Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nerds

Since everyone else has posted on nerd, I'll follow suit as usual.

When I first started seeing the best conservative bloggers writing about nerds, the topic seemed innovative and unpretentious.  Take seriously an adolescent term for a moment, consider the group it applies to, and philosophize about their roles and the implications of their existence.  So far, so good.

Then I noticed that, as with terms like "alpha" and "beta", "nerd" seems to mean whatever it mean at the writer's junior high school.  Some say nerds are near-autistic or aspergian, always saying exactly what is on their minds and damn the consequences.  Some say nerds are pandering, cowardly hypocrites who engage in nothing but groupthink.  Some say they are womanish; some say they are hypermale.  Some say they should be shamed into becoming hermits or completely altering their personae; some say they should be encouraged to come out of the shadows and fulfill their potential as real (conservative) men.

This isn't a debate.  It is quibbling about semantics, and that is inevitable as long as the discussion has its roots in a schoolyard put-down.  "Nerd" is an interesting term because it has a slightly more precise definition that "butthead" or "asshat".  Over time I am learning how limited "nerd" is as a term - ultra-serious systems administrators who tend to step on the toes of the less-technically savvy are a distinct group.  Girlish emokids who play lots of computer games and watch anime have little in common with this group beyond a college course or two.  And of course hackers are their own deal.

The upshot: I want the sysadmins and a few of the hackers at least on my team.  The PC emo crowd I can do without, tech skills or not.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tories are Okay Too

Hats off to Dave Cameron.

Recall that this measure is coming from a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.  This doesn't prove the doomsayers are wrong but it is a hopeful sign.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Pledge to the GOP

Oddly enough, I am a Republican.  I say "oddly enough" because I've never really felt like I belong with them.  They care about things like abortion and capital gains taxes which I know a little about but don't have strong feelings on.  (Is there a reason to treat capital gains as different from ordinary income?  If so, what is it?)  In contrast, I care mainly about the National Question, a sheaf of questions most Republicans don't think much about, and a term most Republicans haven't even heard of.

Recently I became a Republican anyway.  It amuses me to hear people patting the Tea Party on the head and telling them it's way past their bedtime, as if anyone has done more to shake up the leftist establishment in as little time as the Tea Party has been around.  But anyway, I acknowledge that the Tea Party may get nothing done, in which case the zero dollars and ten minutes I have invested in their movement will all go to waste. 

I make the following offer to the Tea-flavored Republican Party to which I currently belong:

I will continue to be a Republican through the end of 2011.  If the Republicans have met my conditions at that time, I will give them another year.  Since most of what the Republicans can do can be vetoed by President Obama, my requirements are only for serious attempts to do the right thing, defined as two thirds of Republicans in each house voting my way (whether or not their attempts succeed).  They must vote:
  • For a complete pullout of all US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, to begin when the law is passed and be complete, under several estimates, no more than 12 months after that time
  • For construction of a real (non-virtual), San Diego-to-Brownsville border fence, and sufficient funding for it
  • For all statutory provisions underlying affirmative action to be repealed (this is admittedly vague; most of the pillars underlying affirmative action were put their either by executive fiat or judicial fiat;  another Riggs Amendment would suffice)
  • To repeal the Patriot Act
Action to roll back gun control, secure prisons, or officialize English would help but is not required.  Note that I am not demanding that the Republicans privatize Social Security, abolish the income tax, or anything radical (and economic).  The Tea is not yet strong enough for that.

The criteria under which I will judge the Grand Old Party at the end of 2012 will be determined in a year's time.

I encourage other Republicans to publish similar pledges.  Let's get the show on the road.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Republicans are Better than Democrats on Immigration After All

It is often said that the Republican Party is far too riddled with PC multicultural RINOs to put up a decent stand against the elites who support mass immigration.  I have no problem with right-wing doomsayers; John Derbyshire, for instance, is a great writer and speaker.  On the other hand, by temperament I tend to be quite skeptical with pessimism, mainly on the grounds that the sky has yet to fall despite the predictions of so many of the Cassandras of the past.  Furthermore, I believe too many people are copying-and-pasting the views of elitist neocons like McCain and Bush down onto the rest of the party.  Republicans can certainly be accused of excessively loyalty to the men who betrayed them, but that doesn't mean they necessarily vote like the RINOs.

So I decided to get to the bottom of the matter with a little number crunching.  Using the trusty Numbers USA site, I decided to convert the US report card-style grades into numbers, and calculate party-wide averages.  (For this post I am using arithmetic means; I may add an update using medians later.)  The grades run from A+ to F- with no F+; I assigned A+ a score of 13, F- a 0.  The data I use apply to this Congress and the last (2007-2010).  

Some caveats:  First, no one is obligated to trust that Numbers USA rates the candidates accurately or even picks the right issues.  I personally do trust them; VDare may be more ideologically exciting but Numbers has the numbers.  Second, only legislative candidates are included (executives aren't usually rated likes this).  Third, the past is only a loose guide to the future.

Just to make it exciting, when I was at M4 Monologue I decided to phrase my moderately warm feelings toward the post-Bush GOP as a testable hypothesis.

Null hypothesis: Like the gloomiest hard rightists say, the Republicans’ voting records on immigration are about as bad as the Democrats, defined as being within one letter grade. (I.e., if the Democrats average a C-, the Republicans won’t beat a B-.)  This translates to 3 points, using the scale I created.
Alternate hypothesis: The gloomiest hard rightists may be right about other things, but Republicans of the current Congress are significantly better on immigration than the Democrats – more than a whole letter, or dropping fractions, at least 4 points.
Here is what I found - first, some tidbits:

A total of two Democrat received grades above B+; none received an A+.
One hundred and six Republicans scored in this range; 37 got A+s.

One hundred and sixty Donkeys got scores below D-; the corresponding Elephant herd numbered five (3 of whom are from Florida).  

Democrats average 2.86 points on a 13-point scale - between a D and a D-.  
Republicans average 7.60 points - between a B- and a C+.  (To put this in perspective, John McCain, widely excoriated on the right for being a softie on immigration, got a C-.  He is not near the middle of either party on this matter, but he is near the middle of the Congress as a whole.)

The alternate hypothesis is sustained - the Republicans of 2007-2010 are significantly better than the Democrats on immigration.

Based on this, I believe the doomsayers have a little retracting, or a least a little explaining, to do.  They are not necessarily wrong; who am I to say that the new Republicans will be as restrictionist as their predecessors?  Or even to say that a B will be enough to stop the tide, or that Obama won't outmaneuver the GOP with some elitist media trick?  

I do regard these numbers as a hopeful sign, because I highly doubt that the Republicans are becoming more in favor of mass immigration, with their voters hopping mad and unemployment showing no signs of alleviating.  A few RINOs notwithstanding (notably recently defeated Meg Whitman of California), the Republicans as a group are far different than the Karl Rove-style suckers' gamers of the bad old days.


Recent Addendum:

In answer to Steve Sailer's question, ALIPAC has a complete list of wins and losses for its endorsed candidates.  It endorsed candidates in a little under half the races, with 137 wins, 66 losses, and 2 races still up in the air.

Two to one victories aren't bad, but in more than half the races, ALIPAC thought no one was worth endorsing.

Addendum:


1. Because of a spreadsheet error, the above numbers for Republicans had to be corrected, sustaining the alternate hypothesis a little less comfortably.  (My original numbers had them at a B+.)

2. Medians make the difference look a little bigger.  The median Democrat was just below a D-; the median Republican was just below an A-.

3. I'm not finding sub-issues all that interesting as a way of comparing the parties, since many seem to cover very few votes or maybe only one.  In one respect they are interesting:  They show the uniqueness of Texas Rep. Ron Paul; he got A+s on "Reduce Amnesty Enticements" and "Reduce Illegal Immigration Rewards", a D on "Reduce Illegal Immigration at the Border", and a D+ on "Reduce Illegal Jobs and Presence".  This goes to show that a libertarian is going to vote differently from a cultural conservative; that will only come out when you look at the sub-issues (on the whole, Paul is a moderate on immigration, because opposing immigration is a combination of limiting government enticements and erecting government barriers).  I respect Rep. Paul, but as immigration grows more salient, I cheer for less and less for his philosophy.

Compare this to Sen. Olympia Snowe, who is rated similarly overall but whose votes on the sub-issues are almost Paul's opposite.  Her votes reflect a strong anti-illegal / pro-legal stance similar to McCain's, which seek to stop immigration at the border and in the workplace, while continuing to reward and facilitate it with visas, amnesties, chain migration, etc.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Pointed Reply to Countless Lousy History Teachers

In the 1790s, African American males who owned property could vote in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Maryland.


So you guys were lying to me the whole time about the "racist" nature of the franchise in the 18th Century.  It wasn't racist at all - it was classist.  This is a mistake that is tantamount to saying that whites dominate the National Basketball Association because the players make such great salaries.


But you guys were sort of big on mistakes, weren't you?  One of you told me that most Jews who escaped the Holocaust in Europe escaped through Switzerland.  Sort of geographically illiterate, isn't it?  But what you were trying to do was cover up the fact that the European ruler who saved the greatest number of Jews was a conservative Catholic - a man you like to call a fascist.  This mistake is tantamount to getting Savonarola mixed up with Mussolini.  


What else were you lying about?  


Oh, everything that makes your ideology look good, and that could make America look bad.  In other words, pretty much everything.

A Pointed Question for White Males

I wrote this angry rant about two years ago.  I figured publishing it now would be a good way to post something without having to type too much.



My question for the white male is ... what am I to you?  Am I just a political football for you to play your suckers’ game with?  Because if you’re waiting to stab me in the back as a fancied way of escaping membership in the “oppressor class”, you truly are a sucker.  The Oppressor Caste is not a “class” at all.  If you are born a white male, that is all you will be, for the rest of your life.  You can never be anything else.  


Either you got my back or you don’t.