticism, etc. will also be much more similar.

It is an imperfect analogy, but perhaps illuminating. Would we expect similar levels of pride of service and life satisfaction between military volunteers and military draftees. I suspect not and the differentiating factor would be due to differences in degree of motivation.

By not controlling for motivation, beyond all the other things they don't control for, the researchers undermine their own observations.

You have to wonder why this research was undertaken in the first place. Their is so little thought put into the effort and so many glaring shortfalls in methodology, that it tells you nothing at all. Except that, perhaps, the researchers are interested in polyamoury and or are desperate to make it a topic of conversation.









A single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory

From A fond farewell to state I love that doesn't seem to love me by Charlie Kirk
Back in 1932, Supreme Court Justice Leo Brandeis wrote the following often-quoted line in the case of New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann: "It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Retroactively changing the causal mechanism for a forecast from forty years ago which has been proven correct based on the original hypothesis

From India’s Terrifying Water Crisis by Meera Subramanian. The subtitle is:
To survive the climate emergency, India needs the collective power of small-scale, nature-based efforts.
I am good for the first three paragraphs.
India’s water crisis offers a striking reminder of how climate change is rapidly morphing into a climate emergency. Piped water has run dry in Chennai, the southern state of Tamil Nadu’s capital, and 21 other Indian cities are also facing the specter of “Day Zero,” when municipal water sources are unable to meet demand.

Chennai, a city of eight million on the Bay of Bengal, depends on the fall monsoon to provide half of the city’s annual rainfall. Last year, the city had 55 percent less rainfall than normal. When the monsoon ended early, in December, the skies dried up and stayed that way. Chennai went without rain for 200 days. As winter passed into spring and the temperature rose to 108° F, its four water reservoirs turned into puddles of cracked mud.

Some parts of the city have been without piped water for five months now. Weary women with brightly colored plastic jugs now await water tankers, sometimes in the middle of the night. On June 20, the delayed summer monsoon arrived as a disappointing light shower.
But then there is the jarring introduction of statist ideology (AGW) into an otherwise real issue.
But to even consider surviving the climate emergency underway, India needs more than megaprojects. It needs the collective power of abundant, small-scale, nature-based efforts to seize the seasonal bounty across the diverse landscape of South Asia.
AGW/Climate Change/Climate emergency. The names change but the statist vision remains the same.

Subramanian's position would have greater credibility if we want talking about the anticipated water crisis forty years ago, long before AGW hijacked environmentalism.

The discussion then proceeded from the observation that the world was urbanizing and developing, leading to greater water needs in more concentrated geographies. The concern was multi-fold. There was talk that all future wars would be over access to water just as in the past they might have been over oil or agricultural land, etc. There was the concern about reservoirs and tapping natural riverine sources and how that would cause environmental catastrophe. There was concern about tapping impermeable and non-replaceable geological reservoirs. There was concern about the cost and technology of water treatment.

Basically it was an anticipated issue and the argument had nothing to do with AGW. Much of what was hypothesized forty years has come about. We are dramatically more urbanized, dramatically more densified. We are much more dependent on frequently variable water sources.

The fact that the old theory came true does not preclude AGW from also being true. But it is irrelevant. And indeed, ideologically suspicious. Why raise AGW if the known conditions and known forecast were made regardless of AGW?

More and more people are beginning to acknowledge that the AGW argument is simply a mask for statism. And I don't mean more opponents are acknowledging it. More proponents are acknowledging that the environmental packaging is simply a camouflage for the purpose to advance statism.

As Saikat Chakrabarti recently acknowledge on Capitol Hill, the Green New Deal was never intended to address enviornmental concerns. As reported in National Review from an interview in the Washington Post
“The interesting thing about the Green New Deal, is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” Chakrabarti said to Inslee’s climate director, Sam Ricketts, according to a Washington Post reporter who attended the meeting for a profile published Wednesday.

“Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing,” he added.
Which seems to echo Subramanian
At a time when America’s eco-resolve is in tatters, India has the opportunity to step up and be a pioneer, rewriting the human development script for the 21st century and growing a new economy on a foundation of green growth. Now is the time to look to the knowledge of earth systems that we are so quickly altering if there is any hope of quenching our undying thirst.
It was never about the environment, it was always about statist power.

But in pursuing greater statism, the ideologues have made it that much harder for traditional environmentalists.

Best of the Bee



Governance in precarious times (not today)

From Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun. Page 163.
“Throughout both Thursday and Friday nights, hackneys, drays, barouches and wagons crammed the approaches to Euston Square Station, clanking hooves and grinding wheels mixing with the shouts rising from the thick crowd of pedestrians. If the behaviour of the public in New York and in Liverpool was anything to go by, vast crowds of spectators, whipped into a frenzy of anticipation by the sensationalist reporting of the mass-circulation weekend newspapers, could be expected wherever a possibility of catching sight of Müller existed. This fact was likely to make both politicians, police and the middle classes extremely uneasy, for mobs were fickle: sometimes loud but peaceable in their craving for public ‘entertainment’ but occasionally rampaging, aggressive and criminal. Windows might be smashed, carriages overturned or children trampled; within the heaving crowds lurked drunks, fraudsters, pickpockets, thieves and worse.

Earlier in Victoria’s reign, as the economic progress of the nation polarised the inequalities between the rich and the poor, riots had become a signal of inflammable class tensions and the working classes’ demands for political reform. During the late 1830s and ‘hungry 40s’, as food prices rose and revolutions broke out in much of Europe, real fear had grown among those in power that a popular revolt was imminent. When the Lords refused to pass a new Reform Act extending the vote to more of the male middle classes in 1831, turmoil broke out. When the Act was finally passed a year later, it did not entirely halt demands both to reform corrupt electoral districts and to allow votes for all men over twenty-one. Anger grew with the passing of a harsh new Poor Law in 1843; demonstrations for better working conditions among the poor and starving became increasingly violent.

The constituency of these crowds was no longer confined, as in the first two decades of the century, to the local or to the working classes: the revolutionary language of the Chartists during the 1840s had, rather, united the discontent of both the lower-middle and the working classes, countrywide. When Friedrich Engels worked at a branch of his father’s Manchester cotton mill between 1842 and 1844 he noted such appalling conditions among the workers and such demoralised … debased … selfishness in the bourgeoisie that he concluded that an uprising was imminent: it is too late for a peaceful solution. The classes are divided more and more sharply, the spirit of resistance penetrates the workers, the bitterness intensifies … As the 1840s drew to a close, fearing the ‘poison’ of the French Revolution, the government struggled with a threat of radicalism that had the potential to burst out of control.

I Looked Up from My Writing by Thomas Hardy

I Looked Up from My Writing
by Thomas Hardy

I looked up from my writing,
And gave a start to see,
As if rapt in my inditing,
The moon's full gaze on me.

Her meditative misty head
Was spectral in its air,
And I involuntarily said,
'What are you doing there?'

'Oh, I've been scanning pond and hole
And waterway hereabout
For the body of one with a sunken soul
Who has put his life-light out.

'Did you hear his frenzied tattle?
It was sorrow for his son
Who is slain in brutish battle,
Though he has injured none.

'And now I am curious to look
Into the blinkered mind
Of one who wants to write a book
In a world of such a kind.'

Her temper overwrought me,
And I edged to shun her view,
For I felt assured she thought me
One who should drown him too.

Fat Tire Company

From Dan Cosgrove.

Click to enlarge.

Perceptual warping

The foundation for strong self-confidence is the capacity to cognitively manipulate reality.

From Tim Kreider.

Click to enlarge.

The willful self-blindness is stunning

The Mandarin Class is blind to their own unrelenting misandry, misanthropy and racism. They are the Bizarro World Reverend King where we are supposed to judge people based on their sex and skin color and not by the content of their character. They are repugnant. A pox on them.



Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A life meager in material good and yet a life better than many in 1864

From Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun. Page 129.

Müller, the suspect of a murder, was traveling by ship from England to America in 1864. He was a professional tailor, on the margin of respectability. He was not impoverished and did not lead the harsh lives of those in the country but it was a materially meager life compared to our circumstances today.

As can be seen from this incident. Müller is arrested on the ship and his possessions are examined by the investigating detective. Müller has already been on the ship three or four weeks.
“It was a calm process. As he escorted Müller downstairs to the empty saloon, Clarke explained who they were. Tieman then searched the prisoner, finding eleven shillings in his trouser pocket and a small key in his waistcoat.

It is the key to my box, Müller said.

Under instructions from the captain, a large black trunk ornamented with brass nails was retrieved from Müller’s berth in cabin 9. When it was brought into the saloon, the prisoner confirmed that it belonged to him.

Bending to unlock it, Sergeant Clarke threw back the lid to reveal Müller’s belongings: one or two dirty shirts and their separate collars, a spare pair of working trousers, a few scarves, a couple of brushes, a towel, an umbrella, a pair of gloves and a handkerchief. Packed on one side were the tools of the tailor’s trade: a measure and a pair of scissors or shears. There was no spare waistcoat, coat or overcoat.
That is what he had to cover his nakedness on the ship. That is what he had to start a new life in a new country. The clothes on his back, a chest, and
2 shirts
2 collars
1 pair of trousers
A few scarves
2 brushes
1 towel
1 umbrella
1 pair of gloves
1 handkerchief
1 set of tailor's tools including a measure and scissors.
The sum of his lifetime's possessions could be held in a small carry-on bag or a large purse.


The Universal Prayer by Alexander Pope

The Universal Prayer
by Alexander Pope

Father of all! in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!

Thou Great First Cause, least understood:
Who all my sense confined
To know but this - that thou art goood,
And that myself am blind:

Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
And binding Nature fast in fate,
Left free the human will.

What conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do,
This, teach me more than Hell to shun,
That, more than Heaven pursue.

What blessings they free bounty gives,
Let me not cast away;
For God is paid when man receives,
To enjoy is to obey.

Yet not to earth's contracted span,
Thy goodness let me bound,
Or think thee Lord alone of man,
When thousand worlds are round:

Let not this weak, unknowing hand
Presume thy bolts to throw,
And deal damnation round the land,
On each I judge thy foe.

If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, of teach my heart
To find a better way.

Save me alike from foolish pride,
Or impious discontent,
At aught they wisdom has denied,
Or aught thy goodness lent.

Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.

Mean though I am, not wholly so
Since quickened by thy breath;
Oh lead me whereso'er I go,
Though this day's life or death.

This day, be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun,
Thou know'st if best bestowed or not,
And let thy will be done.

To thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar, earth, sea, skies!
One chorus let all being raise!
All Nature's incense rise!

Woodmen of the World

Genealogy sure has a way of opening up a world unseen. I am doing some research on my grandfather Holcomb Bibb Latting across dozens of different databases and websites. For every thousand searches, there are a hundred leads. For every hundred leads there are only ten qualified leads. And for every ten qualified leads you might get one hit on the actual person you are looking for.

So you end up scanning a lot of information which is not relevant to what you are seeking but occasionally is educational or interesting in its own right.

As in this case where I find an article on a Holcomb in South Carolina. HBL was born in Tennessee, lived as a child in Texas, settled in Indian Territory (later, Oklahoma), married in Florida and had extended family in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. So a news article on a Holcomb in the right time period in South Carolina is unlikely to be him, but it is possible.

I go to The Killing of Holcombe from the Keowee courier, March 16, 1921. Probably not mine because of the e at the end but spelling mistakes are common.

The account.
THE KILLING OF HOLCOMBE.

Easley Chief was Fine Officer - A Few Facts in the Case.
(Easloy Progress.)

In the most sensational pistol battle in the history of Pickens county Chief of Police Walter C. Holcombe, of Easley, was Instantly killed, and Wade Ballew, an alleged hobo, received wounds which are expected to prove fatal. Others participating in the battle were Rural Policeman Lt. T. Chapman, Deputy Sheriff John Lesley, of Alice Cotton Mill, and Robert Wilson, a partner of Ballew. As Chief Holcombe was about to arrest Ballew the latter shot the chief in the head without warning, killing him instantly. This shot immediately precipitated a battle between Chapman and Lesley on one side and Ballew and Wilson on the other, thirty shots being fired within a few seconds at close range, while pistols were shot empty and reloaded during the battle. Chief Holcombe and Wade Ballew were the only ones injured.

The shooting occurred on the Higgins creek, near the colored cemetery, in Easley, about 1.20 o'clock Monday afternoon. Officers Chapman and Lesley succeeded in arresting Ballew and Wilson about 500 yards down tho creek in Higgins' pasture, and lodged them in the county jail almost before the people of the town knew of the occurrence. Late Tuesday evening the prisoners were removed from the Pickens jail and carried to the State penitentiary.

Story of the Battle

Officers Holcombe, Chapman and Lesley had been called to arrest two strangers who had alighted from a freight train near the Alice Cotton Mill and who were believed to be hoboes. The officers were accompanied by Geo. Cooper, a local citizen, who, however, took no part in the shooting. Coming upon the strangers the officers found them preparing to bathe in the creek. Mr. Lesley took hold of the arm of the man who afterwards proved to be Wilson and told him he-was under arrest. Wilson made efforts to shake the officer off when Policeman Chapman took hold of Wilson's other arm. Chief Holcombe passed on by and behind the other officers to take charge of the man who afterwards proved to be Ballew, and who was sitting down washing his feet. Just before Mr. Holcombe got to Ballew, it is said, the latter drew his pistol from be
neath his clothing) and yelled out. "Hold up your hands, every one of you!" When Ballew said this Policeman Chapman looked around just in time to see the stranger put his pistol in Chief Holcombe's face and fire. Mr. Holcombe falling instantly. As the shot was fired Chapman and Lesley released their holds on Wilson in order to get their guns. Immediately after the first shot Ballew shot twice at Mr. Cooper, neither shot taking effect. In the meantime Wilson had protected himself by lying down in a gulley Just at hand, Policeman Chapman leaned back behind a slight projection of tho creek bank and Mr. Lesley gained the bank of the creek. All this happened almost in an instant, and the fight was on. Before Ballew had time to move to a place of safety he was shot down by Mr. Chapman. Rising to his knees Ballew renewed his shooting and emptied his gun at the policeman, while the policeman in return emptied his gun at Ballew. While this was going on Lesley and Wilson were emptying their guns at each other, and the smoke from the rapid fire of the four pistols at close range settled on the battlefield between the creek banks like a heavy fog, and tho combatants could see each other with difficultly. While the officers were reloading to renew the battle, Mr. Lesley, who was on top of the creek bank, discovered that the strangers had retreated and were on their way down the creek. As the public road follows the creek Chapman and Lesley cranked up their car and gave chase, overtaking their men about 500 yards down the creek in Higgins' pasture, where, under orders from the officers, the men threw up their hands and surrendered. They were taken directly to the jail at Pickens, where medical attention was given Ballew, and it was found that he had been shot nine times in the breast, legs and arms. On their way to jail the officers state that Ballew cursed continuously and begged to be killed. Wilson talked but little.

Chief Holcombe was shot but once and the bullet entered his nose and lodged in the back of his head, killing him instantly.

Ballew Native of Pickens.

Wade Bellew is a native of Pickens county, and his mother lives a few miles above Pickens. He is a grandson of John Ballew, also Jake Adams, both of whom live near Pickens. Alex Ballew, Wade's father, left his wife in Pickens county years ago and went to Arkansas, where, it is said, he married again. He later returned to this county and took Wade back to Arkansas with him, where the latter spent several years. After being absent, from Pickens county several years Wade Ballew returned last year and made a crop with his mother near Pickens. He left this county last fall and went to Florida.

Vowed Never to be Arrested.

In jail Monday afternoon Ballew's partner gave his name as Robert Wilson and said that he was from Oklahoma. He said he and Ballew were once arrested in Florida, and after being released had bought pistols and vowed they would never be arrested again; that several unsuccessful attempts had been made by officials in other places to arrest them. Wilson said he and Ballew had come from Atlanta on a freight train, alighting at Alice Cotton Mill and were washing in the branch preparatory to coming to town for something to eat when the officer approached them.

Both are young men, Ballew appearing to be about 21 and Wilson about 25 years old. The pistols obtained from them were fine blue steel weapons, one a .38 calibre and one a .45.

Though there was no more excitement than would be usual over such an unusual occurrence, Sheriff Roard thought it would he bettor to have the prisoners in the State penitentiary as they could be better guarded and their wounds better cared for. Consequently, under proper guard and in a high-powered automobile, the prisoners left Pickens some time on Monday evening for the penitentiary.

Mr. Holcombe Good Officer.

Chief of Police Holcombe was fine officer and uncommonly popular. It is seldom that a town is wrapped in as deep gloom as overshadows the town of Easley on account of the tragic death of this faithful guardian of the law. He was always alert, faithful and unafraid to do his duty as he saw it, yet he was unusually considerate of the rights of all. Every day he had a smile and kind word for his friends.

He came first to Easley as an officer about five years ago from Central, where he has been an officer the law, and served the town the about two years. He then farmed in Laurens county one year. He then started to farm near Liberty the next year, but was persuaded to come back to Easley as chief of Police in May, 1919, and he held the position of chief from that time until his untimely death last Monday.

He was born in Laurens county 43 years ago. He was a member of the Six-Mile Baptist church and was also a W. O. W. Surviving him are his widow and one daughter, Miss Viola Holcombe; his mother, Mrs. Elvira Holcombe, of Pickens county and the following brothers and sisters: John Eslie and Jos R. Holcombe, of Liberty; W. T. Holcombe of Easley; H. A. Holcombe, of Laurens county; S. D. Holcombe, of Texas; Mrs. Estelle Alexander, of Pickens, and Mrs. Venetta Crow, all of Pickens.

Funeral services were conducted by Rev. D. W. Hiott at the residence and the body was laid to rest in Westview cemetery, where it was buried by his brethren of the Woodmen of the World. A number officers of Greenville county and city were present to attend the funeral.
No near kin, though virtually all Holcombs are related in some fashion.

A sad little tale from nearly a century ago when there were railroad hoboes.

But what was this Woodmen of the World? Some secret society?

No. From the 1880s to the 1930s there were many fraternal orders or mutual aid societies. Apparently Woodmen of the World was one. A combination of a mutual insurance organization, social, civic organization. They were for a time notable for their headstones which followed a general pattern but which also incorporated details to reflect the individual (the number of branches representing the number of their children for example.)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

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Wikipedia has an account of them.

And they are no mere historical oddity. They are still going strong! 700,000 members!

And I don't think I ever heard of them before following an unrelated genealogical trail.

Isms that don't receive attention - the protochronism movement

From The Colossal Head of Decebalus, King of the Dacians by DHWTY.

The broad outlines of this, I knew.
In the heart of Rome stands a 38m tall column built in the 2 nd century A.D. Carved in low relief spiralling around the monument are over 2600 figures, representing the combatants of wars fought in a distant land. The column is known as Trajan’s Column, and its subject is the Dacian Wars. One of the most important figures on the column is Decebalus, the leader of the Dacians, otherwise known as King Decebal. In one scene, he is shown committing suicide after being defeated by the Romans, preferring death over subjugation. Decebalus’ defeat and suicide marked the end of the Second Dacian War, and the absorption of Dacia into the Roman Empire.
But this I did not know.
The spirit of Decebalus, however, did not die, and has been revived in recent years in Romania, which was once part of the Dacian Kingdom. This is most ostentatiously seen, perhaps, in the colossal rock sculpture of Decebalus’ head.

The project of sculpting the colossal head of Decebalus was the brainchild of a wealthy Romanian businessman, Iosif Constantin Drăgan. In 1985, Drăgan chose the rock to be sculpted, an outcrop 128m in height located in the area of Iron Gorge. Perhaps one of the reasons Drăgan chose this site was due to the fact that the Tabula Traiana, a memorial to the Roman conquest of Dacia, was located on the opposite side of the river.

[snip]

The sculpture of Decebalus’ head is not merely a work of art by an ambitious businessman. There was another reason for Drăgan to commission this piece of work. Drăgan was an ardent proponent of the protochronism movement, a nationalistic ideology which viewed Romania as the cradle of civilization. Advocates of the protochronism movement believe that from Romania, civilization “reached as far as the Sumerian Lands, Egypt, Turkey and Greece, to the North it reached Scandinavia and to the west moved as far as the ancient regions of Germany and Britannia.” Thus, Decebalus is portrayed as a national hero and whose ancestors were the initiators of human civilisation. Naturally, supporters of the protochronism movement belief that present day Romanians are heir to this great legacy.
I can't say why this appeals to me but really . . . .

Click to enlarge (if you dare)

Even better.

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View from Fortunen to Dyrehaven north of Copenhagen

View from Fortunen to Dyrehaven north of Copenhagen, facing Bernstorff Palace, in the background of the Øresund and Copenhagen by Anton Edvard Kieldrup (Danish, 1826-1869)

Click to enlarge.

Knife Hand

My youngest son is in Marine OCS candidate school and I am learning a whole new vocabulary.

I have read hundreds of military books and yet there are basic things I have never heard of which apparently everyone actually in the military knows without even thinking about it.

Today's example - Knife Hand. Knife Hand?

Fortunately, The Angry Staff Officer is there to explain.
There are many iconic images in U.S. military history: Washington crossing the Delaware, the surrender at Appomattox, troops landing on Omaha Beach, to name a few. But few paintings or photographs have managed to capture one of the most significant weapons in the U.S. arsenal: the knife hand.

Able to cleave the air with a thunderous blast of justice while projecting command aura, the knife hand serves as one of the single most effective weapons for modern U.S. military leaders. Indeed, new recruits into the U.S. military are greeted by knife hand-wielding drill sergeants, inspiring fear, respect, and awe. The knife hand can be used to discipline wayward troops, drive a point home during a briefing, or to direct the firepower of America’s finest in combat. It is no stretch of the English language to say that the knife hand has done more for the U.S. military than when they started putting the Skittles packets in MREs.

Click to enlarge.
The knife hand in action.

A front line explanation.

Double click to enlarge.

Monday, July 15, 2019

What if the suspicions were a mere collection of crochets?

From Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun. Page 113.

On the whole issue of public debate, knowledge, evidence, logic, etc.
Letters expressing misgivings continued to be addressed to the Police Commissioner. Correspondents found Matthews’ story suspicious and thought it possible that he was motivated by the three-hundred-pound reward. One pointed out that in our opinion it is very difficult to get fitted with a hat even by a professional hatter. How likely, he wondered, was it that a hat would be purchased for another on the off-chance that it might fit?

Questions were also asked about the wisdom of showing John Death a single photograph of the suspect rather than several from which he might have taken his pick. One letter expressed disbelief at the silversmith’s ability to identify so unhesitatingly one casual customer out of the hundreds he must serve, particularly as he had sworn under oath that the man who came to his shop on 11 July had been careful to keep to the shadowy parts of the room. Why, wrote others, had Matthews been shown the crumpled hat at Scotland Yard rather than asked to identify it from among a variety of different hats? Had he been asked to try on the hat to demonstrate that it was too large for him? Had anyone ever heard of a man asking a friend to buy him a hat and expecting it to fit? Was there a man who could identify the hat of his most intimate friend without being shown it first? What had become of Matthews’ hat? Had the police behaved properly in expecting perfect honesty from this bluff cab driver?

Several of the Police Commissioner’s correspondents wondered whether Thomas Lee’s evidence was being taken seriously enough. Letters began to appear in the press, including one printed in the Daily Telegraph. Signed from ‘Do Justice’ and dated 25 July, it backed up Lee’s story by claiming that an acquaintance shook hands with Mr Briggs while he was sitting in a first-class carriage at Bow Station, and that there were then in the same carriage ‘two ill-looking men’.

Concern grew. What if all the circumstantial evidence was only that? What if the suspicions were a mere collection of crochets? Similar uncertainties kept the readers of those excitingly mysterious sensation novels on the edges of their seats and their authors often pointed out that the species of argument which builds up any hypothesis out of a series of probabilities may, after all, lead very often to false conclusions. If this murder turned out to be a ghastly enigma, if it threatened to remain unsolved, then life was imitating art.

Though there are many circumstances of grave suspicion against Müller, wrote ‘A Barrister’ from Lincoln’s Inn to the editor of the Telegraph, there are also facts strongly tending to induce a supposition of his innocence. Matthews’ evidence, for a start, was of so “extraordinary a nature as to demand the strictest scrutiny. Was it possible that he had delayed making his statement in order to gain the money without sacrificing an innocent friend? So many aspects of this story, posited the ‘Barrister’, constituted prima facie evidence of Müller’s innocence. He asked who but a madman, knowing himself to have but just been guilty of an atrocious murder and not being in immediate want of money (as is proved by his exchanging not selling the chain) would have deliberately gone out of his way to connect himself with the crime?

In an editorial on Monday 25 July, the Daily Telegraph agreed. We know of certain events affecting Müller which occurred at the time of the murder of Mr Briggs, but we do not know directly that the one man was ever in the presence of the other; therefore, in order to convict Müller we have to invent a story which shall not only accord with all the known facts but which shall accord with them much more probably than any other story that could possibly be suggested. The paper urged the country to regain perspective. Fact, rumour and surmise, it believed, had been mingled so confusedly in the various accounts presented to the public that it was difficult to know what constituted tangible evidence against the German.

The newspaper reminded its readers of the notorious frailty of circumstantial ‘proofs’, that Müller had worked for a reputable company, that the Blyths were a respectable married couple whose opinion of Müller’s good character should not be ignored, that he gave more than a week’s notice, and that some evidence suggested that he had injured his foot on Thursday 7 July and was wearing a slipper on the night of the murder. It questioned whether it was possible for a murderer to appear in good cheer at breakfast the next morning, wearing the same suit of clothes he had worn the night before without any signs of their being cleaned in a hurry. It seemed to the paper most unlikely that a guilty man would so conspicuously boast about his new chain and hat or that he would broadcast so freely the name of his escape vessel.

If the evidence stopped here, the editor continued, we should have no hesitation in saying not merely that it is insufficient to convict Müller but that it renders his guilt extremely improbable. As for Matthews’ testimony about the hat, it remained to be seen whether it would stand up under cross-examination. For now, the paper considered that its truth had not been established. We are particularly anxious to impress this observation on the public mind. He should be judged without prejudice … No wise and cautious man will dare to say at present that Müller cannot be innocent.

Wild Oats by Philip Larkin

Wild Oats
by Philip Larkin

About twenty years ago
Two girls came in where I worked -
A bosomy English rose
And her friend in specs I could talk to.
Faces in those days sparked
The whole shooting-match off, and I doubt
If ever one had like hers:
But it was the friend I took out,

And in seven years after that
Wrote over four hundred letters,
Gave a ten-guinea ring
I got back in the end, and met
At numerous cathedral cities
Unknown to the clergy. I believe
I met beautiful twice. She was trying
Both times (so I thought) not to laugh.

Parting, after about five
Rehearsals, was an agreement
That I was too selfish, withdrawn,
And easily bored to love.
Well, useful to get that learnt.
In my wallet are still two snaps
Of bosomy rose with fur gloves on.
Unlucky charms, perhaps.

The last train. between 1878 and 1934 by Paul Gustav Fischer

The last train. between 1878 and 1934 by Paul Gustav Fischer

Click to enlarge.

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Pretending to a moral war which was actually won a generation ago

This showed up in my Twitter feed. An advertisement from my local newspaper (to which we already subscribe.)


Almost inconceivable that they would allow such unalloyed cognitive pollution into the wild. The hysteria, the falsity, the immodesty of the virtue signaling.

Sure it was probably written by some Ben Rhodes journalist, twenty-seven years old and knowing literally nothing, but how it was allowed out for the public to see, is incomprehensible.

Especially if you know anything about Atlanta, rife with public corruption, government incompetence, insider dealing, collapsing water and sewer, deteriorating roads and police staffing 25% below target and recruiting unable to keep up with attrition.

In my neighborhood, among the more desirable in the city, crime is up 40% over the past three years. Not serious crime, so far. Car theft, car burglary, very occasional home invasions. Enough to outrage neighbors but not enough for the city to do anything.

And white supremacists? Well, sure, there must be a few in jail cells, or in their grandmother's basement here and there. But marching in the street? Pfft.

The AJC is preening about fighting a moral war which was actually won a generation ago.

Everyone pitched in, and a couple of people even produced brooms from somewhere and swept the road after the big stuff was moved.

There's a note from Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit about a weekend incident.
THE REAL AMERICA: Once again, the press and media are emphasizing division. But I took the weekend semi-off for a family reunion in the mountains, and driving back I came on an awful multiple-fatality accident just after it happened. (Fortunately, by the time I dug my trauma kit out and got to the scene, there was an actual paramedic on hand — just another passerby, but with a lot of skills, a great kit, and a couple of buddies who seemed to know what they were doing. Not that it mattered in the end, as the accident — a high-speed median-crossing headon — left no survivors. But at least there was someone more experienced and better trained than me to try.) But loads of people ran to help. There were a half-dozen members of the Thunderguards Atlanta chapter (a black outlaw motorcycle gang), young women, middle-aged guys, etc. All doing their best to help and to comfort the victims. When the cops showed up they asked people to move the big debris off the road — there was a lot of it, big stuff like brake assemblies and wheels — which I thought was to open up the road but was actually so a helicopter could land right next to the vehicles. Everyone pitched in, and a couple of people even produced brooms from somewhere and swept the road after the big stuff was moved.

We were stuck there for over two hours before traffic moved, and everyone was friendly, helpful and offering each other water and other assistance. From the tenor of the news coverage most days, you’d never know that this America even exists.
I would add, if the accident was up in the mountains, that it is likely that the firemen first-responders to the accident were all volunteers as well. It is astonishing the breadth and depth of sophisticated "government" activities and services in poorer communities which are actually performed by citizen volunteers.

But I endorse Reynolds' larger point. The gap between the everyday reality of America - easygoing, tolerant, independent, informed, hard-working, caring, purposeful - and the America presented by the Mandarin Class and the mainstream media is immense.

The Mandarin Class need to justify their existence and they do so through their mainstream media enablers. The country must be in crisis for their actions to be warranted. Because their ambitions outstrip the dysfunction, they have to create crises which do not exist.

Americans, meanwhile, shrug their soldiers, ignore the shenanigans and go on doing all the good things they do as free, effective people trying to do the right thing in a complex and rapidly evolving (and rapidly improving) world. The Mandarin Class and MSM disdain ordinary Americans but ordinary Americans deserve citizen leaders of their own calibre, not the effete, ineffective, and ignorant Mandarin Class/MSM.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

San Francisco’s BART “blitz” demonstrates the effectiveness of Broken Windows.

Perhaps the analysis is a little simplistic but some problems are pretty straightforward, the solutions well-tested and the results reliable. They are just socially unacceptable because they offend cherished notions. From Restoring Order on BART by Phillip Sprincin.
Three months ago, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system that serves San Francisco and surrounding counties began a “blitz” to deter morning rush-hour fare evasion at four downtown stations. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the first month’s results were startling: proof-of-payment citations rose 13 percent, new ticket sales rose 10 percent, add-value transactions to existing tickets rose 29 percent, and—most significantly—average weekly calls to police dropped a remarkable 45 percent. This rapid turnaround in behavior was achieved simply by staffing the stations with extra police officers, fare inspectors, and BART managers wearing bright yellow vests so that anyone trying to jump a fare gate or use a bypass door saw their way blocked by an official.

These results should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Broken Windows theory of policing developed by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. The theory’s simple premise: responding proactively to minor crime (vandalism, disorderly behavior, and fare evasion) also reduces serious crime, including violent crime. Before he made New York City the safest large city in the country as commissioner of its police department, William Bratton put Broken Windows into effect as the head of the New York Transit Police, directing his officers to focus on fare evasion. The effect of the policy—first in the subway tunnels and then on the streets of New York—is now legendary.

San Francisco’s BART “blitz” demonstrates the effectiveness of Broken Windows. Just by putting people at the gates who looked to be in charge—neither the fare inspectors nor the yellow-vested managers were badged police officers—BART was able to cut crime in those stations almost in half. Exactly as Broken Windows predicts, those willing to commit serious crime often start by committing minor crimes, like fare evasion. Keeping such people out of the transit system means that everyone paying the fare is safer.

Red-diaper romper room rug rats get rambunctious

Interesting times. If I weren't afraid of #MeToo accusations I would observe that they make for interesting bedfellows.

From Scaling Wokeback Mountain by Maureen Dowd. The column is actually just an interparty memo to Democrats to straighten up and support Nancy Pelosi. Issued in th party organ, the New York Times.

I am not a great respecter of Pelosi's political aims, nor do I think she has been particularly effective in crafting strategic success for the Democratic Party. But I have to respect her tenaciousness and her legislative brawling at the tactical level.

Consequently, I am not especially interested in the objective of Dowd's column.

Other than for the fact that she is making exactly the same points and argument that Classical Liberals (in their various conservative stripes) have been making since The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom in 1987.

You would think, from her reporting, that Dowd had been reading Stephen Pinker and Jonathan Haidt. Especially the latter in terms of his The Righteous Mind and even more especially his ever more interesting research and work with the Heterodox Academy.

The most recent incident arises from an exchange between Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. From Dowd's column:
But instead, the 79-year-old speaker and the 29-year-old freshman are trapped in a generational and ideological tangle that poses a real threat to the Democrats’ ability to beat Donald Trump next year.

Pelosi told me, after the A.O.C. Squad voted against the House’s version of the border bill and trashed the moderates — the very people who provided the Democrats the majority — that the Squad was four people with four votes. She was talking about a legislative reality. If it was a knock, it was for abandoning the party.

That did not merit A.O.C.’s outrageous accusation that Pelosi was targeting “newly elected women of color.” She slimed the speaker, who has spent her life fighting for the downtrodden and who was instrumental in getting the first African-American president elected and passing his agenda against all odds, as a sexist and a racist.

A.O.C. should consider the possibility that people who disagree with her do not disagree with her color.
WOOF. That last line is exactly the perspective of Classical Liberals for the past three decades when disputing with critical theory social justice postmodernists. "I can disagree with you based on principles and my understanding of facts without it ever having anything to do with race, religion, gender, or any other identity obsession."

But critical theory social justice postmodernists in general and Democratic Party operatives have relied on cries of racism and other claims of identity hatred as their only counter-argument for so long that they seem to have lost the capacity to actually argue in good faith.

Dowd is stating a truth the other side of the aisle has been stating for a long time.
The young lawmaker went further, implying that the speaker was putting the Squad in danger, asking why Pelosi would criticize them, “knowing the amount of death threats” and attention they get. Huh?

A.O.C. pulled back and said she wasn’t calling Pelosi a racist. But once you start that ball rolling, it’s hard to stop. (You know how topsy-turvy the fight is when the biggest defenders of Pelosi, who has endured being a caricature of extreme liberalism for decades, are Trump and the Wall Street Journal editorial board.)

The A.O.C. crew threw down the gauntlet in a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post by The Intercept’s Ryan Grim. He wrote that when Pelosi and other Democratic mandarins try to keep the image of the party centrist, they are crouching in “the defensive posture” they’ve been in since the Reagan revolution.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for A.O.C. and co-founder of Justice Democrats, the progressive group that helped propel her, told Grim: “The greatest threat to mankind is the cowardice of the Democratic Party,” with the older generation “driven by fear” and “unable to lead.”

Message: Pelosi is past her prime.
Yep. The young communists are a pain in the neck for establishment socialist-lite.

This is the passage where Dowd most reminded me of Haidt.
The progressives act as though anyone who dares disagree with them is bad. Not wrong, but bad, guilty of some human failing, some impurity that is a moral evil that justifies their venom.
Again, it is something known to Classical Liberals for decades now and denied by establishment Democrats. Denied, it seems, until the same accusations from the red-diaper romper room rug rats make the claim against establishment Democrats.


Double click to enlarge.

An estimated ten thousand men were killed weekly

From Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun. Page 110.
In America, Confederate troops were being driven back from Washington after marching so close that Mr Lincoln might hear the Southern cannon from the windows of the White House, as the New York Times reported. On American battlefields an estimated ten thousand men were killed weekly, but against those anonymous deaths, the murder of one elderly gentleman on a suburban railway line dominated the British press.
"The Civil War" is an abstract to a tapestry of knowledge. "An estimated ten thousand men were killed weekly" makes you reel. They are one and the same thing but we don't keep track of the full picture. It might be what keeps us from going crazy.

Irish Blessing sung by A Cappella Barbershop Quartet with Julien Neel


Double click to enlarge.

Irish Blessing
sung by A Cappella Barbershop Quartet with Julien Neel

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Oceanside Diner

From Dan Cosgrove.

Click to enlarge.

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An incentive to responsible decision-making.

The bell keeps tolling

Gregory Clark is an economic historian at Stanford who has been doing fascinating work using family genealogies to explore the persistence of advantage, SES turnover stability, causes of inequality etc. His first two books were A Farewell to Alms, which explored the link between morbidity, cultural norms, socioeconomic outcomes and fact that the earliest instance of the industrial revolution manifested in England, an otherwise unpropitious location.

What he found was that, unlike most other countries, England was characterized by persistent downward mobility in which high mortality rates among the lower classes combined with high rates of upper class fertility led to downward mobility among the upper classes bringing with them upperclass social norms which were conducive to economic productivity.

Clark's research was based on a novel form of labor intensive historical research - tracking names and family trees through the records reaching deep into history. I have viewed the approach as ambitious and clever but also had reservations based on record incompleteness, name mismatch with biological inheritance, etc. New methods have to go through a period of stress testing to earn respect for their validity.

It has been twelve years now since Clark's first publication. While the criticisms in some quarters have been shrill, and it appears others share my concern about the methodology, I have not yet, in those twelve years, seen a solid evidentiary criticism of the methodology. If there is a flaw to it, no one has yet been able to identify that flaw.

A Farewell to Alms was well received as an innovative approach to research but its conclusions alarmed social justice theory historians.

The Son Also Rises was even more bold and controversial. Wikipedia has a reasonable summary of the findings and inferences.
The book follows relatively successful and unsuccessful extended families through the centuries in England, the United States, Sweden, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Chile. Clark uses an innovative technique of following families by seeing whether or not rare surnames kept turning up in university enrollment records, registers of physicians, lists of members of parliament, and other similar contemporary historical registers. Clark finds that the persistence of high or low social status is greater than would be expected from the generally accepted correlations of income between parents and children, conflicting with virtually all measures of social mobility previously developed by other researchers, which Clark claims are flawed. According to Clark, social mobility proceeds at a similar rate in all of the societies and in all the periods of history studied – with the exceptions of social groups with higher endogamy (tendency to marry within the same group), who experience higher social persistence and therefore even lower social mobility.

The book attempts to explain the difference between Clark's estimates of social mobility rates and estimates by other researchers by noting that the effects measured by other researchers are based on only a few generations, and argues that Clark's posited hidden variable of inherited "underlying social competence" is swamped by chance variations in status from generation to generation - variations which Clark says are smoothed out in his longer-term study. This can be analogised to looking at a graph to understand the trend in the market price of a stock – a graph of a stock price over a one-day period may show large "zigzag" price swings and no apparent order, whereas a longer-term stock price graph, particularly if smoothed, may reveal a long-term trend for the price of the stock to increase or decrease.

From his finding that ethnically homogeneous societies, such as Japan and Korea, had similar rates of social mobility to ethnically diverse societies, such as the United States, Clark infers that racism may not be a significant factor affecting social mobility. From his finding that families who had many children were able to pass down their high social status just as well as families who had few children, Clark infers that simple inheritance of wealth cannot explain the persistence of high social status. From the referenced studies on the lack of correlation between the intelligence and adult family income of adopted children and their adoptive parents, Clark infers that family environment cannot explain the transmittal of social status from one generation to the next.

Clark controversially hypothesises that the main reason for the unexpectedly high persistence of social status in families (or, put another way, the unexpectedly low degree of social mobility he finds) is that high-status people are more likely to have genes that are beneficial to them achieving high status, and are therefore more likely to pass such genes on to their children.
There is way more than enough meat on the Clark table to focus on a single dish. His findings have impact on history interpretation, economics, public policy, etc.

Beyond my concern about the validity and reliability of the approach (in turn based on concerns about the integrity of the data records as you go further back) the residual concern is the emerging specter of genetic determinism. It is not a necessary conclusion from his findings. In fact, he is very insistent that within generation variance and contextual variability swamp the mere influence of genes and that the persistent influence of genes only manifests over long stretches of time. It is a weather versus climate issue; weather today says nothing about climate over time.

But long cycle genetic determinism is just about as alarming as short cycle genetic determinism. Not so much for the existence of the fact (if it does exist) but for the interpretations and conclusions with low sensitivity to nuance might draw from it. It is not dissimilar to the AGW hysteria when utter conviction in narrow interpretations of long cycle climate change lead to dramatic, consequential and destructive beliefs about short cycle economic activities.

In the midst of all the implications of his research, Clark diligently continues to mine historical family records. Russell Warne has a summary of some preliminary findings from Clark, presented at a conference.



Some of the findings of Clark via Warne, if you don't want to read in twitter format:
Economic outcomes among relatives are correlated. The big question is whether that is causal (that relatives help out one another) or whether shared genes create these correlations.

The correlation is stronger the more closely related people are. (Sir Francis Galton showed this in 1869.)

There is a way to untangle this through a family database. Different relatives will share an equal level of relationship but not an equal level of social interaction. If correlations differ when genetic correlations are equal, then this is a social effect.

Approach
Dead vs. living relatives. Dead people can't influence their relatives

Grandfathers' & uncles' influences. These groups are equally related but social relationship not the same.

Geographically vs. close relatives.
Clark is finding so far:
Dead grandfathers and uncles are as influential as living grandfathers (even if the person died before the child was born).

Living grandmothers might have some social influence.

No difference between influence from uncles and from grandfathers (who are equally related to a child).

No difference in influence from great-grandfathers and cousins, even though almost all g-gfathers are dead.

No difference between the influence of relatives who lived nearby and relatives who lived further away.
From this Clark concludes (tentatively)
All of these results show that social transmission of SES, educational outcomes, etc., is mostly (or entirely) genetic.

Non-parents give a lot of information about a child's SES. But it's not causal. The info is a proxy for genetic effects. "The amount of information relatives supply is proportionate to the amount of genetic information they share with the child."

"It's hard to construct a social transmission model that mimic the results we see here. Genetic effects explain the SES correlation among family members much better. I tried to create a model that was non-genetic, and I couldn't."

Warne - The conventional folk wisdom that parental SES is an important causal influence is probably false. And that's not just true in a modern society, but it was true in 18th and 19th century England!
Very intriguing. Quite possibly true.

And it should not be rejected because it has a whiff of genetic determinism.

Moral decisions we make today stand in the context of that moral system and do not depend on long cycle causal relations. Long cycle genetic determinism may be real but it has no baring on how we treat one another today. In part because personal and contextual circumstance swamps short duration outcomes anyway.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

My great aunt was the forward for her women's high school basketball team in Chickasha, Indian Territory in 1907.

From The Chickasha Daily Express, the paper of Chickasha, Indian Territory (Oklahoma). From the 23 Nov. 1907 edition.

My great grandfather settled there in 1902. While researching information on my grandfather, Holcomb Bibb Latting, I come across his sister, my great aunt Bessie Latting. What is she up to? Forward on the girls basketball team! In 1907.

Click to enlarge.

Yack, yack, yack, about women's sports teams, gender pay equity, etc. No doubt there are potentially important issues and no doubt there is much ignorance and ideological posturing.

But there is nothing new there. If there were girl's sports teams in recently-founded Chickasha, Indian Territory in 1907, 112 years ago, how is it that there is still media rancor instead of just sports reporting?

Lawyers: Sure, I’ll take the case.

From a twitter thread that starts with



And then proceeds to every outgroup deriding every other outgroup as the most reprehensible outgroup.

Riffs on the theme:
Randos on Twitter: DON’T WORRY I GOT THIS

Philsophers: I can apply a completely random and inapt analogy to any situation as long as I mention Kant.

Economists: I can explain anything using the statistical software I have here on my computer.

Sociologists: I can explain anything already explained and understood in any other field because I learned about Marxism and social constructionism in grad school.

Economists: let’s assume Adam and Eve were utility maximizing individuals. Everything else follows.

Lawyers: Sure, I’ll take the case.

Music theorists: My dissertation was on interval cycles in Swedish death metal. I teach three sections of fundamentals and one class on sonata form.

Geographers: Let's look if this general theory about the earth also holds true for this small region where I come from / where my uni is / where I want to travel to.

School districts: You once looked at a picture of Caesar, would you like to teach AP World History?

Texans: I can tell you about Texas!

Non-tenured folk anywhere: Thanks for the paycheck. I just need to stay one week ahead of the students.

Physicists: I can teach everything.

Comparative Politics: I can compare local governance patterns in 16th Century Venice with Edo-era Japan!

SJW: Knowledge is a social construct exploited by patriarchal racists

Sonnet 55: Not marble nor the gilded monuments by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 55: Not marble nor the gilded monuments
by William Shakespeare

Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the Judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) by David Hockney

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) by David Hockney

Click to enlarge.

Despite the evidence of progress wherever one turned, they voiced fears that the beast lurked still at the heart of modern civilisation

From Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun. Page 110.
“If the railway murder recalled the plots of gripping contemporary novels then the papers added their own irresistibly lively coverage designed to boost their circulations by feeding on those widespread anxieties about the dangers of modernity. Despite the evidence of progress wherever one turned, they voiced fears that the beast lurked still at the heart of modern civilisation. While the nation waited to see if Müller would be caught, the perceived dangers of railway travel remained undiminished and passengers continued to wonder indignantly why those in charge were doing nothing about the risks associated with the solitary-cell system of railway travelling. Why, they asked, was the government not turning the excitement of the present moment to practical account? Suggestions for remedies came from every quarter. Murderous assault might be prevented by the introduction of sliding glass windows between the carriages – panes that could be curtained for privacy or drawn back to summon help from the passengers in neighbouring compartments. Alternatively, trellises might replace the panels between compartments, allowing a clear view along the length of the carriage. Evil-intentioned persons would be deterred and timid minds eased by the introduction of bells, whistles, signal-boards or speaking tubes, by external ‘sidewalks’ with handrails, or by the fitting of trapdoors into the roofs of the train. There might be travelling police and separate ladies’ carriages; insurance policies against this new kind of liability might be sold at the ticket offices; it might be expedient to outlaw the barring of windows and the locking of compartment doors between stations.

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"A few short years ago, the far left was resurgent." Only if your memory does not extend beyond a few short years.

From The Rapid Fall of the Left by Yascha Mounk. Interesting because I disagree with his interpretation of most the facts he presents but agree with his overall conclusion. Mounk state his thesis:
A few short years ago, the far left was resurgent. Fringe politicians such as Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn, Greece’s Alexis Tsipras, and France’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon were turning into the standard-bearers of the mainstream left. Meanwhile, in the United States, Bernie Sanders was staging a surprisingly robust primary challenge against Hillary Clinton, the anointed heir to the Democratic Party.

Progressive commentators, activists, and politicians argued that the far left was about to conquer Europe, and that the best way forward for Democrats was to ride the red wave to victory. “Jeremy Corbyn has given us a blueprint to follow for years to come,” wrote Bhaskar Sunkara, the founder of Jacobin. Representative Ro Khanna, the leader of the Justice Democrats in the House, argued that the populist message adopted by leftist leaders in Europe “is not just morally right—it’s also strategically smart.”

But reports of socialism’s resurrection were greatly exaggerated. Recent electoral defeats in Europe suggest that the much-heralded red wave crested before it reached the shore.
I agree, there has been a surge of neo-marxism in the form of critical theory postmodernists, more in culture than politics, but certainly in politics as well. And I agree that the appearance of advancement was illusory and overstated.

But Mounk begins his argument with, I think, a highly disputable claim.
For decades, the European left was dominated by moderate social democrats. Though the far left had a minor presence in most European parliaments, and many establishment parties contained radical currents within them, it was the moderates who ultimately called the shots.
I don't think so.

The Left of Europe in the sixties through the early eighties was hard left. Marxist left. In deed if not always in language. The Labour Party of Britain was always about nationalizing the commanding heights of the economy. Social Democrats everywhere mostly middle class but markedly statist in their policies. Everyone was spending far more on their social safety net than was sustainable, particularly as the post-war boom years reverted back to the norm of global competition.

It is possible Mounk makes his claim simply based on his youth. He was born in 1982 just about the peak of the period when old-style socialism (Marxism-lite) was at its peak. He did not live through massive labor strife, riots, capital flow crises, IMF administration of European economies, nationalization of major portions of the economy in most European countries, etc.

I think it more likely that Mounk makes this claim by obscuring the distinctions between old-style Socialism and its current form, critical theory postmodernism. The old European Socialism was much the product of the labor movement and lived through the prism of class. It sought state control of the economy in order to advance the interests of the working class and used ideological language and policies, not far from marxist theory.

Which was all quite markedly different from today's critical theory postmodernism which cares little about the well being of the commonweal or the class issue and cares everything about power structures and the demographically oppressed.

You can see the distinction reasonably clearly in the arc of the left in Britain. In the 1960's you had the pugnacious unionism of Harold Wilson. This eventually gave way the reforms of Tony Blair which attempted to meld the Labour Party with some modicum of commercial centrism. There was an old style reversion to the older labour union ethos (with technocratic state control) by Gordon Brown. Is Jeremy Corbyn old style labour? Sure, his ideological DNA is rooted in old Marxism, but his manifestation is as a critical theory postmodernist. He cares little about the well-being of British but he is happy to focus on power structures and the victimhood of Palestinians (indulging in some pretty egregious old-style anti-semitism along the way), and socially constructed identities, etc. He is no Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Michael Foot, or Neil Kinnock. He is postmodernist Labour.

There was no resurgence of Socialism in 2015 as posited by Mounk. There was a temporary rise of protest voting tinged with postmodernist progressivism. But it was a blip and is receding. Old style socialism is continuing its long retreat from its high point in the early 1980s. It did not work, could not work. Instead of a return to Classical Liberalism, the polity has monkeyed around with progressive postmodernism, but I think that too has peaked and is in retreat.

What does not work, eventually dies away.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The press was chasing clicks way before there were clicks

From Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun. Page 107.
The assassin – for it would be an affectation to scruple about disregarding in this instance the sound conventional rule that untried men are presumably innocent – has succeeded in temporarily escaping, reported the Liverpool Mercury. He doubtless hugs himself in the fond belief that the broad Atlantic will soon roll between him and the baffled avengers of blood … As this man’s guilt is deeper and darker than the guilt of common murderers so it seems right and fitting that his punishment should include elements of mortal anguish beyond any penalties which the law can inflict … the concentrated agony … of the dock, the condemned cell and the scaffold. The Liverpool Mercury was not alone in deciding that the German was guilty. Although the rule of innocent until proven guilty was enshrined in English law the Victorian press paid little heed to prohibitions against stirring up prejudice against suspects or prisoners awaiting trial. Yet the fact that every scrap and rumour – no matter how false or vitriolic – could be published in order to boost newspaper circulations did cause a frisson of unease in legal quarters.
The press was chasing clicks way before there were clicks.

Now, I want you to focus on Alan.

Ooof. Hard to fight back the tears. From Now that Ross Perot is gone, I can tell this story by Rick Perry. We are burdened day-to-day by small-minded, small-spirited malignant souls with loud voices. It is hard to always see and appreciate all the unseen goodness that occurs quietly and unremarked.

There is much more of the spirit of Ross Perot and Gary Sinise in America than the opposite. And while Sinise and Perot are recognized names, the greatest volume of these efforts are by ordinary Americans in quotidian, and also unremarked fashion. Meals on wheels, volunteer librarians, volunteer firemen, orderlies in hospitals, the tall teenage who reaches down something from the top shelf for a little old lady, uncountable ordinary angels who make this such a wonderful country.

From Perry.
During my time as governor of this great state, I had the honor and privilege of knowing countless warriors who stepped forward to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned home with horrific wounds of war. U.S. Army Cpl. Alan Babin Jr. is one such hero.

While serving in Iraq in 2003 as a medic in the 82nd Airborne, Alan was shot in the abdomen while tending to a fallen comrade. While Alan survived his injury, he faced a long and difficult road to recovery, complicated by the onset of meningitis and a stroke-induced coma that left him confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

On the one-year anniversary of his wounding, I joined Alan and his family for a small gathering. He was still in very bad shape, neurologically and physically incapacitated. When I asked his mother, Rosie, what I could do to help, she said she was eager to get him out of the hospital and back home, but struggling with the prospect of transporting Alan to his many medical visits.

I knew there was one person to call: Ross Perot. What happened next still amazes me to this day. The next morning, Ross personally called Rosie and made arrangements for his plane to pick up the Babins in Austin and fly them to Dallas where Alan could be seen by leading neurologists at Zale Lipshy University Hospital.

When the hospital elevators opened, Ross was standing there to meet Alan personally and ensure that he got the best of care. Later that day, Rosie was handed a key to a hotel room across the street so she could be close to Alan throughout his extended stay.

It didn't stop there.

When Rosie returned to the family home in Round Rock for her daughter's prom, Ross visited privately with Alan to sit with him and make sure he wasn't alone.

After three weeks in Dallas, Alan and Rosie returned home to Austin on Ross' plane. When they arrived home, a fully customized luxury conversion van equipped with a wheelchair lift was waiting for them in their driveway.

Later when they spoke, Ross told Rosie two things: "One phone call is all you ever need to make if you need anything. Now, I want you to focus on Alan." And that is exactly what happened.
Click through, there is yet more to inspire you.

Incomprehensibly stupid

Florida mother arrested after filming viral video of daughter licking tongue depressor, putting it back at doctor's office by Jessica Campisi.
The incident is the latest in a string of viral videos featuring people licking various items. A video of an unidentified woman licking a tub of ice cream in a Texas Walmart and placing it back in the freezer gained national attention. She was arrested and could face a second-degree felony charge of tampering with a consumer product, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Her video has since inspired copycats in other states, including Louisiana, where a man was arrested for opening a tub of ice cream in a store, licking it and returning it to the shelf.
What is this - competitive stupidity. What on earth could inspire someone to see a video of a disgusting anti-social act which is also illegal, and then think - "I want to do that."

Of course it is hard to determine relative stupidity. The one who films themselves doing such a thing and posting it to social media or the one who sees it on social media and thinks "Good Idea!"

The Dead Man Walking by Thomas Hardy

The Dead Man Walking
by Thomas Hardy

They hail me as one living,
But don't they know
That I have died of late years,
Untombed although?

I am but a shape that stands here,
A pulseless mould,
A pale past picture, screening
Ashes gone cold.

Not at a minute's warning,
Not in a loud hour,
For me ceased Time's enchantments
In hall and bower.

There was no tragic transit,
No catch of breath,
When silent seasons inched me
On to this death ....

- A Troubadour-youth I rambled
With Life for lyre,
The beats of being raging
In me like fire.

But when I practised eyeing
The goal of men,
It iced me, and I perished
A little then.

When passed my friend, my kinsfolk,
Through the Last Door,
And left me standing bleakly,
I died yet more;

And when my Love's heart kindled
In hate of me,
Wherefore I knew not, died I
One more degree.

And if when I died fully
I cannot say,
And I changed into the corpse-thing
I am to-day,

Yet is it that, though whiling
The time somehow
In walking, talking, smiling,
I live not now.

The Good Life in Ancient Egypt

Tomb painting in the British Museum

Click to enlarge.