Monthly Archives: July 2013

Thankful Tuesdays

So, North Carolina is making headlines for their Moral Monday protests.  Typical liberal complaints about wars on various things, republicans hate the poor and kids and moms and baseball.  The normal stuff.

But added to the mix is the disbelief that when republicans take control of state government for the first time in 150 years, they are going to govern different than democrats.

Anyway, the Moral Monday protests are silly in the same way that the Occupy Wall Street protests were silly.  But now the right has countered:

Raleigh, N.C. — About 200 supporters expressed their appreciation Tuesday for North Carolina Republicans’ efforts to cut taxes, require identification before voting and make getting abortions more difficult.

Republican groups organized a “Thankful Tuesday” rally at the government complex in Raleigh to praise the GOP-led legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory for their work passing conservative policies.

Sigh.  The right.  So much less skilled at message crafting than the left; Thankful Tuesday.  They can’t even get the name right.  Who holds a Thankful Tuesday when Thankful Thursday is available?

Anyway, the republicans are going to  over reach, to be sure, and they’re gonna make mistakes – again, no surprise.  But the left needs to calm down when, for the first time in a dozen or more decades, things aren’t being decided by them.

Default Societal Trust And Hoodies

Howard Dental Hoodies

It all started with a friend of mine posting this picture on her Facebook page.

The picture is from an effort to bring attention to an ongoing profiling campaign:

This image is going around today, as students mobilize through the “Am I Suspicious?” campaign, “seek[ing] not only to raise awareness of the injustices that go on today and have happened in the past, but to prevent such occurrences for future generations.”

I was immediately struck that something wasn’t fitting.  The question, the picture and the comparison didn’t fit.  I tried calling shenanigans on her post but Facebook is a poor medium to handle back and forths.  So I’ll try this blog post.

So, first, I think that the question isn’t being phrased correctly.  I get the point.  Just because someone is wearing a hoodie doesn’t mean that they are a criminal or a nar do well.  And by using dental students, widely assumed to intelligent and law abiding, as examples of people who don hoodies that aren’t criminals, the point is attempted to be brought into stark focus.

But they aren’t asking the fair question.  If they wanna make a comparison of 50-70 dental students in and out of hoodies, the question, to be honest, would be

“Do you think that all people in hoodies are criminals?”

But they didn’t ask that question.  They asked the logically incompatible question:

“Now, do we look suspicious?”

And if you object to my complaint regarding the proper question, I can amend it.  I’ll change it to this:

“Now, do we look more suspicious than we other wise would have if we were in our medical jackets?

And the answer to THAT question is, without a doubt, “yes.”

And I think that everyone in America would agree with that answer.  Because by answering that question in the affirmative makes no claim that all people wearing hoodies are up to no good.  Nor does it say that people who are up to no good wear hoodies.  If asked in an intellectually honest vein, the answer is yes.

I’ve been thinking about this for several days now.  And the best way to explain what I’m talking about is to use a term that I’ll call:

Default Societal Trust

This is the trust extended between two people when meeting in society for the first time in day to day life.  That is, if I’m in a store and see someone in the aisle, or I’m walking down the street and meet someone on the sidewalk.  When I’m in a restroom at the burger joint and another guy walks in.  Just a random general anonymous encounter.

I suggest that when people signal us in a “mainstream” manner – we extend them  a general level of trust.  Whatever that level is doesn’t really matter.  However, I would think that it rates as feeling comfortable with asking the person for the time, or a bus schedule.  Not asking them to borrow money or the newspaper they are reading.  In days gone by, someone that you could bum a smoke from but not someone that you would trust to watch a laptop while you stepped away.

General trust.

And when people present out of the mainstream in some way, that trust can be lowered to some level less than it other wise might have been.

Consider this guy for example:

societal kidTypical level of trust.

Now, consider the same guy but presenting like this:

societal trust.body tatoo

Less societal default trust.  The kid in a full body tattoo pattern is signaling society in such a way that is not mainstream.  And the level of default trust is diminished.  It is less than it otherwise might have been.

And we have no idea if this kid is a premed student, a gifted pianist or a criminal.

Now this guy:

societal trust.biker

It might be a add-on argument to the tattooed kid above, but in general, “biker dudes” tend to be seen with diminished levels of societal trust.  To be sure, there are many lawyers, doctors and other highly respected professionals that throw on the leather every weekend and again in the first week of August that have not one single criminal intent in their bodies.

Meet one on the street for the first time?  Less societal trust than would other wise be extended.

How about this individual:

societal trust.pierce

Or this guy:

societal trust.goth

In both cases, the individual in question could be the coolest, most intelligent and compassionate guy you would ever wanna meet.  But when first met, in the restroom, or in the bar, on the street or in the elevator, the level of suspicion will be elevated and the level of societal trust will be less than it otherwise would have been had the person signaled or presented in a more mainstream manner.

I don’t think that this is surprising or even controversial.  In fact, I suspect that societies signal mainstream as a means of survival and cohesion.

All of which is a very long way of saying that when people wear a hoodie, in certain and specific contexts, they are presenting or signalling in a more suspicious manner than they otherwise might have.

Musings On IQ


They repaved my neighborhood streets this past week.  As I was waiting for the pilot car I was struck by how good these guys were at making roads.

But how horrible they were at managing the schedule of pilot cars.

And I got to thinking:

  • IQ is highly heritable.  Up to 80% so.
  • IQ tests are an imperfect measure of intelligence.  But in the aggregate, are pretty good.
  • 100 years ago, occupation didn’t filter IQ.  That is, we had very intelligent people working in factories and shops and in the trades.  Much more so than we have today.
  • As colleges have become better at sorting on IQ, we have become a society that is sorted by intelligence.
  • People marry who they hang out with.
  • If intelligent people hang out with and marry other intelligent people, they will have children who have higher IQs.
  • If you took 1,000 employees who held traffic signs at construction sites and measured their IQs they would score lower than 1,000 college graduates.
  • Those 1,000 college graduates would score lower than 1,000 Harvard alum.

I don’t know what policy implications this has, but I’m afraid of the ramifications.


The Death Of The Honey Bee

Honey Bee

I’ve been keeping bees for, what – 1 or 2 months now?  It’s really cool.  AND it’s added to my concern for the plight of the honey bee.

Imagine my surprise at this headline:

Rise Of The Robotic Bees

You just HAVE to read more:

Do bees, swarms of bees, make you nervous? Maybe not. Maybe they remind you of honey, flowers and warm summer days. You stay out of their way and they stay out of yours. What if, however, the bees weren’t bees at all but hundreds (or thousands) of autonomous microbots, facsimiles of the real thing, buzzing around in the real world?

That’s not Hollywood fantasy any more. It appears to be within reach. Researchers in the at Harvard’s say that they expect their project will demonstrate flying, autonomous micro-air-vehicles modeled on insects within the next 2 1/2 years.

It won’t be easy, according to Rob Wood, the project’s principal investigator.

“The challenges that you get when you scale these things down mean that you have to reinvent everything, everything has to come from scratch, every one of the technologies,” Wood said in an interview last week. “There is nothing off the shelf.”

But can they solve the pollination problem?

The real question hanging in the air, so to say, is how the bees themselves might be used once they’ve been endowed with the power, sensor and control mechanisms needed to fly and operate on their own.

The obvious answer is surveillance of all types, whether it’s for the military in combat or scientists tracking changes in the environment or spooks keeping tabs on their targets. Oh, and they might also be able to pollinate crops of vegetables and flowers, too.

We have a few years, at least, to figure out how how swarms of robotic insects might fit into our lives. The Robobees team is working along three tracks: body, brain and colony. Each one presents its own challenges. Integrating the three strands, which are being worked on in parallel, is a whole other set of hurdles.

Mobee is just one hurdle cleared. We’ll have to wait and see two years from now if the swarm is really on the horizon, and a little longer to decide if we need to run from it.

Very cool.

Wages In America – The Gender Gap

Gender Pay Gap

As reported earlier, there is a gender wage gap:

On this day 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the in an effort to abolish wage discrimination based on gender. Half a century later, the Obama administration is pushing Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, designed to make wage differences more transparent.

After 50 years, it turns out that laws can’t change things like facts.  And economics; at least that science that describes incentives and pay-offs.

Though we are getting closer:

Some dispute the frequently cited figure that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. But even those who argue the gap is narrower agree it’s most prominent when a woman enters her childbearing years.

In 2010, an analytics firm called Reach Advisors crunched Census Bureau numbers and found something surprising: The median salary of single, childless women under the age of 30 was 8 percent higher than their male counterparts. That’s largely because more women are going to college than men.

What made that number noteworthy is that it’s the only group of women who have a pay advantage. In fact, different numbers from Reach Advisors show that that early advantage vaporizes later in women’s lives — especially if they have children.

“Studies have shown for over a decade that what is really killing women economically is motherhood,” says Joan Williams, professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law. She popularized the term “maternal wall,” referring to discrimination against hiring or promoting mothers based on the assumption she will be less committed to her job.

All valid, of course.  When a priority ranks higher than a job, it stands to reason that the job will suffer.  This is not surprising.  However, it would appear that even this isn’t enough to satisfy some:

A study out of Indiana University found that “overworking,” or working hours above and beyond the standard 40-hour full-time work week, contributes to the persistence of gender segregation in occupations, with the main result being that woman are frequently pushed out of male-dominated careers.

Study author Youngjoo Cha, a sociologist at Indiana University, noted that the proportion of employees who work long hours (and are pressured to do so more frequently) has continued to rise over the past 50 years, and further, that overworking is generally praised and rewarded in the workplace. However, because women are still expected to carry the brunt of housework and child rearing, men’s and women’s ability to meet these expectations must necessarily differ.

Hard work pays.

Women want to raise families.

Men suck.


The Florida Verdict

Easily the story of the week and month.  In the running for the story of the year.

The nation has been gripped, though less so until the trial started, by the Zimmerman Martin narrative.  The reason for the hype and national attention?


The story has been constructed as a defining bias in America.  A young black man unfairly treated by a white man in “authority” and then mistreated by a racist justice system.

My take of the verdict was one of inevitability.  In my mind, from the very beginning, there was little, or even any, doubt that Treyvon assaulted George and that, acting in self defense, George shot Treyvon.

With that said, I have felt a profound sense of loss for the family of Treyvon.  They have lost a son who set out to buy an evening snack of Skittles and tea.  On his way home, an encounter with a neighborhood watch member went wrong, horribly wrong, with the result that a young man lost his life.

I get the tragedy.  I get the feeling that must be racing through the family’s veins.  I get the idea that something is wrong.

But I don’t agree that those feelings change the fact that George Zimmerman acted in self defense.

It’s going to take a long time to figure this one out and come to some form of peace.  For the nation, the families and even for me.  What was it that caused Zimmerman to suspect a young Treyvon?  What was it that caused this young man to lash out and feel that his only recourse was to beat Zimmerman?  Is it race?  Is it natural suspicion?  Is it biases?  And if so, are those biases justified or are they horrible examples or residual bigotry?

All these feelings, investigating these feelings and questioning all of it is natural.

Time will tell.

Eating Like A College Student – Update

Food Stamps

I have recently posted on the democrat’s challenge to eat on the average weekly amount of benefits under SNAP – $31.50 – and of the republican’s attempt to meet that challenge.

Nickgb posted over at PYM of his attempt to replicate that attempt here and here.

Then I gave it a college try here.  And I hit it:

For $31.50, I have eaten for a week AND included veggies and fruits.  Plus I have a small beginning for next week to help me out even further.

But I wanted to see if North Carolina was “average”.

I went here to find out:

North Carolina Benefits

We much more generous than the average as described by the democrats.In fact, an individual can earn up to $14,532 and still qualify for $200 a month.  To be sure, 14k a year isn’t much money at all; rent surely would take most of it.  But, 50 bucks is a bunch more than $31.50.  If I had an extra 20 to spend in my challenge I could almost certainly afford a twelve pack.

Where it gets really interesting, however, is at the 2 household range.  There a person can earn $19,680 a year and still qualify for $367.00 a month.  In fact, if approved, an individual could earn $30,000 and qualify for that amount.

And if that individual is the mother of a young child?


  • 128 oz of juice per month
  • 4 gallons of milk per month
  • 36 oz of cereal per month
  • A dozen eggs
  • 2 lbs of bread
  • 18 oz of peanut butter

Again, not the life of luxury and excess.  But I’m not sure that most people would  support the idea of providing such aid to someone making 20-30k a year if they were asked.

Liberal Activists – Class Act

Horses Ass

I’ve long been a supporter of gay rights.  The contract between two individuals should be sex-blind to the state.  Two men, a woman and a man or two woman, no matter.

And I’ve been a long time opponent of the liberal left.  These people, the extreme left, have no moral compass, no rule and guide of faith that gives them direction in how to function in society.

The following is an interesting composite of my experience.  Some of my most favorite times were in Seattle.  I learned a ton while there.  And I’m sympathetic to the pro-gay movement.  Yet I resist the methods used by the left.  Abuse, assault and crime in the highest order.

This is why I combat the left:

That fat bastard is seen as a hero to the cause in his circle.  To anyone with even a minimum of manners he’s a brute, a bully and a criminal better served in prison than left alone in decent society.

Such is our militant liberal left.

Voter Fraud: North Carolina

Voter Fraud

For the record, I am FOR voter ID.  To think otherwise is nothing more than pure political gamesmanship.  In today’s world, to obtain a photo ID is next to trivial.

With that said, I acknowledge that voter fraud is rare.

Ladies and gentleman, North Carolina:

North Carolina Voting Maps

Voting Map

For the first time since the Civil War, republicans were in charge of drawing voting districts in North Carolina.  And in a move that should have surprised no one, they redrew those lines in a different manner than had democrats.

And in a response that also surprised no one, democrats, voting rights groups and the NAACP sued.

Today they lost:

Raleigh, N.C. — A three-judge panel on Monday upheld legislative and congressional districts drawn by the Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2011, ruling unanimously that the maps were constitutional.

Democrats, the state NAACP and good-government groups had sued to invalidate the maps, saying they were improperly drawn based on racial considerations. The opponents also argued lawmakers too finely split the state, dividing so many local voting precincts that it would create confusion.

But the three Superior Court judges found that those challenging the maps had not showed “a violation of any cognizable equal protection rights of any North Carolina citizens, or groups thereof, will result.”

Frankly, I’m tired of the constant race bating that is pitched whenever issues like this arise.  To think that only republicans are guilty of selfishly drawing district line is ignorant.  And to think that republicans are doing it to repress some minority is insulting.

I mean, it’s not like the map hadn’t already reviewed, by the now insulting VRA stipulation:

But in 2010, Republicans controlled both the House and Senate and, therefore, redistricting legislation. Former Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat who left office in early 2013, had no say in how the districts were drawn because state law does not give the governor veto authority over redistricting plans.

Republicans leveraged those favorable districts to win super-majorities of both the state House and Senate, as well as capture nine of the state’s U.S. House seats.

After the maps cleared the General Assembly, they were reviewed and “pre-cleared” by the U.S. Justice Department under a procedure laid out by the federal Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Justice Department, whose leadership was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, found the maps did not hurt the ability of minorities to elect candidates of their choice.

In fact, Republican lawmakers frequently cited their need to comply with voting rights law as a reason to create legislative districts that contained high concentrations of minority voters. Plaintiffs challenging the districts said lawmakers were trying to illegally “pack” minority voters into a few districts, diluting their overall influence.

The map was pre-cleared by the US Justice department.  Not an organization that is exactly in favor of fairly enforcing republican themes.

We’ll see if there is an appeal.