Archive:

October 2017, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Tribalism, Bushman* Style:  Tribalism is, as I will continue to say, universal.  One part of it is what Nicholas Wade calls "ethnic prejudice", the idea that your tribe is superior to other tribes.  Primitive tribes often express this by calling themselves "the people", implying that those in other tribes are not people.

The Bushmen, according to Wade's wildly controversial book, take this one step further.
The click-speaking bushmen of the Kalahari desert divide the world into Ju|hoansi, or "real people," such as themselves, and !ohm, a category that includes other Africans, Europeans and inedible animals such as predators. (p. 17)
(The odd characters in the two words are, as I understand it, different "clicks".)

Before you chuckle at that, consider this:  That division was probably practical for hundreds of years, unlike many of the divisions we see in our own society.

And we shouldn't think that we are any less prone to tribalism than the Bushmen.  If you are following the reactions to the Mueller indictments, you will have noticed that many, perhaps most, have lined up with their tribes.

Most of you know this, but I'll mention it anyway:  If you attend, or work for, a college or university, be careful about letting people know that you have read anything from Wade's book, even that short quotation.

(*Most anthropologists now call the bushmen "San".

Incidentally, Wade is using that example to point out that, though ethnic prejudice is universal, racism is not.

Nicholas Wade)
- 10:20 AM, 31 October 2017   [link]


Andy Marlette Uses A Halloween Theme in his latest political cartoon.

"Pepper . . . and Salt" uses a Halloween theme in a non-political cartoon.

Both made me smile.
- 6:49 AM, 31 October 2017   [link]


What Do Modern Britons Think Of The Ten Commandments?  Majorities think that six of them are "important principles to live by".
New YouGov research reveals that only six of the original Ten Commandments are still seen by most British people as important principles to live by.  This is even true of Britain’s Christians, although they are more likely than the general population as a whole to think any given Commandment remains important.
. . .
The four Commandments that do not have a majority of Brits saying they are still important are the ones most related to the practice of religion.   Unsurprisingly, it is on these Commandments that opinion between Christians and the non-religious differs the most.

Fewer than a third of Britons (31%) say that people should not worship idols (defined in the survey as statues or symbols).  Christians are split on whether they still consider this to be an important commandment, with 43% saying it is and 44% saying it is not.  Meanwhile, only one in five non-religious Brits (20%) say it is still an important rule.
Considering how many people now worship idols — broadly defined — I can't say I am surprised by that finding.

(It would be interesting to know how British Jews and British Muslims would answer those questions, but the survey just divided the respondents into Christians and non-Christians.

If you download the raw results, you can see the differences between members of the three main political parties, and between men and women.  (Men and women are quite similar in their views, with one obvious exception.)

I really should have put up this post on Sunday, but the Seahawks game and the World Series game were way more interesting than I expected them to be.

Ten Commandments)
- 2:06 PM, 30 October 2017   [link]


Do Most Catalans Want Independence From Spain?  Not if the polls cited in this post are correct.
The most recent survey by the Catalan government’s Center for Opinion Studies (CEO), which was conducted in July, showed that only a minority of Catalans (35 percent) supported independence.  The graph below plots the trend in support of independence based on CEO surveys going back to 2006.
. . .
Before 2010, it was rare for more than 20 percent of Catalans to support independence.  After 2010, support increased for two reasons.  First, the Great Recession struck, leading to widespread unemployment. Second, the Constitutional Court struck down an overhaul of Catalonia’s statute of autonomy — the equivalent of its constitution — at the request of Spain’s conservative People’s Party.  In 2013, support for independence peaked at 49 percent.  But since then, support for independence has declined, falling below 40 percent last fall.
That fact seems more relevant than an illegal referendum, which was boycotted by opponents.

(For more, you may want to read another later Eric Guntermann post.

Catalonia)
- 10:57 AM, 30 October 2017   [link]


Paul Manafort Is Guilty Of Something Or Other:   Probably more than one something or other.  That was the conclusion I reached, as soon as he joined the Trump campaign, and I read a little about his background.

Whether he colluded, illegally, with the Russians during the 2016 presidential election is, however, still an open question, for me.

Nor would I conclude, as too many will, that his indictment shows that the Clintons, and the Obama administration, are innocent.

(This Glenn Kessler article should have enough facts on the scandals to satisfy most of us.  Some will want to look at this Nat Hentoff column again for its list of Manafort clients.

Paul Manafort)
- 7:59 AM, 30 October 2017   [link]


Chess Players may like this variation.

(The cartoon will probably be replaced some time this afternoon.)
- 6:31 AM, 30 October 2017   [link]


Working Mothers Will Appreciate this cartoon.

(And I like it, because it is fun to see someone really visualize a metaphor.)
- 8:03 AM, 28 October 2017   [link]


This Week's Collection Of Political Cartoons from RealClearPolitics.

My favorites:  Michael Ramirez's headlock, Steve Breen's Facbook profile, and Scott Stantis's Steve Bannon.
- 12:09 PM, 27 October 2017   [link]


Is This Political Ad Fair?  I think it is, but I am biased.

(The ad appeals to the anti-Seattle feelings in Seattle suburbs, feelings that are surprisingly common.  Once, amused by the name, I stopped in at this pet store and asked the nice ladies there whether Eastside dogs were better than Seattle dogs.  They immediately assured me that Eastside dogs were, in fact, superior.)
- 7:07 AM, 26 October 2017   [link]


The Current "Pepper . . . And Salt" made me smile.

(As usual, I don't know how long it will be up.)
- 6:34 AM, 26 October 2017   [link]


Worth Reading:  Robert Cherry's article, "The Data Don't Support Racist Policing Narrative".
This shift away from a focus on racist police killings may be because recent facts have proven problematic to the old narrative. Consider, for instance, the number of unarmed blacks killed by police has been shrinking.  In 2015, The Washington Post compilations indicate that 38 of the 94 unarmed men and women killed by police were African Americans; in 2016, only 17 of the 48 unarmed police killings were African American; and it is likely that in 2017 it will be even fewer.  Meanwhile, as Heather MacDonald has documented, violent crime and homicide rates have increased for the second year in a row.  In 2016, black homicides increased by nearly 900 to 7,881.  If we are worried about protecting black lives — as we should be — why not focus on the conditions that have given rise to such violence?
Because, as we all should know, that kind of focus would not be divisive.  And there are people, inside and outside the United States, who want Americans to be divided.

(Heather MacDonald's new book)
- 4:21 PM, 25 October 2017   [link]


The Missing Anti-Terrorist Vote In Britain:  Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has a long history of associating with terrorists — as long as they are anti-British and anti-American.

As you know, Britain has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks in recent years.

So, did Corbyn's record on terrorism hurt him with voters?  It doesn't appear so; among Conservative voters only 2 percent named "Security/terror prevention" as their "main" reason for voting for the Conservatives, in the June election.

And I assume even fewer would name it among those who did not vote Conservative.

It is possible, in fact likely, that it was an important issue for many voters, just not their "main" issue, but I still would have expected it to be named more often.  And I am a little surprised that the Conservative Party has not done more to make it an issue, given Corbyn's record.
- 12:50 PM, 25 October 2017   [link]


When Was Soot Worst In American Cities?  More than a hundred years ago, according to an innovative new study:
Abstract

Atmospheric black carbon has long been recognized as a public health and environmental concern. More recently, black carbon has been identified as a major, ongoing contributor to anthropogenic climate change, thus making historical emission inventories of black carbon an essential tool for assessing past climate sensitivity and modeling future climate scenarios.  Current estimates of black carbon emissions for the early industrial era have high uncertainty, however, because direct environmental sampling is sparse before the mid-1950s.  Using photometric reflectance data of >1,300 bird specimens drawn from natural history collections, we track relative ambient concentrations of atmospheric black carbon between 1880 and 2015 within the US Manufacturing Belt, a region historically reliant on coal and dense with industry.  Our data show that black carbon levels within the region peaked during the first decade of the 20th century.  Following this peak, black carbon levels were positively correlated with coal consumption through midcentury, after which they decoupled, with black carbon concentrations declining as consumption continued to rise.  The precipitous drop in atmospheric black carbon at midcentury reflects policies promoting burning efficiency and fuel transitions rather than regulating emissions alone.  Our findings suggest that current emission inventories based on predictive modeling underestimate levels of atmospheric black carbon for the early industrial era, suggesting that the contribution of black carbon to past climate forcing may also be underestimated.  These findings build toward a spatially dynamic emission inventory of black carbon based on direct environmental sampling.
The full study is behind a pay wall.

If you prefer a traditional news story, you can find them at the BBC and the New York Times.
- 10:45 AM, 25 October 2017   [link]


These Days, I Find Myself Appreciating "Peanuts" more than ever.

For example.
- 10:09 AM, 25 October 2017   [link]