Fear of a White Planet

The word “alarm” is supposed to imply concern and even fear. You can be alarmed about a child molester moving into town. You can be alarmed about your kid hanging out with the potheads. One is not typically alarmed about gettting a bonus at Christmastime. Words have meaning and their use says a lot of about what’s on the writer’s mind. No one is alarmed about something they welcome. Alarm is supposed to imply fear and dread of something unwanted.

In this story from National Journal, the headline is, “Tech Pipeline Is Alarmingly White” with a subhead of “No African-Americans, Hispanics or girls took the AP computer science exam in some states, meaning a majority of The Next America has little familiarity with tech.” Presumably, the publication thinks too many white people, however that is defined, is a bad thing. After all, one cannot be alarmed by too much good news. Something must be done!

The pipeline of students who will be tomorrow’s tech leaders is alarmingly vanilla.

According to a new analysis of test-takers, not a single girl, African-American or Hispanic student took the computer science Advanced Placement test in Mississippi or Montana last year. More than a third of the population in Mississippi is black.

In other words, a hugely disproportionate bunch of white guys took the test.

The lack of diversity is disconcerting because computer science is an industry hurting for qualified workers. That’s not to say that a student must take AP computer science to pursue a computer science career, but it’s an indicator of which young people have a degree of familiarity with the field. Tech companies have long lamented that they’ve had to look outside the domestic pool of students to find employees. Encouraging largely untapped demographics—girls, African-Americans and Hispanics—in high school to enter the field would only help.

But that’s not happening, at least successfully, right now.

There are 11 states where not a single African-American took the test, and eight states where no Hispanics sat for the exam.

We’re not talking here about people who passed or didn’t pass, either. We’re talking about people who simply took the test, which means African-Americans, Hispanics and girls aren’t enrolling in AP computer science classes in the first place.

Of the approximately 30,000 students who took the exam in 2013, only around 20 percent were female, according to the analysis, and a tiny 3 percent were African-American. Just 8 percent were Hispanic.

Notice the magically thinking. It is not about passing or failing the AP exam. It is about taking the exam. There’s an assumption that passing the exam is just a matter of joining the process and ticking the right boxes. If you dump more blacks into the AP courses, then they will just pass and become smart STEM people. The possibility that this is not possible is never considered. Of course, biology can’t possibly be the reason.

One reason there are so few students enrolling in the class and taking the test is that AP computer science courses are more common in suburban and private schools, Barbara Ericson, a senior research scientist with Georgia Tech who compiled the data, told the blog Education Week, and those schools tend to be less diverse than urban and public schools.

Another potential reason is that there are so few women, African-American and Hispanic instructors teaching computer science and so few working in the computer science field. Students are more likely to pursue a course of study if they have mentors with similar backgrounds to emulate.

College Board, which oversees the AP tests, has made diversity a priority in recent months, but clearly, there’s still a long way to go. And diversifying the pool of students taking the exam will require more than a push from College Board. Families, schools and community organizations will also play a crucial role in encouraging and guiding more girls and minority students toward computer science.

It is tempting to assume that the people making these claims know they are speaking nonsense, but that’s probably not the case. They really do believe in the blank slate and egalitarianism. The possibility of biology preventing their preferred outcome is just never considered, because that’s not a possibility. It’s like blaming Big Foot of leprechauns fo the problem. As usual, Steve Sailer was all over it and has some handy numbers.

Here are the pass rates (3 out of 5 or higher, equivalent to a C or better in a college 101-level intro course):

All test takers: 67%
Males: 68%
Females: 62%
Blacks: 36%
Black males: 38%
Black females: 27%
Hispanics: 45%
Hispanic Males: 49%
Hispanic Females: 31%
Whites: 66%
White Males: NA
White Females: NA
Asians: 70%
Asian Males: NA
Asian Females: NA

America has spent roughly a trillion dollars since the 1960’s on trying to fix the race gap is income, education, crime and so on. It’s hard to know, as the accounting for some of it is impossible to figure. How does one cost the affirmative action or laws against private discrimination? Still a trillion is a good figure. Yet, the gaps in all of these areas have no changed much. When it comes to education gaps, the data is overwhelming that environment plays no role in the overall outcomes. It’s biology.

That said, one cannot help but think that the real driver of stories like this is not the denial of biological reality. The real issue is a hatred of white people. Whether it is self-loathing or ethnocentric forces that flow under the surface of society, maybe a combination of both, the ruling class culture is shaped by a general hatred of normal white people. That’s why the headline writer is alarmed at the white people in tech.

Obama’s America

This story from Massachusetts is a nice preview of what comes next with ObamCare.

The family of Justina Pelletier, the 15-year-old girl at the center of a battle spanning two states and two prestigious hospitals, is devastated but defiant after a Massachusetts judge gave permanent custody of the girl to the state’s Department of Children and Families.

Speaking a day after Massachusetts juvenile court Judge Joseph Johnston issued a four-page ruling blasting Pelletier’s parents for being verbally abusive and complicating efforts to bring the West Hartford, Conn., family together, Lou Pelletier told Fox News Channel the Bay State bureaucracy has been aligned against his family from the beginning.

What exactly happened that caused the state to take this child from her parents?

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families took emergency custody of Justina on Valentine’s Day 2013 after doctors at Tufts Medical Center, which had been treating her for a rare condition, and doctors as Boston Children’s Hospital, clashed over the cause of her medical problems, which included difficulty eating and walking.

At Tufts, Justina had been treated for mitochondrial disease, a group of rare genetic disorders affecting cellular energy production. When Justina began experiencing some gastrointestinal problems, the Tufts doctor treating her, Dr. Mark Korson, wanted the girl to visit Dr. Alejandro Flores at Boston Children’s Hospital, according to the family’s attorney, Phil Moran. Flores had treated Justina in the past, Moran said, and Korson thought it beneficial for the teen to see a gastroenterologist.

What happened next was a “tragic nightmare” for Justina and her family, Moran told FoxNews.com.

Justina was taken by ambulance to Boston Children’s Hospital because she was in a wheelchair at the time and a heavy snow storm was blanketing the region. Because she arrived by ambulance, she was taken directly into the hospital’s emergency room, where a “resident refused to send her to Dr. Flores” and, “declared this was his case,” according to Moran. He said the unnamed resident then called upon a psychologist who diagnosed Justina with somatoform disorder — a mental condition in which a patient experiences symptoms that are real but have no physical or biological explanation. Justina was diagnosed with the disorder “within 25 minutes,” Moran claims.

The Pelletier family rejected the new psychiatric diagnosis and wanted to bring Justina back to Tufts, Moran said. He claims the hospital tried to force the girl’s parents to sign papers preventing them from seeking another opinion.

After tempers flared between the Pelletiers and staff at Boston Children’s, the hospital notified the state that it suspected the parents of medical child abuse.

The girl was kept at Boston Children’s psychiatric ward for nearly a year, but was then slated to be transferred to another state facility. Johnston said the family, which vented its anger in various media interviews, hampered efforts to have her placed as near them as possible. She is currently being held at the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network facility in Framingham, Mass.

This is how authoritarian regimes work. People always focus on the violence, but the real tool of terror is the process. Innocent people get tangled in a system that makes no sense and operates at the whim of functionaries. Appeals to justice just anger the unaccountable bureaucrats, who then use their knowledge of the system to torment the person complaining about the system. The victims have no recourse. There’s no one to whom they can appeal. The process is a punishment with no appeal.

Of Course It Is Rigged

High frequency trading, known as HFT, is the hot new thing for market pundits to reference when discussing the markets. They don’t know much about it, but mentioning it give them credibility. This post over at MR brought out some particularly oleaginous characters defending what is nothing more than a way to game the system. The idea is to use special knowledge to buy and sell equities in order to minimize losses and arbitrage imbalances in the market.

This has been the point of insider trading and self-dealing since knife money. In a completely honest and transparent market, the only way to make money is to buy and hold stocks. Trading, assuming fees are involved, is pointless since everyone knows what everyone else knows. There’s no chance to buy a depressed stock that is about to rebound or sell a stock that is about to collapse. Informational asymmetry, at least the belief in it, is what allows a market to exist.

What the HFT guys are up to is two things. One is they can process news that impacts share prices faster than any human. The algos can grind through a mountain of data by the time humans traders have buttered their toast. Bake in the right assumptions about how the humans will react to particular data and your algorithm will make perfect trades before anyone else in the market. Selling a stock that is about to drop 10% saves millions. Buying just as it heads up 10% and you make millions.

That’s the boy scout approach. The big boys like to play dirty. Here’s how. Let’s say there are 20,000 shares for sale at $10.00 and 10,000 shares for sale at $11.00. A buyer can have all 20,000 shares at $10.00. If you’re the guy looking to sell at $11.00, you may be willing to sell at $10.00 if you think there are no takers at $11.00. You can drop the price, but you still stand in line behind the guy selling at $10.00 until those shares are sold. That’s how it works. No line cutting.

The HFT guys beat this system by exploiting the relatively low cost to cancel. They can put sell orders out at $10 and see if demand is strong. They can cancel those sell orders, thus making the bit of the line in front of the $11 sell orders disappear. Humans can’t play this game, but robots are very good at it. In fact, cancel orders have rocketed up as more and more algorithms have sprung up in finance. Getting ten cents more per share may seem like peanuts, but not when you’re moving tens of million of shares.

The thing is, this is neither new or unexpected. A great book to read for anyone interested in the financial markets is called The Money Game, written fifty years ago. The author was a market insider when that meant something. He predicted the rise of machines in trading and the rise of crooks using machines to get an edge. Mencken, I think, said there are no new ideas, just new ways of saying them. That’s true of the HFT scams. It is just another way for sharps to fleece the squares.